Skip Navigation
Office of Communications and Marketing
Member, Texas Tech University System The Princeton Review - 373 Best Colleges, 2011 Edition

September 2008

Release Date: Sept. 16, 2008

ASU Alumni Association to Honor 12 at Awards Dinner

The Angelo State University Alumni Association will recognize 12 distinguished alumni, honorary alumni and outstanding faculty during the annual Wells Fargo Homecoming Dinner Friday, Oct. 17, in the Houston Harte University Center.

The dinner will begin at 6 p.m. Oct. 17 in the University Center’s C.J. Davidson Conference Center and is open to the public. Tickets are $25 each and available from the Alumni Association. Complimentary valet parking and a cash bar will be provided.

Jerry Vandergriff, former San Angelo College football player and ASU head coach, will be honored as the 2008 Distinguished Alumnus. Texas State Representative Drew Darby, Texas State Senator Robert Duncan and Tech University System Chancellor Kent Hance will be named Honorary Alumni. Dr. Michael Patyrak, Class of 2002, and Col. Ernie Felts, Class of 1976, will be recognized as the Distinguished Carr Alumnus and Distinguished ROTC Alumnus, respectively. Carrol Payne Nokes, a San Angelo College alumnus, will be honored as the Golden Ex of the Year.

Also recognized will be Dr. C. Varren Parker Jr. as Outstanding Retired Faculty Member. The 2008 Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award winners by college are Dr. Mary Ellen Hartje, Liberal and Fine Arts; Dr. Gil Engdahl, Sciences; Dr. Tom Bankston, Business; and Dr. Susan Keith, Education.

For more information and/or tickets to the dinner, call 942-2122.

Jerry Vandergriff – Distinguished Alumnus

Vandergriff started out at San Angelo College as a quarterback, leading the Rams to a berth in the 1960 Hospitality Bowl in what was SAC’s last football season as the sport was temporarily dropped while the college transitioned into a four-year university. He would go on to garner All-Texas and Little All-America honors at the University of Corpus Christi.

After coaching seven years in the high school ranks, Vandergriff returned to Angelo State as an assistant coach in 1971. He served in that capacity for 11 years and was co-offensive coordinator of the Rams’ 1978 NAIA National Championship team. Named ASU head coach in 1982, he compiled a 143-101-2 record, including 18 straight winning seasons, two Lone Star Conference titles and three division titles. Under his guidance, the Rams had the winningest record of all Texas universities in the 1980s.

Vandergriff retired as ASU head coach and men’s athletic director in 2004, but remains a director of the Angelo Football Clinic and a director of the Cactus Bowl, the NCAA D-II All-Star Game. In 2005 he was recognized by the All-American Football Foundation for career accomplishments and in 2006 was selected to the LSC’s 75th Anniversary Team.

He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Corpus Christi and a master’s degree from Texas Tech. He and his wife, Rose Ann, have a son, Bo, and daughter-in-law, Nicky.

Drew Darby – Honorary Alumnus

Attorney, legislator and family man, Darby is the Texas state representative for District 72 that includes San Angelo and Tom Green County. In his freshman term, he authored HB 3564 that started the process for ASU to transition into the Texas Tech University System. His tireless efforts in support of the bill led to a 137-4 vote for approval.

A San Angelo native and graduate of Central High School, Darby runs his own local law office, W. Drew Darby and Associates Law Firm, and is president of two land title insurance companies that serve 12 West Texas counties. He was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 2007 and is a member of the influential House Appropriations Committee, the Business and Industry Committee and the House Administration Committee. This spring, he was appointed to the Select Committee on Property Tax Relief and Appraisal Reform, which will oversee all matters relating to property tax relief and reforming the property appraisal system in Texas.

Darby holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of Texas, where he attended on a football scholarship. He earned his Doctorate of Jurisprudence from the UT School of Law.

Darby and his wife, Clarisa, have five children, Derek, Devon, Taylor, Ashley and Reagan, and one grandson, Davis.

Robert Duncan – Honorary Alumnus

A 12-year member of the Texas Senate, Duncan was Darby’s legislative partner in spearheading the transition of ASU into the Texas Tech University System. He currently represents District 28, a sprawling 46-county district that includes both San Angelo and Lubbock.

A Lubbock Republican, Duncan began his political career in 1993, serving two terms in the Texas House. He won a special election in 1996 to represent Senate District 28 and has since become one of the most respected members of the state legislature. He serves on the influential Senate Finance Committee, the Senate Natural Resources Committee and the Senate Jurisprudence Committee. During the last three legislative sessions, he has chaired the Senate State Affairs Committee, which addresses crucial statewide issues impacting all Texans.

Texas Monthly magazine has three times named Duncan one of the state’s 10 best legislators and has also listed him as a “Texas Super Lawyer” for his professional reputation in the private sector.

Duncan holds a bachelor’s degree from Texas Tech and his law degree from the Texas Tech School of Law. He has two children, daughter Lindsey and son Matthew.

Kent Hance – Honorary Alumnus

Higher education was Hance’s way off the family farm. Now he oversees the education of thousands of students as chancellor of the Texas Tech University System (TTUS) and played a significant role in ASU’s transition into the TTUS.

After starting out practicing law and teaching business law at Texas Tech, where he was named an outstanding professor, Hance entered the political arena in 1974 when he was elected to the Texas Senate. Four years later, he defeated George W. Bush to earn a seat in the U.S. Congress, where he authored and won passage of President Reagan’s 1981 tax bill that provided the largest tax cut in the nation’s history. He then returned to private law practice in 1990.

