Distinguished Alumni

Arthur F. Beyer Distinguished Alumnus

James Estes is Professor Emeritus at the University of Nebraska and the University of Oklahoma, where he taught botany for almost 30 years. He also is Curator Emeritus at OU.

Dr. Arthur F. Beyer’s botany classes at MSU strengthened Jim’s desire to study plants, setting the path for his professional life. Jim’s knowledge of the plant sciences led to his serving on federal agency panels to review funding recommendations. He helped procure major gifts for the Dalquest Desert Research Center and the University of Nebraska State Museum. Jim was acting director of the River Bend Nature Center when funds were obtained for the Ruby N. Priddy Butterfly and Nature Conservatory.

Jim graduated in 1959 with a bachelor’s degree in biology. He earned his Ph.D. in botany from Oregon State University in 1967, and completed post-doctoral work in bee biology at the University of California, Davis, in 1974. He taught at OU from 1967 through 1996, becoming curator of OU’s Robert Bebb Herbarium, which houses the largest collection of Oklahoma plants in the state.

While at MSU Jim met his wife, Nancy. He considers that MSU’s most important gift to him.

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Gordon T. & Ellen West College of Education

Judith Pipes graduated cum laude from MSU in 1965 with a bachelor’s degree in music education. After teaching music in the Wichita Falls Independent School District for almost 20 years, Judy returned to MSU and earned a master’s degree in education in 1984.

Altogether, she worked in the WFISD for more than 50 years, including 19 years as principal at Fain Elementary School. She has served on the board of the Women’s Forum, the Wichita Falls Symphony League, and the Wichita Falls Youth Symphony Orchestra, in addition to serving as violist in the Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra for 50 years. She is a charter member of the Chamber Orchestra of Wichita Falls.

For the past 14 years, Judy has continued her association with MSU and the West College by supervising all levels of student teachers in schools across the area.

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Lamar D. Fain College of Fine Arts

Jan McDaniel is professor of vocal coaching, vocal coach, and conductor in the Department of Opera and Musical Theater at the Bass School of Music at Oklahoma City University. He directs the Master of Music in Vocal Coaching, one of the only programs of its kind in the United States.

While at MSU, Jan says he received the rare opportunity to make his conducting debut for an opera with orchestra. He credits Music Professor Don Maxwell for helping him find his place in music, that of vocal coaching. Former students of Jan’s are now on stages and opera houses on Broadway and around the world.

Jan graduated summa cum laude from MSU in 1980 with a bachelor’s in piano performance, and was named outstanding Fine Arts graduate. He earned a master’s and Ph.D. in musicology from the University of North Texas.

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Robert D. & Carol Gunn College of Health Sciences and Human Services

Amanda J. Minniear is manager of social work at United Regional in Wichita Falls where she is responsible for the hospital’s team of social workers.

Attending MSU is family tradition for Amanda. Her mother Rebecca earned an Associate Degree in Nursing and Amanda’s twin sister Andrea earned a bachelor’s and master’s from MSU. Her husband Toby Minniear will graduate in 2018. Amanda continues her own involvement with MSU by acting as liaison for undergraduate and graduate social work students. She is an advocate for organ donation in memory of her mother, a two-time kidney recipient who passed away in 2009.

Amanda graduated cum laude from MSU in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in social work. She earned a Master of Science in Social Work in 2005 from the University of Texas at Arlington and received MSSW Student of the Year honors.

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Dillard College of Business Administration

Hollis Sullivan is president of Veritas Energy LLS, a full-service oil and gas drilling company that focuses on drilling in Midland, Martin, Howard and Glasscock counties in West Texas.

Hollis began working for Cobra Oil & Gas his junior year at MSU. In 1980 he joined his father and grandfather in the family oil business, then in 1990, started his own oil company, Hollis R. Sullivan Inc., which was involved early in the development of the Barnett Shale. Hollis sold his Barnett Shale interest and in 2011 formed Veritas Energy LLC with his two sons. Veritas Energy merged their Permian Basin interest in October 2016 to form Double Eagle Energy Permian. Earlier this year, Double Eagle Energy Permian sold the combined company to Parsley Energy Inc. of Austin.

He lives in Fort Worth with his wife of 40 years, Donna.

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College of Science & Mathematics

Daniel Kirk Nix is the public utilities operations manager for the City of Wichita Falls. He recently received the Charles Walter Nichols Award for Environmental Excellence from the American Public Works Association. He also was named a local hero by the Southwest Rotary Club in Wichita Falls for his work with the city water supply during the area’s recent drought.

Wichita Falls’ implementation of the Direct Potable Reuse method during the drought brought international recognition to the city, and to Daniel. He credits the environmental science program with giving him the knowledge that helped make that practice a success. Daniel stays involved with MSU by providing internships and giving tours of the city’s water treatment plant to environmental science and nursing students.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental science in 2009. He has worked for the City of Wichita Falls since 1986.

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Prothro-Yeager College of Humanities & Social Sciences

Mitchell Land is dean of Media Arts at King’s University in Southlake, Texas. He was formerly dean of the School of Communication and the Arts at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and is founding dean of the Frank W. Mayborn Graduate Institute of Journalism at the University of North Texas.

Mitch says that studying abroad in France during his junior year redefined life for him and his wife, Lea. Their knowledge of the French language opened doors to living abroad as missionaries, serving as interpreters, and to film and TV production in French-speaking African countries.

Mitch graduated magna cum laude from MSU in 1972 with a bachelor’s degree in French. He earned a master’s in divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1975 and his master’s in journalism from UNT in 1982. He earned a Ph.D. in Radio-TV-Film from The University of Texas at Austin in 1990.

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