Texas Tech University

Alumni News 2017

Cavazos, 88, 1st Hispanic 4-star General

General Richard Cavazos, TTU Alumnus

Gen. Richard Cavazos (BS Geology, TTU), the first Hispanic four-star general in the U.S. Army and one of its most highly decorated veterans, died Oct. 29 in San Antonio after a long struggle with Alzheimer's disease, according to an obituary in MySanAntonio.com. Gen. Cavazos was the brother of Lauro Cavazos, Jr., who was the first Hispanic president of Texas Tech University and later U.S. Secretary of Education under President George H.W. Bush. The Killeen Daily Herald reported that Cavazos would be buried Nov. 14 in Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery. "With a combat record that included the nation's second-highest medal for valor both in the Korean conflict and Vietnam War, Cavazos blazed a trail for generations of other Hispanic general officers," the article reported. Cavazos' life began as the second son of a King Ranch foreman, Lauro Cavazos, Sr. During his military career, Cavazos rose through various leadership ranks until commanding all soldiers in the continental United States before retiring in 1984. He was the second-highest decorated officer in the Korean War and, by the end of his career, the holder of two Silver Stars, two Legions of Merit, a Distinguished Flying Cross, five Bronze Stars with Valor and a Purple Heart, in addition to the pair of Distinguished Service Crosses, MySanAntonio.com reported.

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Rapp Appointed Deputy Superintendent

Lori Rapp, TTU AlumniDr. Lori Rapp (BA Mathematics, TTU), was appointed Deputy Superintendent of the Lewisville Independent School District by The Lewisville ISD Board of Trustees at its Oct. 16 Regular Meeting. In addition to her duties as the head of Learning and Teaching, she will provide oversight for Employee Services and Schools and Student Activities. "There is no person better suited than Dr. Rapp to take on the role of Deputy Superintendent for Lewisville ISD," Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kevin Rogers said in the Oct. 17 Cross Timbers Gazette. "She is one of my most trusted advisors and is a leader in every sense of the word. Lori has been a driving force behind many of the positive changes we've implemented during my tenure as superintendent. I am exceptionally proud of the innovative work her team is doing in the Learning and Teaching division, and I am confident under her leadership the Employee Services and Schools and Student Activities departments will reach even greater heights." Rapp told the Corss Timbers Gazette that she joined the LISD team as a math teacher at The Colony High School in 1996. "Lewisville ISD has been my professional home for more than 20 years. The wonderful people who make up this amazing district are my family, and it is humbling and a tremendous honor to have the opportunity to serve LISD as Deputy Superintendent," Rapp was quoted as saying. After earning her Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics from Texas Tech University, she went on to earn a Master of Science in Mathematics at Texas Woman's University and a PhD in Educational Leadership from Dallas Baptist University.

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Mitchell to Oversee U.S. Ambassadors in Europe

A. Wess Mitchell, TTUA. Wess Mitchell has been selected as the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs. Mitchell's appointment was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Sept. 28 and he will be sworn in sometime the week of Oct. 16. Part of the job of an Assistant Secretary for a particular geographic region is to serve as the supervisor for the U.S. ambassadors in that region. "In the State Department, the Assistant Secretary is seen as a very high-level, very important position," said Ambassador Tibor Nagy, Texas Tech's vice provost for international affairs. "The current administration has not filled many of these positions, and it's a real boon for Texas Tech to have an assistant secretary who graduated from here. It shows what a good job Texas Tech does with its graduates." Mitchell earned his bachelor's degree in history and political science from Texas Tech in 2001 followed by a master's degree in German and European studies from Georgetown University's Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, and a doctorate at the Freie Universität Berlin. He served as president and CEO of the Center for European Policy Analysis, a foreign-policy institute dedicated to East-Central Europe, and served on numerous policy boards in both the United States and Europe. He has co-authored two books: "Unquiet Frontier: Vulnerable Allies, Rising Rivals and the Crisis of American Power" in 2016 and "The Godfather Doctrine: A Foreign Policy Parable" in 2009. "All the regions of world are very important," Nagy said, "but U.S. relations with Europe are especially critical because of NATO, the European Union and the history of our relations, including U.S. involvement in European affairs, post-World War II." Links to other stories and information about Mitchell include an article at the Strategic Culture Foundation and a story at AllGov.com.

