West Texas A&M University Alumni Association eNewsletter
West Texas A&M University
Alumni Association eNewsletter
April 2016

West Texas A&M University Alumni Association eNewsletter - Let's Catch Up, BuffAlum.com

Students Vote Yes to New Stadium

Student Stadium Render Effect

WT students showed up in record numbers to vote yes for a new on-campus stadium in online voting March 29-30.

“Most of all, I am proud that our student’s took this initiative on and saw it through,” Mike Knox, vice president for student affairs, said. “There was excellent dialogue all along the way and in the end, they can take pride that they have made an impact on our campus that will endure for many, many years. An on-campus stadium changes the trajectory of student life at WT going forward.”

WT students voted online or at campus kiosks to decide whether the athletic fee should be increased for the addition of an on-campus football stadium on the north side of Buffalo Sports Park. In the vote for the stadium, 787 (52.26 percent) students voted yes, while 719 (47.74) voted no. Students also voted for a name for the stadium—The Stomping Grounds, Thunder Stadium or Buffalo Stadium—and the winner will be announced Thursday, April 7 at The Event, an event sponsored by WT Student Government, RHA and the Maroon Platoon. The Event is from 5-9 p.m. on Terrill Lawn, and the public is invited to attend.

“This is a giant step forward for the University and the community—one that will be experienced by generations,” Michael McBroom, director of athletics, said. “I commend the leadership in student government as well as the pride and involvement in WT that the student body exhibited in casting their votes.”

Construction of the new stadium will begin in 2017 and will take an estimated 12 months to complete. The new facility will be constructed just north of Jarrett Hall, where the current soccer/track field is located. The soccer/track field will be relocated just north of the current practice field. The 12,000-seat stadium will take a horseshoe configuration with the open end at the south end of the field. Concessions and restrooms will be scattered throughout.

Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients Named

Four West Texas A&M University alumni—an internationally recognized flutist, the founder of Amarillo Opera, a successful regional CEO and an award-winning music video director—will be recognized when the University presents its Distinguished Alumni Awards at the 53rd annual Phoenix Banquet at 6 p.m. Saturday, April 30 in Legacy Hall on campus.

The event is the Alumni Association and University’s opportunity to recognize and honor the best of WT’s alumni. The four honorees—Bradley A. Garner ’78, ’79, Mila Gibson ’66, ’69, Mike Mauldin ’78, and Michael Merriman ’77—were selected for outstanding contributions to their professions and community from a field of many other successful nominees. This year’s recipients have achieved exceptional success in each of their respective professions, proving that a degree from WT more than prepares students for rewarding and successful careers.

Bradley A. Garner

Bradley GarnerWT alumnus Bradley A. Garner earned a bachelor’s degree in music in 1978 and a master’s degree in music in 1979. He is the first flutist to receive a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Juilliard School and has built a career as a world-renowned musician, respected teacher, talented recording artist and skilled clinician. He plays with the New York Philharmonic, the Cincinnati Symphony and as principal flutist with the Atlantic Sinfonietta, the New York Virtuosi, the Virtuosi Quintet and the 20th Century Chamber Orchestra. Garner also is the first American flutist to be invited by the Russian government to perform in Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Hall.

He has performed concerts, solo recitals and conducted master classes all over the world, inspiring audiences and students with his musicality and effortless technique. He is a Yamaha performing artist and clinician and also finds time to serve on the flute faculty at The University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music, Queens College, New York University and the Juilliard School. His students have been the beneficiaries of his talents, winning positions in orchestras, prizes in national and international competitions, college teaching positions and more.

“Brad has not just reached new heights in his musical career; he has created those new heights,” Cody Myers ’79, ‘87, director of fine arts for the Amarillo Independent School District, said. “Perhaps the world’s finest flutist, Brad Garner is also just a great guy from West Texas.”

Mila Gibson

Mila GibsonMila Gibson earned two degrees from WT—a bachelor’s degree in music in 1966 and a master’s degree in 1969. Music has always played an important role in her life and through the years she has worked with and influenced generations of young performers. Gibson taught at WT from 1979 to 1982 before joining the faculty at Amarillo College, where she taught from 1982-2000. The talented singer has earned numerous awards and honors for her work, but her dedication to the arts through outreach programs has garnered praise from communities across the Panhandle. Gibson founded Amarillo Opera in 1988 and thanks to her efforts, everyone from adults to school children got the opportunity to experience the joy and beauty of opera. Today, the Amarillo Opera serves up to 500,000 people annually through its outreach programs and educational services. The opera company provides the Panhandle communities with plenty of live, community-based productions, too. Its first effort was “Madame Butterfly” with Gibson as star, producer, director, costumer and publicist. With a growing repertoire, Amarillo Opera soon outgrew its Amarillo College venue and today performs as a resident company of the Globe-News for the Performing Arts.

“Mila is a leader in her industry, and those are the type of people that represent our University well,” Jimmy Lackey ’85,’96, president and CEO of Kids, Inc., said. “When someone puts together something like the Amarillo Opera, that’s pretty special. It’s good for our community, it’s good for our region, it’s good for our economy, and it certainly adds to our culture.”

