Finest Hour: Honoring the 2017 Distinguished Alumni

Each year, some of UT’s most noteworthy return to campus for a weekend to celebrate their accomplishments and receive the highest honor awarded to UT Austin alumni: The Distinguished Alumnus Award.

At sunset on a pleasantly cool Friday this past November, the Tower glowed orange for the 2017 six recipients — a class that includes a police chief, a vice admiral, a heart surgeon, and business leaders — as nearly 500 attendees filed into the Etter-Harbin Alumni Center for a ceremony in their honor.

Clad in their newly awarded burnt-orange jackets, each recipient regaled the crowd with how their time at UT undeniably shaped the course of their lives and careers. —Sofia Sokolove

John L. Adams

Managing Director, Overton 
 Holdings, LLC , BBA ’66, JD ’69, 
 Life Member, Dallas, Texas

“I am honored, humbled, and truly blessed. Humbled because when you look at the individuals in the orange jackets you recognize the impact they’ve had on our state, our nation, and in many cases, the world. I truly believe that each of us in our own way can make a difference at this university.”

Vice Admiral (Dr.) Raquel Cruz Bono

Director, Defense Health Agency 
BA ’79, Life Member
Bethesda, Maryland

“I thought, if I can do things here, at Texas, then perhaps I can do things beyond Texas. Texas emboldened me and persuaded me to set the bar as high as I possibly could and strive toward it no matter what; to be able to influence others around me to make sure that we continue to not only raise the bar but make it better for everybody else that follows us. That came from being here at Texas.”

David O. Brown

Chief of Police (retired), Dallas Police Department; On-Air Contributor, 
ABC News; Managing Director, Kroll
Attended 1983 
Dallas, Texas

“Our challenge is to love people who can never love you back because of this principle we have in this great democracy we live in. It’s a participatory democracy. I knew as a 21-year-old UT student that I had to participate in that change for it to be fully realized in the way that I wanted it to be.”

Michael L. “Mickey” Klein

Independent Oil Producer
BS ’58, JD ’63, Life Member
Austin, Texas

“This recognition by the university that I love is the single greatest honor of my life. It has been deeply rooted in my life every step of the way. A huge part of my success is due to the superb education that I received here.”

Sonia Pérez

President, AT&T Louisiana
BJ ’78, Life Member
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

“I look back on what the university meant to me as a student and what it continues to mean to me today. I believe that when we talk about 
 the university, we’re really not talking about the university, but rather the people who make up the university — the people who come to this place.”

David A. Ott, M.D.

Surgeon-in-Chief, Texas Heart Institute 
BA ’68, Life Member
Houston, Texas

“The truth of the matter is, heart surgeons spend every day taking major risks with other people’s lives. And that will put a serious demeanor on your personality, I can tell you that. But I’ve been fortunate in my life to be in that arena that [Theodore] Roosevelt talked about. Where you’re trying to do something important, it isn’t always easy, and the victories are personally very rewarding, and the rare defeats are painful.”