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Wright to Lead Health & Human Services

Don Wright, TTUFollowing the Sept. 29 resignation of Tom Price as the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Texas Tech alumnus Don Wright became the Acting Secretary of Health and Human Services. Wright had been the Acting Assistant Secretary for Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) since Feb. 10. He remains the director of the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, a position he has held since January 2012. He has worked in HHS for 10 years. From 2003 to 2007, Wright worked in the U.S. Department of Labor as director of the Office of Occupational Medicine for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Wright received his bachelor's degree at Texas Tech in zoology and animal biology before earning his medical degree from the University of Texas and a master's degree in public health from the Medical College of Wisconsin. He is board-certified in both family medicine and preventive medicine and is a fellow of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine as well as the American Academy of Family Physicians. In additional news, Wright was featured in a Sept. 29 Newsweek article entitled, "Who Is Don Wright? Trumps Pick to Succeed Tom Rice Was Running the Office of Disease Prevention." 

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Furgeson to Retire From UNT-Dallas Law

Royal Fergusun, TTU AlumnusRoyal Furgeson (BA English, TTU) will retire from his post as dean of the University of North Texas—Dallas College of Law in June 2018, according to an Oct. 3 item at KERA News. Furgeson was the force behind getting UNT Dallas Law accredited and is a former U.S. District Judge in the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division. Furgeson was named dean in January 2012 and started the job in June 2013 after retiring from the bench. When he spoke with KERA in 2016, when the school's accreditation was on shaky ground, he talked about UNT Dallas' efforts to build a law school that's more affordable and with a more diverse student population. "The state of Texas saw an opportunity to let us do something different, so they let us come. We've got to do something to make sure modest means people and small businesses get lawyers," he told KERA. Before his tenure as Senior U.S. District Judge in the Northern District of Texas, he served in the El Paso, Midland and San Antonio Divisions of the Western District of Texas. The native Lubbockite and TTU graduate served as a federal judge for over 18 years. Furgeson earned his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law, then served two years in the U.S. Army for two years. When he returned from a tour of duty in Vietnam, he went to work in Lubbock as law clerk. He was a practicing trial lawyer for 24 years before receiving a presidential appointment to the federal bench, according to KERA.

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York Joins Heartspring Pediatric Services

Dr. Haley York, TTU AlumnaeDr. Haley York (BA Psychology, TTU) has been hired as a psychologist for Heartspring's Pediatric Services program in Wichita, Kan., according to a Sept. 13 article in The Cowley Courier Traveler. The addition of York will make it possible for Heartspring to serve more than 30 additional children, the article stated, and she will be responsible for evaluations as well as outpatient therapy for children and their families. Previously, York worked at the University of Louisville conducting research on early identification of gifted behavior in under-represented children. She also has experience working in a clinical outpatient setting. Her pre-doctoral internship was at the Munroe-Meyer Institute in Omaha, Neb. where she worked with children in their Rural Integrated Care program. After earning her bachelor's in psychology from TTU, York went on to earn her master's and doctorate in school psychology from Louisiana State University. "There are just so many considerations and barriers parents have to get treatment," York was quoted as saying. "At Heartspring, psychology is integrated with speech, physical and occupational therapy and autism services. We have all of these knowledgeable professionals in one place and are able to help families get the most out of their time and meet the diverse needs of their kids."

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Nagy Column Holds Out Hope for Europe

Tibor Nagy, TTUTibor Nagy (BA Political Science, TTU 1972), Texas Tech Vice Provost for International Affairs and retired U.S. Ambassador, wrote about the challenges facing Europe in his June 16 op-ed piece in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. In the article, Nagy, fresh from a visit to the British countryside and his native Hungary, contrasts European and U.S. media coverage, examines Brexit, and evaluates the migrant situation in Italy and Hungary. Ultimately, Nagy holds out hope of a better future for Europe despite the many obstacles it has yet to overcome.

