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Texas State Distinguished Alumni

Dr. Patrick L. CoxPresident Lyndon B. Johnson*
1930 History and English
1959 Distinguished Alumnus

Thirty-four outstanding alumni of the College of Liberal Arts have been honored with the Distinguished Alumna/Alumnus Award since 1959, when it was presented to its first recipient, then-Senator Lyndon B. Johnson ('30 BS Ed.—History and English), later the nation's 36th President. The Distinguished Alumna/Alumnus Award, given annually by the Texas State Alumni Association, recognizes alumni who are distinguished in their fields nationally and internationally.


Dr. Patrick L. CoxDr. Patrick L. Cox
1988 History
2014 Distinguished Alumnus

Dr. Patrick Cox is an award-winning, nationally recognized historian, author and conservationist.  A sixth generation Texan who resides with his wife Brenda in Wimberley, Texas, he is President of Patrick Cox Consultants, LLC.  His firm specializes in historical research and projects for individuals, corporations, legal firms, and nonprofit organizations. 

Dr. Cox received his Ph.D. in history and his B.A. in history from the University of Texas at Austin. He earned his M.A. in History with Honors from Texas State University, formerly Southwest Texas State University.  He is the author of nine books and published hundreds of articles on U.S. and Southwestern history, natural resources and conservation.  He retired in 2011 as the Associate Director of the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.


The Rt. Rev. Gary R. LillibridgeThe Rt. Rev. Gary R. Lillibridge
1978 Education and Sociology
2010 Distinguished Alumnus

In 2003, he was elected the ninth Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas. He has received honorary doctorates from both Virginia Theological Seminary and the University of the South (Sewanee) for his work as bishop. In his daily work, he oversees 90 congregations, 27 schools, 25,000 members, and approximately 200 clergy. In addition, he has oversight for many social outreach and camping ministries throughout South Texas and world mission partnerships in other countries.

Michael R. YoungMr. Michael R. Young
1971 BS Geography
2007 Distinguished Alumnus

Major stockholder and President of Chuy’s Comida Deluxe, Inc., which operates several Austin restaurants. Also a partner in Glazing Saddles, Inc., which operates Krispy Kreme stores in Austin, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Laredo, and Waco. Committed to helping children through a number of high-profile community service projects, including the Austin's annual Children Giving to Children Parade, which has collected more than 200,000 toys for needy Austin children.  Raised more than $350,000 for Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Central Texas through his annual sponsorship of 5K and Kid K Runs. In Florida, Mr. Young has constructed a vacation villa and swimming pool so that terminally ill children and their families can enjoy a week-long cost free vacation at Walt Disney World.


Mr. Charles Matthews, DA 2005Mr. Charles Matthews
'99 Master of Public Administration
2005 Distinguished Alumnus

Chancellor of the Texas State University System. Former mayor of Garland, TX, and member of a wide variety of state and national regulatory commissions, including Texas Railroad Commissioner. Many awards for outstanding government and community service.

Ms. Tricia TingleMs. Tricia Tingle
1978 BS Education; 1985 Paralegal Certificate
2005 Distinguished Alumna

Assistant District Attorney in the District of Minnesota, prosecuting criminal cases on Minnesota’s Native American reservations. Served as president of the Native American Bar Association, as founder and president of the Texas Indian Bar Association, and for the American Bar Association as Vice-Chair of the Indian Law Section on Individual Rights and Responsibilities. Honors include the 1995 Special Achievement Award from the U.S. Department of Justice, and the Star Award given by the U.S. Department of Interior in 2001 and 2002.


Ms. Nina VacaMs. Nina Vaca
1994 BA Speech Communication; 1994 Paralegal Certificate
2005 Distinguished Alumna

Founder, president and chair of Pinnacle Technical Resources, an information technology services provider to the Fortune 500. Recipient of the coveted Ernst & Young 2005 Entrepreneur of the Year Award for Technology and Communications for the Southwest Region.  Recognized in 2004 for Outstanding Achievement by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council. Also in 2004, selected to represent the United States as a German Marshall Memorial Fellow, founded by the World Affairs Council.  Named the National Hispanic Business Woman of the Year in 2003 by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.


