11/18/2014 01:58 PM
BATON ROUGE – Newtron Group founder, owner and CEO Newton Thomas has been named the
LSU 2015 Alumnus of the Year. The announcement was made in a surprise visit to Newton’s
office in Baton Rouge Tuesday, Nov. 18. Thomas will be inducted into the LSU Alumni
Association’s Hall of Distinction on March 27, 2015.
“The Alumnus of the Year designation is the highest honor awarded to a distinguished
graduate of LSU,” said Cliff Vannoy, association president and CEO. “The Hall of Distinction
is our most prestigious event of the year, and in 2015, we have plans to make the
event more spectacular than ever to recognize Thomas and his fellow inductees.”
President and Chancellor F. King Alexander and the Newtron Group staff were on hand
to congratulate the very surprised honoree.
“The staff will be amazed when I say this,” said Thomas, “but I’m speechless.”
He credited the University Laboratory School and LSU for his success.
“My entire educational experience was at LSU,” he said. “LSU prepared me for life.”
Thomas joins notable past Alumni of the Year such as former Arco Chair Lod Cook; philanthropist
Claude B. “Doc” Pennington; Tiger and professional basketball great Shaquille O’Neal;
former Congressman and Forever LSU Campaign Chair Henson Moore; Academy Award-winning
composer William “Bill” Conti; and businesswoman and philanthropist Laura Leach.
Also to be inducted are Young Alumnus of the Year track Olympian Lori S. “Lolo” Jones,
of Prairieville; Raleigh Studios executive J. Patrick Mulhearn, of Baton Rouge; Vice
President of Research at the University of Texas at Austin John Tinsley Oden, of Austin,
Texas; Atlantic Company of America President David M. Suarez, of Washington, D.C.;
and SEC Associate Commissioner of Communications Herbert H. “Herb” Vincent Jr., of
“Each year, the LSU Alumni Association recognizes alumni who have distinguished themselves
through their careers, their personal and civic accomplishments and their loyalty
to their alma mater,” said association president and CEO Cliff Vannoy. “Newton Thomas
has excelled in all of these areas. He exemplifies the essence of a true Tiger, and
we are delighted to honor him with this prestigious award.”
A Baton Rouge native, Thomas graduated from U-High and earned a bachelor’s degree
in electrical engineering from LSU in 1967. He began his career as a project estimator
with Southern Instruments and eventually served a two-year term as president. He left
Southern Instruments to start Newtron Inc. The Newtron Group was formed in 1983 as
the parent company of Newtron Inc. and Triad Electric & Controls Inc.
In 2012, Newtron was ranked in ENR Magazine as the 15th largest electrical contractor
in the country. The company works throughout the contiguous United States and has
offices in Baton Rouge; Lake Charles; Ocean Springs, Miss.; Houston; Corpus Christi,
Texas; Beaumont, Texas; and Martinez, Calif.
Thomas has received numerous awards and recognitions during his career, among them
induction into the LSU College of Engineering Hall of Distinction. The company was
the winner of the Inaugural Douglas Manship Sr. Torch Award for Business Ethics in
2001 and was twice recognized as Company of the Year (Large Company Division) by Business
Report and Junior Achievement. The most recent Company of the Year award was presented
Jones, an Olympian in track, graduated from LSU in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in
humanities and social sciences. At LSU, she won the 100-meter hurdles at the 2002
NCAA Track & Field Championship and won the 60-meter indoor hurdles at the NCAA championship
meets in 2002 and 2004. In 2008, she won the USA Outdoor Championship, as well as
the USA and World Indoor championships. She participated in both the 2008 Beijing
Olympic Games and the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. In 2014, she appeared as a member
of the U.S. Bobsled Team for the Sochi Winter Olympics and was in the cast of “Dancing
With the Stars” Season 19.
Mulhearn graduated from LSU in 1997 with a bachelor’s degree in political science
and earned a master’s degree in liberal arts in 2000. He is director of studio operations
at Raleigh Studios Baton Rouge and president of the Louisiana Film & Entertainment
Association. He was previously assistant director of film and television for the State
of Louisiana having joined Louisiana Economic Development in 2006.
John Tinsley Oden, associate vice president for research and director of the Institute
for Computational Engineering & Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin, earned
a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from LSU in 1959. He holds the Cockrell Family
Regents Chair in Engineering and the Peter O’Donnell Jr. Centennial Chair in Computer
Systems and is a professor of aerospace engineering and mechanics, a professor of
mathematics, and a professor of computer sciences.
Suarez, who earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture at LSU in 1978, is president
and chief executive officer of the Atlantic Company of America Inc., Washington, D.C.’s
premier historic restoration construction firm. His firm has worked on impressive
projects including the restoration of the Washington Monument, the Smithsonian Air
& Space Museum, the U.S. Treasury Building, Constitution Hall, the National Archives
Building, and the Louisiana Old State Capitol.
Vincent, associate commissioner for communications for the Southeastern Conference,
earned a bachelor’s degree in mass communication in 1983. Prior to assuming his current
position, he was senior associate athletic director for external affairs in LSU Athletics
and associate vice chancellor for university relations. He began his career as assistant
public relations director for the U.S. Football League’s New Orleans Breakers and
also served a stint as sports information director at LSU.
According to Gil Rew, chair of the association’s national board of directors, Hall
of Distinction inductees are chosen by an anonymous committee and approved by the
“The selection committee is a blue ribbon panel of judges that includes loyal supporters
and representatives of the faculty and staff,” Rew explained. “It’s a daunting task,
given the high quality of nominees. This year’s slate of inductees has, indeed, set
the bar a notch higher.”
The first Alumnus of the Year Award was conferred in 1966; the Young Alumnus of the
Year Award was established in 1999 to recognize alumni under the age of 40 who have
attained professional prominence early in their careers. Including the 2015 inductees,
the LSU Alumni Association has recognized 280 individuals representing a cross-section
of LSU graduates. To view all inductees, visit www.lsualumni.org/hall-of-distinction.
Nominations for 2016 are being accepted now. Biographic information, along with letters
of recommendation, can be sent to the LSU Alumni Association Hall of Distinction Committee,
3828 West Lakeshore Dr., Baton Rouge, La. 70808.
For more information, contact Jackie Bartkiewicz, LSU Alumni Magazine editor, at 225-578-3370 or Jackie@lsualumni.org.
Posted on Tuesday, November 18, 2014