Texas Tech University

College of Arts & Sciences Honors 2020 and 2021 Distinguished Alumni

Glenys Young

April 22, 2021

Holden Hall

The awards ceremony also will recognize faculty excellence.

Texas Tech University's College of Arts & Sciences today (April 22) announced the official recipients of its 2020 and 2021 Distinguished Alumni awards. Together, the two classes comprise five alumni who have been nominated and selected by the College of Arts & Sciences for their outstanding contributions and significant achievements in their professional fields.

The ceremony is scheduled to be digitally released at 6 p.m. CDT April 29 on the college's website and its official YouTube channel. The production also will honor recent award-winning faculty members.

“The College of Arts & Sciences prides itself on educating a diverse, creative and solution-seeking student body,” said Michael San Francisco, interim dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. “This cohort of outstanding alumni and faculty are being recognized for their tremendous achievements in a vast array of fields and disciplines. They not only are making the world a better place, but they are inspiring the next generation of students to do the same. We are proud they call the College of Arts & Sciences at Texas Tech home and look forward to the contributions they continue to make.”

The Arts & Sciences Distinguished Alumni Ceremony annually recognizes alumni who embody the innovative spirit and creative ambition of the college, and whose careers have honored the standard of excellence of Texas Tech. A total of 19 distinguished alumni have been recognized by the College of Arts & Sciences since 2016.

As part of the digital ceremony, distinguished faculty members also will be recognized, including:

2020 & 2021 Texas Tech College of Arts & Sciences Distinguished Alumni

  • Monica Marquez (1997, 2001)
    Monica Marquez
    Monica Marquez

    Monica Marquez earned her bachelor's degree in biology in 1997. She went on to earn a master's degree in higher education from Texas Tech in 2001. Today, she is the co-founder and chief innovation officer for Beyond Barriers, a global digital platform that accelerates success for women with executive coaching, high-performance training and peer-advisory cohorts. Prior to founding Beyond Barriers, she worked in management and executive roles at some of the world's largest organizations, including Goldman Sachs, Ernst & Young, Google and Bank of America.

    During her eight years at Goldman Sachs, Marquez was central in creating, developing and implementing the New Directions and Returnship programs, which focus on the firm's initiatives for individuals re-entering the workforce. Today, she is active in a variety of diversity-focused nonprofit organizations and currently serves on the Corporate Advisory Board for Hispanic Scholarship Fund, Texas Tech's University Career Center Advisory Board and the NAFOA (formerly the Native American Finance Officers Association) Education Advisory Board.

  • Lindy Cook Severns (1972)
    Lindy Cook Severns
    Lindy Cook Severns

    Lindy Cook Severns earned a dual degree in English and biology in 1972. Today, she is a preeminent Southwest landscape painter, who has showcased work across the globe. Severns is the artist-in-residence at the Old Spanish Gallery and Museum, an upscale space on a heritage Davis Mountains ranch near Fort Davis, where she and her husband, Jim, reside. Her unique painting style captures an affinity for the dramatic skies and infinite horizons of the high desert of Far West Texas and Big Bend country.

    Severns' creative spirit is born out of a lifetime spent across the diverse Texas landscape and her own heritage as a seventh-generation Texan. Throughout her career, Severns' work has been published and showcased across myriad prominent locations and galleries. In 2016, she was the featured artist on “Western Perspective,” a national PBS documentary featuring creatives. Her work also was published in “Texas Traditions, Contemporary Artists of the Lone Star State,” a definitive collection of 35 artists.

  • James Bull (1970)
    James Bull
    James Bull

    James Bull is a 1970 graduate with a bachelor's degree in zoology. He went on to earn his doctorate from the University of Utah and completed post-doctoral work at the University of Wisconsin and University of Sussex. Today, he is a renowned evolutionary biologist and professor of biology at the University of Idaho. Additionally, he has served as the Johann Friedrich Miescher Regents Professor in Molecular Biology at the University of Texas at Austin.

    Bull is widely recognized for his work on evolution of sex determination and viral evolution. In 2016, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the country's most prestigious scientific organization and one of the highest honors that can be accorded to a scientist or engineer in the U.S. During his career, Bull has served on the Science board of reviewing editors for 13 years, chaired the National Institutes of Health's Genetic Variation and Evolution Study Section for two years and is a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. He has authored more than 180 journal articles, one book and has more than 25,000 citations.

  • Dr. Bob Salem (1950)  
    A native of Sudan, Texas, Dr. Bob Salem completed his bachelor's degree in chemistry in 1950, before graduating from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. He was drafted during the Korean conflict and commissioned as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force Medical Corps assigned to Fitzsimons Army Hospital in Denver. There, he was part of the medical team that attended to then-President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

    Dr. Bob Salem
    Dr. Bob Salem
    Dr. Salem went on to complete his residency in cardiovascular surgery at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, under the tutelage of pioneering surgeon Dr. Michael DeBakey. He returned to West Texas where he opened a general and vascular surgery practice in Lubbock and became a pioneer in the region. Dr. Salem and his practice performed the first open-heart surgery in West Texas in 1970 and have performed more than 30,000 total surgeries in Lubbock.

    He was vital in establishing the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC), when it was purely a School of Medicine, and was the first professor and chairman of the Department of Surgery. Dr. Salem currently serves as Chief Medical Officer Emeritus of Covenant Health System in Lubbock and clinical professor of surgery at TTUHSC.

  • Rick Merrill (1992)
    Rick Merrill
    Rick Merrill
    Rick Merrill is a 1992 graduate, earning his bachelor's degree in biology. He went on to complete a Master of Science degree in health care administration from Trinity University in San Antonio.

    Today, Merrill is the president and CEO of Cook Children's Health Care System in Dallas/Fort Worth – a role he has held since accepting the appointment in 2007. Under his watch, Cook Children's Medical Center has nearly doubled the size of its campus to meet evolving needs for its cutting-edge services. He also has ushered in a new era of health care by streamlining the organization's mission and vision into a “promise to improve the health of every child in the region through the prevention and treatment of illness, disease and injury.” This promise has bolstered Cook Children's reputation as a national health care leader and one of the top companies to work for.

    His nearly 30-year career has spanned leadership roles in academic and university-based health care systems across the state of Texas. He is actively serving on numerous national, state and community advisory boards including Children's Hospital Association, Children's Miracle Network Hospitals and, most recently, as chair of the Children's Hospital Association of Texas.