Baylor University Names Distinguished Alumni

  • News Photo 3931
    Jim Adams
  • News Photo 3930
    Phil Hardberger
  • News Photo 3932
    Steven Stucky
  • News Photo 3929
    Walter Umphrey
  • News Photo 3928
    Dallas Willard
Jan. 12, 2007

Contact: Judy Prather, Baylor Alumni Association, (254) 710-6431

The Baylor University Alumni Association will bestow the 2007 Distinguished Alumni Award upon five Baylor graduates -- James B. Adams, Philip D. Hardberger, Steven Stucky, Walter Umphrey and Dr. Dallas Willard -- at a black-tie banquet Friday, Jan. 19, in the Cashion Academic Center on the Baylor campus. Presented annually since 1965, the prestigious award has honored governors and scientists, artists and denominational leaders, and educators and entrepreneurs.

James B. Adams

James Adams is an attorney and the retired director of the Texas Department of Public Safety. A resident of Kerrville, he earned the bachelor of laws (LLB) degree from Baylor in 1949 and a BA degree the following year. Adams had joined the U.S. Army following high school graduation and was selected to go to Yale and learn Japanese. He served in Japan for 10 months immediately following the atomic bombs, before returning to study at Baylor.

Falling one inch short of the height requirement of the FBI, Adams ran for, and was elected to the state legislature. That career move -- plus his law degree and Japanese language skills -- later convinced the FBI to make an exception to its height rule, and he eventually served as associate director. He was awarded the Attorney General's Award for Distinguished Service in 1978 and the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal from the Director of Central Intelligence in 1979.

At the request of then-Texas Gov. Bill Clements, Adams returned to Texas in 1979 to become the executive director of the Texas Criminal Justice Division. Adams remembers a Washington reporter asked him why he would leave Washington, D.C., and such a prestigious job with the FBI. "I said, 'You're not a Texan are you?' He said, 'No.' I told him, 'Then you'll never understand.'"

Adams retired in 1987, following a decade of service as director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, during which time he helped reduce the annual number of traffic deaths in Texas and curb the flow of drugs into the state. He and his wife, Ione, live in Kerrville. They have three children and seven grandchildren.

Philip D. Hardberger

The Hon. Philip D. Hardberger, a 1955 Baylor graduate, is a former chief justice for the 4th Court of Appeals. After retiring from the bench, he and his wife, Linda, traveled until friends and supporters encouraged him to run for mayor of San Antonio, the eighth-largest city in the United States, in 2004.

Hardberger grew up as a farmer's son in the west Texas town of O'Donnell and was the first person in his family to go to college. Following a stint as a bomber pilot with the U.S. Air Force, he began his career as a journalist, earning a master's degree in journalism at Columbia University and then working for a magazine in Mexico City. When President John F. Kennedy started the Peace Corps, Hardberger applied. He decided to go to law school at Georgetown University while he waited for his Peace Corps application to go through and eventually worked at the Peace Corps for seven years, earning his law degree at night.

After serving as executive secretary of the U.S. Peace Corps during the Kennedy Administration and as assistant director of the Office of U.S. Economic Opportunity during the Johnson Administration, he moved to San Antonio in 1970 and began practicing law. In 1994, he was appointed to the 4th Court of Appeals by then-Gov. Ann Richards, also a Baylor graduate, and was later elected for two terms as chief justice.

His term as mayor ends this year, and Hardberger plans to run for re-election. He hopes to serve one more term before retiring again. In an address to the city last year, Hardberger said, "When future historians write of this time, they will say, 'These were the golden years for San Antonio. Days when harmony triumphed over discord, energy over slumber, imagination over the mundane.' 2006 will be the best year in San Antonio's history."

Steven Stucky

Steven Stucky is a 1971 Baylor graduate who won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize in Music for his Second Concerto for Orchestra, premiered by the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 2004. The Los Angeles Times said about the concerto, "A colorful, delight-bringing score, it has the feel of music we know well lovingly replanted to charm new surroundings. [It is] a perfect fit for an orchestra, conductor, and audience."

Stucky, a composer and professor at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., has written commissioned works for many of the major American orchestras and ensembles, and his compositions have recently been premiered in Singapore, Los Angeles and Washington. Born in Kansas and raised in Texas, he didn't hear a live orchestra until he was in high school and didn't see an opera until he was at Baylor. As a high school student, he played with the Abilene Philharmonic and composed a piece for the Baylor Orchestra.

