Texas Tech University

Most distinguished 2016

Distinguished Alumni & Faculty Excellence Awards Reception 2016

Gala Evening for Arts & Sciences

Luminaries of the Arts & Sciences community came together May 5 at The Rawls Course to celebrate four alumni and five faculty for their outstanding contributions to the College of Arts & Sciences, Texas Tech University, and the varied fields in which they serve.

W. Brent Lindquist, Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, began the evening by welcoming those in attendance to the inaugural event, remarking that, after more than 90 years since the College's founding, "I think it's about time the College began honoring the achievements of its faculty and distinguished alumni."

Jorge Iber, Associate Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, served as master of ceremonies.

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2016 Distinguished Alumni

Lauro F. Cavazos, Ph.D.

Lauro Cavazos TTU

Former U.S. Secretary of Education
Former Texas Tech University President
B.A. '49 Zoology, M.A. '51 Zoology, Ph.D. '16 Philosophy

Lauro Cavazos, PhD, earned two degrees from Texas Tech, a Bachelor's in Zoology in 1949 and a Master's in Zoology in 1951. In 2016, the Texas Tech Board of Regents granted him an honorary degree of Doctor of Philosophy. He was born on the King Ranch, near Kingsland, Texas, and served our nation in the military in World War II before coming to Texas Tech to study zoology. After earning two degrees from Texas Tech, he went on to Iowa State University where he earned his doctorate in physiology. After taking his first full-time teaching position at the Medical College of Virginia in 1954, he moved to Boston and Tufts University where he began a 16-year career. While at Tufts, he was named dean of the Tufts School of Medicine. In 1980, he returned to his alma mater to serve as the 10th president of Texas Tech and the third president of the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, for the next eight years. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan nominated him for the position of Secretary of Education and he was confirmed by the United States Senate on Sept. 20, 1988, thus becoming the first Hispanic American to ever hold a cabinet position. After leaving his position as Secretary of Education, he returned to Tufts University where he has remains a member of the faculty.

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Justice Philip Johnson, J.D.

Phil Johnson TTU

Texas Supreme Court Justice
B.A. '65 Mathematics, J.D. '75 Law

Justice Phil Johnson earned two degrees from Texas Tech, a Bachelor's in Mathematics in 1965 and a Doctor of Jurisprudence from the Texas Tech School of Law in 1975. Following his undergraduate education at Texas Tech, Johnson enlisted in the United States Air Force and served the nation during the Vietnam war. As a fighter pilot, he received numerous decorations including the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross (with Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster), the Air Medal (with multiple Silver Oak Leaf Clusters) and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. Following his tour of duty, he returned to Lubbock and served at Reese Air Force Base as a flight instructor and examiner. He began his law career at the firm of Crenshaw, Dupree & Milam in Lubbock and was named partner in 1980. In 1998, he was elected to the Seventh Court of Appeals in Amarillo and was elected Chief Justice of that court in 2002. In 2005, Texas Governor Rick Perry appointed Johnson to the Texas Supreme Court and he was elected to full terms in 2008 and 2014.

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Ginger Kerrick, M.S.

Ginger Kerrick TTU

NASA Flight Director
BS '91 Physics, MS '93 Physics

Ginger Kerrick earned two degrees from Texas Tech, a Bachelor's in Physics in 1991 and a Master's in Physics in 1993. Kerrick was born and raised in El Paso, Texas, and grew up with aspirations to become a professional basketball player or an astronaut. The El Paso Female Athlete of the Year began her college career at the University of Texas-El Paso where she majored in physics and earned a spot on the basketball team. A knee injury ended her basketball career and ultimately led her to transfer to Texas Tech. While at Texas Tech, Kerrick secured a summer internship with NASA within the safety organization in a calibration and materials testing laboratory. Soon after graduation, she was hired permanently at NASA's Johnson Space Center. In 2005, she became the first Hispanic female in NASA history to be named Flight Director, a position that ensures the success of the mission and the safety of astronauts. In 2016, she was named Division Chief, Flight Integration Division and was inducted into the Texas Women's Hall of Fame.

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Ambassador Tibor P. Nagy, Jr.

Tibor Nagy TTU

Former U.S. Ambassador
Current TTU Vice Provost for International Affairs
B.A. '72 Political Science

Tibor P. Nagy, Jr. earned a Bachelor's in Political Science from Texas Tech in 1972. Nagy was born in Budapest, Hungary, and arrived in the United States in 1957 as a political refugee. After earning his political science degree from Texas Tech, he went on to George Washington University where he earned his Master's in Administration in Systems Management in 1978. That same year he joined the Foreign Service and served in many African countries, including Ethiopia, Cameroon and Nigeria. In 1996, he became the U.S. Ambassador to Guinea, followed by his appointment as Ambassador to Ethiopia in 1999 until 2002. He received numerous commendations during his time as a diplomat as well as Department of State awards for helping avert famine in Ethiopia. He assisted in the effort to end the Ethio-Eritrean War and helped support the evacuation of Americans from Sierra Leone while that nation was engulfed in violence. He also received a knighthood by the President of Guinea in 1999 for his role in restoring relations between that nation and the United States. He returned to Texas Tech University in 2003 to serve as Vice Provost for International Affairs.

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2016 Faculty Excellence Awardees

Alan Barenberg, Ph.D.

Alan Barenberg TTU

Alan Barenberg, Associate Professor in the Department of History, received the College of Arts & Sciences Excellence in Teaching Award.

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Lars Christensen, Ph.D.

Lars Christensen TTU

Lars Christensen, Professor in the Department of Mathematics & Statistics, received the College of Arts & Sciences Excellence in Research Award—Natural and Physical Sciences.

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Kelly Cukrowicz, Ph.D.

Kelly Cukrowicz TTU

Kelly Cukrowicz, Associate Professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences, received the College of Arts & Sciences Excellence in Research Award—Social Sciences.

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Howard Curzer, Ph.D.

Howard Curzer TTU

Howard Curzer, Professor in the Department of Philosophy, received the College of Arts & Sciences Excellence in Research Award—Humanities.

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Jon Thompson, Ph.D.

Jon Thompson TTU

Jon Thompson, Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, received the College of Arts & Sciences Innovative Teaching Award.

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To review the 2017 Distinguished Alumni & Faculty recipients, follow this link.

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