Digital Alumni and Friends Gatherings

Lamar University Digital Alumni and Friends Gathering

While we are engaged in social distancing, Lamar University Alumni and Friends have the opportunity to gather together through our Lamar University Digital Alumni and Friends Gatherings.

A Discussion with LU Distinguished Alumnae Paula O'Neal and Elaine Shellenberger
Presented by:
 Paula (Tate) O'Neal '69, '79, Executive Director of Some Other Place and Elaine (Norman) Shellenberger '74, Retired, President/CEO of Nutrition and Services for Seniors
When: Tuesday, November 10, 2020, 6:30 PM CST
Where: Lamar University Facebook Live

Paula and Elaine discussed their careers leading a non-profit and the impact of volunteers and community service organizations.

Paula O'Neal

About Paula O'Neal: Paula (Tate) O’Neal holds two degrees from Lamar University, a bachelor of arts degree in Government in 1969 and a master of education degree in counseling and development in 1979. A diehard loyal Cardinals fan, Paula has remained active with her alma mater over the years, being a Past President of the Lamar University Alumni Advisory Board, serving on the Cardinal Club Board, mentoring social work students, serving on the Class of 1969 and Greek Reunion Steering Committees, and a season ticket holder for several Cardinal sports. She was named a Distinguished Alumna of Lamar University in 2005.

Paula has served for 37 years as executive director of Beaumont’s Some Other Place, an ecumenical mission founded in 1968 to meet the unfulfilled emergency needs of the poor and ‘hurting’ residents of the Beaumont community. 

Paula’s volunteer service is extensive and diverse. Besides her commitment to Some Other Place, she as been actively involved with Beaumont Junior Forum, Beaumont Independent School District, Delta Kappa Gamma, Project Care, "I Have A Dream," Gift of Life, Triangle AIDS Network, Rotary Club of Beaumont, Southeast Texas Health and Human Services Network, People Assistance Coalition, Volunteer Connection, and the APS Advisory Committee. 

Her dedication to public service and community has been recognized by many organizations and institutions. Her awards and honors include: 1991 Jefferson Award Winner, 1997 Catholic Charities Humanitarian of the Year, 2002 Neches River Festival Citizen of the Year, 2002 "Tribute to Success" Honoree, 2003 “I Have A Dream” Dream Maker of the Year, 2004 "Woman with a Heart" honoree, 2005 Paul Harris Fellow with the Rotary Club of Beaumont, 2006 Pioneering Woman Award, 2007 Athena Award, 2011 named one of SETX Most Influential Women, 2018 honored by KBMT 12 News as one of the “Outstanding Women of Southeast Texas” ; 2019 Press Club of Southeast Texas Newsmaker of the Year for 2018, and 2019 Rabbi Rosinger Humanitarian Award.

In 1969 Paula married Jay O’Neal and the couple made Beaumont their home. Their daughter Kelli is married to Phillip Savage and they reside in Beaumont with their two sons Tate and Daniel.

Elaine ShellenbergerAbout Elaine Shellenberger: Elaine (Norman) Shellenberger earned her B.B.A. degree from Lamar University in 1974, beginning a family tradition. Her husband, two children and their spouses, along with a hosts of family members, all graduated from LU.

In 1984, while Elaine and her husband, Don, were raising two children, she joined Nutrition and Services for Seniors, a non-profit organization founded in 1983. For the next 35 years, Elaine served in a variety of roles with NSS, eventually becoming the President and CEO, a role she maintained until retiring in October 2019. When Elaine joined NSS, the primary focus was providing homebound meals for the elderly. During her first year there, NSS provided 80,000 home delivered and congregate meals to Jefferson County Seniors. However, Elaine founded programs focused on the whole life enhancement of the senior community, which helped seniors live independently in their homes. By 2018, the meal count had increased to more than 450,000 home delivered and congregate meals in both Jefferson and Hardin counties.

