Alumni Awards

Each year, Hardin-Simmons honors our alumni and former students. Awards are given for outstanding achievements in either their careers, their community, or their dedication to HSU. If you know of an alum who meets the criteria for one of our awards, please click here to nominate them. Our award categories are:

The Alumni Service Award is the highest alumni honor HSU can bestow. It has been presented since 1943 to former student(s) who has contributed the most in his or her field of endeavor toward the betterment of HSU, or who has rendered the greatest service to the University. Awards are selected by a committee whose members are established by a campus leadership role.

This award, given since 1970, is presented to alumni whose personal and professional accomplishments are exemplary of the ideals and aims of the University and thus bring honor to HSU. Awards are selected by a committee whose members are established by a campus leadership role.

Recipients of the Outstanding Young Alumni Award have achieved a significant level of distinction within their chosen field or have brought extraordinary benefit to the world. They reflect the quality and caliber of today’s HSU students and alumni. At the time of their selection, recipients have graduated from Hardin-Simmons not more than 20 years prior and are not over the age of 45.

The Athletics Hall of Fame honors former athletes and coaches who made a significant contribution to HSU and the athletics program. They are selected at least 10 years after completing their HSU playing career (after five years for coaches), by a committee including current and former HSU athletes from various sports.

2023 Alumni Award Recipients

John J. Keeter, Jr. Alumni Service Award

Filemon Ortiz, Jr., ’66

Filemon Ortiz, graduated from Hardin-Simmons University in 1966 with a BS in Spanish and History. He obtained his law degree from the Thurgood Marshall School of Law in 1974. In Del Rio, Texas, he has worked in private practice, served as city attorney and municipal judge, and was county attorney for Val Verde County. He currently practices law with the Ortiz & Ortiz law firm.

He is a founding member and director of Del Rio’s Amistad Rookie Baseball League, the Asociación de Ayuda Comunitaria, and the Association of Christian Men of Del Rio, and consults as an attorney for the Mexican Consulate in Del Rio.

While at HSU, Filemon was a member of the Los Rancheros Spanish Club and worked with area Hispanic church youth. He was an HSU trustee from 2014-2022 and he now serves on the Board of Development.

Filemon has been married to Maria Elina for 54 years. They have three children and six grandchildren.

Distinguished Alumni Award

Dr. Corbett Boone ’00

Corbett Boone attended Hardin-Simmons, graduating in 2000 with a BS in Biology and a minor in Chemistry and Leadership. In 2005, he earned his Doctor of Medicine from the University of Texas Medical School, then completed residency and a fellowship at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler. He has been a Primary Care Sports Medicine Physician at Southwest Sports Medicine & Orthopaedics in Waco since 2009.

In high school, Corbett became an Eagle Scout. While at HSU, he lettered in football all four years, helped his team win three Conference championships and served as captain his senior year. He was president of the sophomore, junior and senior classes, the student body, Tau Alpha Phi and Beta Beta Beta. In recent years, he has served on the HSU Alumni Association Board of Directors.

Corbett and his wife, Stephanie, have three children.

Candy (Thweatt) Noble ’83

Candy Noble graduated from HSU in 1983 with a BBS in Education. After years as a homemaker, in 2018, she ran for and won election to Texas House District 89. Now in her third term, Representative Noble is a strong voice for conservative causes and serves on the important House Ways and Means and Human Services committees.

As an HSU student, Candy was active in Student Congress and Tri Phi Social Club, served as President of the Cowboy Activities Committee, and was named to Who’s Who. Since graduation, she has served on the HSU Board of Development and Board of Young Associates and is currently a member of the school’s Board of Trustees.

Candy hails from a family with strong HSU ties: her father, five brothers, two daughters, and a son-in-law graduated from the school.

Married to Robert for 40 years, Candy is mom to three daughters and nine grandchildren.

