Recognizing the excellence in knowledge, creativity, enterprise and community engagement of UNT’s alumni and friends, the university presented several awards April 17 at the annual Alumni Awards Dinner.
UNT’s most prestigious alumni award, the Distinguished Alumnus/Alumna Award, is given to individuals who have achieved prominence in their profession and reflect a positive image of UNT. This year’s honorees were William “Bill” Lively (’70 M.M.Ed.), Charles W. Nelson (’50, ’51 M.M.Ed.) and G. Brint Ryan (’88, ’88 M.S.).
"Our efforts as a university are best demonstrated by the accomplishments of our alumni,” President Gretchen M. Bataille says. “There is no better validation of our mission and no better representation of our success than the achievements of those we recognize as distinguished alumni.”
William 'Bill' Lively
Lively earned his master’s in music education at North Texas, before becoming an educator and administrator at Southern Methodist University. While there, he founded the SMU Symphonic Wind Ensemble and the Tate Lecture Series. Lively founded the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts Foundation in 2000 and has helped raise more than $338 million to build the new Dallas Center for the Performing Arts, which will open in October. The fundraising campaign includes the most million-dollar campaign gifts to build a cultural facility in American history.
Lively also is president and CEO of “Up with People” and an entertainment producer for the National Football League. He is president and CEO of the North Texas Super Bowl XLV Host Committee.
In nominating Lively for this award, Crescent Research president Donald Winspear pointed to his unwavering enthusiasm in the face of challenges, and says, “Bill’s accomplishments are an exceptional demonstration of the word ‘distinguished.’”
Charles W. Nelson
Nelson, who earned his bachelor’s in music and a master’s in music education at North Texas, is a Professor Emeritus of music at Abilene Christian University, where he also served as an artist-in-residence.
A world-class bass, he has appeared as a soloist in more than 2,000 performances in 49 states and 15 countries. Throughout his career as a performer, mentor and teacher, Nelson is most often recognized for sharing the musical world with audiences and students.
Mila Gibson, founder and director of the Amarillo Opera, cited his “vocal talents, musical integrity, expertise, inspiration and winning personality” in nominating him for the award.
UNT Regents Professor of voice Linda Di Fiore remembers Nelson celebrating his 80th birthday with a gift to the Texas music community and the city of Abilene, where he lives.
In addition to hiring an orchestra and top soloists from around the state, Nelson rented a venue and housed and fed every person involved in the production. After two days of rehearsals, he then conducted a performance of Handel’s Messiah.
“It was one of the most profound musical experiences of my career,” DiFiore says.
G. Brint Ryan
After Ryan earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting at UNT, he founded Ryan Inc., the largest tax services firm in North America, where he is man- aging principal.
With about 800 professionals at offices in the United States and Canada, the firm serves Global 500 companies worldwide. In addition to being named to the Taxpayer Advisory Group, a committee appointed by the Texas comptroller of public accounts, Ryan has helped lead significant tax reform for Texas. Carole Keeton Strayhorn, former Texas comptroller, calls him “a young Texan of the highest intellect, integrity, determination and good grace.”
Fellow accounting alumna Laura Wright (’82, ’82 M.S.), chief financial officer for Southwest Airlines, acknowledges Ryan’s “determination, creativity, intellectual curiosity and plain hard work.”
Ryan, a member and former chair of the UNT Accounting Advisory Board, was previously named Outstanding Alumnus of the Year by the accounting department, distinguished alumnus by the Beta Pi chapter of the accounting fraternity Beta Alpha Psi and recipient of the Outstanding Service Award at UNT.
- Green Glory Award
Presented to individuals (not necessarily alumni) whose assistance to UNT has enabled the university to provide a margin of excellence in its endeavors
Jordan Case (’81) is president of Park Place Lexus in Plano and Grapevine. Under his leadership, the auto dealership received the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award in the small business category. It is the nation’s highest presidential honor for performance and organizational excellence.
- Honorary Alumnus/Alumna Award
Presented to individuals who never attended UNT but who have exhibited outstanding devotion, service and support to the university
Bill McCarter and his wife, Mickey McCarter, both served as faculty members in what is now the College of Visual Arts and Design, beginning in 1968, with Mickey retiring in 2003 and Bill retiring in 2005.
- Outstanding Service Award
Given to individuals who have provided exceptional volunteer service to UNT
Paul Voertman, whose family founded Voertman’s Bookstore more than 80 years ago, attended North Texas in the ’40s. Voertman created the $1.5 million Voertman-Ardoin Memorial fund to support the installation of a concert organ in Winspear Hall in the Murchison Performing Arts Center.
- Ulys Knight Spirit Award
Given to an alumnus, alumna or group that has made noteworthy efforts to sustain spirit among the UNT family. Ulys Knight (’28), a basketball player named most popular man on campus, was later known as “Mr. North Texas” for his participation in alumni activities.
William ‘Bill’ Worrell (’74 M.F.A.) is a sculptor and a painter who maintains studios in Santa Fe, N.M., and on the banks of the Llano River in Texas.
Talons, a student spirit organization that has preserved Mean Green traditions for 50 years, has built the Homecoming bonfire every year since 1960.
- President’s Citation
Presented to individuals who have given extraordinary service and support to UNT either in enhancing its reputation or in helping the university accomplish its mission
Charles O’Neal attended North Texas from 1969 to 1971 and was a member of Omega Psi Phi, the first African American fraternity on campus. He was the first editor of The Dallas Examiner, the most widely read African American weekly newspaper in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and is the current vice president of the Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce.