Celebrating 125 Years of UNT Excellence was the inaugural Wingspan Gala during UNT’s 125th anniversary year in the new University Union. The event featured the orchestral premiere of Richard DeRosa’s Suite for an Anniversary and performances by UNT student groups and after dinner dancing to the music of the Emerald City Band All Stars.
2016 Presidential Award Winners
Wings of Eagles Presidential Award
Ernest W. Kuehne, Jr. (’66) is president and board chairman of Kuehne Oil Co., a member of the State Bar of Texas and owner of Kuehne Racing. He gives his time and money to many worthy organizations in the community. Ernie serves on the President’s Leadership Board and is a member of The McConnell Society at UNT. He also is a lifetime member of the UNT Alumni Association and the UNT Ex-Letterman’s Association.
He continues to give back to his social fraternity, serving on the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity Alumni Advisory Board, which provides professional leadership, counsel and advice to chapter leaders. Additionally, he holds a position as trustee of the PIKE Foundation that provides direct financial assistance to PIKE members and monetary support for PIKE U, the PIKE leadership training program. UNT has benefited from Ernie’s unwavering commitment to his university, its athletes, its students and the community at large. His passionate leadership and influence has raised more than $15 million for athletics, the Kristin Farmer Autism Center, logistics and the UNT Kuehne Speaker Series.
Presidential Excellence Award (Faculty)
Dr. Richard “Rick” Dixon, Distinguished Research Professor of biology, is a world-renowned specialist in metabolic engineering of plants. His research interests center on the biochemistry, molecular biology and metabolic engineering of plant natural product pathways and their implications for agriculture and human health. He also studies the engineering of lignocellulosic biomass for the improvement of forage and bioenergy feedstocks. He has published more than 450 papers and chapters on these and related topics in international journals.
Presidential Excellence Award (Student)
UNT seniors Nichole Fallis, McKenzie Hibler and Katelyn Patrick and junior Ashley Nudge won first place in the National Retail Federation Student Challenge in 2016, clinching a first-ever win for students in UNT’s Department of Merchandising and Digital Retailing. They were each awarded a $5,000 scholarship during the NRF’s annual “BIG Show” in New York City for their pitch of a product worthy of a national retailer.