With highest honors
Distinguished Alumni Gala recognizes achievements and service
Nine graduates received the 2009 Distinguished Alumni Award in October at the annual Distinguished Alumni Gala, and a 10th honoree received the Honorary Distinguished Alumni Award. Recognizing individual achievements, contributions to industries or professions, and service to UT Arlington, the honor is the highest given by the University and the Alumni Association. Proceeds benefit student scholarships. To see more photographs from the gala, visit www.uta.edu/alumni.
2009 Distinguished Alumni
Somsonge Burusphat ’86
Somsonge Burusphat is a professor of linguistics for the Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia at Mahidol University in Salaya, Thailand. In 1986 she received her Ph.D. in humanities with a concentration on linguistics in the College of Liberal Arts. She is one of the founders and pioneers of RILCA, which acts as an advocate for minority ethnics, raising public consciousness about the importance of empowering and giving dignity to their cultures. Dr. Burusphat has done extensive field work on the languages and cultures of various ethnic groups in Thailand and produced three books about teaching Thai language. She lives in Bangkok.
Wayne K. Carson ’87, ’02
Wayne Carson is chief executive officer of the All Church Home for Children in Fort Worth, overseeing management of all programs for the nonprofit agency, which serves children and families in crisis. Since Dr. Carson became CEO in 2000, he and his staff have increased the number of children served annually from 200 to 3,500, established a presence in seven additional counties and increased the annual budget from $3 million to $9 million. Carson received his master’s degree with an emphasis on anger control treatment in 1987 and his Ph.D. with an emphasis on organizational change management in 2002, both from the School of Social Work. He and his wife, Vickie, live in Arlington and have three children.
Rudy M. Garcia ’77
Rudy Garcia is vice president for URS Corp., where he works to increase the company’s business in the Texas aviation market. He received a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering with an emphasis on hydraulics and hydrology from the College of Engineering and, in 1985, won the Young Engineer of the Year award from the Fort Worth chapter of the Texas Society of Professional Engineers. Throughout his career, Garcia has been responsible for numerous public works projects, including those for aviation and roadway construction. Additionally, he managed design review services for Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. He was president of LopezGarcia Group, which is now a part of URS. He and his wife, Cecilia, live in Fort Worth. They have three children and five grandchildren.
Allan Garonzik ’67
Allan Garonzik is a certified licensed firearms instructor for the Texas Department of Public Safety. He received his bachelor’s degree in business administration from the College of Business and co-founded the Sam Houston Rifles Alumni Organization at UT Arlington, for which he served as president multiple times over a 30-year period. He was inducted into the UT Arlington Military Science Hall of Honor in 2007. While serving as a captain in the military police of the Texas Guard, Garonzik was recruited by LTV, where he purchased classified military parts for Navy fighters and bombers. In 1970 he opened Ready Print, a small printing and graphic arts company. During the next 10 years, he opened six additional print shops. He and his wife, Sandra, live in Argyle and have two children and four grandchildren.
Thomas E. Harvey Jr. ’73
Thomas Harvey is senior vice president and principal of HKS, an international architecture firm in Dallas, and director of HKS Inc. Clinical Resources and Research. He received his bachelor’s degree from the School of Architecture in 1973. He master planned the replacement of Parkland Hospital and designed the USNS Mercy and Comfort hospital ships. Nationally, he has planned 10 replacement hospitals. He writes and speaks about health care design in national forums, and his commitment to education and research led to his founding the Center for Advanced Design and Research Evaluation. He also volunteered his time to help create the UT Arlington Smart Hospital, a simulation teaching lab for the School of Nursing. He and his wife, Marline, live in Dallas and have two children.
Rodney W. Hicks ’91, ’02
Rod Hicks is the first nurse practitioner in the nation to hold an endowed chair for patient safety in an academic setting. He is a professor and co-director of the Center of Excellence in Patient Safety at the Anita Thigpen Perry School of Nursing at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. He received a master’s degree in nursing from the School of Nursing in 1991 and a master’s in public administration from the School of Urban and Public Affairs in 2002. Dr. Hicks’ work has influenced national standards of patient care for several professional organizations. He also owns a software company, eLOGS, which nurse practitioners use throughout their education. He and his partner, Michael Kline, live in Lubbock.
James E. Nelson ’72
Jim Nelson is executive director of the AVID Center in San Diego. In 1996 he was appointed to the newly created Texas Board for Educator Certification by Gov. George W. Bush and served as chairman until 1999 when he was appointed Texas commissioner of education. At the request of the White House and the Department of Defense, he traveled to Baghdad, Iraq, as a senior adviser to the Iraqi Ministry of Education to assist in rebuilding the Iraqi school system in 2003. A former superintendent of the Richardson Independent School District, Nelson also worked as an attorney for 24 years. He received his bachelor’s degree in business administration from the College of Business and serves on the Dean’s Advisory Board for the College of Education and Health Professions. He and his wife, Karen, live in Austin and have three children and two grandchildren.
Vicky C. Teherani’79, ’81
Vicky Teherani is chief financial officer for the Rolland Safe Co., which partners with its customers in asset protection. From 1998 to 2007 she was the vice president of PAJ, an international jewelry wholesaler with annual sales of more than $100 million. She is active in the Asian community, providing a presence on mainstream boards and community associations. She has received numerous awards, including the “She Knows Where She is Going” award from Girls Inc. in Dallas. She holds two degrees from the College of Business, a BBA in accounting and an MBA, and serves on the College of Business Advisory Council. She and her husband, Siroos, live in Dallas and have two children.
Linda S. Watson ’81, ’82
Linda Watson is chief executive officer of LYNX, the Central Florida Transportation Authority. She received her bachelor’s degree in political science from the College of Liberal Arts and her master’s degree in urban and regional affairs from the School of Urban and Public Affairs. From 1982 to 1996 she advanced through the ranks of the Fort Worth Transportation Authority from administrative assistant to assistant general manager. From 1996 to 2004 she served as general manager for the Corpus Christi Regional Transportation Authority. She is a lifetime national associate of the National Research Council of the National Academies of Science. Her daughter, Stephanie Steele, is also a UT Arlington alumna, having earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration.
Honorary Distinguished Alumni Award
John P. Lanigan Jr.
John Lanigan is vice president and chief marketing officer for BNSF Railway Co., where he is responsible for sales, marketing, customer service, economic development and business unit activities. Prior to joining BNSF in 2003, he served as president and CEO of logistics.com and spent more than 16 years with Schneider National Inc. Before he began his transportation career, Lanigan was in the U.S. Coast Guard, eventually retiring with more than 20 years of active duty and reserve service. He commanded six units, including a port security unit that deployed to Operation Desert Storm. He has served as president of the College of Business Advisory Council. He and his wife, Karen, live in Colleyville and have two children.