By Greg Russell
Melanie Stovall Murry was content to stay out of the spotlight earlier this year
as a team of law students from the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law won the prestigious
Thurgood Marshall Mock Trial national championship. She watched from the sidelines
as the U of M students beat teams from Harvard, DePaul, Texas Wesleyan and St. Mary’s.
A recent award, though, has put Murry at the center of attention.
Murry, at left, was presented the Distinguished Employee of the Year Award during
a ceremony in June. At right is University Counsel Sheri Lipman. (Photo by Rhonda
Murry, associate counsel at the U of M, was selected as the University’s Distinguished
Administrator of the Year earlier this summer.
“I love working with students,” said Murry. “It is great to help them reach and (even)
surpass their potential. We have some fantastic students at the law school and it
has been an honor to work with them.”
Murry said she strives for perfection in her job as University associate counsel while
also trying to change a misperception.
“Most people fear lawyers or think having to deal with legal is a bad thing,” she
said. “I hope I can change that perception.”
Murry’s co-coach at the mock trial championship, Bridgett Stigger, said Murry achieves
the mission of the University every day.
“She competently interprets the rules, laws and regulations of the University. She
motivates the students who work for her to pursue excellence.”
Ingrid Powell Wilson of the legal department agrees.
“She goes the extra mile to help students, employees and visitors to campus,” said
Wilson. “And Melanie does not differentiate in how she treats people. It does not
matter if you are an employee in physical plant, a student or a vice president, she
treats everyone with respect and dignity.”
Mock trail team member Joseph McKinney said Murry made all the difference in winning
the national championship.
“What set us apart was our preparation,” McKinney said. “Coach Murry’s philosophy
is to prepare us to be great lawyers. While winning is her goal, her main goal is
to teach us advocacy skills that we can transfer from the competition to the actual
practice of law.”
Murry said she is anticipating the University’s upcoming centennial celebration, especially
“I can’t wait to see the tigers around the city,” she said in referring to the Alumni
Association’s “Tigers Around Town” campaign that will place 100 tiger statues throughout
the Greater Memphis area.