WT Salutes 4 Distinguished Alumni as Homecoming Week Continues

CANYON, Texas — Four extraordinary Buffs were honored Sept. 29 as Homecoming activities continued at West Texas A&M University.

Col. Steven McCraw, director of Texas Department of Public Safety; Val and Pat White of Wellington; and Betty Solis of Amarillo were honored as recipients of West Texas A&M University’s 2022 Distinguished Alumni Awards during the Phoenix event.

“Tonight, we take great pride in honoring the 2022 Distinguished Alumni for meritorious public service, for philanthropic and community leadership, and for educating children,” said Dr. Todd Rasberry, vice president for philanthropy and external relations. “Steven, Val and Pat, and Betty, you make each of us proud to be Buffaloes.”

All four distinguished alumni will lead the WT Homecoming Parade, set to begin at 1 p.m. Oct. 1 along Russell Long Boulevard on the Canyon campus. They also will be recognized at halftime when the WT Buffaloes take on University of Texas–Permian Basin in the Homecoming game at 7 p.m. in Bain-Schaeffer Buffalo Stadium.

The honorees were celebrated Sept. 29 by WT administrators, faculty and staff, plus their own families and friends, including former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and wife Anita Perry, a WT alum and longest-serving First Lady of Texas; and Maurice Cheeks, assistant coach of the Chicago Bulls, who graduated from WT in 1978.

McCraw, an El Paso native, earned his bachelor’s degree in political science in 1979 and a master’s degree in psychology and sociology in 1981.

Since 2009, he has served as director of the Texas DPS, where he began his career in law enforcement in 1977 in the Amarillo area. In 1983, he joined the FBI as a special agent, serving in Dallas, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Tucson, San Antonio and Washington, D.C. He retired from the FBI in 2004 to become the Texas Homeland Security director before being appointed as DPS director by former Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

Val White, who was raised in Houston, met future husband Pat White on the WT campus in the late 1970s. After graduating in 1981 and 1982, respectively, and marrying in 1981, the pair moved to Pat’s hometown of Wellington, and over the ensuing years, the duo, largely through their Zephyr Foundation, have revitalized the town. Their efforts have helped fund the Wellington Activity Center, the Ritz Theatre, the Wellington Aquatic Venue and various Wellington ISD and Collingsworth General Hospital projects, among others.

Solis, a native of Buenos Aires, Argentina, moved to the United States in 1954. She graduated from WT in 1959 and began her career in education as a first-grade teacher at Dwight Morrow Elementary School in Amarillo. She was the first bilingual teacher in Amarillo Independent School District, then earned a master’s of education degree in 1978. She worked her way up to principal of Glenwood Elementary School, where she retired in 2001 after 41 years working for the district. She is a committed volunteer who was instrumental in the formation of the Eveline Rivers Christmas Project, as well giving vital service to the Maverick Boys & Girls Club, Boy Scouts, Family Support Services and more. She was the Amarillo Globe-News Woman of the Year in 2002.

For a full schedule of Homecoming events, visit wtamu.edu/homecoming.

Accomplished alumni such as these help WT reach the goals of the University’s long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.

That plan is fueled by the historic, $125 million One West comprehensive fundraising campaign. To date, the five-year campaign — which publicly in September 2022 — has raised more than $110 million.