North Texas Daily

UNT Alumni Awards honors deserving former students

UNT Alumni Awards honors deserving former students

April 09
16:13 2014

Kelly Norman // Contributing Writer

The UNT Annual Alumni Awards have been awarding successful UNT alumni every year since 1965, awarding the likes of Dr. Phillip C. “Phil” McGraw, “Call of Duty” video game creator Jason West, the Eli Young Band and the late singer-songwriter Roy Orbison.

This year, the April 11 awards will honor many more, including actor Peter Weller, who is best recognized as the lead role in the “RoboCop” movies. Weller, who has been acting for more than 30 years, graduated from UNT in 1970 with a degree in theater. He will be receiving the Distinguished Alumni Award, the highest honor that the university can bestow upon an alumnus. Ernie Kuehne Jr., president and board chairman of Kuehne Oil Co., and Terry Brewer, founder and CEO of Brewer Science, will also receive the award.

“This event is meant to recognize alumni in different categories as being high-achieving UNT graduates,” said Rob McKinney, director of Chapter Development and Events for the Alumni Association. “To me, it gives the university an annual opportunity to highlight some of the best of the best that have graduated from this institution.”

Four other awards are also given annually: the Distinguished Young Alumni Award, Outstanding Alumni Service Award, Ulys Knight Spirit Award and the Generations of Excellence Award.

The Distinguished Young Alumni Award was started in 2011, to recognize high-achieving younger alumni, McKinney said. The award is only given to people 40 and younger.

“These people haven’t had enough time to establish themselves in the same way as someone older in the distinguished category has, because of things like career longevity and things like that,” McKinney said. “So, we wanted to recognize and honor those out there that have done really great things within a short time frame.”

The nominations for the award recipients are tallied up and finalized after they go through a year-long process that begins on Aug. 31 every year, McKinney said.

Many different leaders within UNT, including the executive director of the Alumni Association, alumni board members and the vice president of student affairs, are part of the decision-making process.

“You want all of these various units represented because they’re all bringing different insight and perspective to each person,” McKinney said

Karen Selby, director of Special Events/Advancement for the University, has been an active participant in the decision-making process and a regular attendee of the awards for 12 years. She said that it’s a great opportunity to meet alums who they do not know.

“I love the Alumni Awards. It’s just a really fun event to get to do and it’s always a really fun night,” Selby said. “I like meeting new people.”

Chris Chapman, director of Development for the Alumni Association, said he is most excited and interested in seeing the families of the honorees because they know them the best and he knows the awards mean a lot to them.

“Last year I sat with the family of Roy Orbison, which was really cool,” Chapman said.

Chapman also said the event showcases generations of support.

“You’re getting the 20 something’s and the ones that graduated in the 60’s together. It connects the generations,” he said. “It is a great tool for people to recognize UNT’s great alums and to showcase to the rest of the world who UNT graduates.”

The Annual Alumni Awards will have a reception at 6:30 p.m. followed by a dinner at 7 p.m. on Friday, April 11 in the Gateway Center Ballroom. Reservations are $65 per person and can be made by contacting Abbie Lows at abbie.lows@unt.edu.

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