By Sally Krutzig
Bishop Daniel Flores, retired CEO Doug Lattner and news anchor John McCaa were honored at the 2014 Distinguished Alumni Awards Dinner. The event took place on Saturday, Oct. 4 at the Omni Mandalay Hotel in Las Colinas. It was only the second time a dinner ceremony was held to honor the notable alumni, but there were over 100 more attendees than there were the previous year. The attendees of the dinner are usually alumni of the University of Dallas, with tickets going for $150 each. It was a night filled with praise for the school that nearly all of the people gathered had attended.
Lattner was the first recipient to speak. After earning an MBA degree from the University of Dallas in 1975, Lattner went on to become the CEO and chairman of the renowned consulting firm, Deloitte Consulting, LLP. In 2005, while at the Manhattan-based firm, Lattner was named one of the “25 Most Influential Consultants” by Consulting Magazine.
Lattner listed several invaluable lessons that UD taught him. Some of these were serious, others lighthearted.
“I had a professor, who will go nameless for now, who said individuals who attend my class are required to do a number of things,” he said. “The first thing is that you will wear a suit and a tie to class, you will carry a brief case, and you will have a cross pen and pencil set, gold preferred.
“I was lucky enough to own a suit, but I didn’t have a brief case or a cross pen and pencil set,” he continued. “So my third experience from the University of Dallas was professionalism and debt leverage.”
Next to speak was the Most Reverend Daniel Flores, the bishop who currently presides over the Catholic Diocese of Brownsville, Texas. The town is notable for having the highest concentration of Catholics in the United States, with 85 percent of its population being Roman Catholic. Flores graduated from the University of Dallas with a bachelor’s degree in 1982 and a Master of Divinity degree in 1987.
The bishop explained that, like every UD student, he read Aquinas in relation to the Federalists. He studied Augustine at the same time as he studied Joseph Conrad.
“By this, we discovered the human terrain when it seeks to relate the apparently unrelated,” Flores said. “If books are written to relate to others in an enduring way, it is because persons are made for relation…If we stop trying to cross over walls that separate us from the apparently unrelatable, then we wither away in self-satisfaction and we die.”
This is a lesson that Flores says he has carried with him throughout his life.
“To this day, I read several books at the same time. This multifaceted openness to many books is what UD gave to me and no doubt continues to give to many others,” he said.
The final speaker was John McCaa, who many recognized as the well-known news anchor from WFAA-TV news in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. McCaa has been reporting the evening news there for the past 30 years. He was also the former president of the Press Club of Dallas. McCaa received a master’s degree in politics from UD in 2002.
“The University of Dallas is not now, and never has been, a trade school, teaching a skill of just earning money. Our education has been unique, reminding us who we are, not just Americans, but heirs of a Western heritage that really values freedom,” McCaa said.
McCaa’s closing words seemed to echo a sentiment expressed by many that night.
“We are proudly, and unashamedly, Crusaders,” McCaa said.
Another topic frequently touched upon throughout the evening was how far the university has come since its beginning.
“I remember when I was a freshman just coming out to Dallas…and the confusion and dismay I felt when I told the taxi driver to take me to the University of Dallas and, 40 minutes later, I wound up in Richardson at the University of Texas at Dallas,” recalled Mike Hasson, president of the National Alumni Board. “But those days are fast disappearing.”
University president Thomas Keefe also emphasized the growing success of the university. He mentioned UD’s recent national rankings, its increasing student population and the school’s recent financial gains. He believes the university is finally being recognized as an exceptional place.
“UD is an extraordinary institution. It’s manifested by the three recipients today,” Keefe stated. “We’re being recognized as one of the finest universities in the country…There are other institutions that are different than us, but there is nobody that’s better than we are at what we do. We are an extraordinary institution and you all are the reason we are.”