Dr. Garland “Brent” Wallace ’98

Brent Wallace graduated from Hardin-Simmons University in 1998 with a BBA in Marketing. He has since earned a Master of Arts in Human Communication and a Graduate Certificate in Conflict Resolution and Mediation from Abilene Christian University and a Doctor of Philosophy in Higher Education Administration from Texas Tech University.

Since 2014, Brent has served as the 11th President and first Chancellor of the North Central Texas College District, after holding the role of Vice President of Instruction and Chief Academic Officer. Earlier positions in higher education included Dean of Instruction and Chair of the Business Management Division at Cisco College.

Brent is currently the secretary/treasurer of the Texas Association of Community Colleges and chairs the Community and Technical Colleges Joint Formula Funding Advisory Committee. In his community, he serves on various local boards, is a Deacon and pianist at his church, and speaks at state and national higher education conferences.

2023 Outstanding Young Alumni Award

James Jesse ’04

James Jesse attended Hardin-Simmons University, graduating in 2004 with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Philosophy. As a person whose family experienced generational poverty, James found freedom and opportunity through his HSU education. Since graduation, he has devoted his life to helping others in the same way.

James joined the staff of Tarrant County College in 2008 as assistant coordinator of student support services. Two years later, he became assistant director of the college’s TRIO student support program, helping students who had financial challenges or disabilities obtain college degrees.

In 2010, James co-founded Opportunity Resources Services (ORS), an educational nonprofit facilitating higher education opportunities for first-generation and low-income youth. He established 501(c)3 status, developed a strategic plan, recruited board members, and wrote funding grants. He also led the development of the ORS core values and pillars of growth.

In 2019, James became vice president of ORS programs, leading a team serving thousands of low-income youth and adults while also establishing numerous connections with community leaders. He oversaw seven ORS programs in all, ensuring each achieved objectives and met performance measures.

During his career, James has established nine college access programs for low-income youth and adults and developed partnerships with 15 school districts and over 100 nonprofit organizations and businesses. He has raised $28 million in federal grant funds, hired employees focusing on equity and inclusion and managed annual budgets of more than two million dollars.

James helped lead ORS for almost a decade but now new challenges beckon. A master’s candidate at Louisiana State University, James will graduate in August with a Master of Arts in Nonprofit Leadership.

James has received the Best of the Best award from the Johnson County Cleburne Times Review and the Community Excellence Award from the East Cleburne Community Center. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board also nominated him for a STAR Award.

In all his efforts, James works with the passion of one who has been in the place of those he serves. He credits his experiences at HSU for setting him on that path of service, noting that the faith his HSU professors had in him inspired him to believe in himself and deepened his faith in God.

He also notes that the presidential scholarship he received at Hardin-Simmons offered him a way to access a college education, break out of poverty and change not only his future but his family’s. He has used the skills he learned at HSU to help many other low-income students and is grateful every day for the opportunity to do so.

James lives in Burleson, Texas with his wife Mary, a 2003 HSU graduate, and their three children.

Allison (Causey) Kendrick ’14

Allison (Causey) Kendrick graduated from HSU in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications. She has since built a successful career working with community and state entities to promote tourism and economic growth in Texas. She is currently the executive director of the Texas Plains Trail Region, an award-winning Texas Historical Commission program.

While at HSU, Allison served almost two years as communications assistant to Dr. Tim Chandler in the HSU Communications Department, designing and implementing multiple advertising and social media campaigns.

She can trace her interest in the tourism industry to her student days at HSU, when she completed a project about the Charles Goodnight House for Dr. Chandler’s advertising class and, in 2012, accepted a job with the Abilene-based Texas Forts Trail Region. Allison became head of communications for the agency, which HSU graduate Margaret Hoogstra directed. Allison coordinated the organization’s social media, website, marketing, and regional tourism efforts and worked state-wide travel and trade shows.

After graduating from HSU, Allison joined the Abilene Convention and Visitors Bureau in 2015 as technology marketing manager. She coordinated the agency’s technology and workflow, overseeing their website and computer programs and creating bid proposals for groups and conventions.

