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February 26, 2002


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DALLAS (SMU) -- Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law will honor nine individuals at its annual Distinguished Alumni Awards dinner at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 2, in the Beverly Ballroom of the Park Cities Hilton.

Each year the law school recognizes graduates who have distinguished themselves in their professional achievements, philanthropy, public service or by rendering outstanding service to the Dedman School of Law. The following are the recipients of the 2001-2002 Distinguished Alumni Awards:

Erle A. Nye ('65) will receive the Robert G. Storey Award for Distinguished Achievement. Nye is chairman of the board and CEO of TXU Corp. and its principal subsidiaries, TXU Energy, Oncor Electric Delivery, TXU Gas, TXU Australia and TXU Europe. A registered professional engineer, Nye is recognized as a national expert on energy, electrical and nuclear power, and deregulation. He serves on the boards of the Electric Power Research Institute, the Edison Electric Institute and served on President Clinton's advisory committee to the Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection and on the U.S. Department of Energy's Electric System Reliability Task Force.

Nye is chairman of the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents and sits on the executive boards of the SMU Edwin L. Cox School of Business and the Dedman School of Law. In Dallas, he serves on the board of The Dallas Foundation, Dallas Citizens Council, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, The State Fair of Texas, The Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show, and the North Texas Public Broadcasting. Nye has received many honors and awards, including the 1999 Humanitarian of the Year by the American Jewish Committee and the 1998 Distinguished Citizen Award from the Longhorn Council of Boy Scouts of America. Nye holds a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from Texas A&M University.

John T. Sharpe ('60) will receive the Charles O. Galvin Award for Service to the Dedman School of Law. A year after graduation from law school, Sharpe became general counsel for a Dallas insurance company and then helped form and served as executive vice president of a Fort Worth-based insurer in 1964. In 1966, he founded the predecessor company to Transport Life Insurance Company. In 1982, Transport was sold to the American Can Company and Sharpe remained as CEO of it and president of American Can's financial services subsidiary until 1984, when he formed a life insurance consulting firm. This firm in turn was sold to Commercial Credit Company in 1988. Sharpe remained associated with Commercial Credit and its successor companies, Primerica Corporation, Travelers Group, Inc. and their affiliates, in various executive capacities until he went into semi-retirement in 2000. He then joined with an investor group as vice chairman in the purchase of the Southwestern Life Insurance Company in Dallas. Upon the sale of Southwestern a year later in 2001, Sharpe became the interim CEO and vice chairman of Saxon Publishing Company, a textbook publisher in Norman, Oklahoma.

Sharpe has served on many industry committees and boards. He was president of the Texas Legal Reserve Officials Association and was appointed by the State Board of Insurance as a member of the Texas Insurance Guaranty Association. He has been involved with a number of philanthropic and religious organizations, having served on the board of the Community Foundation of North Texas, the national board of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the vestry of Saint Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Dallas. Sharpe also has served on the board of The Willis M. Tate Distinguished Lecture Series at SMU. He has supported the law school through his scholarship endowment and has served on the SMU Dedman School of Law Executive Board. He also taught an insurance law course SMU in 1999 and 2000. Sharpe received his bachelor of business administration degree from SMU.

Deborah G. Hankinson ('83) will receive the Distinguished Alumni Award for Judicial Service. Justice Hankinson was appointed to the Texas Supreme Court by former Gov. George W. Bush in 1997 and elected to the court in November 1998. She serves as the court's liaison to the Board of Law Examiners, the Texas Equal Access to Justice Foundation, and the Gender Fairness Implementation Committee. She also serves on the boards of the Texas Center for the Judiciary and the National Association of Women Judges. Justice Hankinson is a fellow of the American, Texas and Dallas Bar Associations and is a member of the American Law Institute. She is board certified in civil appellate law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

Justice Hankinson led the effort to establish the Texas Access to Justice Commission, and serves as its vice-chair. The commission serves as an umbrella organization to develop and implement policy initiatives to expand access to and enhance the quality of justice in civil legal matters for low-income Texas residents. In June 2001, she received a Presidential Citation from the State Bar of Texas for effective leadership in coordinating the effort to provide civil legal services to the poor in Texas. In 1999, the Texas Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates honored her as Texas Judge of the Year for her outstanding service and dedication to preserving the right of civil trial by jury for the citizens of the State of Texas.

