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  • Alumni

McMurry University to Award Degrees to 181 Students at 2012 Spring Commencement

ABILENE, Texas – Texas businesswoman and philanthropist Dian Owens Stai will be the speaker for the McMurry University Spring 2012 Commencement at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 12, in the Hunt Physical Education Center. McMurry will award degrees to 181 students at the ceremony.

Also, legendary singer, songwriter, actor and producer Phil Collins will be recognized with an honorary Doctor of History degree acknowledging his longtime pursuit of collecting artifacts and documents related to the Alamo and the Texas Revolution.

Stai has been a strong supporter of McMurry University throughout the years and recently co-chaired McMurry University’s “Shaping the Future” capital campaign, exceeded its goal with a grand total of $39,137,373. In all, 1,703 individual gifts were received, and 36 new endowed scholarships have been established. The campaign funded four goals — endowed scholarships for students, faculty support and enrichment, construction, and additional enhancement of two of the university’s primary academic programs, science and mathematics. The crown jewel of the campaign will be the $8 million renovation of the iconic Old Main, the original building on campus.
A native Texan, Stai attended McMurry University and Texas Tech University. She received an Honorary Doctorate from McMurry in 1988.
Stai co-founded Owen Healthcare, Inc. with her husband Jean Owen in 1969. Upon his death, she served as chairman from 1976 to 1997. Owen Healthcare, Inc. made an initial public offering in August, 1995 and merged with Cardinal Health, Inc. in March 1997. In 1997, she started Mansefeldt Investment Corporation and established a private philanthropic foundation, the Dian Graves Owen Foundation, and is active in both entities. She served for many years as a member of the Board of Directors of First Financial Bank of Abilene and First Financial Bankshares, Inc., a publicly traded bank holding company. She also served on the board of McMurry University, Community Foundation of Abilene, United Way of Abilene, Texas Department of Commerce and numerous local and regional boards.
In 1992, she was named “Outstanding Citizen of the Year” by the Abilene Chamber of Commerce, “Woman of the Year” by the Women’s Business Support Network of Houston and Business Houston’s Regional Entrepreneur of the Year. In 1997, she was inducted into the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame and named one of the “Leading Women Entrepreneurs of the World. In 2001, she was given “The Spirit of Anne Morrow Lindbergh Award” in Houston. In 2005, Stai received the United Way Volunteer Service Award. Stai is a graduate of Leadership Texas ’89 and a member of the Committee of 200, an international organization of business women.

Phil Collins may be best known for his career with the rock band Genesis and as a solo artist. However, as an avid student of the Battle of the Alamo since his boyhood, he has collected hundreds of artifacts related to the famous 1836 battle in San Antonio, narrated a light and sound show about the Alamo, and spoken at a number of related events.
Recently, Collins has turned to writing history. Several years ago, he contacted Dr. Donald Frazier, a McMurry history professor and expert on the Texas Revolution, about his collection. which then led to Collins writing his first history book, The Alamo and Beyond: A Collector’s Journey, The book, published by State House Press, takes his passion for the Alamo and tells the story of the Texas Revolution through the artifacts and documents from his private collection.
During his career as a musician, Collins sang the lead vocals on several chart hits between 1975 and 2010, either as a solo artist or with Genesis. His top singles include In the Air Tonight, Against All Odds, and Another Day in Paradise. He has sold over 200 million records and won awards ranging from multiple Grammys to Oscars for his creative work in a number of artistic fields.
In March 2010, the rock group Genesis was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame. In June 2010 Phil was awarded the prestigious Johnny Mercer award and joined an elite company of writers including Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson and Paul Simon.
Collins released his most recent album, ‘Going Back’, in September 2010, and it immediately became a global hit.