SMU Honors 2009 Outstanding Alumni, Emerging Leader

SMU bestows its highest honor upon a minister, a businessman and founder of a non-profit.

Cecil Williams

DALLAS (SMU) —A minister, a businessman and a Christian non-profit founder will receive the Southern Methodist University Distinguished Alumni Award, the highest honor the university bestows upon its graduates.

The 2009 recipients include Frederick B. Hegi, Jr., Joe T. White and Cecil Williams. Amanda R. Dunbar will receive the Emerging Leader Award, which recognizes an outstanding alumnus or alumna who has graduated within the last 15 years.

The Distinguished Alumni Award banquet and ceremony takes place at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 5, at the Hilton Anatole, 2201 Stemmons Frwy. For more information, visit

Frederick B. Hegi, Jr.

Frederick Hegi 

Frederick B. Hegi, Jr. is the founding partner of Wingate Partners private investment firm, a board chair of United Stationers, Inc., and a member of several corporate boards.

Hegi earned his B.B.A. from Cox School of Business in 1966 and received Cox’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2007. He also earned an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin, where he was inducted into the McCombs School Hall of Fame in 2006. A member of SMU’s Board of Trustees since 2004, he is co-chair of the Dedman College Campaign Steering Committee for SMU’s Second Century Campaign. Thousands of students and alumni also have benefited from the SMU Hegi Family Career Development Center. Approximately 40 percent of SMU undergraduates use career counseling and other programs of the Center, which also serves graduate students and alumni.

Hegi is an advisory director and the initial chair of the Interfaith Housing Coalition. He has served at all levels of this ministry to homeless families, which in 1997 established the Hegi Humanitarian Award honoring his selfless service. His other community leadership positions include vice chair of Communities Foundation of Texas and trustee of Southwestern Medical Foundation, Dallas Center for the Performing Arts Foundation and UT Southwestern Board of Visitors.

Joe T. White

Joe White 

Joe T. White started the Christian-oriented camps called Kanakuk Kamps, which are summer camps dedicated to helping adolescents achieve their greatest potential. Since 1976, he and his wife, Debbie Jo, have operated the camps in Missouri. White now serves as president and chairman of the board of Kanakuk Ministries. The camps host 20,000 campers and 2,500 college-age and professional staff members each summer.

White earned a B.S. degree in biology from SMU in 1970. He was a two-year starting defensive tackle for the SMU Mustangs and received the Mike Kelsey Heart Award. After graduating, he was a football coach at Texas A&M University before assuming responsibility for Kanakuk Kamps. He has received honorary doctorates from Southwest Baptist University in Missouri and Belhaven College in Mississippi, and has authored 22 books for parents and teens.

White expanded his Christian camping vision by founding Kids Across America, which provides opportunities for 7,000 inner-city children, including some from West Dallas, to attend camp each summer. White also founded Cross International, a world relief organization that cares for orphans and the impoverished in 30 Third World nations, and Men at the Cross, a national men’s ministry that seeks to “end spiritual fatherlessness” in America.

Cecil Williams

Cecil Williams 

Cecil Williams is a minister and activist for social change. Under his 45-year leadership of Glide Memorial United Methodist Church in San Francisco, the church has grown to a membership of more than 11,000 and has become one of the nation’s most racially and culturally diverse congregations. His vision for the 21st-century church can be seen in Glide’s blend of spirituality, principled compassion and cutting-edge programs for those in need. Located in one of San Francisco’s toughest neighborhoods, Glide is known worldwide for its outreach to society’s poor and marginalized, including the homeless, those with HIV/AIDS, people recovering from substance abuse, the unemployed and victims of domestic violence. Williams currently serves as Minister of Liberation at Glide.

Williams was one of SMU’s first five African-American students, entering Perkins School of Theology in 1952 and graduating in 1955. He has returned to speak on the campus on several occasions as a speaker and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from SMU in 1997.

Williams has been recognized by numerous publications and organizations as a national voice for justice and human rights. He and Glide were featured in The Pursuit of Happyness, a 2006 film starring Will Smith. Williams also received the 2008 National Caring Award presented by the Caring Institute in Washington, D.C.

Amanda R. Dunbar

Amanda Dunbar 

Amanda R. Dunbar began painting in an after-school class at the age of 13 and had her first solo exhibition in Dallas at age 16. Since then her paintings have been displayed in galleries and museums worldwide.

Dunbar earned a B.F.A. in art history, cum laude with departmental distinction, from Meadows School of the Arts in 2004 and is completing requirements for an M.A. in art history at Meadows. She also has studied in France, earning a post-baccalaureate degree in art. Her works include landscapes and a wide range of abstract, figurative and conceptual art. With proceeds from her painting sales, she formed a charitable organization to fund arts programs for young children. Her concern for the needs of children also led to her designation as ambassador to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and service with other organizations such as the World Craniofacial Foundation.

Dunbar became the youngest woman and the first painter to be inducted into the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame in 2006. Among her widespread national media coverage, she was named “Person of the Week” on ABC’s World News with Charles Gibson in 2007.

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