Drew honored as Distinguished Alumna at TAMU-Commerce

Special to The Dallas Examiner | 6/13/2016, 11:15 a.m. | Updated on 6/20/2016, 11:45 a.m.
The Alumni Association of Texas A&M University-Commerce honored Zenetta Drew as a Distinguished Alumna and the other award winners, E.C. ...
Zenetta Drew, executive director of the Dallas Black Dance Theatre

Special to The Dallas Examiner

The Alumni Association of Texas A&M University-Commerce honored Zenetta Drew as a Distinguished Alumna and the other award winners, E.C. Larkin, Dr. Jack Lassiter, John Norman and Steve Thurman, at the annual Alumni Awards Gala on April 23. Drew has been the executive director of the Dallas Black Dance Theatre for 29 years.

“This event gives us the opportunity to showcase the caliber of alumni we have in the world that are representing our university,” said Derryle Peace, director of Alumni Relations.

Drew was the first African American female to receive the 127-year-old school’s award. TAMU-Commerce was one of the last universities in Texas that allowed Blacks to enroll following the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. When Drew attended the school, formerly East Texas State University, her dorm was segregated.

“I will be forever grateful to Dr. Kenneth McCord who suggested that I major in accounting, when I had never heard of accounting,” Drew recalled. “Little did I know that I would be in the first class of three African American students to receive an accounting degree from this university, at a time when there were fewer than 50 Black CPAs in America.”

The university is the second largest in the Texas A&M system and has become a majority minority campus. Drew was the commencement speaker for its 2014 graduation ceremony.

In February, she was selected as a member of the Alumni Ambassador Forum representing the College of Business, Accounting Department.

“I am pleased to serve as an ambassador and see that the accounting department has come full circle in inclusiveness and in 2016 Dr. Sandra Gates, an African American, was named chair of the department,” she said. “I want to urge other Texas A&M-Commerce alumni to support our school by mentoring, providing internships or joining the alumni association.”

Drew worked at ARCO Oil and Gas Company in accounting and management for 12 years before joining DBDT in 1987. When she started managing the dance theater, the annual operating budget was $175,000. It has now grown to over $3.9 million with a staff increase from two to 33, with yearly performances and outreach activities that have grown from 30 to over 600 services in United States and international venues, and the audience growth has increased from 20,000 to 150,000 annually.

Drew currently serves on multiple boards including the Board of Governors for the Arts Community Alliance, the Advisory Board of the National Center for Arts Research at Southern Methodist University, the College of Business Advisory Council for Texas A&M University-Commerce, Downtown Dallas and Data Arts. She also serves as treasurer for both the Dallas Arts District and the City of Dallas’ Dallas Development Fund, and is a member of the Women Presidents’ Organization.

Nationally, Drew has served on advisory panels for the National Endowment for the Arts and President Bill Clinton’s Americans for the Arts Strategic Planning Committee.

She has also guest lectured on arts fundraising at Southern Methodist University, arts administration at Syracuse University and LeMoyne College, accounting ethics at Texas A&M University-Commerce, and has been a speaker at Leadership Dallas, Leadership Texas, Leadership America and the Business Council for the Arts for multiple years.