University of Memphis Magazine — Spring 2023

Page 1


UofM celebrates opening of the Scheidt Family

Performing Arts Center


Test Your UofM


What year was the University of Memphis founded?

What is the name of the University’s costumed tiger mascot?


How many Tiger football players have had their number retired?

(Bonus: Name them all.)

Completed in 1885, the Downtown Memphis building that is home to the UofM’s Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law was originally built to be what?


What year did Memphis State University officially change its name to the University of Memphis?

(Bonus: What year did Memphis State College officially become Memphis State University?)

Name the three years the men’s basketball team has reached the Final Four.


The UofM has had how many different names?

(Bonus: Name them all.)

Name the three original buildings on the UofM Central Campus.



With approval from the Board of Trustees, UofM President Bill Hardgrave unveiled a new strategic plan — Ascend — to guide the institution through its next five years.



The UofM celebrated the opening of the Scheidt Family Performing Arts Center, a state-of-the-art facility made possible by personal connections that inspired meaningful philanthropy.



From Afghanistan to the UofM, cello student Nazira Wali uses her talents to connect with the world and serve as an advocate for Afghan music.



In his 60 years at the UofM, Dr. Charles Crawford has successfully advised 38 doctoral dissertations and 61 master’s theses in addition to teaching various undergraduate courses.



Dr. Caitlin Porter, an assistant professor in the Fogelman College of Business & Economics, focuses her research on the key factors behind employee turnover and how to retain top talent.



UofM graduate Tonia Hanson and her 5-year-old greyhound, Maverick, are consistently busy making stops all across Memphis as one of the teams with West TN Therapy Dogs.



Alumnus Bob Canfield has participated in numerous races across the country as an advocate for organ and tissue donation.



DeAngelo Williams — one of the greatest Tiger football players in history — will officially take his rightful place among the greatest college football players ever with his induction into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Do you have a story idea for the UofM Magazine? Email Trent Shadid at UNIVERSITY OF MEMPHIS MAGAZINE
In This Issue
SPRING 2023 1
P. 46

Dear Tiger Family, I

am excited to present to you this edition of the UofM Magazine, recapping all the excitement from the past few months and previewing a promising future to come at our University.

In March, we unveiled Ascend, our new strategic plan that will serve as the road map in navigating our path through the next five years. I want to thank the many constituents who played a pivotal role in helping form this historic plan, our first as a nationally recognized Carnegie R1 institution.

Consisting of seven primary goals along with a mission, vision and principles, Ascend lays the foundation to help our University reach its full potential as a nationally recognized and respected institution. It focuses on producing outcomes, providing access, creating a holistic student experience, broadening our national reach, enhancing campus safety and security, and strengthening the research enterprise.

The opening of the Scheidt Family Performing Arts Center on Central Avenue at the north end of campus gave us a reason for celebration in February. This wonderful, state-of-the-art facility will serve as the perfect home for our talented music students for generations to come. We are forever grateful to the Scheidt family and many other dedicated supporters who took the center from a dream to a reality.

Our campus recently honored Dr. Charles Crawford, an esteemed history professor who has dedicated 60 years to this University. Dr. Crawford is the historical reference for this institution, and his commitment to the students and the preservation of history over six decades is truly remarkable.

In athletics, we are incredibly proud to have former Tiger football star running back DeAngelo Williams elected to the College Football Hall of Fame. His accomplishments as a player and representative of our University are outstanding, and this honor is very deserved. We also celebrate our men’s basketball team for capturing the American Athletic Conference Championship, and both our men’s and women’s soccer teams for advancing to the NCAA Tournament.

I hope you enjoy these stories and more in this edition of the UofM Magazine.

Thank you all for your continued support!



PRESIDENT Bill Hardgrave


Tammy Hedges


Trent Shadid


Chuck Gallina


Heather Hampton

Jeff Hulett

Leanne Kleinmann

Marty Lang

Amy Wimmer Schwarb

Jouy Thomas


Wendy Adams

Matthew Smith


University of Memphis Division for External Relations


The University of Memphis is a learnercentered metropolitan research university providing high quality educational experiences while pursuing new knowledge through research, artistic expression and interdisciplinary and engaged scholarship.

The University of Memphis is governed by a 10-member Board of Trustees. The Board consists of eight members appointed by the governor of Tennessee, a faculty trustee elected by the faculty and a non-voting student trustee selected by students and appointed by the Board.

The University of Memphis’ name, seal, logos and Tigers are registered marks of the University of Memphis and use in any manner is prohibited unless prior written approval is obtained from the University of Memphis. The University of Memphis Magazine (USPS-662-550) is published two times a year by the Division of External Relations of the University of Memphis, 308 Administration Building, Memphis, TN 38152-3370. Postage paid at Memphis, TN 38152.

POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Alumni & Development Office, The University of Memphis, 120 Alumni Center, Memphis, TN 38152-3760.

Driven by Doing.

SPRING 2023 5

Russomanno Named Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost

The University of Memphis Board of Trustees approved the appointment of David J. Russomanno as the UofM’s next Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost in March.

Russomanno, a former UofM faculty member, previously served as dean of the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology at Indiana University — Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) since 2010. In that role, his responsibilities included overseeing four research centers of excellence and seven academic departments with 21 undergraduate and 13 graduate degree programs.

“I am very excited to welcome David Russomanno back to the University of Memphis as our Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost,” UofM President Bill Hardgrave said. “He brings an exceptional track record and reputation as a leader in higher education. His expertise and institutional knowledge from the many years he spent as a faculty member on our campus will serve our University well as he assumes this position.”

UofM’s Oller and Lasiecka Bestowed Lifetime AAAS Fellows Honor

UofM professors Dr. Irena Lasiecka and Dr. Kimbrough Oller were elected to the 2022 class of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), one of the most distinguished honors within the scientific community. They are the first UofM faculty members to be honored.

Lasiecka, who was honored for mathematics, is chair in the Department of Mathematical Sciences. Her citation reads, “For distinguished contributions to boundary control theory with applications to fluid-flow structure interactions.”

Oller, who was honored for linguistics and language science, is the Plough Chair of Excellence in the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders. His citation reads, “For distinguished contributions to the field of language science, elucidating the origin of language with theoretical, methodological and clinical advances for language development in typical, atypical and multilingual populations.”

Campus News

Online Programs No. 1 in Tennessee for 4th Straight Year

The UofM took the top spot among institutions in Tennessee for the fourth-straight year in the U.S. News & World Report’s 2023 ranking of online programs. The University is ranked in the top 110 in 10 categories nationally, including two in the top 20, seven in the top 40 and eight in the top 50. Visit to find out more about the UofM’s online offerings.

College of Education Joins Grow Your Own Program

The UofM College of Education has partnered with the Tennessee Department of Education through Tennessee’s Grow Your Own initiative — immediately expanding opportunity to train future teachers and strengthening the teacher pipeline in Tennessee. The University joins eight other recently approved Educator Preparation Programs across Tennessee that will partner with local districts to help create a simple pathway for students who are interested in teaching to receive the training and credentials needed to serve in local classrooms. Tennessee Teacher Apprenticeships are a sustainable recruitment strategy to address both short- and long-term needs by addressing localized district staffing challenges.

Dasgupta Named National Academy of Inventors Fellow

UofM professor Dr. Dipankar Dasgupta was selected as a prestigious National Academy of Inventors Fellow for the Class of 2022. Dasgupta is the William Hill Professor in Cybersecurity and director of the Center for Information Assurance at the University. He is the third UofM faculty member to be selected a NAI Fellow, joining Dr. Hai Trieu in 2019 and Dr. Gary Bowlin in 2015.

The NAI Fellows Program was established to highlight the academic inventors who have demonstrated a prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development and the welfare of society. Election to NAI Fellow status is the highest professional distinction accorded solely to academic inventors.

SPRING 2023 7

Puckett’s Black Bear Research Receives National Attention

Emily Puckett, an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the UofM, has devoted her career to learning more about the evolution and genetics of bears. Her recent research included a discovery into why some American black bears aren’t actually black but instead come in a range of browns, including cinnamon, chocolate and liver.