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Ferguson Studies Hand-Standing Skunks

Adam Ferguson Hand-Standing Skunk

Adam Ferguson (PhD Biology, TTU), now Collections Manager of Mammals at The Field Museum in Chicago, is lead author of a study about skunks. The paper that published May 3 in Ecology and Evolution revealed how Ice Age climate change played a role in the evolution of one group of skunks that weigh just 2 pounds and stand on their forepaws, rear feet in the air, when they spray their infamous scent. Called the western spotted skunk, the species is found throughout the United States and Mexico in different climates, from Oregon's temperate rainforests to the Sonoran, the hottest desert in Mexico. "By analyzing western spotted skunk DNA, we learned that Ice Age climate change played a crucial role in their evolution," Ferguson was quoted as saying in a May 3 article from The Field Museum, "Spotted Skunk Evolution Driven by Climate Change." Ferguson completed the research while he was still a PhD student at Texas Tech University. "Small carnivores like skunks haven't been well-studied when it comes to historical climate change," Ferguson said. "We know how small mammals like rodents respond to changing climates, and we know how bigger carnivores like wolves respond, but this study helps bridge the gap between them." The article went on to explain that this study can illuminate the bigger picture of biodiversity in the face of climate change. "Understanding these genetic subdivisions that happened as a result of changing climatic conditions can help us conserve skunks and other animals in the future," Ferguson said. The findings have been widely republished in the following media: the May 3 Science Daily, the May 4 Discover magazine, the May 3 Newseek, the May 4 Wired, and the May 4 Daily Mail. Ferguson's earlier research at Texas Tech on hog-nosed skunks was written about in the Fall 2014 Texas Tech Discoveries magazine.

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Honum Gives Reading at Kettle Art in Dallas

The Tulip flame by Chloe Honum, TTU alumna Chloe Honum (PhD Creative Writing, TTU), was one of four writers who gave a reading May 17 as part of the Pegasus Reading Series at Kettle Art in Dallas. Honum is the author of "The Tulip-Flame" (Cleveland State University, 2013), and now an Assistant Professor in the English Department at Baylor University. One of the other writers to speak that evening was Texas Tech's Chen Chen, a PhD student in the Department of English's Creative Writing program and author of "When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities" (available on Kindle).

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Creasy Rides Horse Showbiz to Rodeo Title

Rodeo champ Luke Creasy, TTU alumnusLuke Creasy (BA English, TTU 2011), won the Bareback Title at City Bank Coliseum during the ABC Rodeo April 1-2 with a 79-point ride. A horse named Showbiz helped him win the $1,241 prize, according to an article in the Lubbock Avalanche Journal. Creasy, a Canadian from Brownfield, Alberta, told the AJ: "I won (Lubbock) in 2014 with maybe an 83 or something," Creasy said. "I've been 86 there and ended up second. I was thinking 79 might be good for like a fourth-place check, and somehow managed to hang in for first place. Great, but unexpected." During his student days at Texas Tech, Creasy rode in competition and ranked 21st and 22nd in the world in 2010 and 2011, according to the article.

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Foisor Wins Women's Chess Championship

Chess champ Sabina-Francesca Foisor, TTU alumna

Sabina-Francesca Foisor (Master's coursework in Sociology 2016-2017) won the U.S. Women's Chess Championship in St. Louis with a queen sacrifice to checkmate her opponent. Foiser was the 2007 Women's Grandmaster. Her win was detailed in the April 7 Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, the April 10 Chess News and a video interview posted April 10 on YouTube.

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Hernandez Promoted at University of Chicago

Kyle Hernandez (BS Biology, TTU 2005; PhD Ecology, Evolution, and Population Biology, TTU 2011), a Bioinformatician, was promoted to Research Assistant Professor, an academic appointment, from a regular staff appointment at the Center for Research Informatics at The University of Chicago. His new position allows him to be a Principal Investigator on research grants.

