DALLAS (April 29, 2013) – Dallas Cowboys’ legend Drew Pearson joked about his rivalry with former Pittsburgh Steelers great “Mean” Joe Greene (’69); former U.S. Trade Ambassador Ron Kirk sang the praises of Dallas City Manager Mary Suhm (’74 M.S., ’84 M.B.A.); and Dallas singer-songwriter Lisa Loeb spoke of the inspiration she felt in the music of rock ‘n roll icon Roy Orbison. These three tributes to legendary UNT alums highlighted the inaugural Emerald Eagle Honors: Recognizing a Lifetime of Contributions to the American Landscape, a stage production hosted by the UNT Foundation at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center on April 15.
The event raised more than $500,000, with proceeds going to fund UNT’s award-winning Emerald Eagle Scholars program. The program helps high achieving but financially challenged students realize their college dreams. It provides students with financial and academic support and campus connections to help them succeed in college and earn their bachelor’s degrees. It has allowed more than 2,900 students—most of whom are first-generation college students—to attend UNT.
“It was a wonderful evening for the Emerald Eagle Scholars program and UNT,” said Ken Newman (’66), chairman of the UNT Foundation, who along with his wife, Ann, served as Honorary Chairs of the event. “We raised money for a great cause tonight. The Emerald Eagle Scholars program provides opportunities. It helps make the dreams of many well-deserving students a reality. We’re already looking forward to next year’s Emerald Eagle Honors.”
Two prominent UNT alumni served as the show’s co-hosts: Melissa Rycroft Strickland (’05), who in November took home the mirror ball trophy as winner of Dancing with the Stars: All-Stars, and actor Peter Weller (’70), who has starred in such films as RoboCop, Woody Allen’s Mighty Aphrodite and the upcoming Star Trek Into Darkness.
While the tributes to Greene (which included a performance by UNT’s Green Brigade marching band), Suhm and Orbison were highlights of the night, the evening’s emotional climax came early in the program, when approximately 100 Emerald Eagle Scholars triumphantly took their seats in the Meyerson’s choral terrace as pop singer Bean debuted her new single, “Aim Higher Now,” as a tribute to their hard work and perseverance.
Southern rock and soul band Prophets and Outlaws were also star attractions. The band, some of whose members got their start as music students at UNT, opened the show with a rendition of Orbison’s classic “Crying” that induced applause from the crowd of more than 1,000 after hearing the song’s familiar first note. The band ended the evening with a medley of Orbison songs that included “Only the Lonely” and “Oh, Pretty Woman.” Bean traded verses with the band on the latter.
Michael Monticino, UNT Vice President for Advancement, also announced the public phase of “The Campaign for UNT,” a comprehensive fundraising campaign designed to support initiatives for scholarships, student life programs, faculty positions, research and facilities.
Honorary chairs for the Emerald Eagle Honors, in addition to Ann and Ken Newman (’66), include Margaret and UNT System Chancellor Lee Jackson; Gay (’66) and Chairman of the UNT System Board of Regents Jack Wall (’64); and Amanda and Vice Chairman of the UNT System Board of Regents Brint Ryan (’68). Event Chairs include Kelly (88’) and George Dunham (88’); Tanya Foster (’87); Jenny and John Kirtland (’94); Robert A. Nickell (’68); and Mary Jo and UNT President V. Lane Rawlins.
The event was produced by Fay + Sawers Productions.
The 2013 Emerald Eagle Honors was made possible by:
UNT System Board of Regents
Andrew Harris, UNT Vice President Finance and Administration
Ernest W. Kuehne Jr.
University of North Texas Division of Advancement
University of North Texas Office of the President
Harris Design, Inc.
Peterbilt Motors Company
Denton Record-Chronicle/The Dallas Morning News
Friends of “Mean” Joe Green
Judy and Jerry Pinkerton
William H. Wilcox and Elizabeth L. Todd
Frank Bracken, Jr. Family Foundation
Brenda and R.L. Crawford
Polly and Phil Diebel
Follett Higher Education Group
Grant Thornton/Donna and Randy Robason
Fran and Bob Kimmel
Delva and Johnnie King
Patty and Don Lovelace
Robert A. Nickell
Alice and Erle Nye
Sally Beauty Holdings, Inc.
Le'Nore and C. Dan Smith
Nikki and Ed Smith
Gayle and Virgil Strange
Mary and Mike Terry
Trinity Industries, Inc.
True North Advisors/Stephanie and Tim Dwight
Laura and Randy Wright
Drs. Euline and Horace Brock
The Honorable Myra Crownover
Meredith and Jerry Dickenson
Valerie and Sam Golden
Suzanne and Larry Jobe
Commander Nicholas and Anna Ricco/Ricco Family Partners, Ltd.
University of North Texas Division of Student Affairs