Puckett and a team of researchers sequenced the genomes of nearly 200 bears and identified a mutation in the gene for the protein TYRP1, known to be involved in melanin pigment production. The same mutation causes a form of albinism in people. Where American black bears and grizzly bears live together, the mutation may provide an evolutionary advantage, as grizzlies are largely viewed as more aggressive and to be avoided. Puckett’s findings received widespread global attention, including coverage from the New York Times and Smithsonian Magazine.

Muller-Sanchez Helps Find Pair of Black Holes in Galaxy Merger

Dr. Francisco Muller-Sanchez, an assistant professor in the UofM’s Department of Physics and Materials Science, was among a group of scientists who recently discovered two supermassive black holes growing simultaneously near the center of a nearby pair of merging galaxies. They are the closest pair of black holes that scientists have ever observed in multiple wavelengths. The new research also revealed that binary black holes and the galaxy mergers that create them may be surprisingly commonplace in the universe.

“Up until now, such a concentration of two accreting supermassive black holes had never been discovered in the universe with multi-wavelength observations,” Muller-Sanchez said. “The discovery of a close pair of supermassive black holes is of fundamental importance for understanding the evolution of galaxies over time. Until now, it has not been possible to study two black holes with separations less than 2,500 light-years. Our observations open a new parameter space for the study of galaxy mergers.”

Campus News

UofM’s Hooks Institute Launches Exhibit at Memphis International Airport

The Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change at the University of Memphis and the Memphis International Airport are co-hosting an exhibit featuring the Fayette County Civil Rights Movement through the photographs of freelance photographer Art Shay. The photographs are displayed in the Departing Flights Terminal, across from the TSA office, at the Memphis International Airport until October 2023. The public can view the exhibit without purchasing a ticket or going through the TSA security checkpoints.

The exhibition features photographs from freelance photographer Art Shay (1922-2018), who in March of 1965 documented the Fayette County, Tennessee, Civil Rights Movement. Shay, a Chicago-based photographer, photographed the rich and famous. His photographs appeared in LIFE Magazine, Sports Illustrated, Time Magazine and other publications. During the 1960s, Shay also photographed America's landmark Civil Rights Movement.

Phi Beta Sigma Establishes $150K Scholarship

Fifteen members of the Delta Nu chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Incorporated, recently established the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. End Scholarship at the UofM. International President Chris V. Rey was on campus for the scholarship signing in the fall of 2022. Memphis-area students associated with the fraternity who are exceptional and show demonstrated need will qualify for the scholarship. The award is among several scholarships that will be matched by the UofM’s Bruns Scholarship Match, a $1 million fund created to inspire other donors to establish endowed scholarships at the University.

UofM Partners with U.S. Government Publishing Office to Preserve Information

The University of Memphis Ned R. McWherter Library recently signed a memorandum of agreement with the U.S. Government Publishing Office to become a permanent preservation steward of the historic and current collection of Peace Corps publications.

To help libraries meet the needs of efficient government document stewardship in the digital era, the Government Publishing Office has established preservation stewards to support continued public access to documents in print format. Preservation stewards contribute significantly to the effort to preserve printed documents.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for us and the University of Memphis,” said Perveen Rustomfram, head of Government Publications at the McWherter Library. “We are excited to partner with the Government Publishing Office and other federal depository libraries across the country to provide access to and preserve the National Collection of Federal Government information.”

SPRING 2023 9

THE Gates of Change

The Williams Memorial Gate has long stood as the gateway to campus at the University of Memphis Lambuth in Jackson, Tennessee. Dedicated on Oct. 1, 1972, it was made possible through a donation from Jackson-based Williams Steel Company to honor the memory of John Lomar Williams Jr., the company’s founder and a friend to what was then Lambuth College.

The gate gained additional significance in 1999 when the freshman class marked the beginning of its journey at Lambuth University by walking through the gate as a part of orientation. Following graduation, students began walking back through the gate to celebrate degree completion and bring closure to their time on campus. Today, UofM Lambuth students continue the tradition by exiting campus toward Lambuth Boulevard following the baccalaureate ceremony.

SPRING 2023 11




(verb) to move upward; to rise to a higher level.

UofM 2023-28 Strategic Plan

SPRING 2023 13

With approval from the University of Memphis Board of Trustees, UofM

President Bill Hardgrave unveiled a new strategic plan — Ascend — in March to guide the institution through its next five years.

The plan is highlighted by a focus on outcomes, a holistic student experience and broadening the UofM’s national reach while creating access for learners of all backgrounds and growing and strengthening the research enterprise.

“These are very important times for the University of Memphis as we continue to ascend as a respected Carnegie R1 institution,” said UofM President Bill Hardgrave. “This is the first Strategic Plan for the University of Memphis during this historic period. I want to thank the hundreds of constituents who played a pivotal role in developing our 2023-28 Strategic Plan. The important thing is to remember that the Strategic Plan is not a finished product. It is the guide for all of us to ascend to great heights in all areas of the University of Memphis in the years to come.”


Produce well-rounded, successful graduates and cutting-edge research for the enrichment of our ever-changing society. To become a nationally recognized public research university.




Grow enrollment while simultaneously improving student preparedness by pursuing a diversified and far-reaching recruiting strategy that emphasizes the UofM’s compelling value proposition.


Foster an exciting, all-encompassing student experience that encourages students to persevere, grow and thrive; while laying the foundations for future success and creating an enriching lifelong bond with the UofM.


Deliver a rigorous, practical, well-rounded and supportive academic experience through innovative programs and teaching methods that focus on student success and prepare UofM students for the workforce and graduate education.


Perform life-changing, interdisciplinary research and scholarship that is supported by world-class infrastructure and conducted by highly motivated researchers addressing the community and society’s greatest challenges.


Cultivate a respectful, supportive culture for the UofM’s exceptional faculty and staff that recognizes and rewards excellence and success, and provides ample opportunities for personal growth, professional development, promotion and leadership.


Optimize operational efficiency and effectiveness through the establishment of high standards and expectations to maximize resource utilization and uphold accountability.


Increase funding and improve resource allocation to fuel growth through better alignment of internal priorities and external funding opportunities, funding diversification and the application of financial best practices.

The full 2023-28 Strategic Plan can be found at:


Friends FAMILY of the

How personal connections inspired meaningful philanthropy

The Scheidt Family was instrumental in making the new Scheidt Family Performing Arts Center (SFPAC) a reality. With a legacy as impressive as Rudi and Honey Scheidt, it is no surprise that their philanthropy and passion for arts and music in Memphis, especially at the University of Memphis, inspired others to follow in their footsteps.

Memphis developer Bill Townsend grew up just feet away from Central Avenue, which happens to also be the address of the SFPAC. His father, one of the football coaches at then-Memphis State University, hauled the family to Memphis from Indiana. They settled at the corner of Deloach and Central, where the Fogelman College of Business & Economics is today.

After starting first grade at Campus School, Townsend quickly fell in love with the UofM campus and recognized early on the importance of music at the University.

“After school, I would walk home in the fall and sit down and watch the marching band practice,” Townsend said.

The family was first introduced to the Scheidts through Townsend’s brother, who was good friends with Rudi Scheidt Jr. going back to their time together at White Station Junior High.

SPRING 2023 17

When Townsend learned of the grand opening gala for the SFPAC, he purchased several tickets because he wanted to support the Scheidts.

During the event, he was compelled to make a gift to support the center. Townsend wanted to use his philanthropy to celebrate one of the people who, “had a strong educational impact on him as a child,” and helped foster his admiration for music. He purchased a concert piano for the Performing Arts Center in honor of Ms. Anderson, his third-grade teacher at Campus School.

Because pianos can’t be wheeled across Central between practices and performances, the concert piano was one of the greatest needs for the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music. Its high-quality sound will enhance the experience of performances in the concert hall and give students the opportunity to perform on a world-class instrument.

Townsend wasn’t the only friend of the family inspired to support the SFPAC after attending the opening gala. Two of Rudi and Honey Scheidt’s other children, Susan Arney and Helen Gronauer, were the connection between the Presley family and the School of Music.

The Presleys’ family history with the UofM runs deep, as Clay Presley is a third-generation Tiger.

“My grandmother graduated from the nursing school, my parents went to MSU in the 1980s, I graduated in 2009 and played football while I was there,” Presley said. “It’s the school our family has always gone to.”