Elaine has been honored by the Pioneering Women organization as one of the six “Women Who Mean Business” in Southeast Texas in 2016 and by the Southeast Texas Non-Profit Development Center and First Lady of Texas, Cecilia Abbott, for her many years of service in our community. She has also served her community in several organizations, including the Rotary Club of Beaumont, the Junior Forum of Beaumont, Leadership Beaumont, the Texas Association on Aging, the Meals on Wheels Association of Texas, and the Meals on Wheels Association of America. NSS was also named the Not-For-Profit Charity of the Year at an Annual BBB Torch Awards.

Elaine is past member of the Lamar University Cardinal Club, member of the Lamar University Mirabeau Society, has helped organize community service projects for the Lamar University Alumni at NSS, and has mentored hundreds of Lamar University students who have volunteered and/or interned at NSS. She was named a 2020 Lamar University Distinguished Alumna.

Elaine is very proud of the accomplishments that the staff and volunteers at NSS have made over the years, and she is grateful for their contributions to making NSS an organization that enhances the lives of Seniors and helps make Beaumont a better community. Elaine resides in Beaumont with her husband Don and they have two children, Angela McMillan ’97 and Collin ’01.

A Discussion with LU Distinguished Alumnus Larry Beaulieu
Presented by:
 Larry Beaulieu '77, Retired, VP/General Manager of KFDM Ch 6
When: Tuesday, October 20, 2020, 6:30 PM CST
Where: Lamar University Facebook Live

LU Distinguished Alumnus Larry Beaulieu discusses his career in the media.

Larry Beaulieu

About Larry Beaulieu: Larry Beaulieu retired in 2011 as Vice President and General Manager of KFDM-TV in Beaumont after 37 years of service. He studied Mass Communications at Texas Tech University, and while he was a student, he worked as announcer on campus for KTXT-FM and then off campus for KLLL-AM/KBFM-FM.  In Lubbock, he also worked for KLBK-TV-AM-FM as Television Photographer, Reporter, Producer, and Anchor and Radio News Reporter.  Following his four years in Lubbock, he moved to Amarillo, where for the next five years his roles at KFDA-TV were Television News Photographer, Reporter, Producer, and Anchor. One more move in 1974, brought Larry to Beaumont as News Director, Anchor/Producer at KFDM-TV he became General Manager in 1983. While in Beaumont, Larry continued his Mass Communications studies at Lamar University graduating in 1977. 

Larry was named a Lamar University Distinguished Alumnus in 2009, a distinguished alumnus of the Communication Department at Lamar University in 1995, and 2000 Outstanding Alumnus of the Texas Tech University Department of Mass Communications. He has served on the Board of the Texas Association of Broadcasters and was President in 1999.  He is a recipient of the Beaumont Rotary Club T. Kelsey Lamb Award for Business Ethics, a Paul Harris Fellow of Rotary International, and was named Pioneer Broadcaster of the Year by the Texas Association of Broadcasters.  Larry was the first recipient of Freedom Communications’ Freedom Leadership Award.  He has served as a Lamar University student advisor, as a member of the Mass Communication Advisory Council and as a Texas State University System Legislative Liaison.  Larry has served on the boards of Beaumont’s United Way, Rotary Club, Chamber of Commerce, Goodwill Industries, Foundation of Southeast Texas, Crime Stoppers, Christus St. Elizabeth Hospital and Capitol One Bank. He and his wife Nancy have two adult children and reside in Beaumont.

From Uncertain to NOW
Presented by:
 Keith Carter '70, Professor of Photography
When: Tuesday, September 15, 2020, 6:30 PM CST
Where: Lamar University Facebook Live

LU Distinguished Alumnus Keith Carter discusses his photography and career.

Keith Carter

About Keith Carter: Keith Carter is the Endowed Walles Chair in Fine Arts and Professor of Photography at Lamar University where he has been awarded the university's three highest teaching honors: Regents’ Professor Award, University Professor Award, and named a Distinguished Faculty Lecturer. He was also named Distinguished Alumnus in 2004. Keith graduated with a B.B.A. degree in Management from Lamar University in 1970.

