UNT honors distinguished alumni for professional achievements and service to university

Monday, October 14, 2019 - 09:10

The University of North Texas Alumni Association will honor outstanding alumni at the 2019 Distinguished Alumni Achievement Awards to showcase their professional caliber and outstanding service to the university.

This is the 54th anniversary of the alumni awards program. This year’s event will take place Oct. 30 in the Apogee Stadium HUB Club. A reception will be hosted at 6 p.m., and the dinner and ceremony will begin at 7 p.m.

“Our university family is grateful for the support and the incredible legacies of the alumni honored this year. Our alumni are often our proudest champions for the work happening on campus and they help us achieve our goals by sharing their expertise with advisory boards, mentoring and hiring students, and generously contributing of knowledge and resources,” UNT President Neal Smatresk said. “Our Mean Green family makes a tremendous impact on our university every single day, and I’m proud of what we are able to accomplish through their support.” 

Distinguished Alumni Awards – First presented in 1965, this is one of the university's most prestigious awards. It recognizes alumni who have achieved prominence in their profession and serve the university through leadership, advocacy and giving. 

  • George Foster (ʼ72) is president and CEO of Foster Marketing, the world's largest oil and gas marketing and communications firm. Foster serves on the Mayborn School of Journalism Advisory Board and previously served on the school’s Campaign Action Team. He has endowed the Foster Marketing Public Relations Scholarship, the Foster Marketing Communication Scholarship and the Foster Marketing Houston Area Endowed Journalism Scholarship.
  • Steve Holmes (ʼ80) served as CEO of Starplex Cinemas, one of the largest movie exhibition companies in the country. In 2015, the company was acquired by AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. for $175 million. Holmes now serves on the G. Brint Ryan College of Business Advisory Board and the President’s Leadership Board. He is a Lifetime Member of the Kuehne Speaker Series and served on the series’ steering committee. Holmes is a member of the Matthews Society and contributes to multiple UNT efforts, including the Cyber Lab, the G. Brint Ryan College of Business, the Career Center and the Department of Accounting.
  • Alan “Al” McNatt (ʼ68) is owner and president of McNatt Properties LC; McNatt T/D, LP; McNatt Construction; McNatt Ventures LC; Hart Management Inc.; and Three-Bars Ranch LP. McNatt is a loyal fan and supporter of UNT Athletics. In 2018, he and his wife, Darlene, joined with Jim (’66) and Linda McNatt to make UNT’s largest ever gift to Athletics. McNatt is a member of the Chilton Society and is a Life Member of the UNT Alumni Association.

Distinguished Young Alumni Award – Created in 2011 in the image of the Distinguished Alumni Award, this award recognizes alumni under the age of 40. It honors alumni who have distinguished themselves professionally and through significant service to the university and their communities. 

  • Keith (ʼ03) and Sarah Walters (ʼ03) met as students at UNT. In 2006, they purchased Denton’s Wildwood Inn and founded Walters Wedding Estates, which has won numerous awards from Wedding Wire and The Knot. The couple now own multiple wedding venues, including The Olana in Hickory Creek and Hidden Falls in Spring Branch. As a nod to their alma mater, the Walters employ UNT students and graduates at their DFW venues.  

Outstanding Alumni Service – First presented in 1974, this award honors individuals who have provided exceptional volunteer service to UNT and their community.

  • Linda Creagh (ʼ62, ʼ63 M.S. and ʼ67 Ph.D.) was UNT’s first recipient of a doctoral degree in chemistry. During her career, Creagh helped pioneer liquid crystal display (LCD) technology and published a number of U.S. and foreign patents in jet technology and liquid crystal displays. She retired as business development director of FujiFilm Dimatix. Creagh served on the directorial search committee for the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at UNT, and currently holds seats on the College of Science and College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences advisory boards. Creagh is a Life Member of the UNT Alumni Association and a member of the Diamond Eagles and the Chilton Society. She and her family created the Price and Elaine B. Truitt Endowment Fund.
  • Roberto “Bob” Garza (ʼ74) is a U.S. Air Force veteran who served four years in Vietnam. After 36 years of service, he retired as AT&T’s governmental relations director in external affairs. Garza is now an active civil servant. He works with the UNT Multicultural Center to recruit, retain and build leadership among the Hispanic student population. Garza and his wife, Emily, are members of the UNT Alumni Association and supporters of the G. Brint Ryan College of Business and UNT Athletics.
  • Cathy Nelson Hartman (ʼ67, ʼ91 M.S.) served the UNT Libraries for 15 years, retiring as interim dean in 2018. She created the UNT Digital Libraries’ Portal to Texas History, a landmark project that earned her a Digital Preservation Pioneer award from the U.S. Library of Congress and a Documents to the People award from the American Library Association. She is a founding member of UNT’s Library Advocacy Board, a Life Member of the UNT Alumni Association and a member of the President's Council and the Mean Green Scholarship Fund. She established the Cathy Nelson Hartman Portal to Texas History Endowment.

Ulys Knight Spirit Award – Presented since 1975, this award is given to an individual or group that has made noteworthy efforts to sustain spirit among the UNT family.

  • John (ʼ91) and Shelley Alexander are loyal supporters of UNT who assist student-athletes through the Shelley and John Alexander Athletic Scholarship. They regularly attend UNT football and basketball games and show their Mean Green pride each year by driving in the Homecoming Parade. The Alexanders are members of the UNT Alumni Association’s Denton County Chapter Steering Committee and the Kendall Society.

Generations of Excellence Award – First presented in 2009, this award is given to a family for extraordinary UNT service and advocacy over multiple generations.

  • The Springer family has a UNT legacy that has been strengthened through leadership and philanthropy. Drew Springer Sr. (ʼ66) holds a UNT accounting degree and founded Springer Financial Services. Drew Springer Jr. (ʼ88), the current representative for Texas House District 68, followed his father’s path through the UNT accounting program. In addition to state service, Springer Jr. is the vice president of commodity investments at the family’s firm and the director of client services and business development services at Ryan LLC. Two of Springer Jr.’s three children are enrolled at UNT, marking a third generation of Eagles. The family contributes to the Basketball Enhancement Fund, the College of Business Excellence Fund and the Greek Life Center. Springer Sr. is a member of the Chilton Society, and both father and son are members of the UNT Alumni Association. 

For information about the UNT Alumni Association or the 2019 Distinguished Alumni Achievement Awards, call 940-565-2834 or email alumni@unt.edu.

UNT News Service
(940) 565-2108