The Distinguished Alumnus Award is the highest honor bestowed upon a former student of Texas A&M University, awarded since 1962 to only 291 of Texas A&M’s more than 506,000 former students.
Presented jointly by the university and The Association of Former Students, this award recognizes Aggies who have achieved excellence in their chosen professions and made meaningful contributions to Texas A&M University and their local communities.
Dr. Richard A. Box ’61 was commanding general of the Texas State Guard 2000-06, leading the Guard’s response during hurricanes Katrina and Rita. As chairman of the A&M System Board of Regents 2011-13, he helped lead A&M’s transition to the Southeastern Conference. He is a Fellow in both the American College of Dentists and the International College of Dentists; after graduating from A&M and the University of Texas Dental Branch-Houston, he served as an Army dentist during the Vietnam War. He recently retired from dental practice in Austin. His service to the state of Texas includes having served on the Texas Real Estate Commission and as chairman of the State of Texas Aircraft Pooling Board. Box is a member of the Texas A&M Lettermen’s Association board, a member of the Corps of Cadets Hall of Honor and has served on the President’s Council of Advisors.
Henry G. Cisneros ’68 served as mayor of San Antonio 1981-89 and was Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development 1993-97. Currently, he leads CityView, an organization he founded that works to revitalize inner-city neighborhoods in major metropolitan areas, and is chairman of American Triple I, an infrastructure investment firm. He was a member of the A&M System Board of Regents 1985-86 and president of Univision Communications 1997-2000. He is an Outstanding Alumnus of A&M’s College of Architecture and, as a student, he was combined band commander of the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band. In 2018, Texas A&M-San Antonio outlined plans for its Henry G. Cisneros Institute for Emerging Leaders, being established with his support. He is chairman of the Texas A&M-San Antonio President’s Advisory Committee and is a past chair of both the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce and the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation.
Phil Adams ’70 is in his third six-year term as a regent of The Texas A&M University System, having served as vice chairman of the Board of Regents 2011-13 and chairman 2013-15. With many years of service to A&M and the A&M System, Adams is an active member of the Chancellor's Century Council and the Mays Business School Development Council, and recently completed a three-year term on the board of UTIMCO, The University of Texas/Texas A&M Investment Management Co. He is a longtime insurance executive, and the founder and president of Phil Adams Company. At A&M, he serves on the Chancellor's Century Council and the Mays Business School Development Council. He serves on the board of directors of American Momentum Bank, with banking operations in Texas and Florida, and has been a Bryan-College Station Chamber of Commerce board member, past president of the Brazos Valley Estate Council and past chairman of the Brazos County Republican Party.
Joseph V. Tortorice, Jr. ’70 founded Jason’s Deli in 1976; the restaurant chain has since expanded to 284 delis in 28 states and was the first national chain restaurant to eliminate partially hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, monosodium glutamate and artificial dyes from its menu. Its Career Path program helps employees learn life skills and pace their own growth. At A&M, he is a member of the Corps of Cadets Hall of Honor and an Outstanding Alumnus of the Mays Business School who has served on many A&M development councils. Tortorice is part of the Catholic Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. He is active with Beaumont’s St. Anthony Cathedral Basilica ACTS ministry, St. Mary’s in College Station and Kolbe ministry to prisons and has been a Bishop’s Faith Appeal director in Beaumont and a member of the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center Board of Visitors.
Anthony J. (Tony) Best ’72 served for 15 years as president of Texas A&M’s Corps of Cadets Association. His 40-year career of engineering and leadership in the oil and gas industry has included roles at ARCO from Prudhoe Bay field manager to president-Latin America, then president/CEO of Pure Resources and CEO of SM Energy. Currently, he is board chairman at Newpark Resources, a director at ProPetro, ExL Petroleum and Middle Fork Energy Partners, and a senior advisor with Quantum Energy Partners. As chair of the Denver Heart Walk in 2014 and United Way-Midland’s board and campaign in 1997, he led record fundraising of $3.8 million and $3 million respectively. He has served on the American Heart Association’s Southwest Affiliate Board and Denver Junior Achievement Board, and at A&M served on the Mechanical Engineering Advisory Council, College of Engineering Advisory Council and as a volunteer leader for the 12th Man Foundation and The Association of Former Students. He has also been inducted into the Mechanical Engineering Academy of Distinguished Graduates.