Keith’s haunting, enigmatic photographs have been shown in more than 100 solo exhibitions in 13 countries. Keith is known for creating blurred images with limited depth of field, which give his work a sense of mystery. His newest work deals with our changing environment and loss of animal species. He is experimenting with colors by digitally replacing natural color palettes with hues from old master paintings. In addition, 13 books of his work have been published as well as a documentary film: A Certain Alchemy, released by Anthropy Arts, New York, in 2006. He has been featured on the arts segment of nationally televised CBS Sunday Morning and is the recipient of the Lange-Taylor Prize from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, Artist of the Year 2009 from the Houston Art League, and a 2009 Texas Medal of Arts. The Los Angeles Times called him the “Poet of the Ordinary”.

Keith’s work is included in numerous private and public collections including the National Portrait Gallery, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Smithsonian American Art Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, The George Eastman House and The Wittliff Collection of Southwestern and Mexican Photography at Texas State University. 

Discussion with LU Distinguished Alumnus C.L. Ross
Presented by:
 C.L. Ross '83, Aerospace Engineer
When: Tuesday, July 28, 2020, 6:30 PM CST
Where: Lamar University Facebook Live

LU Distinguished Alumnus C.L. Ross discusses his 36 year career with NASA and talk about the SpaceX Program.

C.L. Ross

About C. L. Ross: Clarence “C.L.” Ross, Jr. is an aerospace engineer and most recently appointed to the NASA Johnson Space Center’s Safety and Mission Assurance Directorate Management Staff as a SMA Technical Assistant for NASA International Space Station Program, Artemis Moon Program, Marshal Space Flight Center Moon Lander Development, ORION Program, and the Center’s Institutional Safety Officer.

Ross, a native of Port Arthur, remembers that as a grade schooler he began mixing chemicals in his parent’s garage. In junior high school he discovered he loved repairing cars and motorcycles. His natural inclinations led him to pursue a mechanical engineering degree from Lamar University.

In 1983, after five years of working and going to school full time, Ross earned his mechanical engineering degree and decided he would take a few months after graduation and visit family and friends across the country. He reasoned he would look for jobs along the way. The Thursday before he was to leave on his journey the following Monday, NASA called him and asked him to come for an interview. Although he thought about postponing until after his trip, at the encouragement of his mother, he went for the interview. He was offered the job and has served NASA for 36 years.

Since his start with NASA in 1984, he has earned the Center Director Commendation Award, innovation awards for electronic data system process implementation and manned flight awareness, Outstanding Service Team Award, Group Achievement Award, Sustain Superior Performance Awards and a NASA HQ Commendation. He has developed and implemented international bilateral agreements with Canadian Space Agency, European Space Agency and NASA Government Furnished Equipment contractors. Ross was appointed to the ISS Safety Review Panel, where he represented the Safety & Mission Assurance Directorate. 

Ross serves on Lamar University College of Engineering Advisory Council, was a LU ‘A Dinner and Conversation’ host in 2017, the College of Engineering commencement speaker in May 2017, a 2018 LU Homecoming parade judge, served as an Undergraduate Research Expo keynote speaker in 2019, and was named a 2020 Distinguished Alumnus of Lamar University.

Ross currently resides in Pearland. He has a son and a daughter and is engaged to be married. He is an active member of the Silver Lake Church, Pearland Special Olympics Organization and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. (Upsilon Theta & Rho Beta Beta chapters).  Ross pledged Omega Psi Phi while at Lamar University and continues to recruit talent for scholarships for the organization. He is also a member of the NASA Inclusive Leadership Council as well as the NASA mentoring programs.

Southeast Texans Facing Adversity: Meeting Challenges Head-on
Presented by:
 Ellen Rienstra '62, '80, Historian
When: Tuesday, June 9, 2020, 6:30 PM CST
Where: Lamar University Facebook Live

LU Distinguished Alumna Ellen Rienstra discusses how Southeast Texans have faced adversity over the years and met the challenges head-on.

Ellen Rienstra

About Ellen Rienstra: Ellen Rienstra graduated from Lamar State College of Technology in 1962 with a B.A. in English with a minor in History, and in 1980 with an ma in English. While in college, she was a member of Alpha Delta Pi Sorority and played in the Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, and Symphonic Band. Her education prepared her for a career rich in history and literature, specifically involving the history of Beaumont, Texas.

