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UTEP honors distinguished alumni

Published: Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Updated: Friday, May 17, 2013 12:05

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Special to The Prospector

Bob Black

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Special to The Prospector

Jerry Porras

During homecoming week, UTEP will honor the 2011 recipients of the Distinguished Alumni award.

The awards will be given to Bob Black, managing partner of MehaffyWeber law firm and president of the State Bar of Texas, and Jerry Porras, retired professor of organizational behavior and change at Stanford University.

Porras graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering in 1960 and Black graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in history in 1977.

"The Distinguished Alumni award is the highest recognition UTEP is able to bestow upon anyone," said Richard Daniel, assistant vice president for alumni and constituent relations. "When you have been selected for this award, it means that you have reached the highest level in your field."

During homecoming week, UTEP will also hold its first of a series of centennial lectures in which Porras will be the guest speaker. The lecture is titled "Vision and the Great University" and will take place at 3 p.m. Oct. 20 at the Undergraduate Learning Center.

"We used to have something called the millennium lectures, but this year Dr. (Diana) Natalicio decided on creating the centennial lectures in honor of UTEP's centennial," Daniel said. "We highly encourage students to attend these lectures."

Daniel said Black will not be speaking at the centennial lecture, but he will speak at the homecoming event.

Black and Porras will also be recognized at a Distinguished Alumni Awards Dinner at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 21 at the Don Haskins Center.

"The beauty of alumni is that they graduated from UTEP and then went out into the world representing us," Daniel said. "When they come back, students can see them as amazing role models that set the bar high for them. They help give students a ‘they did it, now I can do it' type of mentality."

Daniel said that choosing distinguished alumni is a long process.

"Alumni are nominated early in the year," he said. "After that, we go through a vetted process in which a committee views the nominees and decides on which ones will be distinguished and which ones will be awarded Gold Nuggets."

Porras came from a poor family and grew up in El Paso. He earned a degree in electrical engineering from UTEP, but after spending three years in the Army, he decided that he was more interested in management. He went on to earn an M.B.A from Cornell University and then a Ph.D. in management from the University of California, Los Angeles.

After earning his Ph.D., he began teaching at Stanford University and later wrote three books.

Black was born in Ocala, Fla., and moved to El Paso when he was 11. Throughout high school and college he was involved with speech and debate, which sparked his interest in law. He earned a degree from UTEP and went on to earn a degree from Texas Tech School of Law.

"It's like they are blazing a trail for more of us to follow," said Erik Myers, junior creative writing major. "They empower me to be like them, to be successful and to follow my passion."

Jasmine Aguilera may be reached at prospector@utep.edu.

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