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TWU announces 2011 distinguished alumni


 Billie J. AskewGayle Ziaks Haplerin

Billie J. Askew                                  Gayle Ziaks Haplerin              

Bettye Meyers

     Bettye Myers

DENTON — Texas Woman’s University and the TWU Former Students Association have announced Billie J. Askew, Ph.D., of Denton, Gayle Ziaks Halperin of Dallas and Bettye Myers, Ph.D., of Denton as the 2011 distinguished alumni.

Dr. Askew, TWU Cornaro professor emerita of reading; Ms. Halperin, former president of the Dallas Dance Council, community volunteer and philanthropist; and Dr. Myers, TWU Cornaro professor of kinesiology, will be recognized at the TWU Distinguished Alumni Awards Luncheon on Friday, April 15.

The luncheon will be held at noon in the Southeast Ballroom of Hubbard Hall on the TWU Denton campus. Tickets are $25. For more information or tickets, call the TWU Office of Alumni Relations at (940) 898-2586 or visit

The Distinguished Alumni Award is the highest honor given to a TWU graduate. Recipients represent the high ideals of the university as demonstrated in their professional accomplishment, leadership and community service.

Dr. Billie Askew

Dr. Askew is an internationally known scholar responsible for bringing to TWU Reading Recovery®, an early literacy intervention program. TWU is one of 22 Reading Recovery, university training centers in the United States, and the only university in the U.S. providing training for Descubriendo la Lectura, the Spanish version of the program. More than 300,000 children in Texas have benefited from Reading Recovery.

She is one of the founders of the Reading Recovery Council of North America and served for several years as the United States representative on the International Reading Recovery Trainers Organization Board of Directors.

Dr. Askew joined the TWU faculty after a distinguished career in the public school system. During her tenure she received both the Mary Mason Lyons Award for Outstanding Junior Faculty and the Cornaro Award for Outstanding Senior faculty, the highest awards given to TWU faculty.

Following her retirement, TWU renamed the Reading Recovery Conference to the Billie J. Askew Reading Recovery and Early Literacy Institute.

Gayle Ziaks Halperin

Ms. Halperin earned a master of fine arts degree in choreography and performance from Texas Woman's University in the inaugural MFA class of 1987. After a notable career as a professional dancer in New York City, she joined the dance faculty of TWU where she continued to choreograph and perform in Hanstein/Ziaks Dancers and Radke Dance Company.

Ms. Halperin is an active community volunteer using her leadership and organizational skills for the promotion and support of the arts. She has worked with the Dallas Dance Council on many projects and served as president, vice president of development, and interim executive director. She is co-founder and funder of Dance Planet 15 Festival, an annual outdoor free community dance festival dedicated to increasing exposure for a wide range of dance genres. She also has volunteered with the AT&T Performing Arts Center, Extraordinary Dance and Music, Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing Arts and the Dallas Area Cultural Advocacy Coalition.

Ms. Halperin and her husband James established the James and Gayle Halperin Foundation in 1989 to support causes related to health and the arts.

Dr. Bettye Myers:

Dr. Myers has been a part of the TWU community for more than 60 years, starting as a student and now as a professor of Kinesiology. She received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the university in health, physical education and recreation. She later earned a Ph.D. in counseling from the University of Michigan.

Following teaching positions at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, Alabama College and the University of Michigan, Dr. Myers returned to TWU as a faculty member in 1961.

Her career is distinguished by her outstanding teaching and service to others. She has served in leadership positions with AIDS Services of North Texas, Denton City-County Day School, Family Resource Center, Flow Health Care Foundation, Cross Timbers Girl Scout Council, Kiwanis International, United Way and the Denton Parks Foundation. She was elected to the Denton Independent School Board and served as president. Her service to the city was recognized when the mayor of Denton declared Sept. 26, 2006 as “Bettye Myers Day.”

She has received more than 30 community service awards, including the TWU Cornaro Award for outstanding senior faculty. The many organizations that have honored her for her service include Kiwanis International, the American Heart Association and the Texas Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.

Media Contact:

Amanda Simpson
Director of Media Relations

page updated 10/2/2014 11:05 AM