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2012 Distinguished Alumni Bear Our Banners Far and Wide

By Lisa Du Bois Low and Peggy Pearce

What do a NASA flight director, the leader of one of the largest family-owned businesses in the building materials industry and a former Texas Tech University president have in common? They were all recipients of the 2012 Distinguished Alumni Awards — the highest honor bestowed by the Texas Tech Alumni Association and the University.

Ginger Kerrick of Houston, Brian McCoy of San Marcos, and David Schmidly, Ph.D., of Albuquerque, N.M., were honored recently at the Distinguished Alumni Award Ceremony at the McKenzie-Merket Alumni Center.

Ginger Kerrick of Houston earned both bachelor's (‘91) and master’s (’93) degrees in physics from the College of Arts & Sciences. Kerrick serves at the NASA Johnson Space Center as a flight director and has supported 13 International Space Station and five joint shuttle missions.

Brian McCoy of San Marcos earned a bachelor's degree in finance in 1975 and was recognized as a Rawls College of Business Distinguished Alumnus in 2007. McCoy is the president/CEO of McCoy’s Building Supply, a fourth-generation, family-owned supplier of building materials with stores in five states.

David Schmidly, Ph.D. of Albuquerque, NM, earned a bachelor’s ('66) and master’s ('68) degrees in zoology from the College of Arts & Sciences and is a former president of Texas Tech University.

Texas Tech Alumni Association has been presenting the awards since 1967 to the most accomplished graduates of Texas Tech University for their professional achievements, contributions to society and support of the university.

“In fact (it is) the most prestigious event recognizing people who have not only distinguished themselves, but Texas Tech University,” said Bill Dean, Executive Vice President & CEO.

Past Distinguished Alumni Award recipients have governed states, sung leading roles in the great opera houses of the world, served as CEO's and military commanders, and won Olympic Gold Medals.

Texas Tech University System chancellor Kent Hance and Texas Tech University interim president Lawrence Schovanec both acknowledged the honorees for all they have done to distinguish themselves and the university.

“The legacy of an institution is built on the reputation of its graduates. Stories of success serve as a window into the future,” said Schovanec.

Hance, a 1995 recipient of the award, personally congratulated Kerrick, McCoy and Schmidlly.

"I just want to tell all three of you, we are proud of (you) and when we get to the point of ‘bear our banners far and wide,’ you have done it, you're first class,” he said.

Many long hours and months of planning are involved in the nomination and selection process. Each recipient is honored individually with a video biography* highlighting their lives and accomplishments. But the ceremony itself never fails to make it all worthwhile. Acceptance speeches touch the hearts of everyone in the room.

“The Distinguished Alumni Dinner is a favorite event, driven by the unique accomplishments and talents of each year’s honorees.  The humility and appreciation expressed after viewing their life stories on video makes the effort gratifying,” said Peggy Pearce, director of special events.

The evening was a sharing of dreams and experiences, filled with laughter and even a few tears. From Ginger Kerrick’s amazing career as a flight director for NASA  inspired by a trip to the library at five years old with her late father; to the grit of hard work during Brian McCoy’s college experience that led to a successful company, with a loyal staff that works together like family; ending with how David Schmidly made his mark, leading three major universities to greatness and a former student showing appreciation by naming a species of mouse after him.

Former Lubbock Mayor David Miller, orchestrated the program as a very special tribute to the individual and collective accomplishments of the honorees. In his 10th appearance as master of ceremonies, Miller’s deft touches of humor and solemnity once again added magic to the occasion.

It’s an evening not to be missed and next year’s recipients have already been selected. Please mark your calendars for the 2013 Distinguished Alumni Awards Ceremony, Friday, March 22, 2013. Reception begins at 6:30 followed by dinner 7 p.m. Details will be posted as they become available at

2013 Distinguished Alumni

Rear Adm. (Select) John D. Alexander ’82
Assistant Commander of Navy Personnel Command for Career Management (PERS-4)
Millington, Tenn.

Scott Pelley ’78
Anchor and Managing Editor of the CBS Evening News and Correspondent for 60 Minutes
Darien, Conn.

Robert J. Salem, M.D. , FACS ’50
Chief Medical Officer Emeritus of Covenant Health and Clinical Professor of Surgery at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center


*The Texas Tech Alumni Association would like to acknowledge Mike Ogletree for his talents and hard work in producing video biographies.