Contact: Jenni Smith or Ellen Sterner
SMU News & Media Relations
(214) 768-7650


September 26, 2001


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DALLAS (SMU) -- Southern Methodist University will honor four alumni with its 2001 Distinguished Alumni Awards for the distinction they have brought to the university through their professional endeavors and community service: billboard advertising businessman George T. Reynolds III, geologist and Sugar-Buster’s Diet author H. Leighton Steward, actress and playwright Regina Taylor, and pharmaceuticals executive Myra Nicol Williams.

The SMU Distinguished Alumni Award represents the highest honor the university can bestow upon alumni of the institution. Recipients are recommended by a committee of alumni and are approved by the SMU Alumni Association Board of Directors.

The honorees will be recognized at a formal presentation and dinner at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 25, in the Grand Ballroom at the Wyndham Anatole Hotel, 2201 Stemmons Frwy. Tickets for the event are $125 per person. For reservations call Mindy Rowland at (214) 768-2586 or send e-mail to VISA/Mastercard are accepted.


George T. Reynolds III of Dallas earned a business degree from SMU in 1957 and served three years in the military before founding his own billboard advertising company. In 1976, he founded Reynolds Outdoor Advertising, which grew to an inventory of more than 330 billboard faces by the time he sold its assets in 1997 to Phoenix-based Outdoor Systems, the largest billboard company in the United States. In 1997, he also sold Reynolds Indoor Advertising to his son, Tommy, who renamed the company Reynolds Signs, producing signs for sports venues and retail businesses throughout the country.

George Reynolds currently manages real estate assets and buying and selling billboards as owner and manager of Reynolds Outdoor L.P. and Reynolds Texas Properties, L.C.

His civic contributions include negotiations with the City of Dallas on behalf of the billboard advertising industry to amend the city’s sign ordinances and to develop an interlocal agreement with the city and D.A.R.T. He is the immediate past president of the Outdoor Advertising Association of Texas and represented the industry in legislative matters at the local and state level.

A board member of the Salesmanship Club of Dallas, Reynolds also is past chairman of the Salesmanship Club’s major fundraiser, the Verizon Byron Nelson Classic golf tournament. Reynolds is a member of the SMU Athletic Forum board of directors, a past chairman of the GTE-SMU Athletic Forum and co-founder of the Doak Walker Running Back Award. He is chairman of the Payne Stewart Cup, which supports the Payne Stewart endowment and the SMU golf program. He is a member of several boards including the Mustang Club, Southwestern Bell Cotton Bowl Classic, Highland Park ISD Education Foundation, Lone Star Bank and SMU Athletic Advisory Committee, and serves as chairman of the Highland Park Community League.

He is a past member of the Edwin L. Cox School of Business associate board, the SMU Alumni Association board of directors and the boards of Grand Bank, NorthPark Bank and the Park Cities YMCA.


Geologist, energy company executive and environmentalist Leighton Steward is best known as the author of the 1995 best-selling nutrition and health book, Sugar Busters! Cut Sugar to Trim Fat. Based on French-Mediterranean diets, the book was a New York Times best seller for more than 80 weeks, selling more than two million copies. A companion cookbook, “Sugar Busters Quick and Easy Cookbook” is also a best seller.

Steward earned both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in geology at SMU in the late 1950s. After 16 years with Shell Oil Company, Steward was later named chief executive officer of Louisiana Land and Exploration Company, Louisiana’s oldest and largest independent energy company. In 1997 when LL&E merged with Burlington Resources Inc., Steward became vice chairman of the board and chairman of the executive committee of Burlington, which became the second largest independent oil and gas company in the United States. Steward represented independent oil and gas producers of the United States on his first presidential mission to the former Soviet Union in 1990, with trips to Pakistan and Turkey following.

Steward called national attention to coastal erosion and America’s wetlands when he wrote Louisiana’s National Treasure, a book about the deterioration of the lower Mississippi River wetland system. His environmental work has won him many awards including the Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Excellence Award. This fall he is receiving the American Petroleum Institute’s Gold Medal Award and the 2001 Champion of Public Health Award from Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

Steward led a National Petroleum Council study on the nation’s future natural gas supply in 2000 and recommended steps necessary to ensure its long-term adequacy of supply.

