UT Dallas Alumni, Supporters Lauded for Service

Alumni Gala Honorees 2013

From left, back row: William C. Bill Sproull, Bryant Ambelang, Dr. Seshu Madhavapeddy, Dr. Alan Govenar and Dr. Susan Miller. From left, front row: Jefflyn Williamson, President David E. Daniel, Neila Skinner Petrick, Dr. Joseph P. Estrera and David Williamson

Alumni and community leaders took center stage at the University’s 11th annual Awards Gala this month. More than 300 guests celebrated the honorees’ accomplishments in technology, filmmaking, audiology, business and research.   

David Williamson BS’98, MS’02, MS’03 used his moment at the mic to announce surprise gifts for UT Dallas from him and fellow geosciences alumni. His motivation?  “It was only by coming to UT Dallas that I discovered the fire burning inside of me and that I love to learn,” said Williamson, who is vice president of geosciences at Forge Energy, LLC in San Antonio. “The earth is my canvas and my laboratory,” he said.

Williamson received the Green and Orange Award for Alumni Service.

Donning an orange UT Dallas tie, William C. “Bill” Sproull accepted the Gifford K. Johnson Community Leadership Award. He champions the University as president and CEO of the Metroplex Technology Business Council, Richardson Chamber of Commerce and the Richardson Economic Development Partnership.

Betty Johnson

Betty Johnson holds the award named for her husband, Gifford K. Johnson. He was the first president of the Southwest Center for Advanced Studies, the institution he helped transform into UT Dallas in 1969.

Sproull was instrumental in Project Emmitt—one of the most significant economic development projects supported by the state of Texas—which resulted in the building of the Natural Science and Engineering Research Laboratory (NSERL) at UT Dallas.

“I’ve so enjoyed helping build this great University,” Sproull said. He also assisted a statewide coalition that passed legislation to create the Texas Emerging Technology Fund. Sproull is an advocate for the University as a member of the UT Dallas Development Board and as treasurer of the Friends of UT Dallas Political Action Committee.

As senior vice president and chief technology officer at Samsung Mobile USA, Distinguished Alumnus Seshu Madhavapeddy MS’87, PhD’91 said he enjoys watching the value of his UT Dallas degree increase with jumps in rankings, like those in U.S. News & World Report. “I’m most grateful that as UT Dallas’ reputation grows, I get smarter,” he said.

Madhavapeddy was drawn from India to Texas by UT Dallas. What made him stay, he said, was meeting his wife, Victoria, a fellow student who ultimately completed her bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate at UT Dallas. Since then, Madhavapeddy has built his career within a five mile radius of campus, holding positions at Nortel, Texas Instruments and two start-up companies. “I am truly a son of the soil of the Telecom Corridor.”

Dr. Bert Moore, Dr. Susan Miller, Dr. David E Daniel

Dr. Susan Miller accepts the Distinguished Alumni Award from Bert Moore, dean of the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences (left), and President David E. Daniel.

Twenty years since graduating from the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Susan Miller PhD’94 is an expert in presentation skills, refinement of the speaking voice and treatment of the injured voice. She has appeared on NBC, NPR, in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

“I take out my UT Dallas tool box every day working with clients,” said Miller, who is principal and founder of Voicetrainer, LLC, a voice and communication consulting firm in Washington, D.C.

Generous sponsors of this year’s gala include: Approach Resources Inc., Austin Commercial, Chartwells, the city of Richardson, Ernst & Young, Forge Energy, Huawei, L-3 Warrior Systems, Metroplex Technology Business Council, Mohr Partners Inc., Pioneer Natural Resources, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Richardson Chamber of Commerce, Samsung Mobile USA, Texas Instruments and Voicetrainer, LLC.

New Gifts Support GeosciencesDavid Williamson BS'98, MS'02, MS'03

Four gifts for geosciences—announced by alumnus David Williamson at the gala—will provide a big boost to one of the University’s smaller departments.

Williamson and fellow geosciences alumni said they were inspired to give by the University’s Tier One aspirations, the growth of the Department of Geosciences and by recent faculty hires.

The four Opportunity Funds will provide endowed, unrestricted support for the Department of Geosciences. These funds were created by alumni of the UT Dallas GeoClub, a group of geosciences alumni, Distinguished Alumni Award honorees and Williamson, who named a gift in honor of his late father, John.

 “With such a positive experience and robust career, how could I do anything else?” said Williamson. “I owe this institution so much.”

Before he joined Forge Energy, LLC in San Antonio as their vice president of geosciences, Williamson was a petroleum geologist at Pioneer Natural Resources. While at Pioneer, Williamson, Kevin Woller MS’01, Rob Hull MS’94, Neil Basu MS’06 and Sherrie Pena MS’05 made gifts that were matched by the company’s matching gift program and resulted in the creation of an Opportunity Fund for the Department of Geosciences. 

Gala Honorees

Distinguished Alumni Awards

Bryant Ambelang BA’90 – President and CEO, NatureSweet Tomatoes, San AntonioJoseph P. Estrera MS’92, PhD’92 – Chief technology officer, Advanced Programs, L-3 Infrared Products, GarlandAlan Govenar PhD’84 – President of Documentary Arts, Inc., DallasSeshu Madhavapeddy MS’87, PhD’91 – Senior vice president and chief technology officer at Samsung Mobile USA, RichardsonSusan Miller PhD’94 – Founder and CEO of Voicetrainer, LLC, Washington, D.C.Neila Skinner Petrick MA’76 – Author, Filmmaker and Playwright, DallasJefflyn Williamson BS’83 – Owner, Jefflyn and Company Commercial Real Estate, Dallas

Green & Orange Award for Alumni Service

David Williamson BS’98, MS’02, MS’03 – Vice President, Geoscience, Forge Energy, LLC, San Antonio

Gifford K. Johnson Community Leadership Award

William Sproull – President and CEO, the Metroplex Technology Business Council, Richardson Chamber of Commerce and the Richardson Economic Development Partnership, Richardson

See the Alumni Link for full profiles of the awardees.

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].