The University of Memphis Alumni Association bestowed 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 received the 2013 Distinguished Alumnus Award; the
Outstanding Young Alumna Award was presented to Summer Owens; and Kathy and J.W. Gibson
were recognized as Distinguished Friends of the University.
|(From left) U of M Interim President Brad Martin, Alumni Association President Anita
Vaughn and DAA recipients Steve Cohen, Summer Owens and J.W. and Kathy Gibson were
recognized during the Homecoming football game against UT Martin. (Photo by Rhonda
Cohen (JD ’73)
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.
Owens (BBA ’01)
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 & 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.
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.