Ellen is a contractor for historical research and writing with the Nelda C. and H.J. Stark Lutcher Foundation. She has published at least ten books, journals, plays, and articles, and has written even more. Her book Giant Under the Hill: A History of the Spindletop Oil Discovery at Beaumont, Texas, in 1901 was named the second Best Book in Texas History in 2002 by the Texas State Historical Association and received the Otis Lock Award for the Best Book in East Texas History in 2003 from the East Texas Historical Association. A Pride of Kin was chosen by Texas A&M Press as one of three books to launch their Frank Wardlaw series, and The Long Shadow: The Lutcher-Stark Dynasty won an Award of Merit for Leadership in History from the American Association of State and Local History in 2017. Ellen was also honored with an award for Outstanding Contribution to the Humanities in 2016 by the Southeast Texas Arts Council.

In 2018, Ellen was named a Distinguished Alumna of Lamar University. She is a Past President of the Lamar University Alumni Advisory Board, a member of the Lamar University Foundation Board of Trustees, a member of the Spindletop-Gladys City Boomtown Museum Board, and a member of the Center for History and Culture of Southeast Texas and the Upper Texas Coast Board at Lamar University. She has established the Ellen Rienstra Scholarship in Music at Lamar University, hosted the A Dinner and 12 Strangers mentoring dinner for history majors in 2006 and 2007, is a member of Women and Philanthropy, and served on the Lamar University Class of 1962 50th Reunion Committee. She continues to serve Lamar University and the community through her efforts to preserve Beaumont’s rich history and make it known to the world.

Wisdom from Disasters
Presented by:
 Angela Blanchard '84, President Emerita of BakerRipley
When: Tuesday, May 19, 2020, 6:30 PM CST
Where: Lamar University Facebook Live

LU Distinguished Alumna Angela Blanchard discusses some wisdom she has gained from disasters.

Angela Blanchard

About Angela Blanchard: Angela Blanchard is President Emerita of BakerRipley in Houston, the most ethnically diverse and fastest-growing city in the U.S. Angela is a globally recognized expert practitioner in community development, disaster recovery and effective long-term integration for immigrants and refugees.

Angela, who grew up in Beaumont and graduated Lamar University in 1984 with a Bachelor’s in Business Administration in accounting, is known for her breakthrough strategies that have successfully revitalized neighborhoods by leveraging Houston’s diversity, while providing a powerful model for cities across the globe facing the complex challenges of community transformation.

Angela was March 2017 keynote speaker at LU’s Women and Philanthropy Luncheon and shared her experiences in other public lectures on campus that day, and spoke to LU’s College of Arts and Sciences graduates at the December 2017 commencement. She was named an LU Distinguished Alumna in 2018.

Her breakthrough achievements in community revitalization have resulted in numerous accolades: elite awards from top institutions including the Heinz Award in the Human Condition category, three invitations to the White House, and extensive press coverage. She has been profiled in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, and on CNN and NPR. Fast Company magazine named Angela one of the most creative people in the nation. She is a Nonresident Senior Fellow in the Centennial Scholar Initiative at the Brookings Institution and serves on the Board of the Business Innovation Factory and the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University. She joined the Swearer Center as a Taubman Fellow and Social Entrepreneur in Residence at Brown University in Providence, R.I. for the spring 2018 semester.

The Necessity of Community Service
Presented by:
 Vernon Durden '69, '04
When: Tuesday, May 12, 2020, 6:30 PM CST
Where: Lamar University Facebook Live

LU Distinguished Alumnus Vernon Durden discusses the necessity of community service.

Vernon Durden

About Vernon Durden: Vernon Durden is a Beaumont native who retired from ExxonMobil in 2003 but is busier than ever in the community. He attended public schools and graduated from Hebert High School in 1967. Immediately after graduating high school, he enrolled at Lamar State College of Technology where he received a certificate in Industrial Electricity and Electronics in 1969. The job market was fertile, and Vernon landed a job with Mobil Refinery in 1970 first as an operator in the operations department and later as an electrician in his field of study. A short time later he was promoted and became a member of management. He took advantage of the employer continuous educational program to gain his bachelor’s degree in 2004 from Lamar University.

