Cardinal Cadence Spring/Summer 2012

Fine Feathers:

2012 Distinguished Alumni group photoLU salutes exceptional Cardinals

Four notable Lamar University alumni were honored as distinguished alumni for 2012 during a dinner Feb. 24. The Alumni Advisory Board’s Distinguished Alumni Awards Committee made the selections for the prestigious annual awards. Cardinal standouts Jim Gilligan, LU head coach for men’s baseball and Steve Moore, CEO for the Country Music Association, were honored as distinguished alumni. Community leader Don Pumphrey was honored as distinguished alumnus for community service and Michele Smith, local attorney and community leader, as distinguished young alumna.

LU alumni submitted nominations based on criteria that include notable accomplishments in the nominee’s chosen profession. The honorees also display integrity and character that inspire pride for the university and its alumni and have demonstrated recognition of the importance of Lamar in their careers, deeds and actions.


LU’s longest-serving baseball coach—on staff for 35 years—reached more than 1,200 wins during the Cardinals’ 2011 campaign, a feat accomplished by only five other active NCAA Division I baseball coaches • took the team twice to within one game of the College World Series • moved to the majors in 1987 for five seasons before returning to his alma mater in 1992 • led the Cardinals to the NCAA Regional Tournament in 2010, the most recent of 13 regional tournament appearances • 12 conference championships and five conference tournament championships • More than 150 of his players have moved to professional teams and many more to coaching careers at all levels • earned five Southland Conference Coach of the Year honors • inducted to the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame. A Southland Conference Hall of Fame induction followed in 2010 • internationally known for assisting in the formation of the Chinese Professional Baseball League and leading a coaching baseball clinic in Zimbabwe 

“When I was offered this job at Lamar, I knew very little about the university, and I began gathering information from colleagues at my former institution. One of my favorite deans got so excited by my query, he nearly fell off his chair. ‘Jim Gilligan, JIM GILLIGAN,’ he repeated. Incredibly ignorant, I asked, ‘Is he a dean?’ ‘Yes,’ he replied, ‘DEAN of BASEBALL.’”

Dean Hollis Lowery-Moore, College of Education and Human Development

“The first team I ever played with was a street gang in New York . . . every one of those guys are either dead or in jail. That’s one reason why tonight is very special to me. I really am blessed to have had great friends and players over the years. It makes this job the greatest job you could ever have.”

—Jim Gilligan


entertainment executive who played trumpet and worked construction jobs at night to pay college expenses and is now CEO of the Country Music Association, representing more than 6,000 music industry professionals and companies around the globe • his first ambition of becoming a band director changed after he worked backstage at a Blood, Sweat & Tears concert at Lamar • promoted and produced his first concert at the Julie Rogers Theatre before graduating • worked for Lone Wolf Productions before starting his own production company, booking Texas guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughn in his first appearance as a headliner • work with Pace Concerts led to a position in Nashville as executive director of Starwood Amphitheater where he is credited with making the city a destination for live performance •. Booked many stellar acts including Merle Haggard, George Jones and Hank Williams Jr. • The Judds, George Strait and Jimmy Buffet played to sell-out crowds and solidified Nashville as a concert hotspot and Moore’s reputation as a top-tier promoter • through his own company, Moore Entertainment, and later as senior vice president for AEG Live!, he ran shows for Brooks & Dunn, Faith Hill, Alan Jackson, Tim McGraw, Kenney Chesney, Taylor Swift and Sugarland to name a few • last show with AEGLive! was for Paul McCartney • produced tours for Prince and Pink Floyd • helped provide musical instruments to schools through the Keep the Music Playing campaign and relief for victims of the 2010 Nashville flood • created the Shalom Foundation in 1998 to improve the lives of impoverished children in Guatemala, drawing on his construction background to oversee the building of many homes in that country • the Moore Pediatric Surgery Center, a 12,000-square-foot facility, opened as a base for the Shalom Medical Program

“[Steve] worked his way up the chain of command [at the Country Music Association], serving on the board of directors, as president, then chairman and then in 2010, he reached the pinnacle when he was named to the post of chief executive officer . . . To put this in perspective, Steve was just named to Billboard’s Power 100 at number 61. That is ahead of Simon Cowell, Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift.”

