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Gary Kelly Named University of Texas Distinguished Alumnus

Aviator C
Chairman of the Board, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Southwest Airlines to Receive Distinguished Alumnus Award


AUSTIN, Texas – Gary Kelly, Chairman of the Board, President, and CEO of Southwest Airlines, will be recognized by the Texas Exes at their Distinguished Alumnus Awards Friday, Oct. 22, in Austin. 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 honor given by the Texas Exes.


Kelly received a bachelor’s degree in business administration with honors from The University of Texas at Austin in 1977. After graduation, he joined Arthur Young & Company as a CPA in Dallas and worked as controller for Systems Center, Inc.


In 1986, Kelly joined Southwest Airlines as Controller. From there he rose to Vice President of Finance and Chief Financial Operator, then to Executive Vice President, and on to CFO. In 2004, Kelly was named the airline’s CEO, and the titles of Chairman and President were added in 2008.


In 2008, Kelly was named top CEO in the country by Institutional Investor magazine and CEO of the Year by D Magazine and the Dallas Morning News. Among his other honors are being named a finalist for Texan of the Year by the Dallas Morning News in 2005 and one of Business Travel News’ 25 most influential executives of 2004.


Kelly has worked closely with Southwest co-founder Herb Kelleher to continue to build the nation’s largest airline in terms of originating domestic passengers boarded and low-fare leader. Even during tough economic times, Kelly has faithfully followed Kelleher’s example of never laying off or cutting the pay of his Employees.


Kelly also gives back to The University of Texas at Austin, serving as Vice Chair of the McCombs School of Business Advisory Council and as a member of the school’s Accounting Advisory Board.


There will be five other recipients honored at the event in addition to Kelly, including David Beck, attorney and founder of Beck, Redden & Secrest, L.L.P; Ernest Cockrell, chairman of Cockrell Interests Inc. and president and director of The Cockrell Foundation; Elizabeth (Libba) Shatto Massey, civic leader and philanthropist; Diane P. Wood, federal judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago and a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School; Hector De Leon, founder of the law firm of De Leon & Washburn, P.C..


The Texas Exes was founded in 1885. The mission of the Texas Exes is to unite, inform and involve alumni and friends for the purpose of promoting, protecting and preserving The University of Texas at Austin. Today there are about 90,000 members whom the association strives to connect to each other and to the past, present and future of the university through career counseling, travel, reunions, continuing education, fellowship, legislative advocacy in support of higher education and The Alcalde magazine. For more information on the Texas Exes or to become a member, visit