Vernon retired as Contracts Manager after 34 years of service with ExxonMobil. He volunteers and is a board member with the Southeast Texas Food Bank, where he served as President. He mentors students at Lamar University and B.I.S D. and continues to work for the betterment of the Beaumont community having recently been appointed to and is president of the Jefferson County Appraisal Review Board. Vernon is a member and president emeritus of The 100 Black Men of Greater Beaumont and is on the Executive Board of 100 Black Men of America headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia.

Vernon has received numerous awards for his service to the community. He was awarded the “Leonard Knight Leadership Award” on two separate occasions which is the highest individual award to be given by the National 100 Black Men of America. He received recognition and was awarded the NAACP Leantha Redd Award for work to improve equality. Vernon received an award for Criminal Justice Reform for his work with the Beaumont Police Department. His former employer and B.E.S.T committee recently cited him for his leadership within the Beaumont community.  He is a 2011 Lamar University Distinguished Alumnus, a past president of the Lamar University Alumni Advisory Board, a trustee of the Lamar University Foundation Board, member of the President’s Circle, and he and his wife have established the Vernon and Johnnie Durden Scholarship in Education at Lamar University.

Vernon resides on a “gentlemen’s” farm in China, Texas along with wife Johnnie where they enjoy their horses and the quiet country living. He is an avid motorcyclist, a certified scuba diver, a health and exercise enthusiast, and he plays golf regularly.

Judicial Branch Resiliency: the Texas Court System During a Worldwide Pandemic
Presented by:
Hyattye Simmons '79, Judge and Attorney
When: Tuesday, May 5, 2020, 6:30 PM CST
Where: Lamar University Facebook Live

Hyattye Simmons discusses the resiliency of the judicial branch of government and the Texas Court System during this worldwide pandemic.

Hyattye Simmons

About Hyattye Simmons: Hyattye Simmons was born in Chicago, Illinois, but in true Texas fashion, his mother moved with her sons to her hometown of Weirgate, Texas in 1971. Hyattye graduated from Burkeville High School in 1977 as valedictorian of his class of 56 students and enrolled at Lamar University.  At first, he majored in government with a minor in speech.  His studies in speech helped him surmount a serious stuttering problem that threatened to derail his goal of becoming an attorney. The stuttering resolved, Hyattye later changed his minor to criminal justice and completed his Bachelor of Science degree in government in 2 ½ years in 1979, summa cum laude, while accruing every other major academic honor Lamar University had to offer.

With the guidance of Lamar University Criminal Justice Professor Jim Love and others, Hyattye applied to and was accepted for admission to the University of Texas at Austin School of Law, starting in the Summer of 1980 just six months after graduating Lamar University.   After completing his first year of law school, Hyattye clerked with numerous state governmental agencies but it was his work as a law clerk for the former State and County Division of the Texas Attorney General’s office that caught the attention of one of the section chiefs, Ward Allen White.  When White became general counsel of the Texas Secretary of State, he hired Hyattye to be his law clerk and later, his full time legal assistant. After Hyattye passed the Bar exam and became a licensed Texas attorney, he was appointed assistant general counsel to the Texas Secretary of State.  Approximately six months after White left his position, Secretary of State Myra A. McDaniel appointed Hyattye General Counsel to the Texas Secretary of State at age 26.

After his service to the State of Texas, Hyattye moved to Dallas County where he first served as Assistant City Attorney for the City of Dallas for a year before rejoining his previous State of Texas supervisor, Ward Allen White, at the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART). At DART, Hyattye began a 24-year legal career, holding numerous positions with more than 19 years as a state court civil trial and appellate attorney and the last 5 years as DART’s General Counsel.  As DART General Counsel, Hyattye was the 2009 recipient of the Magna Stella Award for excellence in leadership and management for a non-profit or government agency from the Texas General Counsel Forum (TGCF). Hyattye was named a 2017 Distinguished Alumnus of Lamar University.

