“Tonight, we will honor four outstanding and highly deserving recipients for their achievements in their careers and respective communities,” said Andy Farley, BA ’99, university trustee and president of UD’s National Alumni Board, in the welcoming address for the university’s 18th annual Distinguished Alumni Awards Dinner on Saturday, May 4, at the Omni Dallas Hotel.
The Distinguished Alumni Award — the highest honor the university can bestow upon its alumni — recognizes alumni who have demonstrated sustained and distinguished accomplishments and contributions to any field of human endeavor. The 2019 honorees included Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers, MTS ’00, one of the most sought-after speakers in the Catholic church today; University Trustee Laura Felis Quinn, BS ’86 MBA ’18, an expert in qualitative market research for the pharmaceutical industry; U.S. Deputy General Counsel John R. Parker, BA ’83 MBA ’89, a highly respected career federal prosecutor and former U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Texas; and Professor Emerita of Drama Judy French Kelly, BA ’63, an Emmy-award winning video producer, former department chair and co-founder of the University of Dallas Drama Department.
Following the welcome address, Bishop of the Diocese of Dallas and University Chancellor Most Rev. Edward J. Burns delivered the evening invocation. Addressing the gathered audience of UD alumni, students, faculty, trustees, staff and administrators, Interim President John Plotts, Ed.D., provided a brief introduction, with congratulatory remarks to the 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award recipients. “It is now my pleasure to introduce the ninth president of the University of Dallas — and our first alumnus-president — Dr. Thomas Hibbs,” said Plotts.
Thomas S. Hibbs, Ph.D., BA '82 MA '83, went on to express his joy and enthusiasm to be back at UD. “I’ve been having a bit of fun walking into offices unannounced, meeting students on the Mall and introducing myself … waiting to see how long it takes for anyone to guess my true identity,” Hibbs explained.
“But I must confess that the tables have been turned on me a few times,” he continued.
Wandering around UD’s Irving campus recently, Hibbs recalled a brief encounter with Associate Professor and Graduate Director of Philosophy Chad Engelland, Ph.D., who asked him: “How about you teach my Philosophy of God class on Aquinas?”
A nationally recognized scholar-philosopher, Hibbs couldn’t pass on the opportunity to guest lecture on the Angelic Doctor — incidentally, in one of the very classrooms where he once sat as a UD student himself.
“It is inspiring to observe the way in which alumni are using the gifts they have received at UD for the betterment of their families, communities, country and church,” said National Alumni Board member Daniel Milligan, BA ’91, chair of the Distinguished Alumni Awards committee, who also served as the evening’s Master of Ceremonies. He continued:
“As we gather tonight to honor the accomplishments of four exceptional members of our University of Dallas community, we also gather to honor the place that helped form these individuals — the place that, presumably through your attendance here this evening, has had an immeasurable influence on everyone in this room. We celebrate the historical consciousness of this place. … For that, it seems to me, is the goal of the UD experience, the increasingly rare idea that wisdom, truth and virtue exist, and are knowable, not through the deification of progress or glorification of the autonomous self, but through the careful consideration of our shared experience.”
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