Benjamin Casey Allin III
Benjamin Casey Allin III (University of Chicago, 1908) was the first staff leader of the Port of Houston Authority. During his 12-year tenure as general manager, the port transformed into the most efficient in the country. Exports grew by 1,000 percent and the port ranked as the sixth largest in the nation. Today, the port is ranked first in foreign tonnage and second in overall tonnage.
Mr. Allin, an engineer from Chicago, relocated to Texas with the U.S. Army during World War I. He joined the port in 1919, confident it had growth potential due to the flourishing oil business, profitable cotton trade and Houston’s proximity to the agricultural Midwest.
Under his leadership, the Houston Ship Channel expanded significantly. Mr. Allin patented a cargo handling railway layout to shorten turnaround times. During his tenure, the Port Authority was the first to ship cotton direct to Europe from the U.S., helping make Houston the leader in cotton trade. He helped implement $4 million in bond issue-approved port improvements and reformed port governance. He later worked at other ports around the world until his death in 1960.
Lady Bird Johnson
Throughout her life, Lady Bird Johnson (UT ’33) was an advocate for beautification of the nation’s highways and conservation of natural resources. She made this cause her major initiative as First Lady of the United States.
Lady Bird developed her lifelong love of the environment as a child growing up among the pines and bayous of East Texas. She promoted the Highway Beautification Act of 1965, which was nicknamed “Lady Bird’s Bill.” The bill sought to beautify the nation’s interstate highway system by landscaping roadside areas, limiting billboards and cleaning up junk yards near highways. For 20 years, Mrs. Johnson encouraged the beautification of Texas highways by giving awards to the Texas Highway Department districts that used native Texas plants to the fullest. She hosted the annual Texas Highways Beautification Awards ceremonies and presented personal checks to the award winners.
Lady Bird’s focus on the advantages and beauty of native plants led her to create the National Wildflower Research Center in 1982, renamed Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in honor of her 85th birthday in 1997. Her enormous contributions have made Texas roadsides the envy of the nation.
Ross Perot, Jr.
Ross Perot, Jr., (Vanderbilt ’81) is chairman of Hillwood Development, one of the nation’s top real estate developers, and The Perot Group, an investment management firm. Through Mr. Perot’s leadership, the Hillwood team has coordinated significant transportation infrastructure development and expansion. Mr. Perot was the visionary behind the 17,000-acre, master-planned AllianceTexas development, which includes Fort Worth Alliance Airport, the world’s first industrial airport, and the Alliance Global Logistics Hub, known as the “grandfather of inland ports.” The Alliance Global Logistics Hub is a model for multi-modal transportation hubs and public-private partnerships. Alliance connects key transportation infrastructure, including an airport, intermodal terminal, Class I rail lines and regional highways, with manufacturing and distribution facilities, enabling improved supply chain efficiencies.
Mr. Perot previously served as CEO and Chairman of Perot Systems Corporation, a global technology company. Ross was a pilot in the U.S. Air Force from 1983 to 1992 and served as Chairman of the U.S. Air Force Memorial. He received the Gold Medal Award for Extraordinary Service from President Ronald Reagan, the Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship, and the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service.