Having achieved all his goals, Hyattye retired from DART in 2012 at age 53, but he did not retire from life.  He currently serves as the Associate Municipal Judge for the City of Seagoville and the Presiding Judge for the municipal court of City of Combine. He also serves as a board member and as General Counsel for numerous non-profit corporations, including service as the first General Counsel for the North Texas Chapter of InfraGard, part of a national alliance between the FBI and the private sector to help improve the security, preparedness and resiliency of America’s critical infrastructure.  Additionally, Hyattye serves on national, state and regional law committees, while mentoring new attorneys, law students and college students.

Hyattye, his wife Tina reside in Dallas.

The Ethics of Management and Governance: Responsibility, Accountability and Service
Presented by:
H. Stephen Grace '64, President of H.S. Grace & Company, Inc.
When: Tuesday, April 28, 2020, 6:30 PM CST
Where: Lamar University Facebook Live

Stephen Grace leads a discussion on ethics of management.

Stephen Grace

About Stephen Grace: H. Stephen Grace, Jr., Ph.D. is President of H.S. Grace & Company, Inc., a firm which provides specialized financial and operational advisory services to healthy and troubled companies, assists in complex commercial litigation, and advises on issues of corporate governance, oversight and control. Stephen and H.S. Grace & Company served as Consultant to the primary Directors and Officers Insurance Carrier on the Walt Disney Shareholder Derivative Litigation which concerned the hiring and termination of Michael Ovitz by Disney. He was the named Corporate Governance Expert for the Officers and Directors in the First Energy litigation. First Energy was alleged to have been responsible for the August 13, 2003 “blackout” affecting over 50 million people in the Northeast. H.S. Grace & Company served as the Independent Compliance Consultant under an SEC settlement, with a mutual fund alleged to have permitted “market timing,” and has been retained as a consulting and testifying expert in over 150 civil and criminal business litigations.

Stephen’s more than 40 years of Senior Management, Consultant and Academic experience includes: chief financial officer of a major holding company; national director-at-large of a Big Five firm; and university faculty member. He has authored and co-authored a substantial number of economic and financial publications, many of which focus on corporate governance and issues of business conduct.

Stephen was National Chairman of Financial Executives International (“FEI”) 2003-2004, a recipient of FEI’s Distinguished Service Award, and served as a member of FORBES CFO Forum Advisory Board. He served as an advisor to The CPA Journal Editorial Board and the New York State Society of CPAs (NYSSCPA) – Quality Enhancement Policy Committee. At Lamar University, he is a distinguished alumnus, serves on the board of advisors of both the engineering and business schools, a member of the President’s Circle, served as a host for the A Dinner and Conversation program, served on the Class of 1964 50th reunion committee, is a past commencement speaker, and established the H. Stephen Grace, Jr. Presidential Scholarship in Engineering. He also serves on the Advisory Council at Jesse H. Jones School of Business, Texas Southern University.

Stephen holds a B.S. in Industrial Engineering from Lamar University, an MBA from University of Chicago, and a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Houston.

How LU Faculty and Alumni Assist K-12 During this Pandemic
Presented by:
George Saltsman '14, Director of LU's Center for Educational Innovation and Digital Learning
When: Tuesday, April 21, 2020, 6:30 PM CST
Where: Lamar University Facebook Live

George explores how Lamar University Faculty and Staff are assisting K-12 Educators during this global pandemic to enhance digital learning followed by a question and answer session with President Ken Evans.

