Six Join the Ranks of UT’s Distinguished Alumni

 

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“Tonight and commencement are my favorite nights of the year,” said UT president Bill Powers as he opened the Texas Exes’ annual Distinguished Alumnus Awards ceremony on Friday.

We tend to agree. Among the dozens of events the Texas Exes hosts each year, the Distinguished Alumnus Awards is the biggest—after all, the award is the University’s highest honor for alumni. Journalist Walter Cronkite, astronaut Bob Crippen, and concert pianist James Dick are among the hundreds of luminaries to have been named Distinguished Alumni since the award’s inception in 1958.

Over the weekend, six more joined their ranks: Linda Addison, Charles Fraser, Wallace Jefferson, Janiece Longoria, Robert Rowling, and James Truchard.

More than 500 guests filled the LBJ Library Auditorium for the ceremony, which included touching video tributes to the recipients. After donning the customary burnt-orange blazer, the recipients gave heartfelt speeches thanking their supporters and sharing stories from their times at UT. These weren’t your typical fawning acceptance speeches. Instead, there was humor—such as when Longoria said the evening was right up there with the day she caught a record-breaking trout in Alaska. There was intense emotion when Addison spoke of how she wished her late parents, Holocaust survivors and immigrants who taught her the value of education, could have been there, and again when Truchard read a poem he’d written in honor of his late wife.

There was also a lot of thundering applause, especially when each recipient thanked Powers for leading the University. All six made a point to do so, a gesture that didn’t go unnoticed during a year in which University leaders and UT System regents often clashed.

The recipients also spoke at length about how attending UT changed their lives in ways both small and large. Truchard, who grew up on a farm without electricity, said the first thing he learned on campus was to tuck the shower curtain liner inside the tub. Jefferson recounted how he’d gained lifelong mentors in his professors at UT Law. And Addison summed up the sentiments of all six recipients when she said,”Our lives are richer, fuller, and more interesting because of the educations we gained here.”

Get to know the 2013 Distinguished Alumni here.

The 2013 Distinguished Alumni were recognized on the field at the Texas vs. Kansas game on Saturday.

From left: Linda Addison, Charles Fraser, Wallace Jefferson, Janiece Longoria, Robert Rowling, and James Truchard.

Photo by Anna Donlan.

 

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