Alumni Awards


Distinguished Alumni Achievement Awards

A long-standing university tradition, the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Awards recognize the best in our alumni body. Throughout their careers, honorees have contributed significantly to their companies, communities and the university while upholding the highest standards and values.

Nominate a Deserving Alumnus/a

Nominations for Alumni Awards are open and are accepted on a rolling basis. Nominations must be submitted by April 15 in any given year for consideration at that year’s Distinguished Alumni Achievement Awards Ceremony.

2023 Awardees

Distinguished Alumni Award

The most prestigious award given by the UNT Alumni Association, honoring alumni for professional achievement and significant contributions to society and the university.

Drew Lawton (’91 M.B.A.) is the retired CEO of New York Life Investment Management, a role he served in from 2010 to 2015. He is a member of the UNT McConnell Society, UNT Alumni Association and UNT President’s Council for Student Success and Philanthropy. Drew and his wife Jill have established multiple endowed scholarships at UNT that are targeted to support student veterans and first-generation students. Drew also serves as an adjunct professor in the UNT G. Brint Ryan College of Business, and developed the course titled “Profiles in Leadership.”

Phil Sorgen (’88, ’90 M.B.A.) has been a venture partner at Tola Capital since 2021, having previously worked at Microsoft for 24 years. He and his wife, Lea, a fellow UNT alumna, made a gift to the Career Center Excellence Endowment in 2019 that was then matched by Microsoft through the Benevity Community Impact Fund. The Sorgens have also established the Phil and Lea Sorgen Career Center Excellence Fund, which serves as internship support for current students.

Terri West (’82) is a retired senior vice president of Texas Instruments Incorporated, where she worked for 37 years. During the last 19 years of her career, she was responsible for the company's global communications, investor relations, government relations, community affairs and Currently, West is chairman of the Texas Instruments Foundation board of directors. An alumna of UNT’s journalism program, West serves on the board of advisors for the Mayborn School of Journalism.

Rising Star Award

This award recognizes recent graduates for distinguished achievement that has merited the honor and praise of peers and colleagues.

Sarina Lora Davidson (’19) is the director of special events and media coordinator for the Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Sarina serves as the president of the UNT Alumni Tarrant County Network, which has seen a significant increase in engagement and participation under her leadership. Earlier this year, Sarina was appointed by Governor Abbott to the Texas Prepaid Higher Education Tuition Board, which oversees the Texas Tuition Promise Fund and the Texas College Savings Plan.

Outstanding Alumni Service Award

Presented to individuals who have provided exceptional service to UNT or the community.

Harry (’79 M.B.A.) and Linda White (’72, ’82 M.B.A.) Eaddy are co-founders of the Denton Black Film Festival, which addresses under-representation in film and media by providing Black creatives a platform, Black stories an audience, sharing culture and building community. Now celebrating 10 years, the Denton Black Film Festival is attended by thousands annually and showcases cinema, art, music, spoken word and more. Harry currently serves as the executive director and Linda serves as the film programming director for the festival.

Ulys Knight Spirit Award

Given to an individual or group that has made noteworthy efforts to show exceptional UNT spirit.

Ernest (’11) and Monica (’06) Martinez are proud alumni and strong supporters of the University of North Texas. The couple has continuously supported UNT students through volunteer work at events such as Dinner with a Dozen, UNT Day at the Capitol and the UNT Ring Ceremony and can be spotted at almost every home and many away UNT football and basketball games. Ernest is the vice chairman of the UNT Alumni Association Board of Directors and vice president of the Latinx Alumni Network. They are also members of the President’s Council and have been members of the Diamond Eagles Society.