College of Liberal Arts

Liberal Arts Alumna Wins Distinguished Alumnus Award

The Honorable Pamela P. Willeford, an Austinite and a former US Ambassador to Switzerland and the Principality of Liechtenstein, will receive the Texas Exes Distinguished Alumnus Award at a ceremony to be held on The University of Texas at Austin campus on Friday, Oct. 14.  The award, created in 1958, recognizes annually up to six graduates or former students of The University of Texas at Austin who have distinguished themselves professionally and through service to the university. The Distinguished Alumnus Award is the highest award given by the Texas Exes. 

Willeford received bachelor's degrees in English and Spanish from the university in 1972. After college, she moved to Dallas and taught middle school and high school. Passionate about education, Willeford has devoted her career to developing education policy and promoting community service in the state of Texas. She served eight years on the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, and chaired the board for five of those, from 1998 through 2003. She also serves as the chairwoman of the Laura Bush Foundation for American Libraries, which raises funds to support libraries in schools across the nation.

In addition to her accomplishments in education, Willeford served as co-chair and chair of the 1999 and 2003 Texas Gubernatorial Inaugurations and served as a director of development for the State Preservation Board. She was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland and the Principality of Lichtenstein by President George W. Bush, a position she held from 2003 to 2006. She is also president and partner of Pico Drilling in Breckenridge.

Willeford has remained involved with the university over the years. She served as president of the Texas Exes from 2008-2009 and currently serves as president of the Texas Exes Scholarship Foundation Board of Directors. She has also served on various Texas Exes committees, the advisory councils of the School of Social Work and Intercollegiate Athletics for Women, and was asked to be a part of the university's prestigious Commission of 125. 

She has been involved in numerous civic organizations, including the Helping Hand Home for Children, SafePlace Center for Battered Women, The Hockaday School, The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, St. Andrew's Episcopal School, and the Texas Book Festival.

Willeford's service has been recognized in numerous ways. She was named "Volunteer Extraordinaire" by the Junior League of Austin in 2002 and "Woman of Distinction" by the Girl Scouts Lone Star Council in 2003. In 2010, she was inducted into the Texas Women's Hall of Fame, which was established to recognize the state's most accomplished women.

Visit the Texas Exes website to read the full article.