West Texas A&M University

Buff Transit Tracker
College of Education and Social Sciences Graduates of Distinction

Graduates of Distinction


Each year, we honor distinguished graduates of the College of Education and Social Sciences because of their demonstrated and unselfish commitment to a lifetime of service, their personal character, and the significant contributions they have made to their professions, their families, and their communities and the resulting honor they have brought to the University. Recipients of the award are selected from nominations submitted to a committee composed of faculty members from each department in the college. For information or to submit a nomination, please contact Dr. Eddie Henderson ehenderson@wtamu.edu at 806-651-2603.

The following individuals have been recognized as Distinguished Graduates of the College:

Jimmy Wales Adams

WTAMU Bachelor of Science in Social Sciences - 1976

WTAMUs Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies - 2000

Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas at Sam Houston State University

Instructor in Law Enforcement - Certified Public Manager Texas Tech University

Master Peace Office license, a Master Jailer certification and Forensic Hypnosis Examiner certification

Probation Officer for Potter County and as a Municipal Judge for the City of Wheeler

Distinguished service to the Amarillo Police Department, and as Sherriff of Wheeler County, Texas, for 16 years and as Chief of Police of Borger, Texas from 2004 until his retirement in 2013


Jane Anderson

WTSU Bachelor of Science in Social Work – 1974

WTSU Master of Arts in Sociology – 1977 

Executive Director of the Youth Center of the High Plains and Next Step Home

Chief Juvenile Probation Officer - Randall County


Barbara Bain

WTAMU Bachelor of Science in Education - 1960

Taught elementary school including 12 years in the Perryton I.S.D. and 13 years in Dimmitt I.S.D. - Board of Trustees Dimmitt I.S.D. for 9 years

Teacher of the Year-Dimmitt I.S.D. and Citizen of the Year in Perryton and Dimmitt, Texas

District President, 1st Vice President and 2nd Vice President of the Retired Teachers Association

WTAMU Distinguished Alumus Award - 2006

WTAMU Pinnacle Award - 2008

WTAMU Legacy Award - 2009

Instrumental in the development of The First United Bank Center and the Bain Athletic Complex and numerous scholarships including the Barbara Bain Scholarship in Education


Clifford Boyd Baker

WTAMU Bachelor of Science - 1959

WTAMU Master of Education - 1964

WTAMU Associate Director of Financial Aid: WTAMU Director of Financial Aid – 1970-1985

Established the Panhandle-Plains Higher Education Authority - 1979

WTAMU Distinguished Alumnus -2002


Dr. Lisa Garza

Bachelor of Arts in Psychology – 1985

Masters of Education in Counseling – 1987

WTAMU Associate Professor of Sociology

WTAMU Assistant Department Head – Psychology, Sociology and Social Work

Chair of the Department of Sociology, Regis University

Regis University Faculty Member of the Year in 2005 & 2006

Board Member of Adelante Mujer


Diann Elliston Gilmore

WTSU Bachelor of Arts in Social Work – 1974

Executive Director – Downtown Women’s Center

Founding Member - Amarillo Coalition for the Homeless and the Tyler Street Resource Center

1996 Women’s Distinguished Service Award

2005 Beta Sigma Phi Woman of the Year

2008 Globe-News Woman of the Year


Selden B. Hale III

WTSU Bachelor of Science – 1965

Doctor of Jurisprudence – St. Mary’s University 

Criminal Trial Lawyer

1992-1993 Chairman–Board of Directors Texas Department of Criminal Justice

Instrumental in Establishment of Texas Tech University School of Pharmacy

Established Texas Punishment Standards Commission

Established Prison Drug and Alcohol Treatment Program


Jack Hayward

Master of Arts in Counseling – 2006

Past Chairman of First State Bank – Elkhart, KS

Texas Silver-Haired Legislator

WTAMU Pinnacle Award - 2012

Kappa Kappa Psi – Spirit Award – 1998

Golden Nail Award- 2012


Dr. Travis McBride

WTSU Bachelor of Arts in Government & History- 1957

WTSU Master of Arts in Government, Economics & History – 1958

Doctor of Philosophy in Political Science & Economics - University of Oklahoma – 1967

WTSU Professor and Head of the Department of Political Science from 1957-1986

WTAMU Professor Emeritus


Steven McCraw 

WTSU Bachelor of Science in Political Science -1979

WTSU Master of Arts - 1981 

Director–Texas Department of Public Safety

2004-2009 Director–Texas Homeland Security

1983–2004 Special Agent-Federal Bureau of Investigation

1977-1983 Texas Highway Patrol Trooper and Narcotics Investigator


Sharon Miner

Bachelor of Science in Political Science – 1998

District Director and Personal Assistant for Senator Teel Bivins – 1997-2009

Amarillo Area Foundation Board of Directors

Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch ISD School Board of Directors

