2023 Spirit Of Excellence

The News Magazine of HCU

A Night of Honor and Giving


The 2023 Spirit of Excellence Gala brought a sold-out crowd to the Houston Christian University (HCU) campus for an elegant evening of celebration and philanthropy as more than $200K in scholarships was raised for HCU students.

Keynote speaker Dallas Jenkins, creator, director and co-writer of “The Chosen,” shared the journey of faith that led to the creation of the widely popular, faith-based series and his aim to reach college students and others through the episodic series.

The highlight of the night was the presentation of the Spirit of Excellence Award, one of the University’s highest awards, to three couples whose vision, dedication and leadership have been instrumental to the University’s academic and spiritual strength. Recipients of the award included Nichole and Benny ’86 Agosto, Alex and Randy ’84 Sorrels and Cindy and Dan Wilford. Each couple has been steadfast supporters of HCU through the years.

The President’s Award was presented posthumously in honor of Drs. Gloria and Wiley Biles for the couple’s faithful support of the University and its mission.


2023 Spirit of Excellence honorees Nichole and Benny Agosto stand firm in the belief that when you give of yourself and your finances to benefit others for the glory of God, you are guaranteed positive results. The couple has continued to live out this belief and now have a scholarship in their names that blesses single mothers with scholarship funds. In 2022, the Agostos issued a matching gift challenge to invite alumni and University friends to join forces. The goal was to provide students with financial support to fund their aspirations of a quality, faith-based education that would pave the way to their future career goals. The couple has been steadfast in their support of HCU through the years, not only financially but through their service. Benny Agosto, an HCU alumnus and former Husky soccer player, has also been a dedicated supporter of HCU’s soccer program.


Alex and Randy Sorrels are dedicated supporters of HCU and have invested their time, talents and resources into causes close to their hearts at the University. A former President of the State Bar of Texas, Randy holds four board certifications. In 2022, he was named Texas Lawyer’s Attorney of the Year and TEX-ABOTA Trial Lawyer of the Year. A stand-out in her own right, Alex Farias-Sorrels began her career as a Supreme Court of Texas briefing attorney. Following a stint at a major international law firm, she and Randy formed Sorrels Law. Alex also has served as a trustee of the Texas Bar Foundation – the largest charitably funded bar foundation in the nation – and on the Houston Young Lawyers Foundation. The couple holds the United States’ record for the largest actual damages jury verdict ever awarded to an injured worker. HCU’s soccer field was dedicated as Sorrels Field in 2007 in tribute to Randy’s dedicated support of the program.


Faith and family are very important to 2023 Spirit of Excellence honorees Cindy and Dan Wilford. During football season, they can be found in the stands cheering on the Huskies with their grandson. The couple are HCU Football Founders, contributors to the Husky Athletics Club and season ticket holders. A former college player, Dan went on to become an NFL referee. As the former president and CEO of Memorial Hermann Healthcare System, Dan has utilized his relationships in the healthcare industry to bless HCU on numerous occasions. As a trustee of the University, Dan has served on several committees and is generous in sharing his extensive business knowledge with the University. Cindy and Dan are also members of HCU’s Covenant Society, made up of partners whose generosity sustains a legacy of giving to enable the University to deliver future leaders of the world who will live as servants in the kingdom of God.


The 2023 President’s Award, presented posthumously in honor of Drs. Gloria and Wiley Biles, was received at the gala by Jo ‘77 & Charles ‘77 Canton, the niece and nephew of Drs. Biles. Drs. Gloria and Wiley Biles invested in others throughout their lifetimes, together and individually — Gloria in education and Wiley in healthcare. The couple loved the Lord, their church and Houston Christian University. Now, their legacy is being realized from a generous estate planned gift that has become an Endowed Scholarship and will live on in perpetuity, impacting the lives of students forever. Well-known for her lectures in history at the University over a 16-year period, Dr. Gloria Biles loved being in the classroom. After retiring, Gloria remained a faithful member of the HCU Retirees Association. Dr. Wiley Biles, a radiologist, practiced his specialty in the Army from 1947 to 1949 and then opened his own practice in Houston, which he ran for 39 years.