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Three to be honored as LU 2011 Distinguished Alumni

Lamar University will honor three alumni who have made their marks in community service, special education and sports broadcasting as 2011 Distinguished Alumni.

Honorees are Vernon Durden of China, Grace Davis England of Spring, and Bill Macatee of Newport Coast, Calif. They will be recognized at a reception and dinner on March 4 at the University Reception Center on the eighth floor of the Mary and John Gray Library.

Durden earned an associate degree in 1969 and a bachelor of applied arts and sciences in 2004 from Lamar University. Durden retired from ExxonMobil as contracts manager in 2003 and has been an active volunteer with several Southeast Texas organizations. He has served as president of the Southeast Texas Food Bank and as board member of United Way and the Southeast Texas Regional Diversity Council. As president of the 100 Black Men of Greater Beaumont, he was honored with a national leadership award and his chapter won national recognition as chapter of the year. He will receive the Distinguished Alumnus Community Service Award.

England earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education at Lamar in 1955 before completing her master’s and doctoral degrees at other Texas institutions. A trailblazer in the field of special education, she has served as director of special education at Klein Independent School District and a consultant to the U.S. Department of Defense Dependents Schools and other school districts. She is also an assistant professor of education at University of St. Thomas and has presented at educational conferences across the country and internationally. She will be honored as Distinguished Alumna.

Macatee earned a bachelor’s degree in speech at Lamar in 1978 while working as sports director at Beaumont’s KBMT Channel 12. He later worked at television stations in Kansas City and Dallas before becoming the youngest network sportscaster in the industry when he joined NBC at age 26. Since 1995, Macatee has been at CBS Sports where he handles NFL play-by-play and plays a major role in golf and tennis coverage, including the Masters, the PGA Championship, the U.S. Open Tennis Championships and Wimbledon. Macatee has covered events including the NCAA college basketball tournament, two Olympic winter games, Super Bowls and World Series. He will be honored as Distinguished Alumnus.

The March 4 event will begin with a 6:30 p.m. reception followed by dinner at 7 p.m. Reservations may be made by calling (409) 880-8921 or e-mailing alumni@lamar.edu. Cost is $40 per person. The deadline for reservations is Feb. 18. For more information, go to advancement.lamar.edu/distinguished-alumni