Baylor's 2009 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients To Be Honored Jan. 16

  • News Photo 4640
    Paul L. Foster
  • News Photo 4639
    John Lee Hancock
  • News Photo 4638
    Dr. Jerry Marcontell
  • News Photo 4637
    Alma Rohm
Jan. 15, 2009

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

The Baylor Alumni Association will bestow the Distinguished Alumni Award upon four Baylor University graduates -- Paul L. Foster of El Paso, John Lee Hancock of Los Angeles, Dr. Jerry Marcontell of Rye, Texas, and Alma Rohm of Waco -- at a black-tie banquet Friday, Jan. 16, 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.

Paul L. Foster

Paul L. Foster is the president and CEO of Western Refining Inc., in El Paso, which now owns four refineries. A 1979 Baylor graduate, he is active in civic affairs in El Paso, leading preservation efforts in the downtown area and serving on numerous community boards. In 2008, he was No. 1,062 on Forbes magazine's list of the world's wealthiest people, and he has been a generous benefactor of several institutions of higher learning. The Paul L. Foster Success Center was dedicated at Baylor in 2007, following his gift of $3 million to the university.

An incoming member of the Board of Directors for the Baylor Alumni Association, Foster has also served on the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center Development Board, the Business Advisory Council for the University of Texas El Paso, the University of Texas Board of Regents, and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

John Lee Hancock

John Lee Hancock graduated from Baylor in 1979 and from Baylor School of Law in 1982. After working briefly as an attorney in Houston, he moved to Los Angeles, where he is now a director and screenwriter in the movie industry. He has worked with Clint Eastwood, Dennis Quaid, Billy Bob Thornton and Ron Howard, and he has written the screenplays for and directed a number of films, including "The Alamo," "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil," "A Perfect World" and "Hard Time Romance." He also directed "The Rookie," wrote and directed the TV series "Falcone" and produced the movie, "My Dog Skip."

A fellow at the Sundance Institute Screenwriting Lab, Hancock has received the ESPY and Family Film Award, the People's Choice Award and the Christopher Award.

Jerry Marcontell

Jerry Marcontell, a 1958 Baylor graduate who earned his medical degree from Baylor School of Medicine in 1963, is a retired Houston obstetrician-gynecologist who served 31 years in private practice. The co-captain of the Baylor football team that won the Sugar Bowl in 1957, he was a consensus All-Southwest Conference player and Scholastic All-American. He later served in the U.S. Air Force Reserve, attaining the rank of major and earning the honor of Flight Surgeon of the Year. He has been active in medical professional organizations at the local, state and national level and served on the board of the Texas Medical Association and the Texas Medical Foundation.

After retiring to Rye, Texas, Marcontell has engaged in conservation of the Big Thicket area in Hardin County. He is a Master Tree Farmer and serves as president of the Southeast Texas Forest Landowner's Association.

Alma Rohm

Alma Rohm is a retired Southern Baptist missionary, who now lives in Waco. A 1947 Baylor graduate, she served 54 years in Nigeria. Twice the Nigerian government gave her the title of chief, and in 2002, she received an honorary doctorate of divinity from the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary.

Rohm served as a teacher at a men's teacher training college (now Bowen University) and at primary and secondary schools in the towns of Iwo and Oluponna. She has had numerous buildings named in her honor, including the Alma Rohm Baptist School and the Alma Rohm Baptist Church.

A reception will precede the banquet, where these distinguished alumni will be introduced by a special friend.

Dr. Terry Maness, dean of Baylor's Hankamer School of Business, will give the introduction for Paul Foster, and Cary Gray, president and CEO of the Houston firm of Looper, Reed & McGraw PC, will introduce John Lee Hancock. Introducing Jerry Marcontell will be Jack Loftis, retired editor of the Houston Chronicle. Frances Gentry will bring the introduction for Alma Rohm.

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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