Every year on an autumn evening, several hundred Longhorns gather to celebrate a group of their most accomplished peers. There are moving video tributes, heartfelt speeches, and one of the classiest dinner parties in Austin—all in honor of the latest crop of Distinguished Alumni. The Texas Exes’ annual Distinguished Alumnus Awards ceremony is the biggest event of the year around these parts, and this fall it promises to be even more spectacular than usual.
The 2014 recipients of the Association’s highest honor come from many walks of life. Among their number are a legendary athlete, an Oscar-winning actor, a former regent, an astronaut, a historic preservationist, and a financial leader and education champion. Record-breaking basketball coach Jody Conradt will also receive the Distinguished Service Award, the highest honor given to an individual who did not attend UT. The honorees will receive the award in an Oct. 17 ceremony at the LBJ Library.
Below, meet the 2014 Distinguished Alumni:
Earl Christian Campbell, BS ’79, Life Member, is one of the greatest running backs to ever play in the National Football League. After becoming the first Longhorn to win a Heisman Trophy in 1977, Campbell was the No. 1 draft pick by the Houston Oilers and went on to be named Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player. In 1981, the legislature named Campbell an Official State Hero of Texas. After retiring from football in 1985, he became a prominent businessman in Austin and later founded Earl Campbell Meat Products, Inc. He also remained actively involved with UT Athletics and was a special assistant to the vice president for student affairs. In 1991, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
H. Scott Caven, Jr., BBA ’64, LLB ’67, Life Member,is managing director of Atlantic Trust, a private wealth management firm. He was a member of the UT Board of Regents from 2003-09, including service as chairman from 2007-09. During a 32-year career with Goldman Sachs, Caven was a vice president and a regional manager. A longtime UT advocate, Caven has chaired the UT System Chancellor’s Council and the McCombs School of Business Advisory Council. He is a founding member of the executive committee of the Texas Coalition for Excellence in Higher Education. He has also chaired the board of directors of the University of Texas Investment Management Company and the Texas Growth Fund board of trustees. Caven is currently a member of the board of trustees for the Texas State History Museum Foundation.
Dealey Decherd Herndon, BA ’69, Life Member, was the executive director for the State Preservation Board of Texas from 1991-95, directing the restoration and extension of the Texas State Capitol. After the Texas Governor’s Mansion was nearly destroyed in a 2008 fire, Herndon returned to lead the restoration of the mansion. She is a longtime project manager and historic preservationist who owned the firm of Herndon, Stauch & Associates from 1995-2006, overseeing projects including UT’s ACES Building, the George W. Bush Childhood Home, the Caldwell County Historic Courthouse, and many more. Herndon is a member of the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame and is a recipient of the Texas Medal of Arts Award. She served on two advisory committees and on the Brackenridge Task Force.
John H. Massey, LLB ’66, Life Member, is the chairman of the Neuberger Berman Private Equity Funds Investment Committee and a member of the Co-Investment Partners Investment Committee. He has been a senior executive and director for many companies, including serving as president of two highly successful companies that were listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Massey also served on the boards of seven other publicly held companies. He and his wife, Elizabeth Shatto Massey (2010 Distinguished Alumna), have created endowments at the McCombs School of Business, the School of Law, and the College of Education, as well as three Texas Exes Forty Acres Scholarships. Massey is also the president of the Law School Foundation and a trustee of the University of Texas Foundation. He is a recipient of UT’s Presidential Citation and in 2012 was inducted into the Texas Business Hall of Fame.
Matthew David McConaughey, BS ’93, Life Member, is an Academy Award-winning actor. He has starred in Dazed and Confused, Amistad, Contact, The Wolf of Wall Street, True Detective, and Dallas Buyers Club, for which he won the Oscar and a Golden Globe Award, both for Best Actor. McConaughey is the founder of the just keep livin Foundation, a nonprofit that empowers high school students to lead active lives and make healthy choices. He also partnered with Mack Brown and Jack Ingram to found Mack, Jack, and McConaughey, a joint fundraising effort that benefits kids.
Karen L. Nyberg, MS ’96, PhD ’98, is a NASA astronaut. She has logged more than 75 million miles and over 180 days in space, including the 123rd shuttle mission in 2008 and a five-month stint on the International Space Station in 2013. Nyberg received a patent in 1994 for a robot-friendly probe and socket assembly she designed while serving as an undergraduate intern at NASA, and her graduate research on the thermoregulation of spacesuits was published in four academic journals. She is the recipient of the Joyce Medalen Society of Women Engineers Award and the University of North Dakota Sioux Award.
Distinguished Service Award
Jody Conradt was the head coach of the University of Texas’ women’s basketball team from 1976-2007. In her 38-year coaching career, her players won 900 games, and 99 percent of them graduated. Among dozens of other accolades, she was named the National Collegiate Coach of the Year three times and was the second woman inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. She helped establish the university’s Neighborhood Longhorns Program, an education outreach group that helps 5,500 disadvantaged Austin children build strong academic futures. Conradt, who also served as women’s athletics director from 1992-2001, is now a special assistant to women’s athletics.