Dallas philanthropist Peter O'Donnell to receive Distinguished Service Award from Texas Exes in Austin

AUSTIN, Texas—Dallas philanthropist Peter O’Donnell has been chosen to receive the Distinguished Service Award to be presented in October by the Texas Exes, the alumni association for The University of Texas at Austin.

The Distinguished Service Award recognizes meritorious service to the university and is the highest honor given to a non-alumnus. This is the third time the award has been given. Awards previously were given to Dr. Peter T. Flawn, a former president of The University of Texas at Austin, and Dr. William Livingston, senior vice president at the university.

The goal of making life better for fellow citizens led O’Donnell and wife, Edith, to establish the O’Donnell Foundation in 1956. Their philanthropic efforts have focused on enhancing education in Texas.

“Peter O’Donnell Jr., has been a truly remarkable citizen and leader,” said Dr. Larry R. Faulkner, president of The University of Texas at Austin. “In my view, he has done more than any other to enable Texas to reach the educational level and technical strength required for her to succeed in this changed world. He richly deserves the recognition of his fellow citizens, despite the fact that he would never seek it.”

Jim Boon, executive director of the Texas Exes, said there were good reasons for choosing O’Donnell for the award.

“Peter O’Donnell is passionate about his commitment to improving higher education,” Boon said. “He has recognized the leveraging capability of a major research university like The University of Texas at Austin on the Texas economy and has helped us realize that potential.”

O’Donnell will be honored at an Oct. 3 presentation at the LBJ Auditorium where six recipients of the Distinguished Alumnus Awards also will be recognized. The recipients are:

  • Hal Box of Laredo, bachelor of architecture degree in 1950, an architect and former professor and dean of the School of Architecture at The University of Texas at Austin, 1976-92
  • Peter R. Coneway of Houston, bachelor of business administration degree in 1966, an advisory director for Goldman, Sachs and Co. and former regent of The University of Texas System
  • Jeffrey M. Heller of Dallas, bachelor of business administration degree in 1968, retired chairman of EDS who returned as president and chief operating officer this year
  • Tom G. Loeffler of San Antonio, bachelor of business administration degree in 1968 and law degree in 1971. He is an attorney with Loeffler, Jonas and Tuggey and is a former regent with The University of Texas System as well as a former U.S.congressman
  • Carole Keeton Strayhorn of Austin, bachelor of arts degree in 1961, Texas comptroller and first female mayor of Austin
  • Judith Zaffirini of Laredo, bachelor of science degree in 1967, master’s degree in 1970 and doctor’s degree in 1978. She is a Texas state senator and owner of Zaffirini Communications in Laredo.

O’Donnell, a native of Dallas, is president of the O’Donnell Foundation and director and member of the executive committee of University Medical Center, Inc. He also is the former director of Dallas Biomedical Corporation, InterFirst Bank and Stadium Associates.

For more information contact: Taryn Deaton, Texas Exes, 512-471-3805, or Robert D. Meckel, Office of Public Affairs, 512-475-7847.