LU News Archive

LU to honor four distinguished alumni Feb. 24

Four notable Lamar University alumni will be honored as distinguished alumni Feb. 24.  The Lamar University Alumni Advisory Board’s Distinguished Alumni Awards Committee makes the annual selections.  Jim Gilligan and Steve Moore will be honored as distinguished alumni. Don Pumphrey will be honored as distinguished alumnus for community service and Michele Smith as distinguished young alumna. 

The honorees were selected from nominations by LU alumni based on criteria that include notable accomplishments in his/her chosen profession.  The recipients must also display integrity and character that inspires pride for the university and its alumni and have demonstrated recognition of the importance of Lamar in their career, deeds and actions.  The Distinguished Alumni Awards Dinner will be held at 6:30 p.m. at the University Reception Center on the eighth floor of the Mary and John Gray Library.  Reservations are required for attendance. 

2012 Distinguished Alumni honorees:

Jim Gilligan ’69,’70, LU’s longest serving baseball coach, reached more than 1,200 wins during the Cardinals’ 2011 campaign, a feat accomplished by only five other active NCAA Division I baseball coaches.  Gilligan has served Lamar University for more than 34 years on the coaching staff of the Cardinals baseball team.  He began coaching the Cards in 1973 earning his 500th win in 1986, twice taking his team within one game of the College World Series.  The following year, he made the inevitable move to the majors for five seasons before returning to his alma mater in 1992.

As head coach, he led the Cardinals to the NCAA Regional Tournament in 2010, the most recent of 13 regional tournament appearances.  Gilligan has 12 conference championships and five conference tournament championships under his belt as well.  More than 150 of his players have moved to professional teams over the years and many more have advanced to coaching careers in baseball at all levels. 

He earned five Southland Conference Coach of the Year honors as well as a coach of the year title while Lamar was a member of the Sun Belt Conference.  Gilligan was inducted to the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame along with notable baseball greats Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio and Kenny Rogers.  A Southland Conference Hall of Fame induction followed in 2010.

Gilligan is internationally known for assisting in the formation of the Chinese Professional Baseball League and leading a baseball clinic in Zimbabwe to teach their coaches the fundamentals of the game.  A lasting memorial to this iconic coach was established in the fall of 2010 by the Beaumont City Council by renaming the street leading to Vincent-Beck Stadium as Jim Gilligan Way.

Steve Moore ’77, entertainment executive, has gone from playing trumpet and working construction jobs at night to pay his college expenses to CEO of the Country Music Association, representing more than 6,000 music industry professionals and companies around the globe.  The lure of country music was overwhelming for the LU grad as he listened to the sounds filtering out of the honky-tonks in Buna.  His first ambition was to become a band director, but all that changed one night when he accepted a job to work backstage at a Blood, Sweat & Tears concert at Lamar.  Moore was inspired as much by the mechanics of putting on the show as the music itself and promoted and produced his first concert at the Julie Rogers Theatre before graduating.  Three years on the management staff of Lone Wolf Productions brought him sufficient industry connections to start his own production company, booking Texas guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughn in his first appearance as a headliner. 

A stint with Pace Concerts led to him to accept a position in Nashville as executive director of Starwood Amphitheater where he is credited with making the city a destination for live performance.  Moore has 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!, the LU grad organized and ran shows for a litany of high-profile clients such as Brooks & Dunn, Faith Hill, Alan Jackson, Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, Taylor Swift and Sugarland to name a few.  His last show with AEG Live! was for Paul McCartney.  Crossing over from the country music genre, he also produced tours for Prince and Pink Floyd.  Throughout his career, Moore maintained an active role with the CMA board and accepted an appointment to the board in 1989.  He was elected president in 2008, chairman in 2009, and accepted the board’s invitation to become CEO in 2010.

Moore has played a significant role in assisting charitable organizations through his work with the CMA board.  Providing musical instruments to schools in the Nashville area through the Keep the Music Playing campaign and relief for victims of the 2010 Nashville flood are two of his prominent charitable initiatives.  Moore 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.  Most recently, the Moore Pediatric Surgery Center, a 12,000-square-foot facility, opened as a base for the Shalom Medical Program.  He continues to challenge himself and broaden his horizons as evidenced by realizing his lifelong dream of becoming a licensed private pilot.

