AUSTIN, Texas — The College of Liberal Arts is proud to announce the five recipients of the 2011 Pro Bene Meritis award. College of Liberal Arts alumni Martin Dies III, Austin Ligon and Carolyn and Peyton Townsend, and retired history professor G. Howard Miller, were chosen for their outstanding service to the College of Liberal Arts. This year's recipients will be honored at an awards ceremony on Thursday, April 28 at the San Jacinto Residence Hall Multi-Purpose Room.
Martin Dies III (B.A. Government, ‘71) is a partner at Dies & Hile, L.L.P, a law firm in Austin. He serves as chair of the College of Liberal Arts Building Steering Committee and the College of Liberal Arts Development Council. An active member of The University of Texas at Austin community, Dies serves as member of the Texas Exes Forty Acre Scholarship Committee, the University of Texas Development Board and the Littlefield Society.
Austin Ligon (B.A. Plan II Honors/Economics/Government, ‘73) (M.A. Economics, ‘78) is the founder and former CEO of Carmax, the nation’s largest retailer of used cars. In 2007 he and his wife Samornmitr "Pan" Lamsam donated $1 million to the Plan II Honors Program. The donation, one of the largest single gifts to the nationally recognized program, helped more than 500 Plan II students study abroad. In 2010 Ligon and his wife committed a $200,000 grant to the Plan II Honors Program, challenging other alumni to give. His principal aim is to encourage many contributions of varying amounts, which, together with his new gift, will have an impact on the lives and academic careers of Plan II students.
G. Howard Miller taught popular courses on American religious history in the Department of History for more than 30 years before retiring earlier this year. His vision helped shape the Department of Religious Studies. He created one of his most innovative classes, "Jesus in American Culture" — a multimedia course he started in 2005. Miller won most of the university-wide and College of Liberal Arts teaching awards, including the largest undergraduate teaching award at the school, the Friar Centennial Teaching Fellowship.
Carolyn Townsend (B.A. English, ‘66) is a civic volunteer and academic language therapist. A dedicated supporter of the College of Liberal Arts, she serves as Chair of the Liberal Arts Advisory Council. She also serves on several committees including the Department of History Visiting Committee and the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Study of Core Text and Ideas Visiting Committee.
Peyton Townsend (B.A. History, ‘62) is Vice President and Investment Officer at RBC Dain Rauscher, an investment banking and brokerage firm. A longtime member of The University of Texas at Austin community, Townsend serves on the University of Texas Development Board, the Liberal Arts Advisory Council and the McCombs School of Business Advisory Council.
The Pro Bene Meritis awards were first granted in 1984 to honor individuals who are committed to the liberal arts, who have made outstanding contributions in professional or philanthropic pursuits and who have participated in service related to the College of Liberal Arts at The University of Texas at Austin. Visit the Life & Letters Web site to learn more about past recipients.