George Saltsman

About George Saltsman: Dr. George Saltsman serves as the Director of the Center for Educational Innovation and Digital Learning and as a Research Associate Professor of Educational Leadership at Lamar University. George is an Apple Distinguished Educator and winner of multiple awards, including Campus Technology Innovator of the Year, Blackboard Catalyst, and The New Media Consortium’s Center of Excellence. As a higher education consultant to Apple, Google, AT&T, Alcatel-Lucent, Pearson and other international technology corporations, George routinely works to advance the effectiveness of technology in education. As a researcher, George has participated in or overseen 42 empirical investigations into digital learning working with partners that include Cambridge University Press and Bell Labs. George is the co-author of An Administrators Guide to Online Education and multiple other works focused on the integration of technology in education. In his international work, George assists UNESCO as a mobile learning policy advisor, co-chair of the Information Communication Technology sub-theme for UNESCO’s Teacher Task Force for Education 2030, and co-leads a working group on the application of Artificial Intelligence in teacher education. George received his Doctor of Education degree in Educational Leadership from Lamar University in 2014. He received a B.S. in Computer Science in 1990 and an M.S. in Organizational and Human Resource Development in 1995 from Abilene Christian University.

A Glimpse into the Life of a Professional Engineer
Presented by:
 Sina Nejad '80, '81, '15
When: Tuesday, April 14, 2020, 6:30 PM CST
Where: Lamar University Facebook Live

Sina Nejad discusses his career and the role that professional engineers play in our society.

Sina Nejad

About Sina Nejad: Dr. Sina Nejad, P.E., P. Eng. is founder and president of Sigma Engineers and a great supporter of Lamar University. He received his bachelor, master, and doctoral degrees in engineering from Lamar University. He is a structural engineer licensed to practice engineering in Texas, Province of Alberta, Canada, and British Columbia and one the only twenty engineers in the state to be authorized by the Board of Architectural Examiners to be an excepted engineer approved to engage in the practice of architecture in Texas. In 2013, Sina was appointed by Texas Governor to serve on the Texas Board of Professional Engineers and in 2019 the Governor named Sina chair of the Texas board of professional engineers and land surveyors.

Prior to establishing Sigma Engineers in 1993, Sina practiced engineering in the construction field for fifteen years. His experience ranges from architectural and structural design of large industrial and commercial project as well as managing design‐build and EPC projects. He is very familiar with the contracting process and the matters involving the practice of engineering and architecture. Sina is often called on to conduct crucial investigations in his field and has directed investigations for many large catastrophic structural failures such as the PEMEX headquarters explosion in Mexico City and recently the Marcal explosion in New Jersey. Due to his extensive experience he spends a lot of his time as an expert witness for many large profile cases. His firm is one of few that specialize in blast resistant building design.

Sina is a member of numerous Texas and national professional societies including a charter member of the Structural Engineering Institute, founding member of the Architectural Engineering Institute, and is past president of the Sabine Chapter of the Texas Society of Professional Engineers. He was named the Engineer of the Year in 2008. He was named Distinguished Alumnus of Lamar University in 2014 and is a past president of the Lamar University Foundation Board of Trustees.

Some of his community involvement includes, Chair of the Planning and Zoning Commission, Chair of the Board of Adjustment of Building Code, member of the board of directors and past president of Symphony of Southeast Texas, board member and past president of the board of directors of the Anayat House, member of Golden Triangle Business Round Table, advisory board member of Christus St. Elizabeth Hospital and BBVA Bank, and past board member of the United Way, Goodwill Industries and the Greater Beaumont Chamber of Commerce.

Sina resides in Beaumont with his wife Soheila. They have two children, Layla and Amir, whom they named their civil engineering scholarship after at Lamar University.

Discussion with LU Distinguished Alumnus John Alexander
Presented by: John Alexander '68, artist
When: Tuesday, April 7, 2020, 6:30 PM CST
Where: Lamar University Facebook Live

Betty Moody, owner of the Moody Gallery in Houston, interviews artist John Alexander who discusses his career and art.

John Alexander

About John Alexander: Born in 1945 in Beaumont, Alexander remained in southeast Texas until his graduation from Lamar University. He entered graduate school at Southern Methodist University in Dallas in 1969. Upon completing an M.F.A. in 1970, he moved to Houston, established a studio and became a member of the art faculty of the University of Houston. In the late 1970’s Alexander left Texas for New York.​ He currently divides his time between New York City and Amagansett, NY.

His work is included in the permanent collections of leading museums including the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; the Dayton Institute in Ohio, the Dallas Museum of Art; The Meadows Museum in Dallas, The McNay Museum in San Antonio, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Nevada Museum of Art, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans; the Guild Hall Museum, East Hampton; the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, as well as many other distinguished public and private collections worldwide.