E.W. "Bill" Wright, DA 2005Mr. E.W. "Bill" Wright
'70 BA Sociology
2005 Distinguished Alumnus

Vice President of SmithBarney Citigroup. Former member of the Texas State University System Board of Regents. Served four years in Vietnam with the Marines. Co-founded the Texas Lyceum non-profit leadership training organization. Active in the American Leadership Forum. Named by USA Today as one of the nation's Rising Stars.


Lt. James D. RogersLt. Col. (Ret.) James D. Rogers
'85 MA History
2003 Distinguished Alumnus

Served 23 years in the U.S. Army. Inducted into the Army's Ranger Hall of Fame in 2002. Served in Korea and Vietnam, receiving the Distinguished Service Cross. Also served in the office of the Army Chief of Staff, and, after retirement, served 16 years as Commandant of Cadets at San Marcos Academy, Texas. Inducted into the Army's Officer Candidate School Hall of Fame in 1983. Recognized by the Texas Historical Commission and named an honorary Admiral of the Texas Navy.


Mr. Shelton Padgett, DA 2002Mr. Shelton Padgett*
'70 BS Political Science
2002 Distinguished Alumnus

Attorney with Akin/Gump/Strauss/Hauer & Feld in San Antonio. Profiled in Best Lawyers in America (top 1% of America's attorneys); elected to American Board of Trial Advocates; only management labor lawyer in Texas who was both board certified in Labor and Employment Law and a member of ABOTA; won cases accepted by the U.S. Supreme Court; author and lecturer.


Ms. Beth Green Moore, DA 2001Ms. Beth Green Moore
'82 BA Political Science
2001 Distinguished Alumna

Award-winning author and speaker on Bible literacy. Books include A Heart Like His, To Live as Christ, and A Woman's Heart. Written or contributed to 30 additional books, Bible studies, journals, videos, and CDs that have sold more than 1.5 million copies. Speaker to more than 100,000 people worldwide each year.

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Mr. Richard. O. Baish, DA 2000Mr. Richard Owen Baish
'69 BA Political Science and History
2000 Distinguished Alumnus

Former President of the El Paso Natural Gas Co., a national energy company. Serves on the Gas Industry Standard Board, is a member of the American and Texas bar associations, Interstate Natural Gas Association, Pacific Coast Gas Association, and the Southern Gas Association. 


Mrs. Inez W. Ramsey, DA 2000Mrs. Inez Wenzel Ramsey
'37 BA English and Spanish, '59 M.Ed. Elementary Education
2000 Distinguished Alumna

Recognized by the National Association for Bilingual Education as a pioneer in bilingual education in the early 1930s in Texas.


Dr. Margaret Dunn, DA 1999Dr. Margaret E. Dunn
'73 BA History, '76 MA Political Science
1999 Distinguished Alumna

Developed national educational programs; consultant for federal agencies; member of numerous national and state boards and organizations.


Dr. Roger J. Spiller, DA 1998Dr. Roger J. Spiller
'69 BA Government Information Systems, '71 MA History
1998 Distinguished Alumnus

The only civilian advisor to Operation Desert Storm; the first George C. Marshall Distinguished Professor of History at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College; edited and contributed to 23 books.


Mr. Richard A. Castro, DA 1997Mr. Richard A. Castro
'70 BS Education--History
1997 Distinguished Alumnus

Inventor of the McDonald's Breakfast Burrito; owner and operator of seven McDonald's restaurants in the El Paso area; former City Manager of Del Rio.

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Dr. Teresa LeClercq, DA 1997Dr. Teresa LeClercq
'68 BS Education--English, '70 MA English
1997 Distinguished Alumna

Nationally-renowned legal language court witness and plagiarism expert; national lecturer on legal writing; author whose articles are referenced by law practitioners, used by academicians and cited by courts of law.


