Missile-ruined buildings and Baghdad International Airport were a constant backdrop for Dilks during his time in Iraq.

UT Dallas honored nine alumni and one of the University’s most loyal community supporters at the annual Awards Gala last month.

The University recognized its graduates with the Distinguished Alumni Award and the Green and Orange Award for Alumni Service. The gala also presented the Gifford K. Johnson Community Leadership Award, named for the first president of the Southwest Center for Advanced Studies, the institution he helped transform into UT Dallas in 1969.

Community Leadership Award recipient Debbie Francis thanked the University’s Center for BrainHealth, where she is board chairwoman, for changing the lives of others through its pioneering research and programs supporting brain health. “I’m proud to be associated with this wonderful University that has grown so extensively and is only going to keep getting better,” Francis said. Francis wasn’t the only honoree impressed with her experience at UT Dallas: Distinguished Alumni Award recipients shared high praise about the University and their time spent here.

For Ron Nash MS’79, the hustle-bustle of the campus at night inspired a moment of clarity after an exhausting day of work followed by studying. “I sat down on a bench and I started looking at people and I was amazed at the thousands of people in all shapes, sizes, genders and ethnic background,” he said. “Some were in business suits and medical scrubs. There was a policeman and a construction worker. It suddenly hit me that all these people worked during the day, too, and had decided that education was the key to improving their lives and they had decided to come to UT Dallas to learn and progress—and it just kind of lifted me. Isn’t this a great institution that can make these changes in people’s lives?”

During his time in Baghdad, Dilks worked with some of the highest-ranking military commanders, including David H. Petraeus, Commanding General of Multi-National Forces in Iraq
UT System Regent Brenda Pejovich and Deborah Georgatos attended the March 31 event.

David Norris BS’90 credited the University for helping develop a strong backbone that has served him well during his career as a serial entrepreneur. “Going to such a great University, I’ve met many inspiring leaders that helped shape and form my attitude on how to take ideas forward even when people might not agree with me,” he said.

Britt Berrett PhD’09 attended the gala after sitting in on a class taught by Dr. Richard K. Scotch, a professor of Sociology, Public Policy, and Political Economy who worked with Berrett while he pursued his PhD. “The students I met with are bright. They are engaging. They are an utter delight,” Berrett said.

When Sally Crawford BGS’83 graduated from UT Dallas, she had her sights set on being a lawyer. With help from pre-law advisor Dr. Anthony Champagne, a professor in the Political Science Program, she made it to SMU law school. “UT Dallas helped make that possible, because the staff and faculty were so caring and concerned.” After her recent visit to campus, Crawford said, “The UT Dallas programs that give students new opportunities, along with the University’s general outreach to the community—these initiatives are tremendous. They are priceless.”

To view pictures from the event, visit utdallas.edu/gala.

Gifford K. Johnson Community Leadership Award

Green and Orange Award for Alumni Service
During his time in Baghdad, Dilks worked with some of the highest-ranking military commanders, including David H. Petraeus, Commanding General of Multi-National Forces in Iraq
The Center for BrainHealth’s Dr. Sandra Bond Chapman and President David E. Daniel presented Debbie Francis with the Gifford K. Johnson Community Leadership Award.

Distinguished Alumni Award

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