Giving back to their alma mater is a theme that is echoed by alumni Clayton Killinger, ’83 and Nancy Kudla, MBA’87. Recognizing their passion and affinity to UTSA, Killinger and Kudla were named UTSA Alumni of the Year at the 12th annual UTSA Alumni Association Gala this fall.
A financial executive with 25 years of experience in both publicly and privately held companies, Killinger is senior vice president and controller for Valero Energy Corporation, the largest independent petroleum refiner in the United States. He credits UTSA with his path to success.
“UTSA provided me with the academic foundation to be very successful in business,” said Killinger, who grew up in the Washington, D.C., area. “I received the technical background needed to compete in corporate America against individuals who received Ivy League degrees.”
An accounting major, Killinger previously was a partner at Arthur Andersen. “UTSA changed my life,” said Killinger, “Every student has a story, a history and the professors and staff understand and can relate to what you have been through.”
Killinger is a life member of the UTSA Alumni Association and served on the board of directors from 1997 to 2004. He currently serves on the UTSA Development Board and the College of Business Advisory Council.
Graduating with the first female class at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Kudla learned early on how to push through times of adversity. In pursuit of her MBA, she attended classes at night following a full day’s work.
“The MBA taught me about accounting, finance and marketing, skills that I utilized every day in the business world,” Kudla said. “Drawing on knowledge learned from the Air Force Academy, I learned the importance of triangulation in business. In business you need to know that where you are going is where you intend to go. And you have to have more than one source of information to verify your path.”
With her business skills sharpened, Kudla founded dNovus RDI in 1989, serving as chief executive officer and co-founder with her husband, Frank, ’85. A military contracting company specializing in applied information technology, dNovus RDI grew to 250 employees before they sold it in 2008 for $38 million.
Active supporters of the university, she and her husband are life members of the Alumni Association. Kudla also has served on the College of Business Advisory Council and the advisory board for the Center for Information Assurance and Security.
“UTSA’s work in cyber security is so important to our national security,” she said. “UTSA is a leader in cyber security research and is developing practical research to combat this problem through the work of great faculty like Dr. Fred Chang.”
Kudla continues her work as an entrepreneur today, and she is president and director of the Kudla Family Charitable Foundation.
“As a young and growing university, UTSA needs to encourage a culture of giving among our alumni,” said Kudla. “Not just financial contributions, but also through the sharing of talents, experience and perspectives to help make the university a stronger place.”
The Alumnus of the Year Award was established in 1980 to recognize UTSA alumni who have gained unique distinction through their achievements.
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