Recognized as an LU Distinguished Alumnus, Alexander serves on the College of Fine Arts and Communication Advisory Council, and has served as the speaker for two President’s Circle Dinners. The John Alexander Painting Studio is located in the Art Building on the campus of Lamar University.

1970 M.F.A. from Southern Methodist University (Dallas, Texas)
1968 B.F.A. from Lamar University (Beaumont, Texas)

A Discussion with Bill Macatee About His Career and His Reflections on Social Distancing and Professional Sports
Presented by: Bill Macatee '78, Broadcaster and Investment Manager
When: Tuesday, March 31, 2020, 6:30 PM CST
Where: Lamar University Facebook Live

Bill Macatee discusses his career and reflections on social distancing and professional sports.

Bill Macatee

About Bill Macatee:  For the past 30 years, Bill Macatee has been a prominent, network television broadcaster who has anchored coverage of prestigious events such as The Olympics, The Masters, The US Open Tennis Championships; as well as network play-by-play of the National Football League.  

Throughout his career, Bill has been considered to be one of the most versatile broadcasters in the industry, hosting and announcing everything from all 4 major championships in tennis to basketball’s March Madness, the PGA Tour, the Ryder Cup matches, the PGA Championship, track & field, figure skating, gymnastics and boxing.   Macatee is also known for his insightful, television interviews at major events like The Masters, Wimbledon, the Super Bowl, the World Series and the Olympics; as well as interviews during his time as the sports correspondent for NBC’s Today’s Show.  In 2018, Bill was inducted into the Texas Golf Hall of Fame, receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award. 

In addition to his career in media, Bill has made a successful transition into the investment world, working in mid-market private equity since 2013 with the Chicago-based, Vistria Group, focusing on Healthcare, Education and Financial Services. Bill currently serves on several privately held, company boards and continues to serve as a Senior Advisor for the Vistria Group.  In addition, Macatee is an Advisory Director for Investment Banking at Nomura Americas in New York. 

Bill spent two years as an Adjunct Professor at Chapman University in Southern California where he taught Sports Media at the school’s prestigious Dodge College of Film & Media Arts.  He currently serves on the Board of the USTA Foundation and from 2016-19 as a Trustee at for the Lamar University Foundation.  Bill was named a Distinguished Alumnus of Lamar University in 2011 and gave the Commencement Address to the Lamar University Class of 2014. Bill graduated from Lamar University in 1978 with a B.S. degree in Speech. 

Bill lives in Dallas, Texas with his wife, Sonya and has a daughter, Caitlin Macatee.

The Coronavirus Pandemic: Food Safety and Food Supply Chains
Presented by: Bart Simmons '78, '79, Founder, The Provision House; Owner, 2S Ranch
When: Tuesday, March 24, 2020, 6:30 PM CST
Where: Lamar University Facebook Live

Bart Simmons discusses the Coronavirus Pandemic and the result on food safety and food supply chains.

Bart Simmons

About Bart Simmons: In 2003, Bart Simmons fulfilled a lifelong dream when he purchased 2S Ranch located 50 miles west of DFW in Palo Pinto, Texas. Over the next decade, he transformed the ranch, replacing acres and acres of cedar trees with beautiful oak savannahs filled with native Texas grasses. He wanted the 2S Ranch to be built on sustainability, which is why great care was taken to restore its land and soil. Bart and his wife Martye (also an LU alumna), could have sold the meat to a lot of different places, but instead decided to provide customers with a unique opportunity to be able to get to know their rancher and meat provider. So in 2014, the Simmons opened The Provision House in order to deliver 100% grass fed beef right from their ranch to consumers' doors. The Provision House provides meats from the 2S Ranch, as well as meats from other ranches that share the values of the 2S Ranch. Bart graduated from Lamar University with a B.B.A. in Finance in 1978 and an M.B.A. in 1979. He was named a 2008 Lamar University Distinguished Alumnus and inducted into the College of Business Hall of Fame in 2013.