The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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SMU Alums honored at ceremony

SMU graduates were presented with prestigious honors Thursday night at the Fairmont Hotel in downtown Dallas. Many applications were reviewed before they were narrowed down to four, which were approved by university President R. Gerald Turner.

“This year we have four incredibly diverse recipients. The talent exhibited in these alumni is tremendous,” Turner said.

The Honorable Craig T. Enoch, Jerry LeVias, John Nieto and Paul Bass each received the Distinguished Alumni Award, the highest recognition a former student of SMU can obtain.

Craig Enoch, the proclaimed “lawyer’s lawyer,” first served as a presiding judge of the 101st District Court and chief justice of the 5th District Court of Appeals. At this time, Enoch was the youngest sitting judge in Texas. He was appointed to the Texas Supreme Court and became a liaison to the State Bar of Texas.

“I am greatly honored,” Enoch said upon receiving his award. “I’ve had the opportunity to meet people and go places I never would have imagined. I owe it all to SMU.”

Alumnus Jerry LeVias is considered one of the most influential African American college athletes. LeVias was the first African American athlete to receive an athletic scholarship at SMU and in the Southwest Conference. His involvement in the football program allowed giant strides to be made in the battle to destroy the racial barriers of the Deep South.

“It only takes one person to have an effect against racism. It takes many to defeat it. I look forward to the day SMU will fully understand their contributions of integrating the South,” LeVias said.

LeVias was honored in the Texas Sports Hall of Fame, African-American Hall of Fame among others. Besides being a tremendous athlete, LeVias was also an excellent student, receiving a B.S. degree in 1969. He is still an active businessman today. Upon being notified of his award, LeVias remained skeptical.

“When they told me I’d received this award, I called to make sure I wasn’t on that ‘Punk’d’ show,” LeVias joked.

Paul Bass, vice chair of the First Southwest Company and member of the Board of Directors of First Company, earned a B.B.A. degree in 1957. His current volunteer work lies in the medical field as Bass holds a chair of the Southwestern Medical Foundation.

“Paul has a habit of the heart,” friend Ron Anderson said on the notion of Bass’s immense community volunteer work. Upon receiving his award, Bass reflecting upon his decision to attend SMU and offered a word of advice to his audience.

“One day changed my entire future. What day changed you forever?” Bass inquired, quoting country singer Cole Porter.

John W. Nieto is one of the most internationally known artists to graduate from SMU. After a successful career painting images of Native American figures and Western culture, Nieto suffered a stroke, which was thought to fully disable him. Nieto amazed doctors, family and friends after three years of therapy, by wanting to pick up a brush and paint again.

“The quality of life is based on choices and I chose to come to Dallas from Albuquerque,” Nieto said, recalling his days at SMU. “My time spent at SMU in the ’50s was time well spent.”

Nieto graduated in 1959 and was a member in the University’s Board of Trustees from 1992 to 1996. One of his paintings, “Fancy Dancer at SMU” can be seen outside President Turner’s office.

Also at the ceremony, Denise Scofield earned the Emerging Leader Award. Among the numerous awards and achievements Scofield holds, she is vice president of the Houston Bar Association and was named a “Super Lawyer” by Texas Monthly magazine. Scofield gives credit to the university for her award.

“SMU prepared me to be a young lawyer in a large firm. I was so blessed to be here for four years,” Scofield said. “I loved everything about the school.”

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