2014 Distinguished Alumnus Awards

The 2014 Distinguished Alumnus Awards were among the most star-studded in the ceremony’s 56-year history. A Heisman Award recipient, a NASA astronaut who has flown more than 180 days in space, and an Academy Award-winning superstar took the stage in the auditorium of the LBJ Library. Those were the headlines, but there were so many more reasons that this ceremony was one of the most memorable in recent history.

The Distinguished Service Award was presented for only the seventh time to an non-alumna in recognition of exemplary service to UT. A major philanthropist, a former UT System regent, and the woman in charge of the restoration of the Governor’s Mansion and the Texas State Capitol had the Texas Exes’ highest honor bestowed upon them. Though the awardees excel in different fields and come from different backgrounds, all shared a common theme in their speeches: the ways in which the University of Texas changed their lives.



H. Scott Caven, Jr.
BBA ’64, LLB ’67, Life Member
Managing Director of Atlantic Trust, Former Chairman of the UT System Board of Regents, Longtime UT Advocate and Philanthropist

“I believe that every university student has aspirations that he or she may play some small part in changing the world during his or her lifetime, to make a difference—perhaps to change the course of history—and it’s clear that UT prepares its students well for the opportunity to accomplish that goal.”

Earl Christian Campbell
BS ’79, Life Member
Heisman Trophy Winner, Pro Football Hall of Famer, Entrepreneur, Official State Hero of Texas

“It was a great experience coming here. I made so many friends. I want one thing to be very clear: I made an effort to be a friend first, and if you make an effort to be wanted, somebody will want you. That’s the way my mother raised me.”

Dealey Decherd Herndon
BA ’69, Life Member
Renowned Historic Preservationist, State Leader

“I always knew the university as The University. That’s all I ever heard. The very first memory I have is my father putting me to bed singing “The Eyes of Texas.” Since I’m tone deaf, it’s one of the only songs I can actually sing.”

John H. Massey
LLB ’66, Life Member
Chairman of the Neuberger Berman Private Equity Funds Investment Committee and Member of the Co-Investment Partners Investment Committee, President of the UT Law School Foundation, Major UT Philanthropist

“We all believe the University of Texas is the jewel in the crown of our state, which we must continue to protect diligently at all cost. We know now that we cannot take anything for granted, and hopefully, some of our grandchildren will have the opportunity to attend this great public teaching and research university which we all love and cherish so much.”

Karen L. Nyberg
MS ’96, PhD ’98
NASA Astronaut With More Than 180 Days in Space

“I’ve had such good fortune to have some extraordinary experiences, the most amazing being looking down on our earth from 250 miles [up]. You would not believe the glorious beauty of this place that we live. I can only hope that I’ve taken all former, current, and especially future Longhorns along for the ride.”

Jody Conradt
Former Head Coach of the UT Women’s Basketball Team, Former UT Women’s Athletics Director,
Champion for Female Collegiate Athletes

“[UT] changed my world to give me an opportunity to pursue my passion, because I didn’t see women coaching. I saw [UT] change the world of so many young women. I can’t think of very many professions in the ’70s that were as male-dominated as sports. And it wasn’t always easy, but when you saw the things that happened [at the University of Texas], it warmed your heart. And it made for memories I’ll never forget.”

Matthew David McConaughey
BS ’93, Life Member
Academy Award-Winning Actor, Philanthropist, Founder of the just keep livin Foundation

“When you come here you’re going to get access to a great education. You’re also going to get a real good life lesson in what it means to compete. And I don’t mean on the field. I mean for what classes you want, for what teachers you want. Across the board you have to get out and engage and take care of yourself.”
Photographs by Jeff Wilson


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