alumni news

Distinguished Alumni Named

Four alumni will be honored during this year's Distinguished Alumni Dinner, Nov. 11 at the McKenzie-Merket Alumni Center.

The Texas Tech Alumni Association will honor Brig. Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr., Larry R. Byrd, Michael L. Gilbert, Ph.D., and Kirk Lewis, Ed.D. as Distinguished Alumni during this year's Distinguished Alumni Dinner, Nov. 11 at the McKenzie-Merket Alumni Center.

The dinner and awards are designed to recognize and honor alumni who have made significant contributions toward furthering the excellence of Texas Tech University through outstanding accomplishments, careers and/or through extraordinary measures of service.


Wyman Meinzer

Brig. Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr.

Brig. Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr., is the deputy director, operations, U.S. Central Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. He has served in the United States Air Force for 26 years.

Brown graduated in 1984 from Texas Tech University as a distinguished graduate of Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps with a bachelor's degree in civil engineering. He graduated from 1991 USAF Fighter Weapons School, Nellis AFB, Nev., in 1991, and from Squadron Officer School, Maxwell AFB, Ala., in 1992. He earned his 1994 Master of Aeronautical Science degree from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, Fla., in 1994. Brown was a 1997 Distinguished Graduate, Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell AFB, Ala. In 2000, he graduated from Air War College, Maxwell AFB, Ala., and in 2004, he was a National Defense Fellow at the Institute for Defense Analyses, Alexandria, Va.

He has held various squadron and wing level positions during operational assignments to include instructing in the F-16 Division, U.S. Air Force Weapons School. His staff tours include Aide-de-Camp to the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Air Operations Officer, U.S. Central Command; Deputy Chief, Program Integration Division, Directorate of Programs; and later Director, Secretary of the Air Force and Chief of Staff Executive Action Group, Headquarters, U.S. Air Force. General Brown has served as a fighter squadron commander, Commandant of the United States Air Force Weapons School, National Defense Fellow at the Institute for Defense Analyses, and Commander, 8th Fighter Wing. Prior to his current assignment, General Brown was the Commander, 31st Fighter Wing, Aviano Air Base, Italy.

Brown is a command pilot with more than 2,850 flying hours, including 85 combat hours. Aircraft he has flown include F-16A/B/C/D, AC-130U, AH-64, AT-38, B-1B, B-2A, B-52H, HH-60G, T-37 and T-38.

The general's many honors include the Legion of Merit with three oak leaf clusters; Defense Meritorious Service Medal; Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters; Aerial Achievement Medal; Joint Service Commendation Medal; Air Force Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters; Combat Readiness Medal; National Defense Service Medal with bronze star; Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal; Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal Korea Defense Service Medal and Republic of Korea Order of National Security Merit (Samil Medal).

He and his wife, Sharene, have two sons, Sean and Ross.

Larry D. Johnson

Larry R. Byrd

A native of Brownsville, Texas, Larry R. Byrd is president and partner of All-Plastics Molding, Inc., an Addison, Texas-based company that produces custom plastic molded parts for a variety of industrial customers. Among the company’s clients are Texas Instruments, Mary Kay Cosmetics and Kimberly Clark.

Byrd’s family moved from Brownsville to Lubbock, where he graduated from Lubbock High School. He served as president of the student body his senior year.

The talented leader continued his education at Texas Tech, where he studied industrial engineering and was a member of the American Institute of Industrial Engineers. Because of his academic abilities, he was on the Engineering Dean’s List. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1957.

While in college, he was the Engineering Representative to the Tech Supreme Court. He served as president of the Junior Class. Byrd was Distinguished AFROTC Cadet in 1957 and then Distinguished Military Graduate. He was a Cadet Colonel in the Tech AFROTC,

After graduating from Texas Tech, Byrd entered the United States Air Force as a 2nd lieutenant aircraft maintenance officer for the 343rd Fighter-Group ADC. He attained the rank of captain.

Byrd completed his military training and began working in engineering design for EIM Controls, Inc., in Houston. After a year, he joined Exxon/Mobil Corp. USA and began a 15-year career with engineering and managerial assignments.

He has been with All-Plastics Molding, Inc., since 1974. He is a Registered Texas Professional Engineer.

In addition to his busy engineering career, Byrd is involved in other activities. He has been a director and executive committee member of North Dallas Bank and Trust Co. since 1978. He has served as president and a board member of the Addison Business Association.

He received the Texas Industrial Engineering Lifetime Achievement Award from The Institute of Industrial Engineers in August 2010.

Byrd’s connection to Texas Tech did not end when he graduated. He was a charter member of the Texas Tech University Engineering Dean’s Council (1995) and continues to serve on it. He was president of the Texas Tech Alumni Association in 1982. He was named a Distinguished Engineer of Texas Tech that same year. He also was the graduation speaker for the “Order of the Engineer-Iron Ring Ceremony” at Texas Tech.

