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U of M Alumni Association Will Honor Four with Enshrinement of 1912

For release: October 21, 2013
For press information, contact Gabrielle Maxey 901-678-2843

The University of Memphis Alumni Association will bestow its highest honors on its alumni and friends with the Enshrinement of 1912 during this year’s Homecoming Celebration Nov. 8-9. U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen will receive the 2013 Distinguished Alumnus Award; the Outstanding Young Alumna Award will be presented to Summer Owens; and Kathy and J.W. Gibson will be recognized as Distinguished Friends of the University. 

The recipients will be recognized in an on-court ceremony at the Tiger men’s basketball game Friday, Nov. 8. They will take part in the Homecoming Parade on Saturday, Nov. 9, followed by recognition during the football game halftime show. The Alumni Association will continue to publicly recognize their social, professional and personal achievements throughout the year. For additional information, contact the Alumni Association at or 901-678-2586.

Recipient Biographies

2013 Distinguished Alumnus Award

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen (JD ’73)

Congressman Steve Cohen is a fourth-generation Memphian who has dedicated his life to public service. Currently serving in the U.S. House of Representatives for Tennessee’s 9th Congressional district, Cohen has held public office in the Tennessee General Assembly (1982-2006), the Shelby County Commission (1978-1980), and was vice-president of the Tennessee Constitutional Convention (1977). He is known throughout the state as the “Father of the Tennessee Lottery” after leading the referendum effort that instituted the successful Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship program, an initiative to provide Tennesseans with access to affordable, quality post-secondary education. Cohen is a Life Member of the Alumni Association.

2013 Outstanding Young Alumna Award

Summer Owens (BBA ’01)

Owens is president and founder of S.O. What! LLC and founder and executive director of the S.O. What! Foundation. She is a motivational speaker and author of the book Life After Birth: A Memoir of Survival and Success as a Teenage Mother, developed to help people eliminate judgment and excuses of all types and live life to their greatest potential. Owens was named one of the “Top 40 under 40” by the Memphis Business Journal and received the Tri-State Defender’s Women of Excellence award and the Women of Achievement Heroism Award. She was recognized as a Fogelman College of Business and Economics Outstanding Young Alumna. Her story has been featured on national television, as well as in The Commercial Appeal and Memphis Parent Magazine. Owens is a Life Member of the Alumni Association.

2013 Distinguished Friends of the University

Kathy and J.W. Gibson

Kathy Gibson is chair of the board at Buckman Laboratories International Inc. and succeeded her father, Robert Buckman, as head of the company that her grandfather, Stanley J. Buckman, created in 1945. James Wesley “J.W.” Gibson is the CEO of the Gibson Companies and a former county commissioner. Both are native Memphians and recently established the endowed Kathy and J.W. Gibson Scholarship Fund, which supports high-achieving students who contribute to a diverse student body at the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law. Their philanthropic outreach includes Kathy’s dedication to the arts, women and girl-related causes and J.W.’s devotion to civic involvement.

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