“We liked the idea of giving students a safe space to practice and hone their craft while developing their skills,” Presley said. “To have a little small part in that is very cool for us.”

Robert and Liz Ann Dinkelspiel had already been long-time supporters of the UofM when they received an exclusive invitation to a dinner at then-UofM President Shirley Raines’ home.

“We entered the room and there were some heavy hitters there,” Robert said. “We looked at each other and said, ‘How did we get here?'"

Among the attendees were Rudi and Honey Scheidt. Shortly after that dinner, the Dinkelspiels began to develop a mutual interest with the Scheidts in the UofM’s School of Music.

“We knew about their interest in music, and after we came to a few concerts and got involved, we realized this School is a gem,” Robert said. “It is the centerpiece, in our opinion, for music in Memphis and this area.”

“She was the teacher that had guinea pigs and a pet fish in the classroom,” Townsend said. “She was so warm. You could tell she loved kids and she loved teaching. Our class was very artistic and there was a lot of music. It was really a joyful environment. That’s the best way to describe it.”

The family often uses their company name, SouthWorth Capital Management, but this gift was personal for them because of their friendship with the Scheidts, according to Clay. From that relationship came the Presley Family Practice Room.

Years later, the couple learned about the SFPAC and made the decision to expand their initial investments. Their gift will be used to fund the center’s most urgent needs, including technology, equipment and faculty support.

" SPRING 2023 19
It is the centerpiece, in our opinion, for music in Memphis and this area.

It is the Dinkelspiels’ hope that the SFPAC will be a recruiting tool to help students choose the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music over other options. A portion of their support will be used for Strike a Chord, an instrument-borrowing fund created by the Scheidt Family to support students who may not be able to afford an instrument of their own.

For generations to come, musicians and performers alike will have the opportunity to perform on the main stage in the SFPAC, named after the Dinkelspiels. Although initially shying away from the opportunity to highlight their family’s philanthropy through the naming of the Dinkelspiel Main Stage, they understood the importance of sharing their inspirational story with others.

With the Scheidt family serving as the connection, Townsend, the Presleys and the Dinkelspiels each found their own deeper motivation to give to the SFPAC and the School of Music.

“We believe in the importance of offering this type of performance arts education,” Presley said. “We want Memphis to be a successful city and if you want Memphis to grow, you have to invest in it. The University of Memphis is a great way to do that.”

Townsend is following in the Scheidts' footsteps by encouraging his network of friends to also support the UofM.

“I hope other people in Memphis see what an asset the University is,” Townsend said. “It is important for everyone, regardless of where you attended college, to support the UofM because the University makes Memphis better, for all of us.”

It is important for everyone, regardless of where you attended college, to support the UofM because the University makes Memphis better, for all of us.
Dionne Warwick The University Symphony Orchestra and University Singers perform the inaugural piece at the SFPAC Grand Opening Gala.
SPRING 2023 21
Dr. Francis Cathlina conducts the University Symphony Orchestra and University Singers finale at the SFPAC Grand Opening Gala.

The University of Memphis prides itself on being an institution that encourages and cultivates special relationships that transcend the day-to-day requirements of pursuing a degree. In the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music, the relationship between Nazira Wali and Dr. Kimberly Patterson exemplifies that type of unique connection.

Wali, a junior at the UofM from Afghanistan, is working on a Bachelor of Music in Cello Performance degree under the guidance of Patterson, an associate professor of cello. Their relationship goes back to 2014 when Patterson traveled to Wali’s home country as part of a music education program through the U.S. Department of State.

As a 14-year-old student at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music, Wali captured Patterson’s attention during a two-week stay in the Afghan capital of Kabul. Wali had found her love for music there after moving away from most of her family in Nuristan, a remote province in northeast Afghanistan, when she was only 6 years old.

“The students there just craved information,” Patterson said. “I met Nazira and I could tell immediately that she had an ear for music. She had a natural way around the instrument and craved more information.”

They stayed in touch and coordinated virtual lessons from opposite sides of the world throughout Wali’s teenage years. At 19, Wali moved to the United States through a sponsor in Charlotte, North Carolina, to chase her educational and musical dreams.



“As soon as I knew she was in the States, I made every effort to get her into the cello program here at the University of Memphis,” Patterson said.

Wali graduated from Piedmont Community College in the spring of 2021, gaining the required course credits and English-language competency to earn entrance to the UofM that fall.

“It was hard to be away from my friends and family when I first came to the United States, but I was so happy to get the education that I really wanted,” Wali said. “I wanted to be here because of Dr. Patterson. I knew if I could continue my studies with her, I could learn so much more. She understands me. She’s a mentor both in my musical life and personal life.”

The ongoing political turmoil and rights crisis in Afghanistan are difficult realities that remain consistently on Wali’s mind. She worries about her family and friends daily.

“She’s so strong and such a survivor,” Patterson said. “Her first year was incredibly difficult and emotional given the situation back home. Despite having endured so much, she has always shown up to every lesson and given her best effort. She’s the strongest person I know.”

Wali has found a home away from home in the U.S. performing with the Afghan-American Foundation. The group performed in Washington, D.C., in March, which led to an impromptu invitation to attend a White House

reception in celebration of the Persian New Year of Nowruz. It was her second trip to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, which is just one of many well-known places she’s seen through her music.

As of March 2023, Wali had performed in nine countries — Germany, Switzerland, India, China, UAE, Oman, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and the United States. She’s performed at Carnegie Hall, the Smithsonian and the Kennedy Center; and at the World Economic Forum and the Aspen Ideas Festival.

“She goes to the White House and she is kind of thinking, ‘doesn’t everyone get to come here?,’ because she’s already been twice,” Patterson said. “Her future is bright. She’s had Yo-Yo Ma, the preeminent cellist in the world, offer to help her personally. She needs more time at the instrument, like we all do, but the sky is the limit in terms of what she wants to accomplish.”

As she continues her cello studies, Wali strives to act as an ambassador for Afghan music and musicians.

“Afghan music is so vibrant and it’s my goal to introduce it to the world,” Wali said. “I love that I’ve met people from different backgrounds here at the University of Memphis and that we can come together through creating and making music.

“Our communication is not limited by language — music is our universal language.”


"Despite having endured so much, she has always shown up to every lesson and given her best effort. She’s the strongest person I know.”

- Dr. Kimberly Patterson

SPRING 2023 23

WHAT'S NEW: American Sign Language and Deaf Studies

In the fall of 2022, the University of Memphis School of Communication Sciences & Disorders began offering a Bachelor of Arts degree in American Sign Language and Deaf Studies. The degree gives students the opportunity to gain a broader understanding of American Sign Language (ASL), Deaf culture and the Deaf community.

Trent Harper is the ASL program coordinator at the UofM. Harper was born deaf, received a cochlear implant at 4 and learned ASL at 6. He considers himself to be a part of both the hearing and Deaf cultures. He shared his thoughts with the UofM Magazine on the significance of the program, what makes ASL at the UofM unique, the impact of the program on the Deaf community and more.


As one of the UofM's newest programs, have you seen a quick response in the level of interest among students?

Harper: There has been massive growth in the American Sign Language (ASL) and Deaf Studies program. We are thrilled that students have expressed interest in this new major. Currently, 30 students have declared majors in ASL and Deaf Studies. In the fall of 2023, a few students are projected to complete the degree requirements and become the first graduates with a Bachelor of Arts in ASL and Deaf Studies.

What makes the UofM's ASL program unique?

Harper: The ASL Program is unique in many ways. One of which is our program’s intentional goal to have native ASL users instruct our courses. We make sure the curriculum is in line with the goals that need to be met, and we ensure that the learning is efficient, authentic and current for our students.

How does a program like this help the Deaf community as a whole?

Harper: There is minimal awareness of communicating with the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (HoH) community in Memphis. Services for accessibility and equitable living are lacking in many Memphis neighborhoods. With the curriculum and program

design, students will be able to effectively communicate in ASL with the vast, diverse Deaf and HoH population. They will be equipped with knowledge and understanding to bring inclusivity into their prospective careers. They will better understand the history and contemporary lives of Deaf people and be encouraged to appreciate the culture by spreading awareness and educating others where needed.