Before earning her law degree, she was a special education teacher for seven years in the Plano Independent School District. She practiced civil trial and appellate law at Thompson & Knight, L.L.P. from 1983 to 1995 and then served as a justice on the Fifth District Court of Appeals in Dallas. Justice Hankinson earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Purdue University and a Master of Science degree from the University of Texas at Dallas.

George W. Bramblett Jr. ('66) will receive the Distinguished Alumni Award for Private Practice. Bramblett is a partner with Haynes and Boone, L.L.P. An experienced trial lawyer, Bramblett is a frequent author and lecturer on the topic of litigation and trial procedure. He is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, the American Board of Trial Advocates and the American and Dallas Bar Foundations. From 1994 to 1995, he served on the board of directors of the Dallas Bar Association.

Bramblett served on the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board from 1983 to 1991. He also is a trustee of the Baylor Oral Health Foundation, Southwestern Medical Foundation and the Dallas Zoological Society. He is a member of the board of directors of the GTE-SMU Athletic Forum and was president of the SMU Law School Alumni Association from 1988 to 1989. His civic involvement includes membership in the Dallas Citizens Council and the Salesmanship Club of Dallas. In 2001, the Dallas Bar Association named Bramblett "Trial Lawyer of the Year." Bramblett received a Bachelor of Arts degree in social science from SMU.

David B. Dillon ('76) will receive the Distinguished Alumni Award for Corporate Service. Dillon is president and chief operating officer of the national grocery store chain, The Kroger Co., in Cincinnati. In 1976, he joined the Dillon Companies at the King Soopers division in Denver. He transferred to the Fry's Food Store division of Dillon Companies in Phoenix in 1977. He served in various positions until 1983, when he became vice president of Dillon Companies in Hutchinson, Kansas. That same year, the company merged with The Kroger Co, and in 1990 he was named executive vice president of The Kroger Co. and elected president of the chain in 1995.

Dillon served as chairman of the board of trustees for Leadership Kansas, Leadership Hutchinson, and is a member of several other civic, educational and corporate boards: University of Kansas School of Business, KU Endowment Association, the University of Cincinnati School of Business, the Dan Beard Council of Boy Scouts of America, the Cosmosphere Foundation, the University of Cincinnati Foundation, the Urban League of Greater Cincinnati, the Convergys Corporation and Bethesda Inc. Dillon received a bachelor's degree in accounting and business administration from KU.

Shigeharu Negishi ('60) will receive the Distinguished Global Alumni Award. With the exception of a short stint as an attorney in private practice, Negishi has had a long public legal career in Japan. A graduate of the University of Tokyo Faculty of Law, Negishi began his career in 1953 in the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office. For the next 30 years he spent most of his career as a public prosecutor, taking one year off in 1959 to study for a Master of Laws degree in comparative and international law at SMU. Negishi has held several high-level positions in Japan's justice departments, including public prosecutor and deputy prosecutor-general for the Supreme Public Prosecutors Office, superintending prosecutor in the Tokyo High Public Prosecutors Office and deputy minister in the Ministry of Justice. In 1994, he was appointed a justice of the Japanese Supreme Court, a position he held until 1998 when he retired. Among his many honors, he was endowed by the Japanese Emperor in 2001 with the "Enlightened Treasure" Prize.

Earldean V.S. Robbins ('61) will receive the Distinguished Alumni Award for Government Service. Until her retirement in 1997, Robbins was the deputy chief administrative law judge in charge of the San Francisco office of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). This division is responsible for conducting hearings and issuing initial decisions in unfair labor practice cases arising under the National Labor Relations Act.

