North Texas Daily

UNT hosts 50th Alumni Achievement Awards

UNT hosts 50th Alumni Achievement Awards

October 09
12:36 2015

Lisa Dreher | Staff Writer


The university held the 50th anniversary of the Alumni Achievement Awards Thursday night, a celebration of alumni success over the years.

UNT President Neal Smatresk emphasized the importance of a strong alumni reputation by discussing the current generation of students.

“When I step out onto the campus, I can see the future on their faces,” Smatresk said.

The Hoke family accepted the Generations of Excellence Award. They received a standing ovation, establishing that their legacy was well known and respected among fellow alumni. Granddaughter of Martin Luther Hoke, Barbara Polanski, spoke for the four generations of her family who attended UNT. Polanski’s speech praised her grandfather’s legacy, and how it had benefited the family overall.

“The recognition goes back to my grandfather,” Polanski said. “I never thought it would be recognized at this high of a level.”

Julie Anderson, Bob Kimmel and Leroy Whitaker accepted the Distinguished Alumni Awards. The accolade ended the event with the celebration of the most esteemed graduates. An emphasis on endowing the university showed in their speeches and the majority of the night.

“I’m truly honored to accept this award, and with it I accept the responsibility that I believe goes along with it, and that’s to do more to give back,” Anderson said.

Her involvement includes working as chief financial officer for Texas Capital, and donations to the athletic program.

Leroy Whitaker earned his degrees in chemistry at UNT, and studied at the University of Illinois. Many expressed their agreement when he stated that “graduation is commencement, [and] not conclusion” of one’s career.

With a doctorate in education, Cathy Bryce serves as a chair of the College of Education Development Board, which contributed to her achieving the Outstanding Alumni Service Award. She delivered strong rhetoric that demanded public education for all, especially those in need.

“Children don’t get to choose the circumstances to which they’re born, but in this great nation it is public education that gives all of us a chance of equal opportunities,” Bryce said.

The Ulys Knight Spirit Award is for those who have substantially supported students through fundraising. Its recipient, ex-chairman of the alumni association Mark Miller, was not present. His son, Kyle Miller, accepted the award on his behalf. During his speech, Miller was on the brink of tears while reflecting on what his father had done for him and everyone else.

Emotions remained high when Tiffaney Dale Hunter, founder of her own public relations firm, dedicated the Distinguished Young Alumni award to the countless efforts of her mother, who died of breast cancer a year ago.

“She would be my biggest cheerleader,” Hunter said. “I know her spirit is here because it lives with me.”

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