DENTON, Texas (UNT) – University of North Texas Vice President for Advancement Michael Monticino and the UNT Alumni Association announced today that famed actor Peter Weller is among the alumni and supporters who will be honored this spring as recipients of the 2014 UNT Alumni Awards.
The UNT Alumni Awards showcase the caliber of the university’s alumni and celebrate the depth and breadth of their professional accomplishments and service to the community. This year’s honorees include business and industry leaders; a family whose support has spanned several generations; and the members of UNT’s first social fraternity, the Geezles, an organization founded in 1927 to promote school spirit among the student body.
“The Alumni Awards are among the highest honors the university can bestow,” Monticino said. “This year’s recipients include a Hollywood actor, accomplished businessmen and women, a young advertising maverick and an innovative entrepreneur. The breadth and depth of accomplishments of this impressive group speaks directly to the quality of a UNT education. “The Alumni Awards offer us an opportunity to celebrate the positive impact these honorees are making in their communities, across the nation and around the world.”
The 2014 UNT Alumni Awards recipients are:
- Peter Weller (’69), who will receive the Distinguished Alumni Award, is best known for his starring roles in 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness, Woody Allen’s Mighty Aphrodite and Robocop, in addition to TV work including Sons of Anarchy, Longmire and Dexter.
- Ernie Kuehne Jr. (’66), who will also receive the Distinguished Alumni Award, is president and board chairman of Kuehne Oil Co., 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. 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.
- Terry Brewer (’65, ’70 Ph.D.), who will also receive the Distinguished Alumni Award, earned bachelor’s and doctoral degrees in chemistry from UNT. He is the founder and CEO of Brewer Science, a global leader in the development and manufacturing of advanced materials and equipment for the microdevices used in tablet computers, smartphones, digital cameras, televisions and LED lighting.
- Graham Douglas (’05), who will receive the Distinguished Young Alumni Award, was named one of this year’s Forbes 30 Under 30 in Marketing and Advertising for his award-winning work as creative director at the New York City-based ad agency Droga5.
- Gabriella Draney (’02), who will also receive the Distinguished Young Alumni Award, is the co-founder and CEO of Tech Wildcatters, named one of the Forbes Top 10 seed accelerators for its work connecting technology startups to resources.
- C. Tait Cruse (’89), who will receive the Outstanding Alumni Service Award, is managing partner of the Northwestern Mutual—Dallas Network office. Cruse supports UNT’s Northwestern Mutual Integrated Business Case Competition, the anchor element of the College of Business’ capstone course, which provides graduating seniors the opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills to solve a complex business problem.
- Melisa Denis (’86, ’86 M.S.), who will also receive the Outstanding Alumni Service Award, is partner-in-charge of international executive services for KPMG—Dallas. She serves on the UNT Foundation Board of Directors and the College of Business Advisory Board. She and her husband, JF, were among those who lent philanthropic support to the construction of UNT’s Business Leadership Building.
- The Geezle Fraternity, which will receive the Ulys Knight Spirit Award, counts many prominent UNT figures among its members, including former chairmen of the UNT System Regents C. Dan Smith (’62) and C. Dean Davis (’53), Regent Don Potts (’63), UNT Hall of Famer T.D. Parks (’61) and former NFL player Ray Renfro (’52). As a group, the Geezles have contributed nearly $4 million to UNT.
- The Family of Joe Guerra, who will receive the Generations of Excellence Award, owns and operates Rudy’s Tortillas and Food Products, one of the leading manufacturers of tortillas in the country. The family includes several UNT alumni: siblings Joe Guerra (’96), Rudy’s vice president of sales; Kathy Guerra Purser (’81), who works in accounting for the family business; and Linda Guerra Dyer (’90), a teacher in McKinney. Joe’s wife, Pauline (’05); the siblings’ aunt Esperanza Espinoza (’75); and Kathy’s daughter Rachel Purser (’09) are also UNT graduates. The Guerra family established the Rudy’s Tortillas Foundation Scholarship in 1996 to support UNT students; collectively the family has contributed nearly $77,000 to the university.
The 2014 Alumni Awards program will include a reception at 6:30 p.m. and a dinner at 7 p.m. April 11, 2014, in the UNT Gateway Center Ballroom. Reservations are $65 per person and can be made by contacting Abbie Lows at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Above, actor Peter Weller (’69) will receive UNT's Distinguished Alumni Award.