Engineering former students named Distinguished Alumni

Texas A&M University and The Association of Former Students have announced the recipients of the 2010 Distinguished Alumnus Award:• Dudley J. Hughes, Class of 1951, of Jackson, Miss.; • Charles W. Soltis, Class of 1955, of Houston; • Dr. Fred A. Palmer , Class of 1959, of Godley, Texas; • Don H. Davis, Jr., Class of 1961, of Sedona, Ariz.; and • William H. "Bill" Flores, Class of 1976, of Bryan, Texas.Texas A&M University and The Association of Former Students also recognize two recipients posthumously:• Joe Utay, Class of 1908; and • Robert L. Acklen, Jr., Class of 1963.Soltis, Davis and Utay all earned engineering degrees from Texas A&M.Charles W. Soltis, Class of 1955, received a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Texas A&M University and went on to attend the Engineering Training School in Syracuse, N.Y. During his time at Texas A&M, he was in the Corps of Cadets, the Houston Club, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and Pi Tau Sigma.Following his military service, Soltis began a successful career in commercial heating and air conditioning with the Carrier Co., and then in air-filtration technologies and cleanroom design and construction for industry and the medical field. Today he is the president and managing partner of Soltis Enterprises in Houston.Soltis' passion for the preservation of the Costa Rica rainforest spurred him and his late wife, Wanda, to donate a research and education center in San Juan de San Isidro de Peñas Blancas, Costa Rica, to Texas A&M University to provide students with international experiences and to study topics related to sustainability in the tropics and community development. In addition to this state-of-the-art center, Soltis has given Texas A&M the long-term right to access and study a 250-acre rainforest adjacent to the Center.Soltis was inducted into Texas A&M's Department of Mechanical Engineering Academy of Distinguished Graduates in 1994 and he received the Cleanroom Hall of Fame Award in 1991. Soltis is a member of the Houston A&M Club and The Association of Former Students Century Club.Don H. Davis, Jr., Class of 1961, graduated from Texas A&M University with a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering and received a Master of Science in business administration from Texas A&M in 1963. During his time at A&M, he was a member of the Corps of Cadets, the varsity baseball team and the Shreveport Hometown Club.After graduation, Davis worked as an engineering sales trainee with Allen-Bradley and moved up through the sales and marketing ranks to become president of Allen-Bradley in 1989, four years after its acquisition by Rockwell. Davis was named president of Rockwell International in 1996, CEO in 1997 and chairman in 1998. He retired in 2005 after a distinguished 42-year career with the company.Davis was honored with the Dwight Look College of Engineering Outstanding Alumni Award in 1990, and he was elected to the Department of Mechanical Engineering's Academy of Distinguished Graduates in 1992.Davis and his wife, Sallie, have supported Texas A&M with endowments, including the Sallie and Don Davis '61 Professorship in Engineering, two graduate fellowships in mechanical engineering, and a major gift to support the renovation of Olsen baseball field. Davis has served on the College of Engineering external advisory committee and he continues to serve on many boards. He is an Endowed Century Club member of The Association of Former Students and he volunteers and contributes to many educational and cultural organizations, including the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.Joe Utay, Class of 1908, received a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from Texas A&M University and went on to earn a Bachelor of Laws degree from the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University in 1912. As a student, he was a member of the Corps of Cadets, Ross Volunteers, the "T" Association, the Athletic Council and the Dallas Club and was captain of the varsity football team.Utay returned to Texas A&M in 1912 and served as a freshman football coach and was director of athletics. He is recognized as a pioneer of football in the Southwest. He was the president of the Texas Officials Association from 1912 until 1936 and was instrumental in establishing the Southwest Officials Association, which helped organize the Cotton Bowl Athletic Association, starting the tradition of the Southwest Conference appearing in the Cotton Bowl. He was also a practicing attorney in Dallas for more than 55 years.Utay was inducted into the Texas A&M Athletic Hall of Fame in 1972 and the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 1984. He was a founding member of the Texas A&M Letterman's Association and a charter member of the National Football Hall of Fame.Utay served on the Texas A&M Board of Directors (now the Board of Regents) from 1935 to 1941. He was a contributor to The Association of Former Students' Century Club. Dormitory 12 (Utay Hall) is named in his honor.Established in 1962, the Distinguished Alumnus Award is the highest honor bestowed upon a former student of Texas A&M University. Since its inception, 197 individuals have been recognized for their significant contributions to their professions, Texas A&M and their local communities."This tremendous class of Distinguish Alumni exemplifies what is possible with a degree from Texas A&M University," said Texas A&M President Dr. R. Bowen Loftin, Class of 1971. "Even more impressive than their individual accomplishments, however, is that they have based their lives on the core values that are interwoven into each and every Aggie. These former students are true exemplars of the Aggie Spirit across our state and country, as well as around the world."The recipients learned of their honor when surprised in their places of business and other locations by a group of University and Association representatives, including Loftin; The Association of Former Students' 2010 Chair of the Board of Directors S. Shariq Yosufzai, Class of 1974; Association President and CEO Porter S. Garner III, Class of 1979; Association Vice President Marty Holmes, Class of 1987; a Ross Volunteer; and with Reveille and her handler, Ben Coffman, Class of 2012."Each of our 2010 Distinguished Alumni are exemplary role models and truly deserving of the highest honor bestowed upon a former student of Texas A&M University," Yosufzai said. "They serve as outstanding examples of the impact that Aggies can have on their alma mater, their communities, and the overall betterment of mankind."Garner echoed the sentiments of Loftin and Yosufzai and offered his congratulations on behalf of the Aggie Network."Our 2010 Distinguished Alumni represent a cross-section of life experiences and achievements as diverse and inspiring as our worldwide Aggie Network," Garner said. "They all, however, share the same profound commitment to Texas A&M and epitomize our core values as well as our unique and unrivaled Aggie Spirit."The Association of Former Students will further honor Texas A&M University's 2010 Distinguished Alumni in formal events and ceremonies throughout the year. The Association will honor all recipients of this award during its annual Distinguished Alumni Gala Oct. 15. In addition, the 2010 recipients will be hosted for dinner by Loftin and recognized during the Texas A&M football game against Missouri Oct. 16.The Association of Former Students, established in 1879, is the official alumni organization of Texas A&M University. The Association connects the nearly 500,000 members of the worldwide Aggie Network with each other and the University, and provides more than $6.4 million a year in impact to University scholarships, awards, activities and enrichment for students, faculty, staff and former students. For more information about the Distinguished Alumnus Award and The Association of Former Students, visit Contact Kathryn Greenwade '88,