Lifetime Achievement




  • 2014 Winners +

    Tim Cook, John Brown, Larry D. Benefield, Pat Sullivan Read More
  • 2013 Winners +

    Daniel D. Bennett, Ronald L. Burgess Jr, Clifford LeRoy Hare, and Sally Jones Hill
    Read More
  • 2012 Winners +

    Lloyd James Austin III, James E. Livingston, Kirby Isaac Bland, and N. Jan Davis
    Read More
  • 2011 Winners +

    Dr. Neil E. Christopher, Rear Adm. Thomas K.“TK” Mattingly, Gen. Forrest S. McCartney, and Mr. Wayne T. Smith
    Read More
  • 2001-2010 Winners +

    Past winners from 2001 through 2010. Read More
  • 1

March 8, 2014


The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes recipients for outstanding achievements in their professional lives, personal integrity and stature, and service to the university. It was established in 2001 to honor extraordinary accomplishments by members of the Auburn family. Recipients of Lifetime Achievement Awards are selected by a committee of Auburn administrators, trustees, faculty and alumni.

Last year's recipients included 1982 graduate Tim Cook, CEO of Apple Inc.; 1972 graduate Pat Sullivan, the 1971 Heisman Trophy winner and current head football coach at Samford University; 1966 graduate Larry Benefield, who is dean emeritus of the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering at Auburn University; and 1957 graduate John Brown, chair emeritus of Stryker Corp., one of the world's leading medical technology companies.

2014 LAA Winners

(pictured above) Larry Benefield, Pat Sullivan, John Brown and Tim Cook receive their medals representing Auburn University Alumni Association's 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award during a ceremony Saturday, March 8, 2014, at the Auburn Marriott Opelika Hotel and Conference Center at Grand National.

Press Release download here.

Photographs will be available for purchase Wednesday, March 12 at this link. Click Event Proofs in the left navigation bar and search the photo gallery with the word LAA2014.

2015 LAA Winners

Sam Ginn Class of 1959

Auburn University Bachelor of Science, Industrial Management; Master of Business Administration, Stanford University (1969); Honorary D.S., Auburn University (1998)

Sam Ginn has more than 42 years of experience in the telecommunications industry. After graduating from Auburn in 1959 with a degree in industrial management, Ginn began his career in 1960 with AT&T as a student engineer. He went on to hold such positions as vice president for network operations for AT&T, chair and CEO of Pacific Telisis Group, and chair and CEO of AirTouch Communications, which later merged with Vodafone to become the world’s largest wireless communications company. The merger resulted in more than $2 billion in gains for AirTouch employees, who benefited from Ginn’s commitment to having employees own stock in the company. After retiring in 2000, Ginn made a gift of $25 million to Auburn University to establish an undergraduate degree program in wireless engineering, the first accredited wireless engineering degree program in the country. This accreditation was received because Ginn assembled an advisory board composed of executives from most of the major telecommunications companies who helped provide direction when the program was being developed and who continue to be involved in guiding the program and helping to insure the curriculum remains on the cutting edge. The College of Engineering is now the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering in his honor. In addition to his major contributions to the wireless engineering program, Ginn co-chaired Auburn’s last major fundraising campaign, during which the university raised $609 million, the largest campaign amount in the school’s history. In 2012, Ginn was appointed as the first chairman of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), an independent agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration. In 1992, Ginn was inducted into the State of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame and just this year, he was named to the Wireless Hall of Fame Class of 2014 by the Wireless History Foundation (WHF). Ginn was given engineering’s Distinguished Alumni award in 2004 and he has served on the board of trustees for the university as well as fundraising campaign committees. Ginn and his wife, Ann, reside in San Bruno, Calif., and they have three children. Sam is a life member of the Auburn Alumni Association