Community Leader


Pearlene Grayson Martin

WTAMU - Master’s in Education - 1966

Professional Librarian Certificate - Texas Women’s University

Classroom teacher in the first through sixth grades, an elementary school Reading Specialist, a middle school English teacher, a teacher of Gifted and Talented children and an elementary school media specialist

Past-president of the Amarillo Branch of the NAACP - 1989-1994

NAACP Lifetime Achievement Award - 2006

Texas Governor’s Exceptional and Distinguished Volunteer Service Award - 1981

Community service to Jenkins Baptist Church since 1958, the YMCA, Catholic Family Service of Amarillo, Camp Fire Girls, Girl Scouts of America, the City of Amarillo Zoning Board of Adjustment, Friends of the Library, Amarillo Library Board, Amarillo Center City Advisory Board, the Panhandle Regional Planning Commission, Panhandle Aids Support Organization, the Don Harrington Discovery Center, the Amarillo Little Theater, the Amarillo Museum of Art and the Amarillo Opera


Helen Neal

Bachelor of Science in Education – 1962

Retired Elementary School Teacher

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Member

Community Leader and Philanthropist


Helen Piehl

WTSU Bachelor of Business Administration in Secretarial Business – 1971

President and CEO – Western Sales, Inc.

President WTAMU Foundation Board of Directors

WTAMU Old Main Society Pinnacle Award – 2011

WTAMU Women’s Council Board of Directors

Secretary to the Texas State 4-H Youth Development Foundation


Gary Pitner

Bachelor of Science in Public Administration – 1978

Executive Direct of Panhandle Regional Planning Commission – 1977-Present

AL J. Notzon Award – 1996

Outstanding Public Administrator Award - 2011

Board of Downtown Amarillo, Inc.

President of Amarillo Local Government Corporation

Community Leader and Philanthropist


Donald E. Powell

WTSU Bachelor of Science in Economics – 1963 

Southwestern Graduate School of Banking at Southern Methodist University

President and CEO of The First National Bank of Amarillo

Chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation 2001-2005

Federal Coordinator of Gulf Coast Rebuilding 2005-2008


Myrna Raffkind

 WTAMU Master of Arts in Psychology – 1988

WTAMU Master of Arts in Sociology – 1995

WTAMU Faculty in Psychology and Sociology 1985-1998

WTAMU Foundation Board of Directors

2008 Beta Sigma Phi Woman of the Year

2007 Women’s Distinguished Service Award

Geneva Schaeffer

 WTSU Bachelor of Science in Social Studies

Community Leader and Philanthropist

WTAMU Foundation Board of Directors 1994-2002

WTAMU Old Main Society Pinnacle Award - 2005

2006 Outstanding Philanthropist - Association of Fundraising Professionals


Rod Schroder

WTSU Bachelor of Science in Mathematics – 1972

WTSU Master of Science in Mathematics and Physics – 1975

Certifications in Educational Leadership 

Superintendent of the Amarillo Independent School District since 2000

2009 President Elect - Texas School Alliance


Marsha Sharp 

WTSU Master of Education - 1976

Head Coach Emeritus-Texas Tech University

1982–2006 Head Coach-Texas Tech University Lady Raiders

1993 & 1994 National Coach of the Year

Seven Time SWC/Big 12 Coach of the Year

2003 Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame

1999 Texas Women’s Hall of Fame & 2000 Texas Sports Hall of Fame   


Jane Jackson Stephens

WTAMU Bachelor of Arts in History - 1964

WTAMU Master of Arts in Counseling - 1981

Canyon I.S.D. -Director of Secondary Curriculum

Canyon I.S.D. - Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction

Canyon I.S.D. - Acting Superintendent

Canyon I.S.D. – Board of Trustees

Jane Stephens Student Teacher Fund in her memory


J. Pat Stephens

WTSU Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education – 1960

WTSU Master of Arts in Government – 1962

Doctor of Philosophy in Public Administration - University of Missouri – 1970

WTAMU Professor and Public Administration Program Director 1969 - 1998

Canyon City Commissioner 1973 - 1997

WTAMU Professor Emeritus


Claudia D. Stravato

WTSU Bachelor of Science in Political Science - 1974

WTSU Master of Arts in Political Science -1978

Deputy Comptroller of Texas 1983 - 1990

Chief of Staff to the Lt. Governor of Texas 1991 - 1993

1994 Woman of the Year - Executive Women in Texas Government

2005 Award Recipient - Women Making a Difference in the Texas Panhandle

WTAMU Adjunct Faculty



Jimmie H. Vaughn

WTSU Bachelor of Science in Education - 1972

Graduate of the United States Army War College - 2009

Senior Strategic Human Resources Advisor

National Security Professional

Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Civilian Personnel Policy

Media Spokesperson–American Forces Network, Europe