Baylor's 2005 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients Named

  • News Photo 2372
    Dr. Ray Perryman
  • News Photo 2371
    Dr. John M. Lilley
  • News Photo 2370
    Dr. Sally Kilgore
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    A.T. ?Gus? Blackshear Jr.
Dec. 6, 2004

by Judy H. Prather

The Baylor Alumni Association's Distinguished Alumni Award -- the highest honor given to members of the Baylor University family -- will be presented to four notable alumni at a gala banquet on Jan. 21, 2005. This year's four recipients are A.T. "Gus" Blackshear Jr., Dr. Sally Kilgore, Dr. John M. Lilley and Dr. Ray Perryman.

To make a reservation for the Distinguished Alumni banquet, contact the Baylor Alumni Association at 1-800-BAYLOR-U, opt. 6, or e-mail

All alumni and friends of the university are welcome to attend the event, which has been moved from its traditional setting in the Barfield Drawing Room to the fifth floor of the Cashion Academic Building to allow more people to attend.

A.T. "Gus" Blackshear Jr.

Blackshear graduated cum laude from Baylor in 1964 and Baylor School of Law in 1968. He is partner and retired chair of the Houston law firm of Fulbright & Jaworski LLP, where he went to work in 1969 and became a partner in 1975. At the end of 1990, he was elected by his partners as chair of the executive committee. He served as chair from 1992-2002, for a firm of 800 lawyers spread across eight domestic offices and three foreign offices.

"Gus Blackshear is regarded uniformly across the bar and the bench as a paradigm of the wise, insightful, committed and caring counselor," said Brad Toben, dean of Baylor School of Law.

Blackshear is the recently retired chair of the board of Memorial Hermann Healthcare System, one of the largest health care systems in the United States. He also serves on the boards of Texas Medical Center Inc., Baylor College of Medicine, Voluntary Hospitals of America-Southwest Inc., Spiritual Leadership Institute and Sam Houston Area Council of Boy Scouts of America.

"Everybody would like to work with a man like Gus," said Emily George Tinsley, a 1962 Baylor graduate who serves on the board at Memorial Hermann Healthcare System with Blackshear. "He is a genuine, self-effacing servant leader, which is so refreshing and so rare. He has a fine character and absolutely flawless integrity."

Dr. Sally Kilgore

Kilgore is president and CEO of the Modern Red SchoolHouse Institute, a non-profit organization based in Nashville, Tenn., that helps educators across the nation improve their effectiveness in the classroom -- particularly in schools populated by students from low-income families who have a limited understanding of schools and their expectations. The institute seeks to train teachers based upon solid research about education showing that students differ in the way they learn best.

"Most schools in the 20th century required everyone to spend the same amount of time in school, and teachers taught everyone in just about the same way," said Kilgore, who has worked with about 400 schools throughout her career. "Schools in the 21st century, if they are going to make this nation competitive, need to ratchet up the expectations for all kids and be able to provide students with different amounts of time to learn and to help teachers provide different ways of learning."

While associated with the Hudson Institute, a think-tank in Indiana that was involved in designing what 21st-century schools should look like, Kilgore piloted the design for the Modern Red SchoolHouse Institute. The institute uses a network of consultants and other specialists to work with more than 200 schools in about 30 states, helping them improve instructional strategies and management systems, align curricula with state standards, and establish a professional community that can adapt to student needs.

After earning a bachelor's degree from Baylor in 1967, Kilgore received a master's degree in sociology from Tufts University and her doctorate from the University of Chicago. Previously with the U.S. Department of Education, Kilgore has written widely and given numerous presentations on school reform. Since 1991, her Modern Red SchoolHouse has been training teachers and reformatting curricula across the United States.

Dr. John M. Lilley

Lilley, president of the University of Nevada-Reno, attributes much of his success to the personal attention and encouragement he has received from professors along the way, beginning at Baylor. Lilley earned three Baylor degrees -- a bachelor's degree in music education in 1961, a bachelor's degree in music in 1962 and a master's of music in 1964 -- before pursuing doctoral work at the University of Southern California.

During that time, his gifts of management and administration were recognized, and his career direction shifted. Lilley began his career with the Claremont Colleges of California, Kansas State University and 21 years as the head of Penn State Erie. During his tenure there, the campus size and enrollment both doubled, and he helped create 13 research centers as well as schools of business, engineering and engineering technology, science, and humanities and social services.

"John Lilley thinks in 50-year time frames, in terms of where the institution's got to be and what's got to be done to be ready for that," said Dr. Jack Burke, an administrative colleague at Penn State. "His goal is to make the institution better every day, and he really lives that. I've even seen him pulling weeds and picking up papers on the lawn."

Lilley accepted his current post at the University of Nevada-Reno in 2001, and he quickly undertook a strategic planning process that has already seen results. Respected by students and faculty, colleagues and alumni alike, as a good listener, he is known as an innovative problem solver, an excellent fundraiser, and a visionary.

Lilley is quick to acknowledge the encouragement he has received all along the way, and he acknowledges his wife, Gerrie, as a significant partner. A preacher's son from Louisiana who came to Baylor to study music, he also credits his professors with having had "bigger visions for me than I had for myself."

Dr. Ray Perryman

Perryman, a 1974 Baylor graduate, is the founder and president of The Perryman Group, an economic and financial analysis firm with headquarters in Waco, and he is widely regarded as one of the world's most influential and innovative economists.

One news source has called him "the most quoted man in Texas" because his list of articles, books and presentations numbers in the thousands, and he continues to address hundreds of audiences throughout the world every year. Perryman also authors The Perryman Economic Forecast, The Perryman Report, and a weekly syndicated column, The Economist, as well as hosting a daily syndicated radio commentary on economic affairs.

After earning his doctorate in economics at Rice University, Perryman served as a University Professor and Economist-in-Residence at Baylor and held a similar position at Southern Methodist University. His modeling systems form a basis internationally for corporate and governmental planning, and his studies have played a role in the creation and retention of hundreds of thousands of jobs.

He has been named the nation's Outstanding Young Economist and Social Scientist, the Outstanding Young Person in the World in the field of economics and business, one of ten Outstanding Young Persons in the World, and the Outstanding Texas Leader of 1990. Cited by the U.S. Congress and the Texas Legislature, he has also been honored by The Democracy Foundation for his role in promoting capitalism in mainland China and by the Asia and World Institute for his efforts to encourage international academic exchange.

Perryman's most recent honor is to be nominated for a Nobel Prize -- to be exact, the 2005 Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Studies in memory of Alfred Nobel. While he appreciates the honors, he said his approach to his profession is a simple one: "Try to do things you think would benefit and help people, and the rest will fall into place."

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