Alumni Awards 2016


even outstanding UNT alumni were honored for their professional and philanthropic accomplishments, as well as service to their communities and university, at this year's Distinguished Alumni Achievement Awards.

2016 UNT Soaring Eagle recipients group photo
Pictured with President Neal Smatresk, fourth from left, at the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Awards Dinner are, from left, Jim McNatt ('66), Laura Dominguez ('05), Beau LaMothe ('07), Ben Joyner ('74, '76 M.B.A.), Peggy Rouh ('95 M.S., '01 Ph.D.), Jerome "Bruzzy" Westheimer Jr. ('65) and Bryan Milner ('00). (Photo by Kasey Kamenicky ('04)/FW Creations)

The awards program, which took place during Homecoming Week, has existed for 51 years to celebrate alumni achievements. Honors included the Distinguished Alumni Award, one of UNT's most prestigious, presented since 1965 to individuals who have earned prominence and accolades for their professional accomplishments as well as service to the university. The Distinguished Young Alumni Award honors alumni under 40 with the same criteria.

"This year's alumni award winners are an exceptional group of entrepreneurs and philanthropists who make their communities a better place," President Neal Smatresk says. "We are so proud of all they have accomplished as leaders and the impact they make in the world."

Distinguished Alumni Award

Jim McNatt ('66)

Jim McNatt began his career in the automobile industry at age 12, washing cars at his father's dealership in Greenville. After earning a business degree at UNT, he went on to build the successful Jim McNatt Auto Group, which he sold in 2014. He continues in the industry as a partner in Luttrull-McNatt dealerships in Sanger and Gainesville, and is vice president of McNatt Properties LC, a real estate construction and apartment management business. He was a member of Kappa Sigma fraternity while at UNT.

He is a member of the UNT Alumni Association, a lifetime member of the UNT Kuehne Speaker Series, a member of the UNT Foundation board of directors and a member of the President's Leadership Board.

He and his wife, Linda, support the Denton Animal Support Foundation, North Texas Fair and Rodeo, United Way of Denton County, and Court Appointed Special Advocates of Denton County Inc.

Bryan Milner ('00)

Bryan Milner is senior vice president of loan originations at Wells Fargo Capital Finance. He is responsible for originating corporate loans from $30 million to $5 billion or more in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.

As a member of the board of directors for UNT's Professional Leadership Program, he was instrumental in helping the program grow from 40 students to more than 100 annually. He is a member of the College of Business FIREL Advisory Board, and a lifetime member of the UNT Kuehne Speaker Series.

He has worked with UNT's Career Center to increase opportunities for students and serves as a mentor.

Jerome 'Bruzzy' Westheimer Jr. ('65)

Bruzzy Westheimer Jr. is president of Valbel West, an oil and gas producer and geology business in Ardmore, Okla., and president and CEO of the Jerome Westheimer Family Foundation. The foundation primarily supports scholarships and programs in science, education, culture and the arts.

He is a life member of the UNT Alumni Association, a lifetime member of the UNT Kuehne Speaker Series and a member of the President's Leadership Board.

Distinguished Young Alumni Award

Laura Dominguez ('05)

Laura Dominguez works on humanitarian projects in the U.S., Central America and Africa. She is a program officer for FHI 360, an international human development nonprofit focused on health, education, economic development, gender, civil society and youth.

Until recently, she provided operational and administrative support to the U.S. Agency for International Development-funded Haiti Ann ALE project as well as serving as the Gender Focal Point for FHI 360's Global Education Unit. She recently joined FHI 360's Gender Department, managing a U.K.-funded Girls' Education Challenge Program.

Beau LaMothe ('07)

Beau LaMothe is the chief commercial officer for PGL, a third-party logistics provider headquartered in Irving. He is responsible for PGL's long-term strategic direction, marketing, sales and service offerings.

He has worked with the Murphy Center for Entrepreneurship, provided continued support to the logistics and supply chain program and is the youngest person to serve on the College of Business' Advisory Board.

Outstanding Service Award

Presented to honor individuals who have provided exceptional volunteer service to UNT.

Peggy Rouh ('95 M.S., '01 Ph.D.) retired from IBM as a senior manager responsible for corporate training and development, consulting, sales, marketing and customer service. She has been a supporter of UNT's College of Information since its inception in 2008 and served as the college's recent Capital Campaign co-chair. She also created an endowed scholarship for students in UNT's Department of Learning Technologies and has worked as an adjunct professor and lecturer in the department since 2004. She serves on the college's Academic Affairs Committee and is chairwoman of the Learning Technologies Awards Committee.

Ulys Knight Spirit Award

Presented to an individual or group that has made noteworthy efforts to sustain spirit among the UNT family.

Ben Joyner ('74, '76 M.B.A.) has worked in the finance industry in the North Texas region for more than 30 years. Currently, he serves as senior vice president of commercial banking with UMB Bank. He has held similar roles at BBVA Compass Bank, Texas Bank and First State Bank. Joyner is an avid sports fan, attending games in Denton, often traveling to road football and basketball games, attending coaches radio shows and the annual Coaches Caravan. He serves on the UNT Foundation board, is past-president and life member of the UNT Alumni Association and a longtime member of the Mean Green Club.

Nomination forms for 2017 awards will be available after Jan. 1 at >>