In 2019, Allison moved to Lubbock when she accepted the job of Texas Plains Trail Region executive director. There she is responsible for promoting heritage tourism and economic development throughout 52 counties of West Texas.

When Allison began her job with the Texas Plains Trail, her path came full circle. The Charles and Mary Ann Goodnight Ranch, which she had carefully researched as a student years before, was debuting as Texas’ newest state historic site. The site was in Allison’s region and administered by Allison’s employer, the Texas Historical Commission. It was clear to Allison that God had set a plan into motion many years before. The connections she made in college through Dr. Chandler and the Forts Trail helped her step smoothly into her new role and build relationships within the West Texas region she serves.

Allison holds several professional certifications, including Texas Destination Marketer and Basic Public Information Officer certifications, as well as certifications from FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute Community Preparedness. She is hospitality certified by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension and a Certified Tourism Executive of the Texas Travel Industry.

Outside of the office, Allison has been active in several organizations, serving on the boards of the Texas Forts Trail, the Abilene Downtown Association, Meals on Wheels, and the Swenson House Historical Society. She is a graduate of Leadership Abilene.

While at HSU, Allison was a member of HSU Sweethearts. She served on the Alumni Association Board of Directors from 2019-2021.

Allison lives in Lubbock, Texas, with her husband Koby, a 2012 HSU graduate.

Jenny (Bell) Van Dorf ’07

Jenny (Bell) Van Dorf studied Public Relations and Advertising at Hardin-Simmons, graduating in 2007 with a Bachelor of Behavioral Science degree. She currently serves as director of marketing and communication for Del Sol Food Company, the manufacturer of BRIANNAS Fine Salad Dressing, the number one premium salad dressing distributed worldwide.

After graduating from HSU, Jenny joined Blue Bell Creameries, one of North America’s largest ice cream companies, serving as public relations market specialist until 2016, when she became public relations manager. During a period of rapid expansion, Jenny oversaw the company’s promotion, product releases and market development as Blue Bell entered new markets and opened dozens of additional facilities. Jenny managed strategic communication and developed an extensive sales training program for thousands of employees. She planned and developed photo shoots, training and tourism videos, and worked with multiple external PR firms. During a widely reported consumer crisis, Jenny guided public relations, served as spokesperson and managed internal and external communication. Blue Bell saw a return to success following the challenging time.

In 2020 Jenny moved to join Del Sol Food Company, overseeing all BRIANNAS advertising and promotional campaigns, communication strategies and new product development and introduction. She has launched the company’s award-winning first advertising campaign, managed a successful and award-winning rebranding of company packaging, and overseen an expansion of product offerings into additional lines, including marinades and croutons.

In addition to her professional accomplishments, Jenny regularly lends her experience and abilities to numerous charities and nonprofits. She has been a board member for the Texas Arts and Music Festival since 2015, helping develop the 2016 inaugural event, which over 4,000 people attended. A volunteer with the Washington County Chamber of Commerce, Jenny became the youngest-ever serving board member when she began a three-year tenure in 2015. She is also a graduate of Leadership Washington County.

While a student at HSU, Jenny was active in student government, serving as a sophomore representative-at-large, junior class president and senior class president. She organized the senior class gift fundraising, managed PR for Western Heritage Day and was publicity chair for HSU student life, promoting events, organizing volunteers and coordinating student activities on campus.

As an HSU Leadership Studies Program member, Jenny coordinated a Tri-Collegiate community celebration and acted as the HSU host/hostess program director, working directly with the university president. She also served as a team leader for a Students in Free Enterprise National Competition presentation and the American Advertising Federation National Student Advertising Competition. She was a member of Freshco, a leadership organization with Baptist Student Ministries.

From 2008 to 2014, Jenny served on the Hardin-Simmons Board of Young Associates.

Jenny lives in Brenham, Texas, with her husband Phil, a 2006 HSU graduate.

HSU Athletics Hall of Fame Inductees

Click through to see the most recent Hall of Fame inductees.