Although Gibson has retired to her hometown of Sweetwater, her influence and contributions continue to make a difference throughout the Amarillo area. And her dedication to the arts continues to be an important part of her life. In 2011 she was appointed to the Texas Commission on the Arts by Gov. Rick Perry.

Mike Mauldin

Mike MauldinMike Mauldin earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in computer information systems in 1978 and started his career selling computers as a territory manager with the Burroughs Corp. in Amarillo. That job proved to be his connection to the banking industry and in 1979, Mauldin joined First State Bank of Tulia. His integrity contributed to his reputation as a fair and honest banker, and he landed in Idalou as the president and CEO of Idalou State Bank. In 2002 he moved to Hereford and currently serves as the regional CEO and president of the Hereford region of First Financial Bank.

“I have had the privilege of working with Mike for five years and have witnessed firsthand his impact on our company, our customers and our community,” T. Luke Longhofer ’04, executive vice president in lending, said. “He is a tremendous leader of our bank, and he is well respected among his peers in the banking industry.”

His 35 years in the banking industry includes distinctive service to the Texas Bankers Association as chairman of the board, where he became an ambassador to the banking industry on state and national politics and the effects it has on financial institutions and the customers served. He’s participated in focus groups, task forces, committees and more to ensure that every bank, from the largest to the smallest, has a voice.

Mauldin also is an advocate and supporter of his community and WT. He has been instrumental in bringing new businesses to Hereford in his role as chairman of the Hereford Economic Development Committee. He’s also active in the University’s annual FORE County Golf Tournament, where proceeds benefit student scholarships at WT. Mauldin often visits the campus also to speak to students about banking. He has organized several paid internships for WT students seeking careers in the banking industry.

Michael Merriman

Michael MerrimanMichael Merriman, a veteran director and producer, earned a bachelor’s degree from WT in 1977. He started at an advertising agency in Amarillo in the late 1970s, and today Merriman is an award-winning director with extensive experience in commercials, music videos and documentaries. He has more than 200 music videos to his credit with such artists as Travis Tritt, Toby Keith and Trace Adkins and a 2002 Music Video of the Year Award for Brooks and Dunn’s “Only in America.”

“Michael Merriman has produced and directed numerous videos for Gaither Music and our sister companies,” Bill Gaither, said. “His professionalism and creativity are tremendous assets through which Michael has helped us create meaningful, beautifully produced programming that stands the test of time. He is always flexible and cool headed, truly a joy to work with and an outstanding force in the entertainment industry. We are grateful for every opportunity we have to partner with him.”

In addition to numerous awards and nominations for his work in music videos, Merriman’s talent also has been recognized for his work in ad campaigns for Toyota, Tide, Saturn, NCAA basketball and more. His produced and directed documentaries have aired on PBS and include “He Touched Me, The Gospel Music of Elvis Presley,” “Kindred Spirits, Honoring the Songs of Johnny Cash” and “Elvis Lives.”

This year’s banquet will be celebrated at 6 p.m. Saturday, April 30 in the Jack B. Kelley Student Center, Legacy Hall. Tickets are priced at $50 per person and can be reserved by calling 806-651-2311.

Grad’s Guide to Life

It’s almost graduation time, but what happens after the pomp and circumstance? The WT Alumni Association and several WT alumni are ready to help WT students figure it out with Grad’s Guide to Life—Things to Know Before You Go on Wednesday, April 13 at the Jack B. Kelley Student Center, Legacy Hall.

Students who are about to graduate are invited to participate and learn about everything from insurance to networking. Mini seminars run from 1-4:50 p.m., followed by prize drawings at 5 p.m. and a cocktail hour at 5:15 p.m. Encourage your soon-to-be graduates to attend. Here is the afternoon schedule:

  • 1-1:30 p.m.—Travis Good ’15 on “SecurIT—Cyber Security”
  • 1:40-2:10 p.m.—Jamie Haynes ’06 on “Knock, Knock—Home Buying”
  • 2:20-2:50 p.m.—Mark and J’Lynn Wheeler ’80 on “What the Fork? Business Etiquette”
  • 3-3:30 p.m.—Kasey Long ’07 on “I Volunteer—Community Involvement”
  • 3:40-4:10 p.m.—Cody Chandler ’07, “Am I Covered?—Insurance”
  • 4:20-4:50 p.m.—Mike Mauldin ’78 on “Cha Ching!—Saving/Debt Cutting”
  • 5 p.m.—Prize Drawings
  • 5:15 p.m.—Cocktail Hour

Hagar retires after 41 years at WT

Kay HagarKay Hagar ’79, ’94, just can’t understand what all the fuss is about, but it only makes sense that friends and family would want to celebrate her retirement from West Texas A&M University. And that’s just what is happening—not a fuss at all, but a campus-wide reception April 1 to mark Hagar’s last day of work after 41 years of dedicated service.

Forty-one years – now that is a milestone for someone who came to WT as a student in the 1970s, became a student employee and transitioned into a full-time position after graduation. She’s spent her entire career at the University, minus a one-year stint in Austin working with the Texas State Teachers Association. Her résumé is impressive, and the number of students who have benefited from Hagar’s guidance is nothing short of mind boggling.