Stucky studied at Cornell University and has been a member of the faculty there since 1980, where he serves as Given Foundation Professor of Composition. He also is active as a conductor, writer, lecturer, teacher and mentor of young composers. In 1988, he was appointed by André Previn as composer-in-residence with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and he has remained associated with the orchestra for more than 15 years, the longest such association between an American orchestra and a composer. He is currently their consulting composer for new music. In addition, he has hosted conversations for the New York Philharmonic's "Hear & Now," informal public encounters with contemporary composers of works on the program of the Philharmonic.

Stucky lives in Ithaca with his wife, violist Melissa Stucky.

Walter Umphrey

Walter Umphrey earned two degrees from Baylor, his bachelor of business administration degree in 1959 and a law degree in 1965. The senior managing partner of Provost and Umphrey LLP, he is well known as the lead attorney in the historic $17.3-billion settlement for Texas residents against the tobacco industry in 1998. He and his wife, Sheila, gave $10 million to help build the Sheila and Walter Umphrey Law Center at Baylor. The Walter Umphrey Cancer Center in Southeast Texas is named for him as well. He is known for his generous contributions to civic and charitable organizations and to other universities, including Lamar University and the University of Texas Law School.

Umphrey, who is board certified in the areas of personal injury trial law and labor and employment law, was chosen as Baylor Lawyer of the Year in 1999 and the next year was named one of the top Texas lawyers of the 20th century in the book, Legal Legends: A Century of Texas Law and Lawyering. The adopted son of a Port Arthur justice of the peace, he was exposed to law at an early age. After graduation from Baylor Law School, he joined the district attorney's office in Jefferson County and eventually became chief felony prosecutor. Umphrey says, "My advice to any young lawyer who wants to be a trial lawyer is to go to work in the DA's office. There is no experience you can get anywhere that's more valuable than that."

In 1969, along with David Provost, he co-founded a law office in Port Arthur, where the practice was based for 20 years. The firm now also has offices in Beaumont, Houston, Nashville and Washington, D.C. He also serves as a director of the National Wildlife Association, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, and several banks. He has been married to Sheila McCarthy Umphrey since 1960, and they have two grown children and seven grandchildren.

Dr. Dallas Willard

Dr. Dallas Willard is a well-known author and a professor of philosophy at the University of Southern California, where he has earned numerous honors for teaching excellence. In addition to teaching, he is a widely traveled speaker and author and has served since 1984 on the board of trustees for the spiritual formation movement, Renovaré.

A native of the Missouri Ozarks, Willard attended William Jewell College, earned a BA from Tennessee Temple College, and was ordained as a Southern Baptist minister before coming to Baylor, where he studied philosophy and religion and earned his bachelor's degree in 1957. He later earned his doctorate in philosophy and the history of science from the University of Wisconsin.

Although he still dedicates a good deal of his career to philosophy, it is his religious writing for which he is most known. His books include The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God, which was chosen as the book of the year by Christianity Today in 1999; Renovation of the Heart: Putting on the Character of Christ, which received another book award from Christianity Today in 2003 in the area of spirituality; The Great Omission: Reclaiming Jesus' Essential Teachings on Discipleship; and Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God.

As a scholar, Willard has spent much of his career meshing the life of the mind with the life of faith. Christianity Today wrote in a review of The Divine Conspiracy, "What distinguishes this book from many works in its genre is an extraordinary combination of simplicity and depth."

At 71, Willard has no plans to retire anytime soon. He is currently on sabbatical from USC to work on his next book, The Disappearance of Moral Knowledge. He lives in Chatsworth, Calif., with his wife, Jane, a marriage and family therapist. They have two children and one granddaughter.

All alumni and friends of the university are welcome to attend the Distinguished Alumni Award banquet, which begins at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 19, in the Cashion Academic Center on the Baylor campus. A reception will precede the event. For more information about the event, contact the Baylor Alumni Association at 1-800-BAYLOR-U, opt. 6. To nominate someone for the Distinguished Alumni Award -- or for one of the eight other awards given annually by the Baylor Alumni Association -- go to

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