What do you feel are the most important things to share with prospective students who might be interested in the program?

Harper: Learning another language is fantastic and commendable, especially learning ASL. Prospective students should understand that with the increasing rigor and complexity of learning any language, it takes considerable time and effort to master. Learning another language can take years for fluency to show; please continue and do not get discouraged if you are progressing at a different rate than your peers. When learning ASL, continuous exposure to the Deaf community is critical to your success.

What else would you like people to know about the program?

Harper: Students who are interested in the ASL and Deaf Studies degree are likely to pursue a variety of professions. There are millions of Deaf people in the country, and

ASL is the third most common language in the United States. Deaf people are everywhere in every field, including business, medicine, law, education and mental health. It is critical that students apply their understanding of ASL, Deaf culture and its history in their future jobs. Learning sign language has advantages for the brain, which is another benefit. It improves mental acuity and abstract reasoning while also enhancing hand-eye coordination.

“I love studying languages, and I was excited to learn a new kind of language and communicate with a variety of people. All of the people, the students and the teachers, are amazing. I love the opportunity to interact and connect with the Memphis Deaf community. It’s really helped me learn and understand ASL and Deaf culture.”

Cailin Rickman, ASL Student
SPRING 2023 25
Trent Harper, ASL Program Coordinator

Automatic identification (AutoID) is the collection of data without direct human intervention. Bar codes, radio frequencies, magnetic strips, biometrics and smart cards are all types of AutoID. Under the guidance of lab director Dr. Kevin Berisso, the AutoID Lab at the University of Memphis concentrates on assisting companies and students with AutoID technologies, as well as conducting groundbreaking research to help industries prepare for up-and-coming technological challenges. The lab’s goal is to educate and promote the use of the correct AutoID technology to solve a given problem.

SPRING 2023 27
SPRING 2023 29

Crawford’s time at the UofM began as an assistant professor in 1962 when he was hired by then-University President Cecil C. Humphreys. He has worked under 10 University presidents in total — seven full-time and three interims. He has known them all on varying levels and has always left his door open to help them should they need it as part of his passion and advocacy for the UofM.

“Shortly after I was named president, I got an email from Dr. Crawford offering his assistance from a historical perspective with references and sources,” said UofM President Bill Hardgrave, who began his tenure in 2022. “Little did I know that he is the historical reference for the University.”

In 1967, Humphreys appointed Crawford to establish and lead the University’s Oral History Project. He has served as the project’s director ever since, conducting or supervising more than 2,000 oral history interviews on historical and biographical topics related to the Mid-South area.

His oral history work includes becoming the first person from a southern institution to be elected president of the Oral History Association. He’s participated in many scholarly programs on oral history projects throughout the U.S. and in several foreign countries.

“One aspect of the oral history work we have done includes hundreds of interviews with World War II Memphis-area veterans,” Crawford said. “In that, you have a history of what the war was like for the people that were in it. That’s just one example of oral history and its importance in preserving our past for the future. These people are gone, but their stories speak.”

As an educator, Crawford has helped shape future careers by successfully advising 38 doctoral dissertations and 61 master’s theses in addition to teaching various undergraduate courses. Numerous papers written in his graduate classes have been published in historical journals, and several of the dissertations have subsequently been published as books.

“The students are the most important thing we have,” Crawford said. “Teaching them and passing along knowledge is one of the most important things we do. You are helping people achieve something they work extremely hard toward and assisting in setting them up for a career. I think that is what I have enjoyed most, the success of the students. Personally, for me, there is great reward in that.”

Crawford's appreciation for the time spent with his students is mutual. Michael T. Bertrand, PhD, came to the UofM 30 years ago to write a doctoral dissertation on Elvis Presley and southern history. Crawford was the perfect fit as an advisor.


“I found out early that what made Dr. Crawford special had less to do with his encyclopedic knowledge of local, state and regional history — and his knowledge is rightly recognized as formidable — and more to do with his exceptional ability and desire to inspire within his students a confidence that they could achieve anything they attempted,” said Bertrand, who earned his PhD in 1995. “His enthusiastic support was always present. So many of us owe him greatly for providing the model for what it means to be a historian, teacher, mentor and friend. He is the epitome of what makes a great university professor.”

With Crawford serving as a key inspiration, Bertrand pursued a similar career path. He is now a history professor at Tennessee State University after previously teaching at the UofM, Middle Tennessee State University and the University of Mississippi.

Many of Crawford’s colleagues at the University and acquaintances throughout Tennessee have echoed those same feelings of respect and admiration felt by his students.

“My wife Julia and I have known Dr. Crawford for over 40 years,” said Bill Gibbons, who served many years in state government and is currently the executive director of the Public Safety Institute at the UofM. “His knowledge of Tennessee history is unsurpassed, and many have benefitted from that knowledge. We include ourselves among those beneficiaries and have been blessed by his friendship. Tennessee and Memphis are better because of Dr. Crawford.”

Crawford has formally and informally educated and interviewed many well-known politicians throughout his career.

Twenty-four years before he became U.S. vice president, Al Gore spent a summer studying Tennessee history under Crawford ahead of his senior year at Harvard. A photo of Gore hangs in Crawford’s office with the inscription, “For my great friend and teacher Charles Crawford, with deep respect, Al Gore.” Former Tennessee governors Winfield Dunn and Lamar Alexander can also be counted among those who have called Crawford a friend and trusted history source.

“The extraordinary is ordinary with Dr. Crawford,” said Dr. Kent Moran, a research associate at the UofM's Center for Earthquake Research and Information who earned a PhD in 1999 with Crawford as his advisor.

“With him, it’s like, ‘Yeah, I taught Al Gore Tennessee history.’ It’s just very matter-of-fact because he’s perfectly at ease with people of all social statuses. His interconnectivity with the historical world around him is amazing. He knows everybody. His Rolodex would be like an encyclopedia by our standards.”

Though fascinated by learning and sharing the past, Crawford always remains equally as excited about what is to come. For him, even at 91, that means more educating — himself and his students — with no plans to retire.

“Truly, I think the future of this institution is bright and it is a pleasure to be part of it,” Crawford said. “I hope we have more fun during the next 60 years.”

"So many of us owe him greatly for providing the model for what it means to be a historian, teacher, mentor and friend. He is the epitome of what makes a great university professor."
A signed photo from former United States Vice President Al Gore to Dr. Charles Crawford. Gore spent a summer studying Tennessee history under Crawford.
SPRING 2023 31
A signed photo from former Tennessee Governor Lamar Alexander to Dr. Charles Crawford.


As a manager, you may have begun to see the signs: One of your employees starts complaining about parts of their job or what’s happening in the office. They put less and less effort into their work, won’t take responsibility for tasks or won’t commit to any long-term planning. Their office relationships have soured, both with peers and department leaders.

It’s clear they’re thinking of leaving. They may already be in the process of getting another job.

Called “pre-quitting behaviors,” these warning signs might be paired with your employee sharing details of a job search around the office, plans to leave or even sharing information about other jobs they have discovered.

All of those behaviors are warning signs of turnover contagion, according to Dr. Caitlin Porter, assistant professor of Management at the Fogelman College of Business. Turnover contagion is what happens when thoughts, feelings and behaviors that

signal leaving spread throughout a work group.

Porter says turnover contagion can be devastating for a company.

“From an organizational perspective, losing talent is never good,” she said. Indeed, the financial costs associated with filling an open position and onboarding a new hire can exceed 100% of the salary for the position.

“What we need to discuss is why are these people leaving, why don’t we have better opportunities for them here? If we don’t have them, why don’t we?”

Turnover contagion is more likely in dysfunctional organizations or work groups, but Porter’s research shows it can also occur in effective organizations with high-quality human resources practices.

How to Stop It

Fortunately, there are steps that a manager or organizational leader can

take to stop turnover contagion from taking hold.

“People just want to do their jobs and do them well,” Porter said, “so connecting with them on an interpersonal level is important.”

She points out that promoting and reinforcing an office climate where development and growth is valued and rewarded are a key way to make it more likely that, even if a high performer leaves, everyone else doesn’t follow. One way to do that is to check in regularly with your employees about their performance, and do what you can to address annoyances that prevent people from doing their best work.

“It’s frustrating for employees to feel they’re not being allowed to do their best work. People in power have to be willing to help make that happen.”

