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A&M-Commerce honors 2009 distinguished alumni

By Brent Lyday

Commerce – Texas A&M University-Commerce recently honored Dr. Richard De La Garza II, Ted Lyon Jr., and Dr. Johnette McKown as 2009 Distinguished Alumni during a recognition dinner in the Sam Rayburn Student Center.

De La Garza is currently an associate professor at the Baylor College of Medicine, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Research Center, Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and the University of Texas Medical Branch. He has been teaching in the departments of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, neuroscience, pharmacology, and research services since 2008 at each institution.

After graduating with a bachelor's degree from A&M-Commerce (formerly East Texas State University) in 1985, De La Garza went on to earn a master's degree in 1989 from the University of North Texas, a Ph.D in neuroscience from the University of Texas Medical Branch in 1996, and post-doctoral fellowships from Harvard Medical School and Yale University School of Medicine in 1999 and 2000.

Lyon specializes in complex litigation and has spent the past 34 years as an attorney representing clients in more than 150 jury trials. He has received verdicts ranked in the top ten in the nation on three occasions, and has been named a Super Lawyer by Texas Monthly magazine six times.

He completed his bachelor's degree in political science from A&M-Commerce in 1972, before obtaining his juris doctorate from Southern Methodist University in 1975.

McKown obtained her master's degree in secondary and higher education from A&M-Commerce in 1978 and a doctorate in curriculum and instruction in 1990. She began her teaching career and moved up the ranks through Little Elm High School and Paris Junior College before finding at home at McLennan Community College in Waco.

She was named vice president of business services in 1989, executive vice president in 2002 and president on September 1, 2009 after 20 years with the institution. Throughout her tenure, McKown has developed business and finance courses offered to doctoral students at Baylor University as well as a master plan for capital projects that support college and community initiatives.

The first Distinguished Alumni Citation was awarded in 1967. The Distinguished Alumni Chapter formed on November 5, 1983 with the purpose of maintaining a medium for serving A&M-Commerce, to further the interest and well-being of the university, and to foster an appreciate for the rich heritage left to university by its students, faculty and administration.

Alumni of the university are selected from a vast pool of graduates who have moved on to illustrious careers.