Baylor Honors Distinguished Alumni

Jan. 28, 2002

by Nicole L. Anderson, Student Newswriter

Four Baylor University graduates were honored for their outstanding achievements at the Baylor Alumni Association's annual Distinguished Alumni Banquet Jan. 25 in the Barfield Drawing Room of the Bill Daniel Student Center.

Dr. John Riola, Julia Saccar Graham, Dr. Frank Newport and Dr. Joann Horton Goatcher were this year's honorees. The Distinguished Alumni award recognizes alumni who have made a distinctive contribution to their field, and have excelled in their communities following graduation from Baylor.

Riola is a 1968 summa cum laude graduate of Baylor with a double major in physics and mathematics. After earning his doctorate from Rice University in 1973, Riola joined Texaco's Exploration and Producing Technology Department as a geophysicist. He specialized in seismic data acquisition and processing, enabling the company to successfully collect and analyze data in land areas that had previously been closed to exploration. Riola moved from regional duties to the corporate level in 1996, and has been the chief geophysicist for Texaco USA's Worldwide Exploration division since 1999.

Graham, a 1938 graduate of Baylor, went to the Middle East as a Southern Baptist missionary in 1945 with her first husband, Henry Hagood. After her husband's death in 1946, she continued her call to missionary service, and co-founded the George W. Truett Home, which took in poor and orphaned children in Nazareth. In 1947, she married Finlay Graham, a missionary from Scotland, and the next year the couple became the first Southern Baptist missionaries to work in Lebanon. Graham spent 28 years in Lebanon, where she and her husband founded the Beirut Baptist School, one of the premier private schools in Lebanon for children of all faiths. They also established the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary, which trains students from across the Middle East and North Africa. Graham and her husband served in Cyprus from 1977 until retiring in 1987.

Newport, a 1970 graduate of Baylor with a major in broadcasting, has served as editor-in-chief of The Gallup Poll in Princeton, N. J., since 1990. Following graduation from Baylor, he earned master's and doctoral degrees in sociology from the University of Michigan. At The Gallup Poll, Newport directs the organization's widely respected polls and disseminates the results. He is the featured on-air host of CNN's Gallup Poll segments and has presented more than 800 segments in the last two years. He also regularly appears on CNN International and CNNfn, he is edis the Gallup Poll Monthly magazine, and records twice-weekly radio features that are broadcast on CNN to more than 1,500 stations around the country.

Goatcher, a 1952 graduate of Baylor, studied medicine at Southwestern Medical School in Dallas in the early 1950s, a time when women were often discouraged from choosing medicine as a career. After graduating from medical school in 1955, Goatcher completed an internship and a pediatric residency and also obtained further training in leprosy and other infectious diseases prominent in the Third World. In 1962, she went to Thailand where she worked for nine years as a staff physician at a hospital in the small town of Bangkla and in the surrounding rural area between Bangkok and the Cambodian border. She returned to the United States in 1971, ran a private family practice, and also became the medical director for the Baptist General Convention of Texas' Rio Grande River Ministry, helping to establish 22 rural health clinics in Mexico along the Rio Grande. She and her husband returned to the United States in 1987, moving to Richmond, Va., where Goatcher worked as a consultant in the medical office of the Foreign Mission Board. In 1991, she retired in Clinton, Ark., where she now practices part-time at a mental health clinic.

For more information, call the Baylor Alumni Association at 710-1121.

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