Baylor’s Meritorious Achievement Award winners annually demonstrate the wide reach of alumni across virtually every field; this year’s honorees cover industries from software to soft drinks, with graduation dates spanning from the late 1950s to 2010 — almost a third of Baylor’s history.
Some of the names may be familiar, especially to fans of Baylor athletics, who saw Bill Glass, Vinnie Johnson, Jim Turner and Robert Griffin III all make names for themselves (and Baylor) before they ever left Waco. As usual, other names may not be so recognizable, but each alum is most certainly worthy of their honor, and deserving of recognition for their accomplishments. (Click on each honoree’s name to learn more in features from the latest issue of Baylor Magazine, and here to see videos on each award winner.)
Founders Medal: Harold, BBA ’56, and Ann, BMEd ’56, Cunningham, longtime volunteers and supporters of the university; Harold has served Baylor as a vice president, acting president and Regent, and together the couple has supported scholarships, athletic programs, and the university’s work in Independence.
Alumnus of the Year: Godfrey Sullivan, BBA ’75, head of Splunk, Inc., a San Francisco-based software company, who began his career at Apple and has since succeeded with multiple tech companies; he also has generously supported endowed scholarships, the new Paul L. Foster Campus for Business and Innovation and Baylor Stadium.
Young Alumna of the Year: Michele Perry, BA ’99, a missionary and nonprofit organizer who has overcome physical challenges and significant health issues to serve children in war-torn southern Sudan.
Pro Ecclesia Medal of Service: Bill Glass, BA ’57, an NFL first-round pick who made multiple Pro Bowls before founding Champions for Life, which shares Christ in thousands of venues, including a thriving prison ministry.
Pro Texana Medal of Service: Thomas Phillips, BA ’71, a former Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice who led efforts to improve access to legal services for the poor and strengthen regulations governing judicial ethics.
Business and Commerce Medal of Service: Vinnie Johnson, ’80, who won two NBA titles with the Detroit Pistons before turning his attention to creating jobs in Detroit’s inner city.
Contributions to the Professions: Healthcare Medal of Service: David Rubenstein, MHA ’89, a retired U.S. Army major general who served as Deputy Surgeon General of the Army and as Commanding General of the Army Medical Department and School.
Baylor Legacy Award: Bob Simpson, BBA ’70, MBA ’71, the former energy company founder who is now a majority owner of the Texas Rangers, a generous supporter of Baylor athletics and student scholarships, and a Baylor Stadium Founder.
Baylor Legacy Award: Julie, BA ’67, MS ’68, and Jim, BBA ’69, Turner, successful owners and operators of a number of beverage-related businesses; Jim now serves as chair-elect of the Baylor Scott & White Health board, and Julie has been active in the Baylor Women’s Council since its beginning.
Distinguished Achievement Award: Robert Griffin III, BA ’10, the 2011 Heisman Trophy winner whose influence and continued support of the university have introduced Baylor to new audiences across the nation.
Sic ’em, Bears!