Don Pumphrey ’88, community and service leader, earned the bachelor’s degree in communication and has been a consistent and reliable point-man for community service and community relations for more than 40 years.   He spent the last 16 years with the Entergy Texas Port Arthur Network as customer service manager. 

He began his career in television as a reporter for KJAC-TV in Port Arthur and KFDM-TV in Beaumont in the early ’70s.  Pumphrey served for the next four years with the City of Beaumont as community relations coordinator and community development coordinator.  He spent one year with the Equal Opportunity Commission of Southeast Texas before embarking upon a 32-year career in the electrical utility industry.

Working with the community in a professional capacity spilled over into his personal life as he has become active with many organizations advocating for children, the elderly and the less fortunate.  He successfully administered the “Project Care” energy assistance program for senior citizens for nine years while working for Gulf States Utilities.  Pumphrey has continually espoused assistance efforts relating to children by serving as a board member and president for Boys Haven of America and a member of the advisory board for March of Dimes.  He served as a board member for the Port Arthur Public Schools Foundation, the Hughen School of Port Arthur and the St. Anthony’s Cathedral School and as an advisor for One Church One Child, an adoption advocacy group.

The distinguished alumnus has served the community through his work as a member of the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce, the Nederland Chamber of Commerce, the American Red Cross and as a member of the Southeast Texas Quality Workforce Planning Committee.  Pumphrey served on the board of directors for Goodwill Industries of Southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana, the Golden Triangle Utility Coordinating Council and on the board of trustees for the Medical Center of Southeast Texas.

He is a 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.  An active member of St. Pius Catholic Church of Beaumont, he is a graduate of Leadership Beaumont and Leadership Southeast Texas, and a 30-year member and past president of the Press Club of Southeast Texas.  Pumphrey has been married to the former Elaine Frazier of Beaumont for 41 years.  The couple has two daughters, Nicole a 1998 graduate of Texas A&M University, and Amy, a 2010 graduate of Lamar University.

Michele Smith ’88, local attorney and community leader, is a super lawyer and a super civic servant.  A shareholder with the law firm MehaffyWeber, she has extensive background in product liability and premises liability cases, representing clients in state and federal courts.  From her seat as secretary on the Executive Committee for the Texas Association of Defense Counsel, Smith was a President’s Award recipient.  She was honored as the Jefferson County Young Lawyer of the Year in 2002 and represented the organization as its vice president from 2009-2010.

Texas Monthly magazine selected her as a “Texas Rising Star” in 2005 and a “Texas Super Lawyer” from 2005-2011.  She was included on the “Top 100 List-Houston Region”, the “Top 50 Women in Texas”, and the “Top 100 List-Texas” for Texas Super Lawyers.  Smith has authored or co-authored articles for a number of legal periodicals and made presentations at meetings and seminars across Texas.

In addition to her professional success, Smith is active on a number of boards in the Beaumont area.  She served on the Lamar University Alumni Advisory Board and the LU Foundation board of trustees.  Her community involvements include board appointments for Monsignor Kelly High School, St. Anthony Cathedral School, the Junior League of Beaumont and Catholic Charities.  Her concern for the less fortunate and people in need is evidenced by her work on the boards of The Shorkey Center, Land Manor, Julie Rogers “Gift of Life” Program and CASA (court-appointed special advocates for children).  The fine arts and entertainment in Southeast Texas have also benefitted from her expertise and service through board appointments with the Neches River Festival, The Symphony of Southeast Texas, Beaumont Civic Ballet and the Beaumont Chamber of Commerce, where she was the 2008 recipient of the Athena Award.

Alumni and friends who wish to attend the Distinguished Alumni Awards Dinner must make reservations by Feb. 10.  Reservations and payments can be made online at the Distinguished Alumni tab located at or by calling the Alumni Office at (409) 880-8921.