Baylor's 2008 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients Named

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Jan. 11, 2008

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

The Baylor Alumni Association will bestow the Distinguished Alumni Award upon five Baylor graduates - Steven Browning, Virginia Cannaday DuPuy, Mark Hurd, Dr. James Shelhamer and Abelardo Valdez - at a black-tie banquet at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 11, 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.

Steven Browning, a 1971 Baylor graduate, is the U.S. ambassador to Uganda. As a member of the Senior Foreign Service, he has previously served as the minister counselor for management in the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, as the ambassador to the Republic of Malawi, as diplomat in residence at the University of Southern California and the University of California at Davis, and as executive director for the Bureau of African Affairs at the Department of State. He also has served stints in the Dominican Republic, Kenya, Egypt and Sri Lanka.

Browning began his career teaching the children of diplomats in Syria. Today, he is in charge of approximately 100 American employees and 600 Ugandan employees and a budget of $500 million.

Virginia DuPuy, who earned her bachelor's degree from Baylor in 1956 and a master's degree in 1962, is the current mayor of Waco and CEO of the family business, DuPuy Oxygen, a gas and welding supply distributor.

DuPuy was previously business manager and an instructor with the Baylor theater department, co-director of the Waco children's theater Youth in Motion, program director of art/drama at St. Paul's Episcopal School, event coordinator and an instructor at the Art Center Waco, and founder of the Virginia DuPuy Studio. An active community volunteer, she began her political career with the Waco City Council in May 2004 and has served as mayor since her election in 2005.

Mark Hurd is CEO, president and chair of the board of Hewlett-Packard. After graduation from Baylor's Hankamer School of Business in 1979, he was employed with NCR Corp., an office supply company based in Ohio, where he started selling office equipment. He became the company's president 21 years later.

Hurd is credited for turning NCR around from a $220 million deficit to a profit of almost $300 million a year after being named CEO. No doubt, this turnaround was a big part of why Hewlett-Packard called in 2005. He lives near Palo Alto, Calif., where he heads up a company with more than 150,000 employees and $91 billion in profits last year.

Dr. James Shelhamer is deputy chief of the Clinical Center's Critical Care Medicine Department at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., where he is highly regarded as both a researcher and physician. A native of Pampa, Shelhamer graduated from Baylor with a bachelor's degree in religion in 1969 and earned an MD from Baylor College of Medicine in 1973. After a short stint at hospitals in Houston, he went to the NIH in 1976.

Shelhamer specializes in lung cellular responses to inflammation and respiratory disease and sees patients in the intensive care unit with bone marrow transplants, lymphoma and leukemia, which can cause immunosuppression issues that often lead to pneumonia. He spends 30 percent of his time in patient care -- which is unusual at the NIH -- 10 percent doing administrative duties, and the rest of his time in research and education.

Abelardo Valdez, who earned his law degree from Baylor Law School in 1970, is a former U.S. ambassador and chief of protocol for the White House. Today, he practices law out of two offices -- one in Washington, D.C., and the other in San Antonio -- specializing in international trade and investment. Valdez was one of the original proponents of NAFTA, the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement.

The son of migrant farmers, Valdez grew up mostly in South Texas. When he was a 19-year-old sophomore at Texas A&M, his father died suddenly of a cerebral hemorrhage, making him head of the family, with siblings ranging in age from 6 to 16. He worked in construction, as an orderly in a hospital, and at a grocery store, managing to help support his family while completing his undergraduate studies. In 1965, he earned a civil engineering degree from Texas A&M University before attending Baylor. He also earned an international law degree from Harvard University in 1974, after studying at The Hague Academy of International Law in The Netherlands. A military aide to President Lyndon Johnson from 1965-67, Valdez was chief of protocol for the White House (which carries the rank of U.S. ambassador) under President Jimmy Carter from 1979-81.

The 2008 distinguished alumni award recipients will be honored at a banquet, with a reception preceding the event. Each recipient will be introduced by someone special to them. Ambassador Lyndon Olson Jr. will give the introduction for Steven Browning, and W. David Lacy, president of Community Bank in Waco, will introduce Mayor DuPuy. Introducing Mark Hurd will be Dean Terry Maness of Baylor's business school, and Austin attorney James Nelson will bring the introduction for James Shelhamer. Abelardo Valdez will be introduced by David Guinn, The Lyndon L. Olson and William A. Olson Chair of Local Government and Constitutional Law and Master Teacher at Baylor Law School.

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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