Samuel “Ray” Huffines ’74 is CEO of Huffines Auto Dealerships, leading growth of the family business to nine dealerships in the Dallas area and recognition for seven years among the Dallas Morning News’s “Top 100 Places to Work” in Dallas-Fort Worth based on employee surveys. He was honored as the 2018 Ambassador of Hope by Plano’s Hope Center for Christian ministries, and in 2008 received the Legends of Service award from the Dallas Life Foundation homeless shelter. Huffines has served on boards for Texas A&M’s 12th Man Foundation, Dallas Baptist University, Trinity Christian Academy in Addison and the Plano Salvation Army, as well as chaired the Plano Chamber of Commerce and Coaches Outreach ministry. As a student in A&M’s Corps of Cadets, he was a founding member of Parsons Mounted Cavalry and a member of the 1970-71 national championship Fish Drill Team.
David A. Heath ’76 became, at age 25, A&M’s head athletic trainer for all men's and women's sports—experience he brought to a long career in sports apparel, retiring from Nike as vice president of global sales. He worked at Adidas eight years before joining Nike as a regional apparel sales manager in Dallas; his work at Nike included directing U.S. territory sales, managing the U.S. equipment division, directing commerce in the Americas and serving as vice president for U.S. sales. Heath has served A&M in many roles, including past chair of The Association of Former Students’ Board of Directors and membership on the Texas A&M Lettermen’s Association board of directors. His service to others includes 14 years with the Boy Scouts of America; working with Habitat for Humanity in Portland, Oregon; and serving on the National Sporting Goods Association Hall of Fame Committee.
Shelley Potter ’78 is national president of Chi Omega, the sorority whose Texas A&M chapter she helped found, and a past president of the national Chi Omega Foundation. She is president of the award-winning architecture and landscape architecture firm POTTER, with offices in Dallas and Longview. She has enhanced the built environment with landscape design reflecting beauty and sense of place. She is an Outstanding Alumna of A&M’s College of Architecture. In 2009, Potter became the second woman to chair The Association of Former Students’ Board of Directors; she also co-chaired The Association’s building enhancement task committee for the $17 million renovation of the Clayton W. Williams Jr., Alumni Center. Her involvement with The Association includes helping found the Greek Former Student Network; serving as president of the Deep East Texas A&M Club; and, in 2011, receiving the Women's Former Student Network’s Legacy Award.
Dan Allen Hughes, Jr. ’80 is president of Dan A. Hughes Co. and other oil and gas related companies, part of his long career in oil and gas exploration and production. From 2013 to 2015, he was chairman of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, on which he served 2009-15. An Outstanding Alumnus of A&M’s Mays Business School, he has served on many advisory boards at A&M and was on the university’s presidential search committee 2013-15. His service to others includes raising funds for children’s charities in Bexar County, the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research and the state’s purchase of Devils River State Natural Area. His longtime support of A&M has included being a major donor for A&M’s Berg-Hughes Center for Petroleum and Sedimentary Systems, Kyle Field redevelopment and athletic facilities, Corps scholarships, and many other areas. He also serves on the Texas A&M University-San Antonio advisory board, and he and his wife, Peggy Gorden Hughes ’82, were honored in 2013 with the Texas A&M University-San Antonio Dream Maker Award.
T. Randall Cain ’82 has had a 36-year career at Ernst & Young, where he is vice chair and Southwest Region managing partner. He is an Outstanding Alumnus of Texas A&M’s Mays Business School, where he is a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council and Benjamin Department of Accounting Advisory Council. Cain is also a past president of A&M’s 12th Man Foundation, where he is on the Champions Council, and a past chairman of the Texas A&M Foundation, where he is a trustee. His civic leadership includes serving as treasurer for the board of trustees for the Southwest School of Art and past roles as chairman of the Valero Alamo Bowl, San Antonio Economic Development Foundation, Junior Achievement of South Texas and the American Heart Association of North Texas. Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry ’72 appointed Cain to the Texas Tax Reform Commission and Texas Emerging Technology Fund.
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Profiles of Distinguished Alumni are listed on the Tribute Wall.
For more information about the 2019 Distinguished Alumni Gala, please visit this page or contact Jamie Souza '17, Coordinator of Events, at (979) 845-7514 or Gala@AggieNetwork.com.