Byrd has been married for 53 years to Patricia Ann, and they have two married daughters, Deborah Lynn Price and Julie Ann Brigman and four grandchildren.

Douglas E. Barnhart

Michael L. Gilbert, Ph.D.

Michael L. Gilbert, Ph.D., is vice president of Bayer CropScience, president of Bayer Cotton Seed International and global head of plant breeding and trait development.

Gilbert earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics in 1980 from Texas Tech University. He graduated with a master’s degree in agriculture in 1986 from West Texas A&M University. He earned a doctorate in agronomy in 1989 from Texas Tech.

After college, Gilbert worked as a plant breeder and global breeding manager for Cargill, Inc., from 1981 to 1989.

Since 1989, he has worked for Bayer CropScience. As president and general manager of Bayer Cotton Seed International, he develops and manages cotton business, including sales, marketing, supply chain and research and development.

His professional affiliations include serving as past president and board member of the Sorghum Improvement Conference of North America and past board member of the Texas Seed Trade Association. He is a member of the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America and American Seed Trade Association. Gilbert is crop science representative and member of the editorial board of Plant Breeding Reviews. He has served on the USDA Crop Germplasm Committee, Washington, D.C.

Gilbert remains loyal to and involved with his alma mater. He has, through Cargill and Bayer, supported numerous graduate students including providing scholarships and research agreements and employing them upon graduation. Gilbert is a guest lecturer in College of Agriculture and has served as a graduate committee adviser in CASNR.

CASNR named him a 2004 Distinguished Alumnus. He was named a Texas Tech Outstanding Agriculturalist in 2005.

Recently, the Texas Legislature authorized the Texas Research Incentive Program (TRIP) to establish public/private partnerships. Gilbert initiated, “Project Revolution,” which is a comprehensive research collaboration between Texas Tech and Bayer designed to develop bio-engineered cotton fibers with unique characteristics for the textile market.

Gilbert developed research direction, sought and gained approval of the Bayer CropScience board for a Bayer donation of $7.5 million dollars toward the TRIP program. This amount was matched by the State of Texas for a total award of $15 million. Of the award, $10 million is dedicated to Project Revolution, and $5 million is dedicated toward a new Plant Science Building.

Gilbert and his wife, Donna, have two children, Jennifer and Jeremy, and three grandchildren.

Douglas E. Barnhart

Kirk Lewis, Ed.D.

Kirk Lewis's experience in education and communications has prepared him well for his position as chief executive officer of the Pasadena Independent School District, Pasadena, Texas. The school district has 52,500 students on 62 campuses.

He graduated from Texas Tech University in 1976 with a bachelor's degree in advertising/public relations. From 1977 to 1981, Lewis was director of public information for Houston Baptist University. During this time, he earned a master's degree in educational futures from the University of Houston, Clear Lake campus.

In 1981, Lewis took a position as director of advertising/communication for Kwik-Kopy Corp. He was responsible for media relations, international/national marketing, corporate communications and magazine publishing. He held the position for five years.

Lewis began working for the Pasadena Independent School District in 1986, as an administrative assistant to the superintendent. Over the next 20 years, he held the positions of executive director of communications/community relations; deputy superintendent for administration, public relations and governmental affairs and acting superintendent.

Lewis became chief executive officer of the school district in April 2006. He earned his doctorate in educational leadership from Lamar University in Beaumont in May 2008.

Lewis has numerous publications and presentations. He has served as contributing editor to Good News America, a publication of Kwik-Kopy Corp. He has had articles published in Texas Lone Star, a publication of the TASB; School Board News, a publication of the National School Board Association; and Resources, a publication of the South East Economic Development Corp.

For his accomplishments, Lewis has received two Kwik-Kopy Pride Awards, two Silver Star Awards from the Texas School Public Relations Association, Honorary Life Membership in the Texas PTA, Golden Apple Award from Pasadena ISD, Honorary Life membership in the National Congress of Parents and Teachers and the Platinum Award for Texas Outstanding School Marketing Program.

Other honors he has received are the National Model of Excellence School District in 2008, the HEB District of Excellence Finalist in 2009 and 2010, the Houston Top 100 Workplace in 2010 and the Houston Chronicle Silver Leadership Circle Award in 2010. This year, he has received the Texas Comptroller's Office Gold Leadership Circle Award and the Texas Comptroller's Office Texas Recognized District for 2010-2011.

He and his wife of 35 years, Robin, have two sons, Adam and Andrew. Adam and his wife, Jordan, have a son, Eli. Andrew is a 2004 graduate of Texas Tech with a degree in electrical engineering.

Jan 15, 2020