University of Memphis honoring mayors Jim Strickland and Lee Harris, and Scott Forman with inaugural Rudi and Honey Scheidt Community Impact Award 

Oct. 13, 2020 — The University of Memphis has selected City of Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris and Scott Forman as the recipients of the Rudi and Honey Scheidt Community Impact Award in its inaugural class. 

The award has been created to honor UofM partners who go above and beyond to improve the Memphis community, and to highlight the University’s commitment to such partnerships. 

Rudi and Honey Scheidt were leaders in reviving, reshaping and expanding music education at the UofM through their generosity and commitment to enhancing the community. The UofM rechristened its music school the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music after a $3 million donation from the Scheidts in 2000 to revitalize the University’s opera program. The UofM is also in the process of building the 90,000-square-foot Scheidt Family Music Center, doubling the size of the current music school. 

“The impact of Rudi and Honey Scheidt’s significant and generous contributions to the community and the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music will be felt for many generations to come,” said UofM President M. David Rudd. “I can think of no better namesake for this award.” 

Scheidt family statement: “Our parents loved the University of Memphis whether it was academics, athletics or the arts. They believed the University was one of the most under-appreciated assets in our community. They supported the University with their time, not just with their giving, as they did with other organizations throughout this community. Even though they didn’t graduate from the University, they were both recipients of honorary doctorates and were True Blue all the time. We’re grateful to Dr. Rudd and honored that the UofM has named this award that reflects their commitment to the UofM and to Memphis in their memory.” 

Strickland, a 1986 graduate of the UofM and a 1989 graduate of the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, has worked closely with the UofM on numerous initiatives since taking office in 2016. His recent work with the University includes playing a vital role in a partnership that provided more than 1 million meals to Shelby County Schools students in need during the pandemic. The City of Memphis and UofM also created the COMPETE program in 2020, a partnership that allows City employees to earn a degree in a timely, cost-effective manner while being supported by a team dedicated to student success. 

“Through the years, the Scheidt family has done so much for our community, and I’m truly humbled and honored to receive this award,” Strickland said. “This year has been filled with challenges and uncertainty, but through it all, our community has risen to the task on every occasion. While I may be one of this year’s recipients, it would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of every Memphian helping us get through the trials this year brought with it.” 

Harris spent more than 13 years as a professor in the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law before being elected mayor in 2018. His office was an essential partner in the initiative that recently provided more than 1 million meals for Shelby County Schools students. Shelby County has a close relationship with the Department of Education that includes the River City Partnership — an innovative program helping local students become the next generation of teachers in the Memphis community. 

“I am humbled to be recognized with the Rudi and Honey Scheidt Community Impact Award,” said Harris. “Shelby County is blessed with selfless and community-minded individuals, like Rudy and Honey Scheidt, and extraordinary institutions, like the University of Memphis. We are in unprecedented times, where almost every part of our community has been called on to do more than before. Members of this community step up every day to meet this moment, no matter how hard things seem, no matter what new challenges emerge, no matter how many weeks the calendar says we’ve been at this. I am thrilled by this award, because this award is a testament to the strength and resilience of this community.” 

Forman served as the handler for TOM III, the UofM’s Bengal tiger mascot for nearly 12 years. TOM III passed away Sept. 18. As TOM III’s main caretaker, Forman built a special bond with the beloved tiger that lasted from the early years of his life through his time as mascot during one of the most exciting and successful eras of Memphis football. Forman is a 1998 UofM graduate. 

“I am beyond honored to be thought of for this award,” Forman said. “The Scheidt family is a giant in the Memphis cultural and philanthropic community, and it is humbling to be mentioned alongside their legacy. Memphis and our University that calls her home are both such special places, and I will always cherish being thought of as a contributor to their glory.”