The College of Business Announces the 2015 Alumni and Service Awards Honorees

The recipients of the 2015 College of Business Alumni and Service Awards were announced at a ceremony on Saturday, Jan. 31.

Watch the 2015 Alumni and Service Awards video and view photos from the event.

David Guy Elkins
David Guy Elkins

David Guy Elkins (’65 B.B.A.)
Retired President and Co-CEO
Sterling Chemicals, Inc.

Born in Tarrant County, Texas, in 1942, David Elkins received an undergraduate business degree from The University of Texas at Arlington in 1965, and later received his law degree from Southern Methodist University in 1968.

He practiced law with Andrews Kurth LLP, a major national law firm, from 1968 through 1997, with primary focus on corporate finance and capital market transactions, mergers and acquisitions, securities law matters, corporate governance matters and boardroom practices. Elkins served a wide variety of clients, including energy companies, forest products/packaging companies, financial institutions, private equity firms, passenger airlines, chemicals producers, manufacturing concerns and healthcare institutions. For 17 consecutive years he was elected by the firm’s partners to serve on the firm’s Management Committee.

He retired in 2003 as president and co-CEO of Sterling Chemicals, Inc., a North American chemicals producer and exporter headquartered in Houston, Texas. From 1996-2011, he served as business representative and adviser for the heirs of Howard R. Hughes, Jr. in connection with substantial real estate investments in Nevada and California. He now serves as an independent director and Compensation Committee chair of Spirit Airlines, Inc., a publicly-traded passenger airline company headquartered in Miramar, Florida, with market capitalization of $5.5 billion.

Elkins has served as an independent director of numerous public and private corporations and charitable organizations, including The Houston Exploration Company, Holley Performance Products, Inc. (non-executive chairman), Pliant Corporation, Zilog, Inc., Sterling Chemicals, Inc., Guilford Mills, Inc., Pioneer USA, Inc. and Memorial Hermann Hospital System. He currently serves on the UT Arlington Development Board.

Elkins is married with two adult sons. He and his wife, Sandra, reside in Houston/Galveston, Texas and Old Lyme, Connecticut.


Richard A. Ashton, III
Richard A. Ashton

Richard A. Ashton, III (’05 B.B.A.)
Arthur, Ashton & Associates, PLLC

Richard Ashton is president of Arthur, Ashton & Associates, PLLC, a boutique real estate and financial services company. In addition, he is the president and founder of Leadership Development Council, Inc., a non-profit affordable housing developer, general partner and supportive service provider to low income families.

He provides affordable housing development and consulting services to community development corporations, nonprofits, developers, general partners and sponsors. In addition, he provides accounting and financial consulting services to growing companies in need of restructuring and capital project planning. He has participated in the development of commercial properties, master planned communities, multifamily, single family, industrial properties, recycling centers and community technology centers across the nation.

Formerly, he served as the principal accounting officer and director of energy for One Prime LP, a diversified real estate firm that developed affordable housing communities in Texas. He arranged more than $150 million in tax-exempt bond issuance and utilized more than $20 million in low-income housing tax credits. Prior to real estate development, he worked for XTO Energy, most notably with the post-closing team that closed the $1.1 billion Chevron-Texaco acquisition.

Ashton received his bachelor’s degree in accounting, with honors, from The University of Texas at Arlington in 2005, where he was a scholar in the inaugural cohort of the Goolsby Leadership Academy. He is a member of Leadership North Texas and founder of the Leadership Development Council, a non-profit affordable housing and educational charity that gives back to the housing communities he has created.


Ashley Murphree
Ashley Murphree

Ashley Murphree (’95 B.B.A.)
Founder and CEO
Carpe Diem Private Preschool

Ashley Murphree is the owner and founder of Carpe Diem Private Preschool, with four North Texas campuses in Allen, Frisco, Richardson, and Southlake. She is completely dedicated to the task of offering exceptional early childhood education and care to families who recognize the importance of providing a strong, nurturing foundation of learning in the first years of their child’s life. She is also a huge advocate for women, children, and the arts.