—Dean Russ Schultz, College of Fine Arts and Communication

“The DNA of Lamar goes pretty deep in myself, my wife and my family . . . During one of my trumpet lessons, Dr. Ornelas introduced me to a young lady from Coral Gables, Fla., who was touring Lamar as a possible student. Her name was Charmione Rayfield ’79. The rest of my lesson didn’t go so well that day, but I remember going home that afternoon and telling my mother that I had met the woman I was going to marry. That’s kind of presumptuous, but if you’re a promoter, you’ll say just about anything.”

—Steve Moore


consistent and reliable point-man for community service and community relations for more than 40 years • 32-year career in the electrical utility industry—the last 16 years with the Entergy Texas Port Arthur Network as customer service manager • early career: television reporter for KJAC-TV in Port Arthur and KFDM-TV in Beaumont in the early ’70s, City of Beaumont community relations coordinator and community development coordinator, and Equal Opportunity Commission of Southeast Texas • advocate for children, the elderly and at-risk populations • administered the “Project Care” energy assistance program for senior citizens for nine years while working for Gulf States Utilities • continually espoused assistance efforts for children as board member and president for Boys Haven of America; member of the advisory board for March of Dimes; board member for the Port Arthur Public Schools Foundation, the Hughen School of Port Arthur and St. Anthony’s Cathedral School; and advisor for One Church One Child, an adoption advocacy group • memberships and board service also includes the Lamar University Alumni Advisory Board, Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce, Nederland Chamber of Commerce, the American Red Cross, Southeast Texas Quality Workforce Planning Committee, Goodwill Industries of Southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana, the Golden Triangle Utility Coordinating Council, the Medical Center of Southeast Texas • member of the Rotary Club of North Port Arthur where he is a multiple Paul Harris Fellow, the most prestigious honor Rotary International can bestow • active member of St. Pius Catholic Church of Beaumont • graduate of Leadership Beaumont and Leadership Southeast Texas • 30-year member and past president of the Press Club of Southeast Texas

“What you really know about Don Pumphrey if you’ve been around town at all is his extraordinary commitment to the people of this community. A pattern of positive, effective leadership emerges from his involvement in organizations across the region.”

— Dean Brenda Nichols, College of Arts and Sciences

“As a little kid growing up here in Southeast Texas, I never envisioned doing some of the things I have been able to do in my career. I can’t look anywhere in the room that I don’t see someone with whom I’ve had a working relationship for a span of decades. It is that kind of involvement that makes this community a better place.”

—Don Pumphrey


Attorney, community leader and shareholder with the law firm MehaffyWeber • extensive background in product liability and premises liability cases • President’s Award recipient as secretary on the executive committee for the Texas Association of Defense Counsel • honored as Jefferson County Young Lawyer of the Year in 2002 • Texas Monthly magazine selected her as a “Texas Rising Star” in 2005 and a “Texas Super Lawyer” from 2005-2011 • included on the “Top 100 List-Houston Region,” the “Top 50 Women in Texas,” and the “Top 100 List-Texas” for Texas Super Lawyers • author or co-author of articles for a number of legal periodicals • past president of the Junior League of Beaumont • service on a number of boards: Lamar University Alumni Advisory Board, LU Foundation board of trustees, Monsignor Kelly High School, St. Anthony Cathedral School, the Junior League of Beaumont, Catholic Charities, The Shorkey Center, Land Manor, Julie Rogers “Gift of Life” Program, CASA (courtappointed special advocates for children), Neches River Festival, The Symphony of Southeast Texas, Beaumont Civic Ballet and the Beaumont Chamber of Commerce, which honored her with the 2008 recipient of the Athena Award.

“As a new dean attending a multitude of community and university events, I soon found out that Michele Smith—in addition to a law career that has led to her to being named a Texas Super Lawyer—has made an entire second career of being a super civil servant.”

—Dean Enrique “Henry” Venta, College of Business

“What I intended to do was come here for a semester and then go back to A&M, but . . . I stayed for the duration . . . I stayed because I grew to love the university. I got involved in all Lamar had to offer . . . I met terrific friends who are still my friends today . . . My education afforded me every opportunity I’ve had since . . . I got into Baylor Law School. I met the love of my life. I got a job at Mehaffy Weber, where I practice law with people who are like family to me . . . It’s been my privilege and pleasure to get to be involved as a part of the university through the boards on which I have served.”

—Michele Smith