Robbins was the first African-American women to attend the law school. A course in labor law during her last semester inspired Robbins to pursue a career in labor law and since 1961, she has held several position with the NLRB, including attorney with the Digest Department and Division of Appeals in Washington, D.C.; field attorney, supervising attorney and trial specialist with the regional NLRB office in Los Angeles; and administrative law judge with NLRB Division of Judges in San Francisco.

In 1988, she was appointed deputy chief law judge for the entire San Francisco NLRB division. Now in retirement, Robbins is a member of the board of trustees of the San Francisco Theological Seminary and the Graduate Theological union. She chairs the Presbyterian Church USA Board of Pensions, which is responsible for benefits, assistance and retirement housing programs for Presbyterian church workers and their families nationwide. She is an elder at St. John's Presbyterian Church and serves on the board of Northern California Presbyterian Homes and Services. She is a member of the Texas, American and National Bar Associations and is a founding member of the National Association of Women Judges. Robbins holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Alcorn College in Mississippi and a Masters degree in education from the University of North Texas.

Jack M. Kinnebrew ('67) will receive the Distinguished Alumni Award for Public Interest. Kinnebrew has practiced law with Strasburger & Price, L.L.P. since 1968 and is board certified in estate planning and probate law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He is a fellow in the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, having served as Texas chairman and as a member of its board of regents. He also is a member of the International Academy of Estate and Trust Law. Kinnebrew has chaired the Probate, Trusts and Estate Section of the Dallas Bar Association, was president of the Dallas Estate Planning Council, and is currently a member of the board of trustees of the Academy of American and International Law, formerly the Southwestern Legal Foundation.

For many years, Kinnebrew has served as general counsel of the Communities Foundation of Texas, the seventh largest community foundation in the U.S. Last year, Kinnebrew became the foundation's interim executive director. Among his civic activities, Kinnebrew chairs the governing body of Highland Park United Methodist Church and has been active in the Circle Ten Council of the Boy Scouts of America and in the Dallas chapter of the American Cancer Society. He has been named "One of the Best Lawyers in America" by the publication of that name and in 2001, D Magazine named him "One of the Best Lawyers" in Dallas. Kinnebrew earned two degrees from SMU, his J.D. degree in 1967 and a Masters of Law degree in taxation in 1973. He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in accounting from the University of Oklahoma and is a certified public accountant.

James C. Thompson Jr. will receive the Honorary Alumnus Award. An independent oil and gas producer, Thompson attended SMU to study business and had plans to attend the law school, but after working on three small oil leases in Crane, Texas in 1952, he decided to pursue a career in the oil industry. Today, as president and chair of Thompson Petroleum Corporation, he is the producer and operator of more than 8,000 oil and gas wells throughout the Southwest. Thompson was named "Chief Roughneck" for 2001, a lifetime achievement award that is the most prestigious award in the petroleum industry. The award is presented to leaders who inspire the highest ideals in serving the industry and community. His other business interests include ranching, real estate and investments and banking.

In addition to his success in the oil industry, Thompson remains interested in law. As chair of the Hatton W. Sumners Foundation since 1974, he oversees the administration of numerous grants and more than 145 law and government scholarships yearly at 13 colleges and universities, including SMU. The foundation has given approximately $5 million to the SMU Dedman School of Law for its endowed scholarship program and other purposes. In 1999 the foundation gave the law school a gift of $1.2 million for its endowed scholarship program.

Thompson serves SMU as a member of the Maguire Energy Institute Board of Directors, the Mustang Club and the Letterman's Association. He is a former member of the SMU Board of Trustees and the Law School Board of Visitors. Thompson received a Distinguished Alumni Award from SMU in 2000 and an honorary doctorate from Howard Payne University. He established the J. Cleo Thompson Chair in the School of Law in 1984 in memory of his father, as well as the Thompson Law Scholarship Program, which provides 15 scholarships annually.

Erle A. Nye

John T. Sharpe
Deborah G. Hankinson

George W. Bramblett, Jr.

David B. Dillon
Shigeharu Negishi
Earldean V.S. Robbins Jack M. Kinnebrew James C. Thompson, Jr.