The Hon. John Sharp, DA 1996The Hon. John S. Sharp
'76 MPA Public Administration
1996 Distinguished Alumnus

State of Texas Comptroller; his model for performance review of accounting in government is used nationwide.


Ms. Barbara G. Tidwell, DA 1996Ms. Barbara G. Tidwell
'62 MA History
1996 Distinguished Alumna

Founder, choreographer, and director of the Texas State Strutters, who have performed at Presidential inauguration parades, the Sugar Bowl, All-American pro bowl, NFL Play-offs, and in many countries overseas.


The Hon. Rosalyn H. Baker, DA 1995The Hon. Rosalyn H. Baker
'68 BA Political Science
1995 Distinguished Alumna

Hawaii State Senator; former majority leader for Hawaii House of Representatives; Lobbyist and Assistant Director of Government Relations for National Education Association.


Dr. Tino Villanueva, DA 1995Dr. Tino Villanueva
'69 BA Spanish
1995 Distinguished Alumnus

Award-winning poet and author; founder of Imagine Publishers; received an American Book Award; contributor to International Chicano Poetry Journal; Spanish Professor.

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Dr. Allen V. Kneese, DA 1994Dr. Allen V. Kneese*
'51 BS Education--History and Economics
1994 Distinguished Alumnus

Pioneer in developing the theory of environmental economics; Senior Fellow in the Quality of the Environment Division for Resources for the Future in Washington, D.C.; recipient of the Volvo Environment Prize.


Vice Admiral Jimmy Pappas, DA 1993Vice Admiral Jimmy Pappas
'56 BA History
1993 Distinguished Alumnus

Vice Admiral of the United States Navy; President of the Navy-Marine Relief Society.


Mr. Chelcie Ross, DA 1993Mr. Chelcie Ross
’64 BA English
1993 Distinguished Alumnus

Character actor in many feature-length films and made-for-TV movies, including "Rudy," "Amos and Andrew," and "Basic Instinct."


Mr. Edwin Smith, DA 1990Mr. J. Edwin Smith*
'33 BA History
1990 Distinguished Alumnus 

A civil rights attorney, Mr. Smith handled the court case outlawing primaries that did not allow African-Americans to vote; argued before the U.S. Supreme Court.


Mr. Emmett Shelton Sr., DA 1989Mr. Emmett Shelton Sr. *
'25 BA English
1989 Distinguished Alumnus

Land planner for the city of West Lake Hills and the Emmett Shelton Bridge, connecting West Lake Hills with Austin; oral history scholar; attorney; poet.

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Dr. York Willbern, DA 1988Dr. York Willbern*
'34 BA History
1988 Distinguished Alumnus

President of the American Society for Public Administration; Phi Beta Kappa; taught all over the U.S. and world; American Political Science Association; American Association of University Professors; International Association of University Professors and Lecturers.


The Hon. Gerald Hill, DA 1987The Hon. Gerald W. Hill
'70 BS Education--History
1987 Distinguished Alumnus

Texas State Representative District 49; named one of Texas Monthly's 10 Best Legislators; National Director of Jaycees; Executive Assistant to Governor Mark White; Vice Chancellor for Governmental Relations with the University of Texas System; Texas State Vice President for University Advancement.


 The Hon. W.C. Perry, Ph.D., DA 1987The Hon. W.C. Perry, Ph.D.*
'38 BS History
1987 Distinguished Alumnus

Leadership role at the state, regional and national level of the Student Personnel Association; Vice President of Student Affairs at Baylor University; Dean of Students; Superintendent.


Mr. Roy V. Willbern, DA 1987Mr. Roy Willbern*
'38 BA English, '42 MA Speech Education, '87 MA English
1987 Distinguished Alumnus

Attorney; established San Jacinto Savings Associations; widely published in Christian education; noted speaker with national engagements.