Understanding the relationships inside a work group can also prevent it from falling apart if someone leaves for another job. Porter’s research shows

UofM Faculty Spotlight

that someone who is a close friend or a longtime collaborator of the person who is leaving is most at risk of leaving, too.

The Interview Process

Conducting what Porter calls “stay” interviews with high-performing employees, those who have shown prequitting behaviors and others at risk for turnover can give a manager insight into the challenges those employees face. A manager or other leader can use the results of these interviews to think creatively about how to fulfill employees’ needs at work and make the work environment more engaging.

“Managers showing goodwill and wanting to help their employees goes a long way,” Porter said.

Conducting an exit interview with an employee who is leaving might also help a manager understand what led to the decision to leave, though these conversations can be uncomfortable. Still, if an employee is leaving for what she perceives is a better position, a manager might ask about the features of the more attractive job in order to take internal steps to improve the organization.

Is Turnover Ever Good?

It's important to remember that not all turnover is bad for an organization or work group. It’s up to a skilled leader to understand when turnover is functional – a low-performer is leaving – or dysfunctional, and how to take the appropriate action.

Porter is sympathetic to the challenges managers may face in keeping their employees engaged and performing at the highest level.

“We are at an inflection point in society, generationally, with people staying in the workforce longer as well as people who have very different expectations of the role of work in their lives entering the workforce,” she said. “Younger employees care and want to be successful, but they also want to have a life outside of work.”

SPRING 2023 33

University of Memphis Theatre & Dance students perform "Carnival Vitas: Dance of the Animals," a children's show featuring larger-than-life dancing puppets.

SPRING 2023 35
Photo credit: DeAundre Nelson, Classic Shots Photography (@Classic.Shots)

‘I Didn’t Know I Had All This in Me’

DeAundre Nelson was 3 years old when he fell off a seesaw at daycare and hit his head on concrete. The seizures began six months later — intermittent electrical disturbances in his brain that led his limbs to jerk uncontrollably and his family to race him to the emergency room.

At 9, when DeAundre suffered a seizure that lasted more than six hours, doctors induced a coma to calm his brain and body. They warned his parents he could emerge from the coma in a vegetative state and likely would need brain surgery. Instead, when the boy awoke three days later, “he was like his normal self,” said his mother, Loyce Shelley.

“From that day forward, my son never had any more seizures,” recalled Shelley, who had quit her job to care for her son full time. “But he still had learning difficulties. I started being really involved with the school because it connected me to the administration, gave me a personal relationship with his teacher, and increased the village of people who were looking out for my son.”

With DeAundre on the road to recovery, Shelley launched her own eventplanning business. She refined her approach event by event, learning how to budget, manage vendors, communicate through challenges and market her business. And once her son

had graduated from high school and was studying at the University of Memphis, she taught him how to advocate for himself as she once had.

That’s when Shelley was awakened to the idea that her personal journey through adulthood — with lessons learned along the way about championing a disabled child and managing hundreds of successful weddings and other events — could buoy her own path toward a college degree.

At a University of Memphis breakfast for parents, Shelley heard Vice President of Student Academic Success Karen Weddle-West describe how the institution embraces credit for prior learning, which creates an avenue for returning students to demonstrate the skills and knowledge they learned outside the classroom and possibly earn college credit for it.

“When I heard her say this, a light bulb went off for me,” Shelley said. “I kind of looked around the room and wondered, ‘Am I the only one who hasn’t graduated?’ Because it seemed as though she was talking directly to me.”

For adult learners returning to college, credit for prior learning saves them time and money toward earning a degree, according to research from the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) and the Western Interstate

Credit for prior learning helped Loyce Shelley return to the University of Memphis and complete her degree.
SPRING 2023 37
Editor's note: This story was originally published at in April 2022.

Commission for Higher Education. Those who earn it are 17% more likely to graduate. And institutions that offer this type of college credit benefit because it has a powerful influence on a student’s choice of school — and those who earn it are more likely to enroll in more credits.

Research also points to how credit for prior learning can empower students and override the nagging feelings of self-doubt that can cripple adult learners thinking about pursuing a college degree. Those feelings of validation were part of Shelley’s experience as she took the first steps toward earning credit for learning she had already done outside the college classroom.

“Having to go through the experience and really putting my thoughts and my experiences onto paper, it really made me appreciate what I had done,” Shelley said. “It honestly made me really see myself in a different way.”

Shelley had started down a postsecondary education path more than 20 years earlier, when she had briefly attended business school at the UofM. But she knew staying long enough to earn a degree wasn’t realistic at that time.

“My twin sister, Joyce, and I knew coming in that our family could not afford for us to continue to be in school — it was twice the cost because there were two of us,” Shelley said. “We had never known anything about college, so therefore we weren’t prepared financially to come.”

After just one semester, the sisters moved on — to jobs, marriage, motherhood. The process of putting together a credit for prior learning portfolio was “daunting.” When Shelley first learned of the program at the UofM, she envisioned that she might simply have to write a letter describing all she had done in her professional career.

Instead, it was a much more rigorous process. Shelley’s portfolio involved a collection of 30 research papers detailing her history in managing largescale projects as an event planner and advocating for resources for her son and for the other families of disabled children who turned to her for guidance.

Shelley worked with a campus academic advisor, Karen Thurmond, who helped guide her through opportunities to use her work experiences to demonstrate her learning and earn college credit.

“Ms. Thurmond had to tell me, ‘Loyce, you have a lot to offer. You’ve done a lot,'" Shelley said. “She was the one that really made me start seeing myself in a different way, because until then I was just an event planner and mom. I didn’t know that I had all of this in me because it was just a part of who I was.”

UofM faculty who reviewed her portfolio of prior learning awarded Shelley 30 college credits for her work — the maximum allowed through the program. The University is a longtime member of CAEL, which worked with administrators to establish the institution’s credit for prior learning program.

Between the credits she had completed as a young woman and her devotion to her credit for prior learning portfolio, Shelley needed only 42 credits from the University of Memphis to complete her degree.

“When someone already has the knowledge base, the competency, there’s

no reason for them to have to spend money and time to demonstrate that in front of an instructor when they can have an alternative method of demonstrating that level of competence,” said Dr. Richard Irwin, executive dean for UofM Global, the College of Professional & Liberal Studies and the Center for Regional Economic Enrichment. “It just seems to be fair, just and right.”

Shelley completed her bachelor’s degree in May 2022. And her journey has inspired the woman who began the journey with her more than two decades prior. Her sister, Joyce Brandon, enrolled at the UofM in the spring of 2022 and is preparing a credit for prior learning portfolio.

The completed degrees will likely change the trajectory of their family’s legacy, said Tracy Robinson, the UofM’s director of innovative academic initiatives.

“Once they graduate, it changes their projection with their career, with their family,” Robinson said. “It changes the way that their children look at college completion. Research tells us that a college-educated parent is more likely to have a college-educated child.”

A college-educated parent? Shelley likes the sound of that.

“My sons got to see their mother graduate,” Shelley said. “My husband, my oldest son — they have degrees. My youngest son is currently at the University of Memphis. But to see me, mom, the only one who didn’t have anything like that, obtain a degree, is powerful.”

But to see me, mom, the only one who didn’t have anything like that, obtain a degree, is powerful.”

Adult Learners of the Year

Following Loyce’s graduation and Joyce’s first semester, the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) selected the twin sisters as its 2022 Learner(s) of the Year. The first tandem to receive this honor, Loyce and Joyce accepted the award at CAEL’s annual conference in Chicago last November.

Photo credit: DeAundre Nelson, Classic Shots Photography (@Classic.Shots)
SPRING 2023 39


Tonia Hanson and her 5-year-old greyhound Maverick are consistently busy making stops all across Memphis as one of the teams with West TN Therapy Dogs. Their trips to the University of Memphis are extra special visits.

Maverick comes to the McWherter Library to comfort students and provide a break from the stress of their studies. For Hanson, nostalgia sets in as she remembers her time as a student. She is a December 1994 graduate — the first class to earn degrees under the University of Memphis name after the transition from Memphis State University.

“I had classes with Penny Hardaway,” Hanson recalled. “I remember when he signed his first NBA contract he came and took pictures with all of us and signed autographs. It was very cool.”

