University of North Texas

UNT Insider | November 2013 issue | 2014 Alumni Awards recipients showcase the best of UNT

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2014 Alumni Awards recipients showcase the best of UNT

From a UNT News Service press release

What: The UNT Alumni Association and Division of Advancement are hosting the 2014 Alumni Awards to honor alumni and friends of UNT for their professional accomplishments and service to the community.

When: April 11, reception at 6:30 p.m. and dinner at 7 p.m.

Where: Ballroom in UNT Gateway Center, 800 North Texas Blvd. in Denton

Cost: $65 per person. Reservations can be made by contacting Abbie Lows, assistant director of special events in Advancement, at 940-565-4851 or

Famed actor Peter Weller is among UNT alumni and supporters who will be honored as recipients of the 2014 UNT Alumni Awards.

The UNT Alumni Awards showcase the caliber of the university's alumni and celebrate their professional accomplishments and service to the community. The honorees include business and industry leaders; a family whose support has spanned several generations; and the members of UNT's first social fraternity, the Geezles, an organization founded in 1927 to promote school spirit among the student body.

"The Alumni Awards are among the highest honors the university can bestow," says Michael Monticino, vice president for Advancement. "The breadth and depth of accomplishments of this impressive group speaks directly to the quality of a UNT education. The Alumni Awards offer us an opportunity to celebrate the positive impact honorees make in their communities, across the nation and around the world."

The 2014 UNT Alumni Awards recipients are:

Distinguished Alumni Award:

  • Peter Weller ('69) is best known for his starring roles in 2013's Star Trek Into Darkness, Woody Allen's Mighty Aphrodite and Robocop, in addition to TV work including Sons of Anarchy, Longmire and Dexter. He served as a host for UNT's 2013 Emerald Eagle Honors event, which honors distinguished alumni and supports our award-winning Emerald Eagle Scholars program.
  • Ernie Kuehne Jr. ('66) is president and board chairman of Kuehne Oil Co., a member of the UNT McConnell Society and Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity Alumni Advisory Board, and a lifetime member of the UNT Alumni Association and UNT Ex-Letterman's Association. In August 2012, Kuehne chaired UNT's Basketball Enhancement Committee, which raised more than $3 million in gifts for a new basketball training facility, a state-of-the-art scoreboard in the UNT Coliseum and additional funding for scholarships. As part of that campaign, Kuehne presented the athletic department with a cornerstone $1 million gift.
  • Terry Brewer ('65, '70 Ph.D.) earned bachelor's and doctoral degrees in chemistry from UNT. He is the founder and CEO of Brewer Science, a global leader in the development and manufacturing of advanced materials and equipment for the microdevices used in tablet computers, smartphones, digital cameras, televisions and LED lighting

Distinguished Young Alumni Award:

  • Gabriella Draney ('02) is the co-founder and CEO of Tech Wildcatters, named one of the Forbes' Top 10 seed accelerators for its work connecting technology startups to resources.

Outstanding Alumni Service Award:

  • C. Tait Cruse ('89) is managing partner of the Northwestern Mutual-Dallas Network office. Cruse supports UNT's Northwestern Mutual Integrated Business Case Competition, the anchor element of the College of Business' capstone course, which provides graduating seniors the opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills to solve a complex business problem.
  • Melisa Denis ('86, '86 M.S.) is partner-in-charge of international executive services for KPMG-Dallas. She serves on the UNT Foundation Board of Directors and the College of Business Advisory Board. She and her husband, Jean Francois Denis, were among those who lent philanthropic support to the construction of UNT's Business Leadership Building.

Ulys Knight Spirit Award:

  • The Geezle Fraternity counts many prominent UNT figures among its members, including former chairman of the UNT System Board of Regents C. Dan Smith ('62), former Regents R. L. Crawford Jr. ('63) and C. Dean Davis ('53); current Regent Don Potts ('63); UNT Hall of Famer T.D. Parks ('61); and former NFL player Ray Renfro ('52). As a group, the Geezles have contributed nearly $4 million to UNT.

Generations of Excellence Award:

  • Family of Joe Guerra owns and operates Rudy's Tortillas and Food Products, one of the leading manufacturers of tortillas in the country. The family includes several UNT alumni:
    • Siblings Joe Guerra ('96), Rudy's vice president of sales; Kathy Guerra Purser ('81), who works in accounting for the family business; and Linda Guerra Dyer ('90), a teacher in McKinney
    • Joe's wife, Pauline ('05)
    • The siblings' aunt Esperanza Espinoza ('75)
    • Kathy's daughter Rachel Purser ('09)

The Guerra family established the Rudy's Tortillas Foundation Scholarship in 1996 to support UNT students; collectively the family has contributed nearly $77,000 to the university.

Buddy Price with UNT News Service can be reached at


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November 2013

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