Richard B. Henderson, DA 1986Dr. Richard B. Henderson*
'49 BA Political Science
1986 Distinguished Alumnus

Author of award-winning biography Maury Maverick, recognized as an established model for political biographies; professor.

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Mr. Russell Vliet, DA 1982Mr. Russell G. Vliet*
'52 BS Education-Speech Communication, '53 MA English
1982 Distinguished Alumnus

Award-winning playwright, poet and novelist; Rockefeller Fellow in Fiction and Poetry.


Mrs. Ella SoRelle Porter, DA 1981Mrs. Ella SoRelle Porter*
'30 BA Spanish and Mathematics
1981 Distinguished Alumna

President of Kappa Delta Pi; first woman administrator in Houston ISD; math teacher; helped organize the Houston Council of Teachers of Mathematics.


Mr. William L. Deck, DA 1980Dr. William L. Deck*
'39 BS History, '40 MA Education
1980 Distinguished Alumnus

One of the first to develop a course of study to reflect electricity/electronics technology in industrial arts, a curriculum still used today in modified form; developed Texas Industrial Arts Association.


Dr. Tomas Rivera, DA 1980Dr. Tomás Rivera*
'58 BS Education-English and Sociology
'64 M.Ed. Educational Administration and English
1980 Distinguished Alumnus

Internationally-known Chicano author who set the standard for contemporary Mexican-American literature; Chancellor of the University of California; professor and lecturer.


Mr. Kelly FrelsMr. Kelly Frels
1966 BS Education-Social Studies
1978 Distinguished Alumnus

Senior partner in the Houston law firm of Bracewell and Giuliani, representing public and private schools and other public organizations. First recipient of the Chairman’s Award for Lifetime Achievement from the National School Boards Association’s Council of School Attorneys (2004). Chosen in 1977 as the Outstanding Young Lawyer by the Texas Young Lawyers Association. Served as president of the Houston Bar Association 1994-1995 and as a member of the State Bar of Texas Board of Directors. He was president of the State Bar of Texas 2004-2005.  Named Director Emeritus of the Greater Houston Partnership in 2004 after many years of involvement. He also served as chair of the Houston Area Flood Control Task Force, and in 2003 he was honored by the Houston Chapter of the American Red Cross as an “Everyday Hero.” Also served as president of the Texas State University Alumni Association.


Mr. Yancy P. Yarbrough, DA 1979Mr. Yancy P. Yarbrough*
'24 BA English
1979 Distinguished Alumnus

Held state and national offices in the Secondary Principals Association; educator; school administrator; San Marcos High School Principal for 30 years.

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Mr. Claud H. Kellam, DA 1977Mr. Claud H. Kellam*
'23 BS History and Biology
1977 Distinguished Alumnus

Helped to organize the Texas High School Coaches Association, which is the model for other states; Hall of Honor Texas School Coaches Association.


Dr. John T. Dailey, DA 1975Dr. John T. Dailey
'36 BA History and English
1975 Distinguished Alumnus

Developed behavioral profile for airline hijackers for the Federal Aviation Administration; received the FAA Flight Safety Award in 1972; member of the President's Committee on Mental Retardation; author; psychologist.


Mr. Debs Hensley, DA 1975Mr. Debs Hensley*
'41 BS Social Studies
1975 Distinguished Alumnus

Regional Director of Personnel for the U.S. Postal Service, responsible for five states.


Dr. Raymond Cavness, DA 1972Dr. Raymond Cavness*
'25 BA Spanish and English
1972 Distinguished Alumnus

District Governor of Rotary International; Who's Who in America; helped change San Angelo State University from a two-year school to a four-year school.


Mr. Walter Richter, DA 1969Mr. Walter H. Richter*
'38 BA History, '39 MA History
1969 Distinguished Alumnus

Regional director of the Office of Economic Opportunity; Texas State Senator; trustee on the board of State Colleges and Universities.

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