Hanson’s love for her alma mater has remained strong ever since. She and her husband, Tim, have been dedicated supporters of the UofM — especially Tiger athletics — throughout their 32 years together in Memphis.

“We just love supporting the University and all things Memphis,” said Hanson, who has been a therapy dog handler for 10 years.

Maverick was adopted through the Mid-South Greyhound Adoption Option (MSGAO), which recently closed in conjunction with the cessation of greyhound racing at the Southland Casino in West Memphis, Arkansas. MSGAO placed retired racing greyhounds, like Maverick, in forever homes for more than 30 years.

“Greyhounds are really well suited to be therapy dogs

because of their temperament,” Hanson said. “They are so naturally calm. So, for Maverick, this really came easy and naturally. He is my fourth therapy dog, and I have loved doing this from the beginning. It is a way for me to feel like I’m having a little bit of an impact in our city.”

Therapy dogs are effective in a wide range of settings as proven helpers with decreasing conditions such as anxiety, stress and depression while also improving social skills. Maverick’s stops around Memphis include a foster kids’ camp to participate in videos that assist with promotion of the child adoption process, and the Criminal Justice Center to help calm witnesses before taking the stand.


“If they want us to come, we do whatever we can to find a way to make it work,” Hanson said.

Meeting every request isn’t easy, though. The demand has outgrown the number of teams at West TN Therapy Dogs. According to Hanson, the group could use at least 15 more dog and handler pairs.

West TN Therapy Dogs is certified through the Alliance of Therapy Dogs, an international registry of therapy dog teams. Testing to join the West TN team is coordinated through the Alliance and includes a written online test and two in-person observations through a local evaluator before certification.

“People can sometimes be very intimidated by the therapy dog testing process, but if you think your dog has the right personality and temperament, that’s really what it’s all about,” Hanson said. “A long list of tricks and commands are not at all required.”

For more information about scheduling a site visit or joining the West TN Therapy Dogs team, visit

SPRING 2023 41

UofM Alumni Spotlight

When Bob Canfield attended Memphis State College in the mid-1950s, there were 4,000 students and the campus hardly resembled what it is today. It is the pride and support from people such as Canfield that has played a vital role in the growth of the University of Memphis ever since, as the institution has evolved into one of Tennessee’s two flagship public universities.

“I first started at Memphis in September 1955 and was actually a part of getting the school’s name changed to Memphis State University,” Canfield said. “We thought it gave the school a more prestigious name, which was good for everyone. It was a fun effort and, fortunately, we were successful.”

Canfield studied marketing and served in the Air Force ROTC. Upon graduation in May 1959, he commissioned in the Air Force and served 22 years, three active duty and 19 in the reserves. He retired as an accomplished Lieutenant Colonel.


In 2003, the Air Force Academy presented him with its Lifetime Achievement Award, an honor that is cherished by Canfield and his family. After active duty in the Air Force, Canfield put his marketing degree into action. He worked at John Hancock Financial Advisors for more than 35 years, making several stops around the country before settling just outside of Boston in Sudbury, Massachusetts, with his wife, Suellen, and two children, Rob and Paige.

With the New England area becoming home base for the Canfields, Bob’s professional sports rooting interests became the Patriots, Celtics and Red Sox. But at the collegiate level, his loyalty has remained all Memphis Tigers.

“As I’ve moved around the country, I’ve always stayed in touch with the University of Memphis and my peers,” Canfield said. “I’ve been president four

times with alumni groups in several cities, including St. Louis, Little Rock, Atlanta and Boston.”

Running is another passion for Canfield, who turns 86 in August. He has participated in numerous races across the U.S. to honor Suellen, who died suddenly in 2001 from a brain aneurysm. When she passed, the family donated organs, helping others receive transplants they desperately needed.

Moved by the impact this had on the recipients and their loved ones, Canfield has been an active advocate for organ and tissue donation ever since. In addition to running to raise awareness, he’s dedicated his time to volunteering, raising money, serving on committees and speaking to groups about New England Donor Services.

In December 2022, Canfield finished the St. Jude Children's Hospital Half Marathon in Memphis for the 11th time.

When he crossed the finish line,he was greeted by many friends and family applauding and thanking him for his dedicated service and support to such a worthy cause. He has raised more than $50,000 for the organization. It was his 36th half-marathon, proudly completed with the University of Memphis represented atop his head.

“I always wear my Memphis hat when I run,” Canfield said. He and his wife, Donna, now reside in Hudson, Massachusetts.

SPRING 2023 43


Only the nation’s best film schools have active, professional filmmakers working with their students. New York University, for example, can brag about having Oscar-winner Spike Lee as a professor. The University of Texas at Austin offers classes taught by fellow Academy Award-recipient Matthew McConaughey.

The University of Memphis can now be added to that list.

Memphis filmmaker Craig Brewer, whose movies include the Oscar-winning drama “Hustle & Flow,” was the UofM Department of Communication & Film’s visiting artist in February 2023. He was a guest speaker in three film classes, led story development sessions with graduate film students and held “office hours” for one-on-one meetings with film students. He also hosted screenings of two of his films — his debut feature “The Poor & Hungry” with the UofM Film Club, and “Dolemite Is My Name” starring Eddie Murphy at the Scheidt Family Performing Arts Center.

As a leader in the Memphis film community for more than 20 years, connecting with the UofM was an easy decision for Brewer. Parts of “The Poor & Hungry” were actually filmed on campus, so he’s long been familiar with the department’s work.

“For someone like me, who has been in the film business 20 years, there’s nothing better than interacting with young adults at the beginning of their creative, professional life,” Brewer said. “I get really inspired when I talk to students about the stories they want to tell. If anything, I’m learning from them.”

The student response to Brewer’s teaching was incredibly positive. Junior film and video production major Noah Molder worked with him in a feature screenwriting course. Brewer read an outline of



his feature screenplay “No Rest For The Wicked,” a thriller about a young man who loses the ability to sleep and then falls victim to his more aggressive instincts. Molder said Brewer’s feedback focused on getting into the core of what the characters wanted in his story, something that was lacking before.

“I was able to take a step back and get deeper into my characters,” Molder said. “I think that made things a lot clearer in terms of the themes of the story.

“The class was awesome. He was very specific with his advice. He talked about things that we needed, that would specifically help us. I really appreciated that a lot.”

Some students were fortunate enough to receive gifts from Brewer. At the Film Club screening of “The Poor & Hungry,” Brewer brought signed posters and Blu-ray copies of the movie for everyone in attendance.

Film Club president Connor Stevens, a senior film and video production major, was one of those students. He was able to interact with Brewer in multiple settings. In addition to leading a question-and-answer session with Brewer after the Film Club screening, Stevens heard Brewer speak in his Directing for Film class and met with him one-on-one during his office hours.

As a filmmaker who plans to make feature films of his own after graduation, Stevens said his time with Brewer was incredible.

“It was kind of like a dream come true to talk with someone who’s been so prominent in the industry,” Stevens said. “He is Memphis, as far as filmmaking goes. It was such an honor to hear him talk about his process of making films. It was inspiring to hear his stories and take note of how to get it right.”

In addition to Brewer, the Film and Video Production concentration of the department has been consistently connecting students with film and television professionals, in Memphis and beyond.


Film and Video Production held a master class lecture series in the spring of 2022 with MVP3 Studios, bringing actors from the hit shows “Cobra Kai” and “Weeds” to campus along with entertainment attorneys and music managers to talk about the business side of filmmaking.

The department is also set to receive a special thanks credit on the upcoming A24 feature film “All Dirt Roads Taste Of Salt” after hosting a casting call for the film at the Art and Communication Building.

As for Brewer, he plans to continue working with the department in the future, visiting classes for guest lectures and advising on curriculum and interaction with the city’s film community. He hopes that his month as a visiting artist, which was cheekily dubbed “FebBrewer-ary,” will be the beginning of a long and fruitful partnership.

“Memphis has a lot of talent,” Brewer said. “The UofM has a great opportunity to be a leader in the state for making great storytellers.

