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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.