University to Recognize Key Supporters and Accomplished Alumni
UT Dallas will bestow its highest honors on seven alumni and two community leaders at the annual Awards Gala on April 26. The gala features the Distinguished Alumni Award, the Green and Orange Award for Alumni Service, and the Gifford K. Johnson Community Leadership Award. The Johnson award is named for the first president of the Southwest Center for Advanced Studies, the institution he helped transform into UT Dallas in 1969.
"The honorees are an exceptional group of alumni and friends," said Dr. Aaron Conley, vice president for development and alumni relations. "Their accomplishments are extraordinary and their loyalty to UT Dallas is inspiring for our students who will soon become alumni."
Gifford K. Johnson Community Leadership Award Honorees
Brent E. Christopher is president and CEO of Communities Foundation of Texas (CFT), the largest community foundation in the state and one of the largest in the nation. CFT works closely with families, companies and nonprofits to strengthen the community through charitable funds and strategic grants. CFT is one of the organizers of North Texas Giving Day, a one-day event that in 2011 raised more than $10 million for local nonprofits, including UT Dallas. In 2009, Christopher and CFT also helped the University leverage millions in matching funds through the Texas Research Incentive Program, under which smaller gifts could be combined to reach the matching criteria. Because the gifts were required to pass through an organization not affiliated with universities, UT Dallas partnered with CFT. The Communities Foundation also made a $2 million grant to the University for research support through the Dee Wyly Distinguished Chair for BrainHealth. Christopher earned his law degree from The University of Texas at Austin. He received a master's degree in political economy and political culture as a Rotary Foundation Scholar at The University of Nottingham in England, and he earned his BBA in public administration and economics from Baylor. Prior to joining CFT, Christopher practiced law and later served as director of development for Children's Medical Center. Previously, he served as general counsel and vice president for advancement at Dallas Baptist University. Christopher is also on the board of directors at both Safer Dallas Better Dallas and Passion for Children's.
Aage Møller is the Margaret Fonde Jonsson Professor in the UT Dallas School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences (BBS). Dr. Møller is known internationally for his innovative research on sensory systems and neural plasticity. His work has helped establish UT Dallas as a leader in tinnitus-related research. Møller's development of intraoperative neurophysiological monitoring, which enabled monitoring of sensory and motor function during brain and spinal cord surgery, has saved many people from deficits that could have greatly reduced their quality of life. He developed several of the techniques that reduce the risks of hearing loss, loss of function in facial muscles and of other cranial nerves. Møller has written 11 books on hearing science and neuroscience, and also is author or co-author of 192 articles. Among his many awards are: The American Society of Intraoperative Monitoring Award of Excellence, Honorary Diplomat of the American Board of Neurophysiologic Monitoring and the UT Dallas President's Teaching Excellence Award. His work also was the subject of a special issue of the journal Hearing Research, a publication he founded and served as editor-in-chief for 27 years. Møller earned his PhD and doctorate in medical science at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. He and his late wife, Margareta, have a long history of supporting UT Dallas. They established two scholarships and two BBS professorships. Almost a dozen Aage and Margareta Møller Scholarships for the Veterans of the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were awarded in 2010.
Green and Orange Award for Alumni Service Honoree
Established by Mrs. Eugene McDermott in support of her husband's dream, The Eugene McDermott Scholars Program brings some of the nation's best and brightest young people to UT Dallas. Approximately 20 McDermott Scholars are selected each year based on their promise of being leaders for North Texas, the United States and the world. These extremely talented students are selected from the top few percent of the nation's high school seniors on the basis of their academic and extracurricular achievements. The McDermott Scholar's Program blends classroom and independent study, leadership, service, culture, travel and pre-professional experiences. McDermott Scholars have won several prestigious fellowships and graduate school awards, including the Harry S. Truman Award and the Fulbright Award. Alumni of the program have pursued graduate degrees at top-notch institutions, such as Harvard, Stanford and Yale, and have reached career heights in the fields of law, medicine, the arts and engineering. The alumni of the program are being honored for their work in establishing the Eugene McDermott Scholars Program Alumni Association, an independent non-profit organization that supports the work of the McDermott Scholars program and fosters connections between the program's alumni and the University.