The NBC comedy “Young Rock” filmed its third season in Memphis, and the UofM Screenwriting course connected with writers and producers from the show for Zoom interviews with students during the fall 2022 semester. Five “Young Rock” crew members, all Tiger alumni, were brought to campus for a panel discussion about working in the industry. Two students were hired to work on the show after that panel discussion.

“I wish people could understand how big of a global export entertainment is. If people really saw the economic impact entertainment has in this country, we’d be building film schools all over the place. My hope is to continue my relationship with the UofM faculty and help the next generation of leaders in this field.”

SPRING 2023 45

DeAngelo Williams, a speedy and elusive running back who rewrote the record books, will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in December as part of the 2023 class. Williams will become the first Tiger player to be inducted. He joins former Memphis head coaches Billy J. Murphy (2022) and Allyn McKeen (1991) as UofM inductees.

The Wynne, Ark., native was a first-team All-American as a senior in 2005 when he finished seventh in Heisman Trophy voting and was runner-up for the Doak Walker Award, given to the nation’s top running back. He was a three-time Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year (2003-05) and a third-team All-American in 2004.

Williams still holds the NCAA FBS record with 34 games of 100 or more

rushing yards. He finished his career as the FBS record holder in all-purpose yards with 7,573, now ranking fourth.

The star running back was also instrumental in helping the football program gain respect nationally. The Tigers earned threeconsecutive bowl appearances from 200305, winning the 2003 New Orleans Bowl and 2005 Motor City Bowl. Prior to 2003, the program had appeared in just two bowl games in its history and none since 1971.

Williams also holds virtually every career, single-season and single-game rushing record in UofM history, including career rushing yards (6,026) and touchdowns (60). He boasts the top two single-season rushing performances in school history with 1,964 yards in 2005 and 1,948 yards in 2004.

The Carolina Panthers selected Williams with the 27th overall pick in the first round of the 2006 NFL Draft. After setting multiple franchise records over nine seasons with the Panthers, he spent two seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers before retiring. He twice led the NFL in rushing touchdowns (2008, 2015), was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2009 and received second-team All-Pro honors in 2008.

Williams’ charitable activities include the DeAngelo Williams Foundation, which he founded in 2006 in honor of his mother, Sandra, and four aunts who passed away from breast cancer. The Foundation's “53 Strong for Sandra” program has assisted nearly 1,000 low-income women with mammogram and cancer treatments.

SPRING 2023 47
One of the greatest Tiger football players in history is officially taking his rightful place among the greatest college football players ever.




As a true freshman in 2002, Williams immediately displayed his star potential. In the Tigers’ season opener against Murray State, he rushed for 129 yards and a touchdown on just 12 carries. He received his first of many Conference USA honors three weeks later when he was named C-USA Player of the Week after rushing for 166 yards and a touchdown in a victory over Tulane.



Williams rushed for 135 yards and scored three total touchdowns to lead the Tigers to a 44-34 win over Ole Miss in the second game of his sophomore season, avenging a 22-point loss from the previous year. The game began a streak of 13 consecutive games with at least 100 rushing yards for Williams as the Tigers finished 2003 with a 9-4 record — their most wins in a season since 1963. Williams was named C-USA Offensive Player of the Year and finished the season with 1,430 rushing yards despite missing the final two games of the season due to injury.

In the fifth game of his junior season, Williams set school records with 262 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns in a blowout victory over Houston. He would eclipse his single-game rushing yards record, which still stands today, later in the season with 263 yards in a win at South Florida. He finished first nationally in total touchdowns (23) and second in rushing yards (1,948) as he earned C-USA Offensive Player of the Year honors once again. The Tigers finished 8-5, marking the first time in more than 40 years the team had won at least eight games in consecutive seasons.

Williams was projected by experts to be the first running back selected in the 2004 NFL Draft should he decide to forgo his senior season. Instead, he returned to Memphis for one more remarkable season. With 10 games of over 100 rushing yards and five games of more than 200 yards, Williams led the nation in rushing. His 1,964 yards were 224 yards more than Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush. Williams capped his incredible career with 238 rushing yards and three touchdowns as he led the Tigers to a win over Akron and was named MVP of the Motor City Bowl. He was named a first-team All-American and earned C-USA Offensive Player of the Year honors for a third time.

2003 2004
2004 2005
SPRING 2023 49


Cam Weston

Grace Stordy, a junior defender who is also from Calgary, was a secondteam All-Region honoree after helping the Tigers keep 10 clean sheets.

“I am extremely proud of what our team was able to accomplish this past season,” said Monaghan. “Winning is not easy. Not only did the girls repeat as conference champions, they made it further than any other team in program history. I think this group has proven that the sky is the limit for Memphis women’s soccer.”

The men’s team earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, their first time making the field since the 2004 season and just the third time in program history. A 2-1 extra-time win on the road over 12th-ranked Tulsa in the first round of the AAC Tournament gave the Tigers’

season résumé a vital boost heading into the selection process for the NCAAs.

The season ended at 9-6-4 following a tough loss in extra time at No. 20 Saint Louis in the first round of the Tournament. The Tigers were an impressive 2-2-2 against top-25 competition and 6-1-2 at home.

Following the season, three players were named to United Soccer Coaches AllEast Region teams. Lineker Rodrigues dos Santos, a sophomore forward from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, was a first-team selection after finishing the season with six goals, including the game-winner in the victory over Tulsa, and four assists.

Sophomore goalkeeper Colin Welsh from Overland Park, Kan., ranked among the top 10 in NCAA Division I with an average of five saves per game and was named to the third team. Cam Weston, a

team captain and senior defender from Leicester, England, was also a thirdteam selection who anchored a Tiger backline that recorded seven shutouts.

“It still puts a smile on my face looking back at the season knowing how happy and proud the guys are, as they should be,” said men’s head coach Richard Mulrooney. “We had talked for a long time about trying to reach an NCAA Tournament. It's not given to you, it’s earned, and the guys truly did just that last fall. The next challenge for us is to not become complacent and to find some consistency reaching the NCAA Tournament every year along with trying to win our AAC regular season and postseason tournament. But at the end of the day, it’s about our players, and I was pleased they were able to experience something this program hadn’t experienced in a long time.”

Mya Jones Lineker Rodrigues dos Santos
SPRING 2023 51
Colin Welsh Kimberley Smit


The UofM men’s basketball team defeated No. 1 Houston 75-65 on March 12 at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas, to win the American Athletic Conference Championship.

SPRING 2023 53

to the


Two-time NCAA national champion and Tennessee native Alex Simmons was named the head coach of the Memphis Tiger women’s basketball team in April. She is the 13th head coach in program history.

Simmons comes to the UofM after five seasons as head coach at Gardner-Webb, where she led the Runnin’ Bulldogs to a 90-59 record, including 29 wins last season and a trip to the NCAA Tournament. Gardner-Webb was a perfect 18-0 in the Big South Conference in 2022-23 as the team won the league’s regular-season and tournament championships. Simmons was named the Big South Coach of the Year.

“When I stepped foot on the University of Memphis campus, I felt the belief and saw the vision that the leadership sees for our women’s basketball program,” Simmons said. “I appreciate the belief and investment that the university leadership, (vice president and director of intercollegiate athletics) Laird Veatch and (executive associate athletic director) Lauren Ashman, have put into this program. I am elated to be back home in the state where I grew up to represent the Memphis Tiger women’s basketball team. This is a basketball city and the passion behind this program is infectious. I’m looking forward to getting to work with this administration and getting on the court with these 901 Women. Go Tigers!”

Prior to becoming the head coach at Gardner-Webb in April 2018, Simmons was an assistant coach at Ole Miss (2013-18) and Middle Tennessee State (2010-13). She also served as a graduate assistant coach at Kansas (2009-10).

Simmons played collegiately at the University of Tennessee under Hall of Fame coach Pat Summitt from 2004-09, helping the Lady Vols win back-toback NCAA national championships in 2007 and 2008. She was a member of three Final Four squads (2005, 2007, 2008) and another Elite Eight team (2006) while serving as a team captain and was also the Lady Vols representative on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC).

Simmons was a star at Shelbyville High School, where she helped the Golden Eaglettes to three Tennessee State Championships. She earned Tennessee Miss Basketball honors in 2004 and was a WBCA All-American.

