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Awards to Honor Alumni in a Class of Their Own

Story by John Hanan, UT Dallas Media Relations

Event photos by Lisa Means, LM Photography
Reprinted with permission

The Alumni Awards Dinner paid tribute on Saturday, March 29, to six of UT Dallas' most outstanding alumni.

Each year, members of the UT Dallas community are asked to nominate noteworthy graduates for the Distinguished Alumni Award and the Green and Orange Awards. The nominees are recognized for their personal and professional achievements and for their co mmitment to the university.

The Distinguished Alumni Award is the highest honor bestowed on alumni and is given to individuals who are distinguished in their chosen profession or life's work and who demonstrate pride in the university. The Green and Orange award honors UT Dallas alumni who have provided exceptional service to the university.

This year, UT Dallas honored four individuals with the Distinguished Alumni Award and two with the Green and Orange Award.

The 2008 Distinguished Alumni Award winners are:

Charles Davidson (M.S. '80) and Nancy Davidson (B.S. '80)

The Davidsons hail from the School of Management, Charles with a master's degree in management and administrative sciences and Nancy with a bachelor's degree in business and public administration. Charles serves as president, chief executive officer and chairman of the board of Noble Energy. The Davidsons are members of The University of Texas System Chancellor's Council, where Charles serves on the executive committee. Nancy is an active volunteer for animal welfare, and the Davidsons underwrite non-profit spay-neuter services for feral cats. The School of Management's Davidson Auditorium and four professorships within the school are named for the couple.

Yi Zhao (M.S. '92, Ph.D. '96)

Dr. Yi Zhao received his master's and doctoral degrees in computer science from UT Dallas. Since graduating, he has built an impressive career in telecommunications and currently serves as vice president of Huawei USA, where, according to Dr. Robert Helms, dean of the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science, Dr. Zhao's professional accomplishments, his involvement in the business community and his personal dedication to representing UT Dallas and working to advance its interests serve as an example of what students and alumni can achieve."

Rufus Green (M.B.A. '96)

Dr. Rufus Green serves as medical director of the Urology Network of Texas and the Urology Institute.

He is an accomplished urologist and was the first physician to graduate from UT Dallas' executive MBA program. He assisted in the creation of the Alliance for Medical Management Education, a management program for physician executives offered in partnership with The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas and UT Dallas. Dr. Green began his practice in 1978 while serving in the United States Air Force. He attained the rank of colonel and is the recipient of the Air Force Legion of Merit Medal, one of the highest non-combat decorations. Dr. Green holds a commercial pilot's license and is an accomplished saxophone and piano player.

The 2008 Green and Orange Award winners are:

Wei Dong (M.S. '99)

Wei received his master's degree in computer science from the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science. He is a senior manager at Tektronix Communications and received a Future Leader award from the company in 2007. Wei serves as the industry/academia relationship manager for the Tektronix/UT Dallas Key School Program. Michael DeFrank, UT Dallas' director of corporate relations, noted that "Wei has been a tireless advocate of UT Dallas," in facilitating donations of equipment, scholarships for graduate students studying computer science, and funds for the School of Management and the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science.

Jody Nelsen (M.B.A. '97)

Nelsen is the university's associate vice president of business affairs. She was nominated by a colleague, who said that in September 2006, when Jody was asked to serve as the interim vice president for business affairs after the unexpected death of Dr. Larry Terry, she "assumed the role with expedience, ability, character and poise."

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