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Phone: 901/678-2843
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e-mail: prnews@memphis.edu

U of M Campus Will Be Setting for Centennial Distinguished Alumni Awards

For release: May 29, 2012
For press information, contact Gabrielle Maxey, 901/678-2843

The University of Memphis Alumni Association will celebrate its biggest evening by staying at home this year. The Association will bestow its highest honors, the Distinguished Alumni Awards, at a gala event Saturday, June 2, at 6:30 p.m. at the fountain on the U of M’s Student Plaza. William H. “Bill” Watkins Jr. and Richard Glassman will be honored as Distinguished Alumni; Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway and Claire Robinson will be recognized as Outstanding Young Alumni; John W. Stokes Jr. will be named Distinguished Friend of the University; Melba and R.C. Johnson will receive the J. Millard Smith Illustrious Service to the Association award; and Dr. Shirley Raines and her husband, Dr. Robert Canady, will receive the Legacy of Visionary Leadership Award.

The evening will feature horse-drawn carriage tours of the campus and entertainment by the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music.

For ticket information, call 901/678-2586.  Reservations may also be made online at https://www.memphis.edu/alumni/rsvp/daa.php

William H. Watkins Jr.
William H. “Bill” Watkins Jr.

Watkins (BBA ’67) began his career in public accounting with a large local firm, served as controller for the sixth largest industrial security firm in the U.S., and was divisional controller for a subsidiary of the security firm. He returned to public accounting in 1971, founding the firm of Watkins and Watkins, which is now Watkins Uiberall PLLC. Watkins has been an active contributor to his profession, community organizations, the Fogelman College, and the U of M. In 1996 he was appointed to the Tennessee Board of Regents, the governing body for 46 universities, community colleges and technology centers throughout the state. He also serves on the U of M’s voluntary advisory body, the Board of Visitors, and has been president of the U of M Alumni Association. He is a lifetime member of the National Alumni Association.

Richard Glassman
Richard Glassman

Glassman (BS ’69, JD ’72) is the senior shareholder of Glassman, Edwards, Wyatt, Tuttle & Cox. He is certified as a Civil Trial Specialist by the Tennessee Commission on Continuing Legal Education and Specialization of the Tennessee Supreme Court and the National Board of Legal Specialty Certification. He completed post-graduate trial strategy study at Hastings College of Law in San Francisco. Glassman has served on the United States Senate Advisory Council; special judge by appointment of Senior Judge Thirtieth Judicial District Circuit Court at Memphis; special chancellor by appointment of Senior Chancellor, Chancery Court of Shelby County; and a member of Defense Research and Trial Lawyers Association. Glassman has been a board member and president of the University of Memphis National Alumni Association and has served on the U of M’s Board of Visitors.

Claire Robinson
Claire Robinson

Robinson (BA ’99) combines her passions for food and television in 5 Ingredient Fix, a Food Network series featuring delicious eclectic recipes made with five ingredients or fewer. She believes the best dishes feature carefully selected fresh foods with distinct flavors and a straightforward cooking style that also promotes healthy and seasonal eating. Robinson also is host of Food Network Challenge, bringing her culinary knowledge and passion for the iconic show to its brand-new set and providing minute-by-minute details of the thrilling challenges.

She gained behind-the-scenes media experience at Memphis’s CBS affiliate, WREG-TV, and at WMC-FM. At Tiger Sports Properties, a sports marketing agency, Robinson handled marketing for the University of Memphis’s athletic department. She decided to pursue her dream of cooking by moving to New York City and attending the French Culinary Institute, graduating in 2005. She is the granddaughter of former U of M president Thomas Carpenter.

Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway
Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway

Hardaway (BPS ’03), a former Tiger and NBA star, donated $1 million to the Athletic Department to create the University of Memphis Sports Hall of Fame named in his honor. Hardaway amazed Tiger fans with his talent from 1991-93. During his two seasons, he recorded the school’s first and only triple-doubles. Hardaway’s Tigers earned two NCAA Tournament appearances, with the 1991-92 team reaching the Elite Eight. An all-around contributor, Hardaway led the Tigers in scoring, assists and steals during both seasons and topped the squad in rebounding in 1992-93. He went on to a successful career in the NBA, playing for the Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns, New York Knicks and Miami Heat. Hardaway was a member of the 1996 USA Olympic men’s basketball team, which won the gold medal in Atlanta.

John W. Stokes Jr.
John W. Stokes Jr.

Stokes, who is one of the founding partners of Morgan Keegan and currently vice chair of the firm, has strongly supported the U of M over the years and taken it upon himself to ensure it continues to thrive and grow within the community. When Stokes heard that the University’s Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law needed a new building, he wanted to help and he knew just where the law school ought to be — the old U.S. Post Office/Customs House situated right across the street from his office. He is a third-generation Vanderbilt graduate, but has “adopted” the U of M, where he currently serves on the Board of Visitors.

Dr. Shirley Raines and her husband, Dr. Robert Canady
Dr. Shirley Raines
and her husband,
Dr. Robert Canady


Raines became the 11th president of the U of M in 2001, the first woman to hold the presidency. Before her appointment, Raines was vice chancellor for academic services and dean of the College of Education at the University of Kentucky. She is the author of 14 books and numerous journal articles, and his widely regarded as an expert in teacher education and early childhood education.  Raines has become known for her effective work in building partnerships on and off campus. Her efforts have helped the University make significant increases in annual giving. She has focused on student retention, expansion of the Honors and Emerging Leaders programs, establishing guaranteed internships for qualified students, and living-learning residential and curricular learning communities. A graduate of the  University of Tennessee at Martin, she earned her master’s degree and doctorate from UT Knoxville.

 Canady is a retired professor of education, specializing in early childhood education. Before his retirement he taught courses in early childhood education, language development and literacy at Marymount University in Virginia, Northeastern State University in Oklahoma and the University of Alabama. Canady earned his bachelor’s degree from Chapman College, a master’s from Western New Mexico and doctorate from the University of Arizona. He is involved in activities at the U of M as the “first man” of the University, affectionately known as “Dr. Bob.” Canady has created and donated stained glass windows for large churches in Kentucky and for 12 churches in the Memphis area.

Melba and R.C. Johnson
Melba and R.C. Johnson

R.C. Johnson joined the U of M as athletic director in 1996. He immediately set out to bring Tiger athletics into national prominence. During the past 16 years, Tiger teams have appeared in five bowl games and 14 post-season men’s basketball tournaments. In the past eight years, the Tigers have captured 18 Conference USA titles in men’s basketball, men’s and women’s soccer, women’s golf and men’s track. Men’s basketball has garnered seven regular season titles and six C-USA tournament championships. Donations to U of M athletics have climbed to more than $7 million per year under Johnson. The U of M has improved its football practice facilities and added the Frank Flautt Golf Center, FedExPark baseball stadium and a state-of-the-art softball complex. During his tenure, student-athletes have graduated at a record pace. Last fall athletes achieved a record combined 3.1 grade point average. His crowning achievement may be the invitation for the U of m to join the Big East Conference as an all-sports member in fall 2013.

Johnson and his wife, Melba, have been married since 1985. Melba has been a fixture at Tiger athletic and fundraising events since coming to Memphis. She has been involved in projects ranging from improvements to Tiger athletic facilities on the Park Avenue Campus to additions to the Athletic Office Building complex. She also has helped the U of M develop close ties with Graceland. Priscilla Presley funds two scholarships at the University, including one for the spirit squad.

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