Distinguished Alumni Award Honorees
Long before becoming a student at UT Dallas, Susan G. Fleming PhD'87 discovered her love for helping children with communication disorders. As a bachelor's and master's student in speech pathology and audiology at SMU, she thrived in the classroom. During her career, which included working at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital, directing the preschool at the Greenhill School and maintaining a private practice, Dr. Fleming flourished. Over the years, Fleming honed her skills by providing evaluations of children, designing curriculum and working in admissions. When she joined the Shelton Evaluation Center (a division of the Shelton School) in 1993, she knew she had found what would become the pinnacle of her career. Fleming served as director until 2009 when she became director emeritus of the center, which was established in 1976. The center has evaluated over 6,000 children, adolescents and adults from the U.S. and abroad. Fleming dedicates her time away from work to many professional and volunteer organizations. She is a member of the executive committee of the Branch Council of the International Dyslexia Association and serves on the board of directors for Dallas Lighthouse for the Blind. Fleming has also held numerous positions with the Dallas Opera Guild Board. She belongs to the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association and the Texas Speech-Language and Hearing Association.
Chandrasekhara "Chandu" R. Guntakala MS'98 is a successful entrepreneur and business executive in the technology industry. He is founder, president and CEO of Anuta Networks, Milipitas, Calif., which delivers technology that enables cloud-based computer networks. Guntakala began his career in engineering at Cisco Systems and co-founded Jahi Networks, Inc., which was sold to Cisco in 2004. As a COO at Jahi Networks, he was responsible for building world-class teams, developing business and building business partner relationships with key Cisco partners, such as IBM and HP. Guntakala co-founded Nipun Net Solutions in 2002 and was responsible for establishing the first wireless company in South India for Cisco. At Nipun, he oversaw India's operations, focusing on strategy, business development, strategic alliances and establishing the wireless market for Cisco products. Guntakala, who has a master's in computer science from UT Dallas, devotes much of his time to community and volunteer activities. The organization he founded, Austin Chetaks, helps promote the building of healthy communities. Another of his concepts, Mathruseva Charitable Trust in India, helps rural communities with drinking water, education and infrastructure. An avid runner, Guntakala has participated in marathons in Paris, Chicago, Portland, Austin and San Antonio.
Yancey Hai MA'78 spent 20 years in the financial sector working with J.P. Morgan, Citibank and GE Capital before joining Delta Electronics, where he now serves as vice chairman and CEO. With the mission to "provide innovative, clean and energy-efficient solutions for a better tomorrow," Taiwan-based Delta Electronics is a leader in power switching supplies, state-of-the-art green technologies and energy management solutions for applications such as electric vehicles, industrial automation, solar systems and LED lighting. The company is also a pioneer in advanced display and voice technologies. Under Hai's leadership, Delta Electronics quadrupled its revenues to $5.7 billion and increased its market capitalization from $2 billion in 1994 to more than $10 billion in 2011, with more than 70 percent of the company's shares held by global institutional investors. For his remarkable contributions, Hai received the "CBLA 2010 China Business Leader of the Year Award." Hai also takes an active role in philanthropy as director of Delta Electronics Foundation and Delta Educational & Environmental Foundation, which are devoted to research and education, energy conservation and environmental protection. He still maintains ties to UT Dallas, hosting visitors from the Naveen Jindal School of Management at Delta's headquarters in 2009 and organizing an event for faculty visiting Taipei in 2011.