“From the first minute of my first conversation with Alex, I knew she was the right person to continue the rise of the Memphis women’s basketball program,” Ashman said. “As a player, she learned from one of the best to ever do it in Pat Summitt, she coached with some of the best in the country at Kansas, Middle Tennessee and Ole Miss and she has proven to be one of the best up-and-coming coaches in our game with her success as head coach at Gardner-Webb. Alex’s passion for the game and enthusiasm for working with young women is infectious, and we are thrilled to welcome her to Tiger Nation.”

SPRING 2023 55
SPRING 2023 57
University High School welcomed its inaugural class of Tigers to the UofM campus for the 2022-23 school year.

OF YEAR Family


A large part of a college student’s success lies in their support system. In the busyness of a semester filled with classes, exams, projects and other activities, it can be easy to forget to reflect on the benefits received from that support system.

The University of Memphis Family of the Year program serves as an annual reminder to students to take a moment and show gratitude to the loved ones who have sacrificed so much to help them reach their educational goals.

Students are asked to write and submit an essay to nominate a parent or family member(s) for the award. A selection committee reads carefully over each essay. Kayla Hubbard, senior coordinator of Parent & Family Services, knows the gravity of the selection process firsthand.

“This year, we had an incredible number of applicants for Family of the Year,” Hubbard said. “It was awesome to see how many of the students loved and appreciated their family members for supporting them at such a crucial point in their lives.”

Nominated by their daughter, Amairani, a freshman Computer Engineering major, Agustin and Erika Solis were selected as the 2022 UofM Family of the Year.

“Our committee initially struggled to choose an overall winner,” said Hubbard. “But the Solis family stole our hearts as we read about the

multiple sacrifices they made for Amairani to be successful at the University.”

In her essay, Amairani described her father as the hardest-working person she knows. With genuine gratefulness, she told of how her mother taught her how to treat and serve others. Her essay goes on to recount the sacrifices her parents made as immigrants, with very few resources, so that she and her younger siblings could have a

determined,” said Nikaila Morrison, UofM First Scholars Program manager. “They are the backbone to everything first-generation students are and the key to their successes.”

As recipients of the 2022 award, the Solis’ were honored during Parent & Family Weekend at the Provost’s Reception. Additionally, they were invited to attend a football game in the Pepsi Suite and were recognized on the field during the Tigers’ victory over North Texas.

“We felt happy, excited, nervous and very blessed to be recognized as the Family of the Year,” Agustin and Erika said. “It was a very beautiful experience where we were able to enjoy every single event. They made us feel very special, and we felt very proud that our daughter is a part of the University of Memphis.”

Although the main honorees were her parents, Amairani also enjoyed the weekend.

better life in the United States. She admiringly deems them her mentors.

The life lessons Amairani’s parents taught her — work ethic, hope, strength, how to persevere through adversity, courage and taking leaps of faith — have helped her succeed as a first-generation college student. These life skills are especially important for first-generation students.

“The families of first-generation students are resilient and

“It was a surreal experience for me because I have never experienced anything like this,” she said. “I absolutely love the people that helped me through the experience, and I appreciate so much what they did for my family. I can 100% say that I had an amazing time, and I will never forget this experience!”

SPRING 2023 59


THE 41st UNIVERSITY OF MEMPHIS DISTINGUISHED ALUMNI AWARDS (DAA) EVENT WAS HELD ON APRIL 22 AT THE RENASANT CONVENTION CENTER IN DOWNTOWN MEMPHIS. This is the signature event to honor distinguished alumni and friends for significant professional and personal accomplishments and service to the University.



Lawler received his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Memphis in 1977. He took on a leadership role at what would become Youth Villages soon after receiving his master’s degree in counseling in 1980. Now in his 44th year as CEO, Lawler has led Youth Villages to become a force for positive transformation in child welfare, children’s mental health and juvenile justice systems across the country. Its 3,600 employees – including more than a thousand in Shelby County – work from 100 locations in 23 states and the District of Columbia.



Ifabiyi earned a Master of Health Administration in 2008 and a Master of Science in Business Administration in 2009 from the University of Memphis. Her passion for service led her to serve in the U.S. Army Reserves and she has worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for more than 16 years. During her career, she has served as both chief operating and chief executive officer at large, complex hospitals in the VA health care system. She recently made history as the first African American to serve as CEO of the VA St. Louis Health Care System, which opened in the 1940s.


As co-owner, chairman and chief executive officer of Schilling Enterprises from 1980-2005, Smith managed nearly 1,000 employees and a revenue base of $100 million. Schilling Enterprises owned and operated several businesses, including automobile dealerships, real estate, trucking, HVAC and auto parts. Smith continuously serves on several for-profit and non-profit boards spanning health care, banking, civic, transportation, religion and education. Smith has served as executive-in-residence at the UofM Fogelman College of Business & Economics. He has also been a member of the UofM Foundation Board for more than 15 years, including 12 as chairman of the investment committee and two as president.


The William B. “Billy” Dunavant Foundation

The Cornerstone Award at the University of Memphis was established in 2017 to honor philanthropists whose contributions have been transformational. The latest award was presented to the William B. “Billy” Dunavant Foundation. Award recipients have made noteworthy investments in a variety of areas — from academics to athletics. These instrumental partners have been responsible for some of the University’s most notable buildings, programs, colleges and scholarships. They often lend their expertise to the University through significant volunteer leadership roles.

To view photos from the 41st DAA Gala and to learn more about the honorees, please visit or scan the QR code.

Patrick “Pat” Lawler Candace Ifabiyi Harry L. Smith
SPRING 2023 61


The UofM and Barnes & Noble Education launch the Tigers SmartStart Program to help increase student access and affordability to all required textbooks, lab manuals, digital materials and more.



SPRING 2023 63
Glenn Rogers Sr., the first Black player in Tiger football history, is honored alongside his family at halftime of a 26-10 victory over Tulsa.


Tiger men’s basketball guard Kendric Davis celebrates after making the game-winning shot as time expired in a 61-59 win at Temple.



The UofM Southern Comfort Jazz Orchestra performs during the Honey Community Music Festival at the Scheidt Family Performing Arts Center.

SPRING 2023 65


UofM Vice President and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Laird Veatch (right) greets former Tiger football player Wade Smith as Smith, an offensive lineman who played 12 seasons in the NFL, is inducted into the M Club Hall of Fame.



SPRING 2023 67
Tiger fans cheer on men’s basketball guard Jonathan Lawson as the team leaves the Laurie-Walton Family Basketball Center en route to the NCAA Tournament.


UofM students celebrate National Puppy Day on campus.

SPRING 2023 69


Memphis philanthropist and avid baseball supporter Avron Fogelman throws out the ceremonial first pitch at FedExPark Avron Fogelman Field before the Tigers take on Ole Miss.

SPRING 2023 71

Test Your UofM


What year was the University of Memphis founded?


What is the name of the University’s costumed tiger mascot? Pouncer


What year did Memphis State University officially change its name to the University of Memphis? (Bonus: What year did Memphis State College officially become Memphis State University?)

1994 | Bonus: 1957

Name the three years the men’s basketball team has reached the Final Four. 1973, 1985 and 2008


How many Tiger football players have had their number retired?

(Bonus: Name them all.)

Seven | Bonus: Danto Barto (59), John Bramlett (64), Isaac Bruce (83), Dave Casinelli (30), Charles Greenhill

(8), Harry Schuh (79) and DeAngelo Williams (20)

Completed in 1885, the Downtown Memphis building that is home to the UofM’s Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law was originally built to be what?

The U.S. Customs House

The UofM has had how many different names? (Bonus: Name them all.)

Five | Bonus: West Tennessee State Normal School, West Tennessee State Teachers College, Memphis State College, Memphis State University, University of Memphis

Name the three original buildings on the UofM Central Campus. Mynders Hall, Administration Building, President’s House

SPRING 2023 73
An Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action University UOM425-FY2023/55M Lane Press, 87 Meadowland Drive, South Burlington, VT 05403 The University of Memphis Division of External Relations 308 Administration Building Memphis, Tennessee 38152-3370 @uofmemphis /uofmemphis /uofmemphisvideos 901.678.2000 MEMPHIS.EDU Non-Profit Org. U.S. Postage PAID Memphis, TN Permit No. 946 Driven by Doing.