UNT to honor alumni, supporters at Feb. 22 event

Wednesday, February 13, 2013 - 22:18

DENTON (UNT), Texas--A rock and roll legend and business leaders are among the 10 University of North Texas alumni who will be honored for their outstanding career achievements and service to UNT Feb. 22 (Friday) at the 2013 Annual Alumni Awards Dinner.

The event includes the Generations of Excellence Award — to honor a family for its support of UNT through several generations. Watch a video of alumni award winners at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nupjYzl2Uhk&feature=youtu.be.

This year’s award recipients are:

  • The late Roy Orbison, who will receive the Distinguished Alumni Award. First presented in 1965, this is the university's most prestigious award and is given to individuals who have achieved prominence in their profession, thereby reflecting a positive image of UNT. Orbison, who attended UNT in the 1950s, launched his early career while at the university, when he recorded his first hit song “Ooby Dooby,” written by two UNT students. Orbison would go on to co-write and record such hits as “Only the Lonely,” “Blue Angel,” and “Oh, Pretty Woman” and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. He died in 1988.
  • Samuel P. Golden (’74), who also will receive the Distinguished Alumni Award. With nearly 34 years of executive leadership experience in the financial services industry, Golden currently serves as co-CEO of Alvarez & Marsal Financial Industry Advisory Services in Houston. Golden is a member of the UNT Foundation’s Board of Directors, the Chilton Society, the 1890 Society and a lifetime member of the UNT Alumni Association. He is also chairman of the Finance Council at Gethesmane Missionary Baptist Church and has served in a variety of leadership roles with the Fort Bend Education Foundation.
  • Christopher Drake (’01), who will receive the Distinguished Young Alumni Award. Created in 2011 in the image of the Distinguished Alumni Award, this honor was established to recognize young alumni under the age of 40 for distinguished career achievement. Drake is the founder and CEO of FireHost, a secure cloud hosting company focused on providing clients with security solutions for websites, applications and critical data. Under Drake’s leadership, FireHost continues to grow at a rate of 200 percent year-over-year. In 2011, the company blocked more than 50 million hacks against websites and online assets.
  • Eli Young Band Members Michael Eli Diaz (’04), James Jeffrey Young (’02), Jonathan Bradley Jones (’04) and Christopher Jordan Thompson (’04) will each receive the Distinguished Young Alumni Award. The band members, who met while attending UNT, earned their first platinum record with “Crazy Girl” in 2011, selling more than 1.5 million downloads of the track. The band won Song of the Year at the 2011 Academy of Country Music Awards and was nominated for a 2013 Grammy Award for Best Country Duo/Group Performance. Band members will not be able to attend the Alumni Awards Dinner in person because of a conflict with performance tours.
  • Michael Friedman (’72), who will receive the Outstanding Alumni Service Award. Originally presented in 1974, this award honors individuals who have provided exceptional volunteer service to UNT. Friedman serves on the board of the UNT Alumni Association and the advisory board for the UNT Jewish Studies program, as well as on numerous other boards, including the Board of Trustees for the Plano Independent School District, the Cancer Foundation for Life, and Jewish Family Services and Legacy Senior Communities of Plano/Dallas.
  • Ernie Kuehne Jr. (’66), who will receive the Ulys Knight Spirit Award. Presented since 1975, this award is given to any individual or group that has made noteworthy efforts to sustain spirit among the UNT family. In August 2012, Kuehne chaired UNT’s Basketball Enhancement Committee, which raised more than $3 million in gifts for a new basketball training facility, a state-of-the-art scoreboard in the UNT Coliseum and additional funding for scholarships. As part of that campaign, Kuehne presented the athletic department with a cornerstone $1 million gift. Kuehne, president and board chairman of Kuehne Oil Co., is a member of the UNT McConnell Society and Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity Alumni Advisory Board, and a lifetime member of the UNT Alumni Association and UNT Ex-Letterman’s Association.
  • The Family of C. Dean Davis ('53), which will receive the Generations of Excellence Award. This award is given to a family for extraordinary service to and advocacy for UNT through multiple generations. The family of C. Dean Davis (’53), founder and senior managing shareholder of Davis Fuller Jackson and Keene law firm in Austin and former chairman of the UNT Board of Regents, has a rich history with UNT that spans more than 100 years. Since 1910, nearly 40 members of his extended family have attended the university, including his parents, sister and many aunts, uncles and cousins. While at UNT, Davis was involved in student government and was a national debate champion before earning an honors degree in government and economics. Davis earned the university’s highest honor, the Distinguished Alumni Award, in 1990.

UNT News Service
(940) 565-2108