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Nagy Column Focuses on Geopolitcal Visitors

Tibor Nagy, TTUTibor Nagy (BA Political Science, TTU 1972), Texas Tech Vice Provost for International Affairs and retired U.S. Ambassador, welcomed four geopolitical experts to Lubbock and wrote about the event in his March 31 column in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. In "Lubbock and Foreign Affairs," Nagy described how Ambassador Ron Neumann, President of the American Academy of Diplomacy, and Ambassadors Kathleen Stephens, John Beyrle and Kurt Volker held sessions with local high school and university students, met with local industry leaders and conducted a public forum with Lubbockites.

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Lockhart Named Distinguished Alumni

Retired Col. Paul Lockhart (B.A. Mathematics, TTU 1978) is one of three to be named a 2017 Distinguished Alumni of Texas Tech University by the Texas Tech Alumni Association. The awards are designed to recognize and honor alumni who have made significant contributions toward furthering the excellence of Texas Tech through outstanding accomplishments, careers and/or through extraordinary measures of service. Since graduating, Lockhart was commissioned as a United States Air Force (USAF) pilot and has since served as a crew member of two NASA missions to the International Space Station, held positions with the Pentagon and worked as a defense specialist at NASA Headquarters. He, Wendy Motlong Masiello (Marketing, TTU 1980), and Arati Prabhakar (B.S. Engineering, TTU 1979) were honored at a reception, dinner and program March 31 at the McKenzie-Merket Alumni Center.

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Shewmaker Publishes 1st Poetry Book

Penumbra by Michael Shewmaker, TTU alumnusMichael Shewmaker, PhD (PhD Creative Writing, TTU), a poet who teaches in Stanford University's Creative Writing Department, published his first book of poetry, "Penumbra" (Ohio University Press, 2017), which won the 2017 Hollis Summers Poetry Prize. As described in a March 30 feature in The Almanac, Shewmaker's work grapples with concepts of faith, doubt and death in the form of poetic expression.

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Nagy on State Department Budget Cuts

Tibor Nagy, TTUTibor Nagy (BA Political Science, TTU 1972), Texas Tech Vice Provost for International Affairs and retired U.S. Ambassador, was interviewed in a FOX-34 television news segment about President Trump's proposed 28 percent State Department budget cut. The March 27 segment described Nagy as vehemently opposed to the cuts eliminating these funds, saying that the cut would do more harm than good. "If you send a diplomat to try and head off a problem, you know you're sending someone with a briefcase and some papers and some inside knowledge of the country and the culture and the situation and compare that to sending an aircraft carrier," Nagy told FOX-34. "If you look at the costs involved, they're not even in the same atmosphere."

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Kerrick Speaks at Tech Savvy Conference

Ginger Kerrick TTU alumniGinger Kerrick (BS Physics 1991, MS Physics 1993 TTU), a NASA flight director for the International Space Station, was keynote speaker for the Tech Savvy Conference, held Feb. 18 on campus. TV station KLBK reported that the conference day was devoted to science, technology, engineering and math for sixth- through ninth-grade girls and their parents. The girls attended workshops where they discovered realistic STEM careers and pathways to education. their parents learned how to encourage and reinforce their daughters' aspirations. The conference was the result of collaboration between Texas Tech's STEM Center for Outreach, Research and Education and the American Association of University Women, Lubbock Branch.

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Miller Named Amarillo City Manager

Jared Miller, Amarillo City Manager, TTU alumnusJared Miller (Master of Public Administration 2001 TTU) is the new city manager of Amarillo, according to articles in the Amarillo Globe-News on Jan. 12, with a follow-up on Jan. 17. Miller is expected to take up his new post on or before Feb. 20, and comes to the job from San Marcos, where he was city manager since 2014. Miller told the Globe-News that he is familiar with the Texas Panhandle—his wife, Kristin, hails from Amarillo and they were married there—and that he's just like the people who live here: "Direct, and the type of person who looks for common ground."