Hance has also served on the West Texas State University Board of Regents, the Texas Railroad Commission and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and has been TTUS chancellor since December 2006.

He holds a bachelor’s degree from Texas Tech and his law degree from the University of Texas. He and his wife, Susie, have five children and seven grandchildren.

Dr. Michael Patyrak – Distinguished Carr Alumnus

A San Angelo native, Patyrak earned his bachelor’s degree in biology from ASU with the aid of a Carr Academic Scholarship. He graduated in spring 2002 as the ASU Presidential Award recipient as the top graduate in his class. During his time at ASU, he also received the Dr. Merrill Everhart Science Scholarship and the Welch Research Scholarship. He delivered the commencement addresses at ASU’s fall 2006 graduation ceremonies.

Currently a radiology resident at UT Southwestern/Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, Patyrak earned his M.D. from the University of Texas Health Science Center in 2006, again graduating as the top student in his class. His other medical school honors included the Wallace C. McNutt Award as the top student in gross anatomy and embryology and the Kline Award as the top student in medical pathology. He was also inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society.

Patyrak met his wife, Shae, while both were students at ASU.

Col. Ernie Felts – Distinguished ROTC Alumnus

After graduating from ASU in 1976, Felts spent 30 distinguished years in the U.S. Air Force as a missile launch officer, command pilot and squadron, group and vice wing commander, receiving some of the Air Force’s highest honors along the way. His honors include the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, Combat Readiness and National Defense Service medals, and the NATO Medal.

In 2002, Felts returned to command the ASU ROTC program for two years, then took his final assignment as commander of Air Force ROTC’s Northwest Region based at the U.S. Air Force Academy until retiring in 2007. He also held command positions at bases in Japan, North Carolina, Nebraska, Kansas, Mississippi, Texas and England. While stationed in England, his 351st Air Refueling Squadron supported operations over Iraq and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Now retired in San Angelo, Felts and his wife, Sharon, have twin sons, William and Travis.

Carrol Payne Nokes – Golden Ex of the Year

Nokes attended San Angelo College from 1960-62. Her campus activities included the Press Club, Women’s Recreation Association Club, College Theatre Club, Rodeo Club and the Ramettes drill team. She was also features editor for the Ram Page student newspaper and the Rambouillet yearbook. Her SAC honors included Mistletoe Ball Queen, Concho Aggie Sweetheart and 1962 Homecoming Queen. Also in 1962, she was part of a student group that guided members of the 57th Texas Legislature on a campus tour as they considered changing SAC to a four-year institution.

After two years at SAC, Nokes earned her bachelor’s degree from Texas Christian University and became a teacher. She spent 30 years teaching and coaching in the Arlington Independent School District until her retirement in 1999.

She and her husband, James, have four children and seven grandchildren.

Dr. C. Varren Parker Jr. – Outstanding Retired Faculty

During his 35 years at ASU, Parker was instrumental in growing and developing the Department of Physics to its current status as one of the top undergraduate programs in the country. In particular, he helped establish courses in digital electronics and mathematical physics to help give physics majors additional job opportunities after graduation.

An ASU faculty member from 1966-2004, Parker received a Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award from the Alumni Association in 1999. Upon his retirement, he was named ASU Distinguished Professor of Physics Emeritus by the university’s Board of Regents.

Parker holds a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Texas and bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Sam Houston State University. He and his wife, Doris, have two sons, John and Kevin, and six grandchildren.

Dr. Mary Ellen Hartje – College of Liberal and Fine Arts

Hartje has been a member of the ASU English Department since 1988 and also spent two years on the English faculty in the 1970s. In addition to teaching several literature courses, she is the general editor of ASU’s Concho River Review literary journal and the director of the annual ASU Writers Conference.

Hartje holds a master’s degree from Angelo State and a Ph.D. from Baylor University. She also taught previously at Miles and Lake View high schools.

Dr. Gil Engdahl – College of Sciences

Engdahl has been a faculty member in the ASU Agriculture Department since 1976 and the department head since 1997. His primary teaching duties include animal nutrition and sheep and goat science. He is also active with the highly successful ASU Wool Judging Team, previously coached the Livestock Judging Team and helped start the Block and Bridle student group in 1977.

Engdahl earned his bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and Ph.D. from Texas A&M University. His research interests include ruminant nutrition, sheep and goat production, and wool and mohair.

Dr. Tom Bankston – College of Business

Bankston joined the ASU faculty in 1974 after working three years as an economist for Phillips Petroleum. He has been head of the Accounting, Economics and Finance Department since 2003 and served as interim dean of the College of Sciences from 2006-07.

Bankston earned his B.B.A. and M.B.A. from the University of Texas and his Ph.D. from the University of Florida. He has taken nearly 200 ASU students on study abroad trips to Europe and Russia.

Dr. Susan Keith – College of Education

Keith has been a member of the ASU Kinesiology Department since 1997 and has more than 20 years in higher education. She teaches a variety of kinesiology courses and serves as the Texas Examination of Educator Standards (TExES) coordinator for the College of Education.

Keith holds bachelor’s degrees from Southwestern Oklahoma State and Central Oklahoma, a master’s degree from Baylor and a Ph.D. from Texas Woman’s University. She also serves as a reviewer for the American Journal of Health Education, Applied Research in Coaching and Athletics Annual and American Indian Culture and Research Journal.