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Alumni Association to present awards

Alumni Association to present awards

The McNeese State University Alumni Association will present its two most prestigious awards - the Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award and the Distinguished Service Award -during halftime ceremonies at the Cowboys vs. Central Arkansas Bears football game Oct. 13.

A reception for the two recipients and their friends and families will be held in the Stream Alumni Center Oct. 12.

Doug Thornton (left), senior vice president at SMG, the world leader in venue management, has been named the 2012 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year, the highest honor presented by the association that recognizes graduates who have distinguished themselves in their chosen field of endeavor.

A former Cowboy quarterback and 1980 general business administration graduate, Thornton worked 14 years in the oil and gas industry and served three years as president of the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation before joining SMG as general manager of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and the New Orleans Arena in 1997.

He currently oversees the operation of multiple SMG facilities and he continues to play a key role in the development of the sports and entertainment landscape in New Orleans.

Thornton led the $336 million renovation and upgrade of the Superdome in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which was viewed by the industry as the largest stadium reconstruction project in American sports history. The recovery project was completed within one year and led to the Saints return in 2006.   

He has been a leader in producing several high profile events including several NFL Super Bowl games, NCAA Final Four Championships, two BCS Championship football games, the NBA All-Star game, the Essence Music Festival, the annual Sugar Bowl Classic and many more.

He also led successful efforts to relocate the NBA New Orleans Hornets from Charlotte, N.C., to New Orleans in 2002, led the state's 2009 negotiations with the New Orleans Saints - a multi-faceted deal that included $85 million in additional Superdome improvements, and the development of Champions Square, a multi-purpose "Entertainment District" adjacent to the Dome.

Thornton is also actively involved in local tourism efforts, having recently co-chaired the New Orleans Hospitality Strategic Task Force's development of a comprehensive Master Plan for the tourism industry. He is a member of the New Orleans Aviation Board, the Board of the New Orleans Convention and Visitor's Bureau, New Orleans Sports Foundation and Greater New Orleans Inc., the city's economic development organization.

Thornton and the SMG staff were presented a 2007 Sugar Bowl Hall of Fame Award for their efforts in the Superdome's recovery from Hurricane Katrina. The New Orleans Public Relations Society of America named Thornton and his wife, Denise, its 2008 "Hornblower Award" recipients, while the New Orleans Chapter of the National Football Foundation presented Thornton its "Distinguished American" Award in 2009.  

Richard Reid (left), vice president for university advancement and executive vice president of the McNeese Foundation, has been named recipient of the 2012 Distinguished Service Award, which recognizes an alumnus who has given years of personal and professional service to the alumni association and to the university.

An Arkansas native, Reid joined McNeese as director of the Frazar Memorial Library in 1980. He brought energy and a philosophy of community engagement to the library and began raising funds to support library programs and activities.

In 1987, McNeese President Robert Hebert asked Reid to launch a new office on campus dedicated to coordinating all fundraising activities and, to mark the university's 50th anniversary in 1989, to lead a new fundraising initiative to raise $5 million for the McNeese Foundation endowment.

With Reid working with individuals in the community and with leaders from local business and industry, the 50th anniversary campaign exceeded its goal, and Reid became the university's new executive director of development. The duties also included supervising the alumni and media services offices. He was named executive vice president of the Foundation in 1988.
Twenty-three years later and with a foundation endowment valued at more than $50 million, Reid is laying the groundwork for a campaign to celebrate the university's 75th anniversary in 2014.  

As university advancement vice president, Reid directs the fundraising efforts for the Foundation, and Office of Alumni Affairs and the McNeese Banners Cultural Series are also in his division. His community service includes the Calcasieu Arts and Humanities Council, Christus St. Patrick Hospital, Calcasieu Historical Association, Lake Charles Symphony Society, Salvation Army and the Pioneer Club.

Reid earned his bachelor's degree in zoology from the University of Arkansas, his master's degree in library science from Louisiana State University and a master's degree in literature from McNeese.