“You see these young folks come in, watch them change and see them make a life for themselves—I really like that, and I’ve seen quite a few through the years,” she said.

And if there is any doubt about her connection with the students, just take a stroll through the Jack B. Kelley Student Center with her and witness her popularity. Student after student will stop to say hi or carry on a conversation. Yes, Hagar is well liked, and students and co-workers will miss her.

“Kay is the most helpful and conscientious person I have ever worked with,” Karen Friemel, gift accounting coordinator in Advancement Services, said. “She goes above and beyond at all times to make sure everyone has what they need. And she is passionate about WT. We have become friends, and I’m going to miss her terribly.”

Hagar’s family moved from Oklahoma to Pampa her junior year of high school. It was no surprise that she wanted to go back to Oklahoma for college after graduating from Pampa High School. Her parents thought out-of-state would be too expensive though and sent her to West Texas State University instead. She came, made lifelong friends and never left.

“I’ve grown up here and grown old here,” she laughs.

She earned her Bachelor of Business Administration in 1979 and a Master of Arts in communication in 1994. Her career started in the University’s legal counsel office and has included job assignments ranging from director of housing operations and director of the Virgil Henson Activities Center to director of residential living and student judicial affairs to assistant vice president of student life and student judicial affairs. Hagar has worked with thousands of students through her 41 years and experienced just as many changes on campus. James Cornette was president of the University when Hagar came to WT, and she remembers the groundbreaking for Cornette Library and the moving of the president’s house from campus.

“You wouldn’t believe all I’ve seen,” she said. “But I’ve enjoyed every day working here.”

There’s no doubt either that everyone at WT enjoyed working with Hagar, too. That’s why there’s such a fuss as we all gather to wish her a happy retirement.

Obama Nominates WT Alumna for Federal Judge

Congratulations to Irma Carrillo Ramirez ’86, who was recently nominated by President Barack Obama to serve as a federal judge. Ramirez, a U.S. Magistrate Judge in the Northern District of Texas since 2002, has been nominated as an Article III federal judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas. The nomination is currently pending before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Before being appointed to the court in 2002, the WT alumna served as an assistant U.S. attorney in Dallas, where she worked in the civil division from 1995-1999 and in the criminal division from 1999-2002. She earned her bachelor’s degree at WT and a law degree from Southern Methodist University.

Chapter News with Amber Bustos

Amber Bustos '11, '15Join us for Ag/College Night with the Amarillo Venom on Saturday, April 16. The Venom will take on Salina Liberty at 7:05 p.m. at the Amarillo Civic Center. Use the code word WT when purchasing tickets, and the Venom will donate $1 for every ticket sold to the WT Buff STAT (Students Today, Alumni Tomorrow) student organization. Look for the alumni table at the game and score some free swag. For tickets, call 806-350-7277 or visit www.govenom.com.

From the Director

Dear Buff Family:

Becky Stogner photo

If you know someone graduating this year, you’ll want to be sure they know about Grad’s Guide to Life – Things to Know Before You Go on April 13. Every time we mention this event to someone they say, “Wow, I wish there had been something like that when I was there.” The afternoon includes mini-seminars on real-life topics like cyber security, relocating and buying a home, financial responsibility, travel and leisure skills, and community involvement. There are door prizes and a gift for pre-registering. The day ends with a cocktail party with session leaders. Grads can register at buffalum.com/gradsguide.

Other things to do this spring:

  • Form an alumni team for Foozefest, a human foosball tournament scheduled for April 22.
  • Attend the 53rd Annual Phoenix Banquet, honoring our 2016 Distinguished Alumnus Award recipients, on Saturday, April 30.
  • Attend the Alumni Reception as part of the Dallas Commencement for online students May 21 at the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine. 

For more information on any of these events, contact the Alumni Association office at 806-651-2311.

Becky Stogner

Upcoming Events

April 11
Distinguished Lecture with Shark Tank’s Robert Herjavec, 7 p.m., Legacy Hall

April 13
Grad’s Guide to Life—Things to Know Before You Go
Sessions for students on important life topics. Make sure the Buffs in your life know about this fun and beneficial afternoon.

April 30
Annual Phoenix Banquet honoring 2016 Distinguished Alumni Award recipients

May 3
Campus Farewell Reception for Pat and Karen O’Brien, 2-5 p.m., Legacy Hall

Donor Farewell Reception for Pat and Karen O’Brien, 6-8 p.m., Amarillo Country Club

May 13
Spring Ring Ceremony, 4 p.m., Legacy Hall

May 14
Spring Commencement, 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., First United Bank Center

May 21
Dallas commencement for online students and alumni reception, 2 p.m. ceremony, 3 p.m. reception,Gaylord Texan Hotel and Resort, Grapevine

Visit BuffAlum.com for updates on upcoming events in Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, Houston and more.

Visit the University calendar for a complete schedule of campus events.
Visit gobuffsgo for complete schedule of WT athletic events.


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