Murphree emigrated from Vietnam in 1979 when she and her family fled Saigon, huddled in the bottom of a small wooden boat. They survived nine days in the rough seas, pirates, a year on an uninhabited Indonesian island, and refugee camps. Eventually they found their way to the Dallas area in 1980 and settled in Garland. With a strong work ethic, a great deal of determination and an appreciation for what her family had sacrificed to give her an opportunity for a better life, Murphree put herself through college at The University of Texas at Arlington, earning a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in 1995. After graduating, she worked for several years as a human resource professional.

When Murphree planned to have children of her own, she did extensive research and wasn’t pleased with the available options for childcare. She decided to open her own preschool, which would offer the very best staff, facility, and curriculum based on the most current research on developmentally appropriate learning and practices for young children. She also wanted to change the widely held view of childcare givers as undervalued employees to that of professional teachers, by valuing their expertise and providing corporate benefits to her staff. This empowerment led to the creation of a highly skilled workforce and gave many employees the ability to advance in their careers. Since the opening of the first school in 2001, she has grown Carpe Diem to three additional campuses in the Dallas-Fort Worth area with plans for future growth.

For six years, Murphree has volunteered her time as president of the board of directors of Tuzer Ballet, Inc., and she is also on the board of advisers for the non-profit Le Hoang Foundation.

Murphree has received numerous awards and honors, including the SheHeros Award, Dallas Business Journal 40 under 40, Entrepreneur Magazine Top Hot List, Dallas Business Journal Minority Business Leader Award, and the 2013 Living Magazine Best of North Dallas & Park Cities Reader’s Choice Award. A mini case study on Carpe Diem will be published in the 2nd edition of an entrepreneurship textbook by Garry Bruton, published by McGraw-Hill. The school was featured in the Dallas Morning News as one of the first schools to use a webcam for parents to view their children online, and was featured on ABC’s “Good Morning Texas” as one of the first schools to use baby sign language.


David A. Gray
David A. Gray

David A. Gray, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Management
College of Business, UT Arlington

David A. Gray is a professor of management in the University of Texas at Arlington College of Business. With more than 40 years of experience at UT Arlington, he has held numerous administrative roles with the college. He joined the College of Business in 1973 as an assistant professor of management, and in 1981 he was appointed associate dean for undergraduate affairs and later for graduate studies. He took on the role of department chair of the college’s Department of Management from 1986-88 and again from 1990-93. Gray was appointed to associate dean in 2000 and served in that role until September 2014, when he returned to the management department faculty.

At various times over the past 40 years, Gray has also served as program adviser for the Ph.D. in business administration, MBA, and M.S. in human resource management. For the 2003-04 academic year, he was director of the Goolsby Leadership Academy, the result of a $2 million cash gift in honor of John and Judy Goolsby. In 2012, Gray led the college through a smooth transition and national search for the next dean of the College of Business. That successful search resulted in the selection of Dean Rachel Croson, and throughout her first year, Gray worked very closely with Dean Croson, easing her transition as leader of the college.

Gray obtained B.B.A. and M.A. degrees from the College of Business Administration at the University of Iowa in 1967 and 1969. In 1974, he was awarded the Ph.D. in business administration from the School of Management at the University of Massachusetts.

A professor of management, Gray is regarded for his expertise in human resource management and labor relations with a specialized focus in union management conflict. More specifically, he has researched strategic and operational rationales of human resource outsourcing; the linkage of the HR value chain to the employee-employer psychological contract and the performance impact of various HR practices; and union management conflict and cooperation before and after labor-management relations by objectives, or RBO. The results of these and other research efforts have been published in the Academy of Management Review, Academy of Management Executive, California Management Review, OMEGA: The International Journal of Management Science, Journal of Labor Research, Journal of Collective Negotiations in the Public Sector, Journal of Business Research, and national proceedings of the Academy of Management and Industrial Relations Research Association.

As associate dean, Gray has been instrumental in maintaining the college’s AACSB International accreditation and has served on numerous university-wide committees and governing bodies. His involvement in local professional organizations has included serving in officer positions (including president) of the Fort Worth Chapter of the American Society for Training and Development and the North Texas Chapter of the Industrial Relations Research Association.


Congratulations to our 2015 honorees!