For release: August 27, 2008
For press information, contact Gabrielle Maxey, 901/678-2843
The University of Memphis’ College of Arts and Sciences Alumni Chapter’s annual awards
banquet will honor a professor of English, a school administrator, and an artist this
year. To be recognized as Outstanding Alumni are Dr. Hortense Spillers, Maura Black
Sullivan, and Jamie Lee McMahan.
The event will be Thursday, Oct. 2, at The Racquet Club of Memphis. A reception will
begin at 5:45 p.m., with the dinner at 6:30.
Spillers is the Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of English at Vanderbilt University.
She previously was a chaired professor at Cornell University. Spillers has written
about psychoanalysis and race, how linguistics have failed black women, and crucial
essays on authors including Zora Neale Hurston, Margaret Walker, Toni Morrison, Ralph
Ellison, Gwendolyn Brooks, and William Faulkner. She serves on several editorial boards
and the executive council of the Modern Language Association.
Dr. Hortense Spillers
Photo courtesy of:
Vanderbuilt University / Steve Green
Spillers has received numerous honors, including grants from the Rockefeller Foundation,
the Ford Foundation, and the National Humanities Center. Her essays have been published
in distinguished journals in the U.S. and abroad. Her collection Black, White and in Color: Essays on American Literature and Culture was published in 2003.
Sullivan is assistant superintendent of planning and student services for Shelby County
Schools. Among her responsibilities is long-range capital project planning for the
47,000-student system. She is in charge of strategic planning and directs the student
services department, which oversees student-related issues such as discipline and
Maura Black Sullivan
Sullivan was a special assistant to former Rep. Harold Ford Jr. and served as Ford’s
campaign press secretary. She served two terms on the Shelby County Election Commission
and is a graduate of Leadership Memphis.
McMahan decided to become a portrait artist after a two-year trip around the world.
While working as a marketing representative for IBM in the U.S. and Australia, McMahan
painted when he found time. Although he admired many artistic styles and periods,
McMahan was most often drawn to great portraits. He has painted senators, governors,
mayors and pets. One of his most famous subjects was Rootsauthor Alex Haley. His portraits of six former U of M presidents hang in the atrium
of the University’s Administration Building.
Jamie Lee McMahan
He studied mathematics and fine art at the U of M. He also played center for the
basketball Tigers and was on the team when it competed in the National Invitation
Tournament in New York.
Reservations must be made no later than Sept. 26. Tickets are $55 per person, $440
for a table of eight.
For reservations or more information, call Alumni Coordinator Fariss Adams Ivey at