Educators' Gift Endows U of M Scholarship in Honor of Maxine Smith University News
For release: October 9, 2008

For press information, contact Gabrielle Maxey, 901/678-2843

A scholarship honoring Maxine Smith has been established at the University of Memphis with a major contribution from Dr. Paula Myrick Short and Dr. Rick Jay Short.  Rick Short is associate dean of the College of Education and Behavioral Science at Middle Tennessee State University, and Paula Short is vice chancellor for Academic Affairs with the Tennessee Board of Regents; Smith is a former member of the Board of Regents.  The U of M and MTSU are TBR campuses.

The scholarship is the first at the U of M in Smith’s honor.  It was announced as a surprise to Smith at a dinner before the University’s summer commencement.  Smith and Paula Short were present for the occasion.

“The announcement of a scholarship honoring me by Drs. Paula and Rick Short was one of the most surprising and even more humbling experiences of my life,” Smith said.  “No other area in all of our struggles is more important than that of education.”

In donating the gift that established the scholarship, Dr. Paula Short said she was moved to do so because of how Smith has touched so many lives and because she had a tremendous impact on Short’s own life.  “She is my role model,” Short said.  “She has lived her life courageously, fighting for social justice with integrity, honesty, and a grace that few people exhibit.”

Short said that when she attended the ceremony at which Smith was presented the Freedom Award from the National Civil Rights Museum in 2003, she was struck by a particular comment that the recipient made in her acceptance speech.  “She told the audience that education is a key to one’s future,” Short said.  “She said, ‘Education will determine the food you eat, the job you hold.’ ”

“We wanted to honor Maxine’s legacy,” Short said, “and my husband and I could think of no better way than to establish an endowed scholarship so that others will have access to education – something that Maxine Smith sees as critical to opportunity.”

Dr. Shirley Raines, president of the University of Memphis, said the Maxine A. Smith Endowed Undergraduate Scholarship will be awarded to students at the U of m who embody the qualities that Smith espouses and exemplifies.  “This scholarship lets us pay tribute to a pioneer of the civil rights movement, and for some students, it may be the thing that enables them to pursue their dream of a college education.  The scholarship will be of importance to the University for generations to come, by helping keep our student body diverse, and by enabling us to recruit and retain ambitious students who have the desire to succeed academically, but who, unfortunately, do not have the financial means to attend college.”

The scholarship will be awarded to an incoming freshman who comes from an under-represented population, therefore contributing to the diversity of the student body, and who demonstrates financial need by qualifying for a Pell Grant at any level.  Eligibility also requires a high school GPA of at least a 3.25 out of 4 points and an ACT score of at least 23.  The scholarship will be renewable as long as the recipient maintains a minimum GPA of 3 points out of 4 while enrolled at the University of Memphis.

Information about applying for the Maxine Smith Scholarship is available by phone at 901-678-3213 or online at

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