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University of Texas at Austin Names Four to Receive Presidential Citations

The University of Texas at Austin will recognize two political leaders, a respected attorney and a noted philanthropist with Presidential Citations this week.

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The University of Texas at Austin will recognize two political leaders, a respected attorney and a noted philanthropist with Presidential Citations this week.

Award winners are Pamela Willeford, a former U.S. ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein; Judith Zaffirini, the second longest-serving senator (and highest-ranking female and Hispanic senator) in the Texas Senate; Joe Jamail, a well-known Texas attorney and long-standing university patron; and Peter O’Donnell, president of the O’Donnell Foundation and namesake for the O’Donnell Building for Applied Computational Engineering and Sciences.

University President Bill Powers will present the Presidential Citations along with other major university awards in a ceremony Wednesday, March 6.

The university created the citations in 1979 to recognize the extraordinary contributions of individuals who personify the university’s commitment to transforming lives. They salute those whose service exemplifies the values shared by the university community. The university does not award honorary degrees.

About the 2013 Presidential Citation recipients:

  • Willeford graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in 1972 with a bachelor’s degree in English. She began her professional career as a school teacher and since then has served as president of the Pico Drilling Company Ltd., a family-owned oil services business. In addition to serving as a U.S. ambassador appointed by President George W. Bush in 2003, Willeford was appointed to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board in 1995, where she served for eight years and was promoted to chairwoman in 1998.
  • Zaffirini was elected to the Texas Senate in 1986 to represent Laredo and has served in the Senate since then. She received her bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees from UT Austin. She is the second longest-serving senator. Zaffirini served as chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee from 2006 to 2012 and is the chair of the Senate Government Organization Committee. Her business, Zaffirini Communications, specializes in professional communication services such as consulting, one-on-one coaching and keynote addresses.
  •  Jamail made national headlines in 1985 with the case Pennzoil v. Texaco, in which Jamail and his partner won a record-setting $10.55 billion judgment while representing Pennzoil. Jamail received his bachelor’s and law degree from UT Austin. At 87 years old, he’s still an active partner in his law firm. Jamail is a long-time and frequent donor to the university. His gifts span a variety of colleges and departments throughout the university, including the College of Liberal Arts, School of Nursing, School of Undergraduate Studies, School of Law, the Harry Ransom Center and athletics (including the Lee and Joe Jamail Swimming Center).
  • The O’Donnell Foundation, started by Peter O’Donnell and his wife Edith, is the fifth largest independent foundation in Dallas. It primarily supports engineering, science and math education at the graduate level along with arts programs in higher education. O’Donnell served in the Navy and was appointed to President Ronald Reagan’s President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.

Other awards to be presented at the ceremony are:

President’s Associates Teaching Excellence Award

The President’s Associates Teaching Excellence Award was established in 1980 to recognize excellence in undergraduate teaching at The University of Texas at Austin.

  • Jane Arledge, lecturer, Department of Mathematics, College of Natural Sciences
  • Ruth Buskirk, distinguished senior lecturer, School of Biological Sciences, College of Natural Sciences
  • Michael Scott, senior lecturer, Department of Computer Science, College of Natural Sciences
  • Wendy Domjan, distinguished senior lecturer, Department of Psychology, College of Liberal Arts
  • Patrick Davis, senior associate dean and professor, College of Pharmacy

Arno Nowotny Medal

The medal honors Arno Nowotny, longtime dean of student life, who influenced generations of students during his more than 50 years of service. The medal is awarded to staff members of the Division of Student Affairs who rendered meritorious service to students during their careers at the university.

  • David H. Stones, former associate registrar and database coordinator, Division of Student Affairs

Civitatis Award

The Civitatis Award is presented to a faculty member who has shown exemplary campus citizenship throughout a career of service at the university.

  • Sue A. Greninger, associate professor, Office of the General Faculty, Department of Human Development and Family Science, College of Natural Sciences