After Robert E. Holmes, Jr. BA'78 graduated with a degree in economics from UT Dallas, he went on to SMU to complete his law school education. He began his early legal career working in family and divorce law. Then in 1995, Holmes founded Holmes, Diggs & Eames, PLLC, which specializes in family law. Thirteen lawyers comprise the practice, which has offices in Dallas, Houston and Denton. Holmes enjoys the day-to-day mentoring of the firm's young lawyers and providing guidance to clients through stressful situations. Holmes is a fellow in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. He has been recognized by Texas Monthly magazine as a top attorney in the state. To fulfill his desire to give back to the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences, Holmes volunteers his time in several ways, including hosting a pre-law alumni reception at his home to welcome new graduates to the alumni community. He also gave a challenge grant for the UT Dallas Mock Trial team and provided pre-law students with internships.
J. Brian McCall PhD'06 is chancellor of the Texas State University System, the oldest and third-largest university system in Texas. As a member of the Texas House of Representatives from 1991 to 2010, Dr. McCall represented North Dallas, Frisco, Allen and Plano. He was the chairman of the Committee on Calendars and a member of the Committee on Higher Education. During his last session, McCall secured $5 million in funding for the UT Dallas Center for Values in Medicine, Science and Technology. Formerly he served as president of Westminster Capital Inc., an investment firm focusing on acquisitions primarily in software and technology. He currently serves on the board of ViewPoint Bank. McCall holds a bachelor's degree from Baylor University and a master's degree from SMU. His book The Power of the Texas Governor: Connally to Bush comes from his doctoral dissertation, which was directed by UT Dallas Dean Dennis Kratz and Professor Anthony Champagne. A long-time civic and community volunteer, McCall is founder and chairman of the board of The Empowerment Project, a non-profit organization which has sent more than $10 million worth of books to schools in South Africa.
Tracy Rowlett MA'80 began his professional career as a sports reporter for The Wichita Beacon in Wichita, Kansas. He later worked for Armed Forces Radio and Television Service at Wheelus Air Base in Tripoli, Libya. He was on duty in Tripoli when John F. Kennedy was shot in Dallas. For the next three days, he grabbed only short naps as he reported the events surrounding the assassination. That experience convinced him to switch from print to radio and television. Upon discharge from the military, Rowlett worked as a news director, state capitol correspondent, anchor and reporter for several radio and television stations. He moved to Dallas/Fort Worth in 1974 to be an investigative reporter for WFAA-TV, becoming an anchor in 1975. He eventually signed with CBS 11 in 1999. Rowlett traveled the world to cover major news events, including the fall of the Soviet Union and conflicts in the Middle East. He has traveled with and interviewed every president from LBJ to George W. Bush. During his career, Rowlett was honored with the following awards: Alfred I. duPont-Columbia, Edward R. Murrow, Emmy, the American Bar Association's Silver Gavel, National Headliner and the Dallas Press Club's Katie. He retired in 2009. Along with his wife, Jill, Rowlett, a father of four, gives his time to community organizations, such as Children's Medical Center and The American Heart Association.
Qingming Yang PhD'93 is the executive vice president of business development and geosciences at Approach Resources, Inc., an independent oil and natural gas company headquartered in Fort Worth. To support his alma mater, Dr. Yang recently established an Opportunity Fund for the Department of Geosciences. Yang's gift is one of four such unrestricted endowments established recently by geosciences alumni and supporters. He is also a member of the newly-formed School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics Advisory Council. Before joining Approach Resources, Yang was an exploration manager, technical lead and geosciences advisor at Pioneer Natural Resources, Inc. He was also a structural geologist at Maxus Energy, Inc. At one point, Yang also worked as a research scientist at UT Dallas. Yang has explored and developed oil and gas resources around the world, including South America, Africa, Asia, Europe and the United States. He is a member of American Association of Petroleum Geologists and was an associate editor for the organization's bulletin. Yang earned his bachelor's degree in petroleum geology from Chengdu University of Technology in the People's Republic of China. He earned his master's in geology from George Washington University.
2012 Awards Gala
April 26: Reception at 5:45 p.m. with dinner and program at 6:30 p.m.
Renaissance Dallas Richardson Hotel: 900 East Lookout Drive in Richardson
Tickets: $65 each. Registration is available online.
Past award recipients are listed here.
More information: Office of Development and Alumni Relations, 972-883-2586.