Melissa Brown Herkt Class of 1977

Auburn University Bachelor of Science, Civil Engineering

Melissa Herkt entered the male-dominated field of engineering in 1977 and quickly began breaking the barriers to help pave the way for women in civil engineering. She was the first female co-op student and worked for Alabama Power for three semesters. Following graduation from Auburn, she was hired by Exxon, where she became the first female engineer posted overseas. In that post, she was a construction engineer on a $30 million project in Denmark. This post led her to head up several billion-dollar operations in both North and South America. She was then appointed as the first female construction manager for Exxon, where she led a $300 million refinery expansion in France and a $400 million project in the UK and Denmark. Herkt has spent a great deal of her career rising in the ranks and breaking new boundaries. She served as president of Process Systems and Solutions – Americas, a division of Emerson Process Management, one of the largest and most respected engineering companies in the world. Herkt was responsible for a half-dozen vital industries approaching $900 million in annual revenue. She oversaw 4,000 employees and provided cutting-edge process-improvement solutions. Honors include induction into the National Academy of Construction in 2009 and the Alabama Engineer’s Hall of Fame in 2008. Herkt continues to provide for students at Auburn University through the Melissa Brown Herkt Endowment for scholarships in Civil Engineering. She also is actively involved with Engineers Without Borders (through the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering), an organization that sends young engineers and students to third world nations to help solve and apply knowledge to real-world issues. Herkt is part of the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering Alumni Council, which assesses and reviews processes used in each engineering department, and contributions through that committee have significantly strengthened the college’s academic programs. Herkt received the Construction Industry Institute’s 2004 Outstanding Implementer Award; she serves on the CII executive committee and is the past director of Mascaro Sustainability Institute, promoting green construction. She has received outstanding alumni awards from Gadsden State, Auburn University and the Chancellor of Alabama’s college system. In 2014, she was selected to serve on the AU Foundation Board. Herkt and her husband, Robert, live in Round Rock, Texas. She is a life member of the Auburn Alumni Association.




David Housel Class of 1969

Auburn University Bachelor of Arts, Journalism

David Housel graduated from Auburn University in 1969 with a degree in journalism. After working for the athletic ticket office from 1970-1972, he was an instructor in the communication department and advisor to the Auburn Plainsman from 1972 until 1980. He then rejoined the athletic staff as assistant sports information director, and went on to become sports information director in 1981 and assistant athletic director for the university in 1985. Housel became Auburn’s 13th Director of Athletics in April of 1994, and set standards to evaluate and measure the department’s competitive success, fiscal responsibility, rules compliance, and academic success of student-athletes during his 10-year tenure. Under his leadership, the Tigers won eight national titles, 38 SEC titles and added softball and equestrian to the sports roster at the university. Student-athletes during his tenure posted their highest graduation rates in school history and a number of athletic facility improvements were added to campus, including the construction of Samford Stadium at Plainsman Park, Jane B. Moore Field, the Lovelace Museum, the McWhorter Center for Women’s Athletics, and the Tatum Strength and Conditioning Center. Housel was named director of athletics emeritus upon his retirement from the director position in 2005. During his career, he has served as president of the SEC Sports Information Directors, chair of both the NCAA public relations and communications committees, and member of both the NCAA Championships Cabinet and Executive Committee of the Southeastern Conference. Along with his positions in committees in the NCAA and SEC, Housel also served as chair of the dean’s council for Auburn University’s College of Liberal Arts. For his significant contributions to the field of sports communication, Housel has been awarded membership in the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, the Sports Information Directors Hall of Fame and the Tony Brandino Hall of Fame. He is also an honorary member of the Auburn Football Letterman’s Club and received the Coach Jack Meagher Award at Auburn in 2011 for making significant contributions to society through athletics. In addition to these awards, in 2005, the press box in Jordan-Hare Stadium was officially named the David E. Housel Press Box. Housel and his wife, Susan ’73, live in Auburn. He is a life member of the Auburn Alumni Association.




W. Michael Warren Class of 1968

Auburn University Bachelor of Arts, History; J.D., Duke University (1971); J.D., Birmingham Southern University (2003)

After graduating from Auburn and attending law school at Duke University, Mike Warren began his career practicing law with the Birmingham firm of Bradley, Arant, Rose & White for 12 years before joining Alabama Gas in 1983. Warren became president of Alagasco in 1984 and was named president and CEO of Energen in 1997, and chair in 1998. Under Warren’s leadership, Alagasco was named one of the 100 best companies to work for in America in the book by the same name and the Fortune magazine annual listing for two years. In 2001, Warren was named Alabama CEO of the year by The Birmingham News and in 2008, he was named president and CEO of Children’s of Alabama, the state’s only free-standing pediatric medical facility. Warren has been involved in many state and local efforts and served as chair of the Business Council of Alabama, the United Way, Leadership Birmingham and Leadership Alabama. He has also chaired the Metropolitan Development Board, the Alabama Symphony and his area American Heart Association. He has had a pivotal role in helping with the establishment of and fundraising for the Provost Leadership Undergraduate Scholarship Program (PLUS) at Auburn, a program that provides scholarships to deserving minority students. He and his family have established the William Michael Warren Endowed Undergraduate Student Leadership Awards in the College of Agriculture’s Department of Animal Sciences to honor his father, a longtime faculty member, and to support animal sciences students who demonstrate both academic excellence and leadership. In 2012, the Greater Birmingham Auburn Club awarded Warren the title of Distinguished Alumnus of the Year and just recently, Warren was selected as Birmingham’s Game Changer at The Vulcans, given by the Vulcan Park & Museum. Warren and his wife, Anne, live in Birmingham and have three children. He is a life member of the Auburn Alumni Association.



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