2011 Distinguished Alumni Honorees
Bob Black ‘77
Managing Partner, MehaffyWeber
Bob Black earned a bachelor’s degree in history from UTEP in 1977. An attorney for more than 30 years, Black reached a high point in his career in June when he was sworn in as president of the State Bar of Texas.
Black is the managing partner of MehaffyWeber, a law firm with offices in Beaumont, Houston and Austin that he joined after he graduated summa cum laude from Texas Tech School of Law in 1980.
Black concentrates his practice on mediation, but has successfully defended a multinational corporation in a complex patent infringement case and has tried numerous other cases. He has mediated more than 3,300 disputes, including many complicated mass tort and class action matters.
He attributes much of his success to the training he received from extraordinary teachers at UTEP, including the late Gene Kuzirian.
“I was thinking about becoming a history professor, so (Kuzirian) really focused on my papers and forced me to examine my thinking on logical consistency, on whether I was being redundant, and if I was questioning the evidence,” Black said. “He gave me a very gentle nudge toward law school because he felt that’s where my talents were.”
Jerry Porras ‘60
Lane Professor of Organizational Behavior and Change, Emeritus, at Stanford University
Jerry Porras earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Texas Western College, now UTEP, in 1960. Porras, the Lane Professor of Organizational Behavior and Change, Emeritus, at Stanford University, was born and raised in El Paso. He and his three siblings ended up at Texas Western College, now UTEP, because they couldn’t afford to go anywhere else.
After completing his M.B.A. at Cornell University in 1968, he went on to earn a Ph.D. in management at the University of California, Los Angeles, and started teaching at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business in 1972. He has since written three books, including Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies, which has sold more than 1 million copies.
Since his retirement in 2001, Porras has served on advisory boards for three State Farm insurance companies, a small startup business called Translattice, and the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, among others. He is a recipient of the Brillante Award presented by the National Society of Hispanic MBAs and the 2007 Lifetime Achievement Award from Hispanic Business magazine.
But it was at the university where he earned his first college degree that he established the foundation for his later success.
“I’m one of the hundreds of thousands of Mexican-Americans who, if it had not been for UTEP, would not have had the opportunity to … get a university education,” Porras said. “UTEP serving that purpose in El Paso is really a significant contribution it’s making to the Latino community nationwide.”