The Outstanding Alumni Award is the highest award given by the College of Education and Human Development. It recognizes and honors graduates who have made significant contributions to the state and the nation. Award criteria include careers dedicated to teaching, research and/or service; supporting activities that promote access to education, achievement and health for all; establishing and promoting diversity and inclusion; and engaging in work that supports the missions of the college.
Willoughby received a bachelor of science in elementary education from Texas A&M in 1967. A member of the 1966 Aggie football team, he was the first male graduate of Texas A&M to receive a degree in elementary education. He obtained a master of education in elementary education from Texas State University-San Marcos in 1969 and a doctor of education in educational administration from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1974.
His career in education has covered a wide range from the public school classroom to his present position of dean of the Graduate College. He taught in the Cypress Fairbanks and Deer Park ISDs in Texas. He was a school principal at the young age of 24 in Hattiesburg, Miss. His school was one of eight in the nation to be recognized as exemplary for special needs children in the South. His previous awards and honors have included an Outstanding Educator Award from the State of Mississippi and the Outstanding Service to Graduate Education Award from the Association of Texas Graduate Schools.
The Texas State graduate dean has served as a consultant to numerous school districts, community colleges, universities and state agencies. He has served as president of the Association of Texas Graduate Schools and is a former executive committee member of both the Association of Texas Graduate Schools and the Association of Southern Graduate Schools. He is currently serving on the Graduate Education Advisory Committee for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
Under Willoughby's leadership, Texas State successfully transitioned from a master's only granting institution to a doctoral granting university. Since becoming dean of the Graduate College in 1982, the university has added 50 master's programs, eight doctoral programs and 18 certificate programs.
"Receiving this award from Texas A&M University was an unexpected honor and is very humbling. I have been fortunate to work with outstanding people and have a wonderful and supporting family."