He is chairman of the board of SMU’s Institute for the Study of Earth and Man and is a member of the Dedman College Executive Board.


Actress, playwright and director Regina Taylor is best known for her portrayal of Lilly Harper in the television drama series, “I’ll Fly Away,” for which she won a Golden Globe Award for Best Leading Dramatic Actress, an NAACP Image Award and an Emmy nomination.

This fall, Taylor is in a new CBS drama, “The Education of Max Bickford,” starring Richard Dreyfus as a college history professor at an all-women’s college. Taylor plays Judith Hackett Bryant, the college president.

A 1981 SMU theatre graduate, Taylor launched her acting career in the CBS television movie, “Crisis at Central High,” starring Joanne Woodward. Her portrayal of Anita Hill in the 1999 Showtime original movie “Strange Justice” earned the Women in Film Gracie Allen Award. The docudrama, which chronicles the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas sexual harassment trial, won a 1999 Peabody Award for excellence in television.

Last year she starred as Cora in the premiere of PBS’s ExxonMobil Masterpiece Theatre American Collection, “Cora Unashamed” based on a short story by Langston Hughes. She had a lead role in the 1989 NBC movie “Making The Case for Murder: the Howard Beach Story” and starred in “Children of the Dust,” opposite Sidney Poitier, in 1995. Other television credits include the NBC series “Law and Order” and the CBS series “FEDS.”

Her film credits include “The Negotiator” with Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey, and “Courage Under Fire” with Denzel Washington and Meg Ryan. Taylor was the first black woman to play Juliet in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet on Broadway.

As a playwright, Taylor recently won the American Critics’ Association new play award for “Oo-Bla-Dee,” a story of black female jazz musicians in the 1940s. Her other writing projects include plays such as “A Night in Tunisia,” “Escape from Paradise,” “Watermelon Rinds,” “Inside the Belly of the Beast,” “Mudtracks,” “Between the Lines” and “Behind Every Good Man.”

An artistic associate at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre, Taylor collaborated and appeared in 2000 in “Millennium Mambo,” a collection of works from several acclaimed African-American female writers. Alice Walker, the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “The Color Purple,” requested Taylor to translate the book to script for theatrical musical adaptation.


Pharmaceuticals executive and consultant Dr. Myra Nicol Williams has spent 30 years working at major pharmaceutical and bioinformatics companies in the United States and abroad. Williams earned a bachelor’s degree in physics and mathematics from SMU in 1964 and a doctorate in molecular biophysics from Yale University in 1968.

Interested in the use of computing in research and in the power of data-mining techniques to generate scientific insight, Williams led the development of software in the 1980s that supported the collaboration of Merck's international project teams and enabled the use of computational approaches to accelerate drug discovery.

She left Merck in 1992 to become vice president of research and development information technology at Glaxo Inc. in North Carolina. Six months later, she became Chief Information Officer of Glaxo Inc. When the company merged with Burroughs-Wellcome in 1995, she moved to London to become vice president for Glaxo Wellcome's worldwide information services and information technology in research and development.

She became president and CEO of Molecular Applications Group, an emerging bioinformatics company in Palo Alto, California in 1997. Until her retirement in 1999, she built the scientific program and refocused the company's efforts to emphasize computer-aided gene and protein function prediction.

Williams now works with several venture capital groups; serves on the board of directors and the scientific advisory board for a number of small companies; consults with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies; is an elected member of the Princeton Regional Schools’ Board of Education, and is a member of the SMU School of Engineering Executive Board. She is a past member of SMU’s Dedman College Executive Board.

Past DAA recipients include First Lady Laura Bush, Hollywood television producer Aaron Spelling, former Texas governor William P. Clements Jr., PGA golf champion Payne Stewart, former U.S. Senator John G. Tower and Heisman Trophy winner Doak Walker.

Southern Methodist University is a private, comprehensive university of more than 10,000 students located in Dallas, Texas, offering undergraduate degree programs in humanities and sciences, the arts, business, engineering and applied science, and graduate programs in these as well as theology and law.