2017 Distinguished Alumni to Receive Awards During Homecoming/Reunion Weekend

three photos, side by side, of smiling college alumni
(l-r) Dr. Joe McCord ’66, Dr. Sandra Waller Shelton ’76, Pat Morgan ’91

Annual awards will be presented at Rhodes College’s Alumni Convocation on Oct. 28 during Homecoming/Reunion Weekend. Dr. Joe McCord from the Class of 1966 will receive the Distinguished Alumni Award; Dr. Sandra Waller Shelton from the Class of 1976, the Black Student Association’s Distinguished Alumni Award; and Pat Morgan from the Class of 1991, the Distinguished Service Award.

Distinguished Alumni Award 

The Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes an alumnus or alumna who has brought honor to Rhodes College through extraordinary achievement in his or her profession and community.

After receiving a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Rhodes in 1966, Dr. Joe McCord pursued a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Duke University. There in 1968, he made the discovery of the antioxidant superoxide dismutase, based on extensive findings of his mentor Dr. Irwin Fridovich. McCord received the Elliott Cresson Medal from the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia in 1997 for his work discovering the biology of free radical reactions in living organisms.

In a 1997 Rhodes magazine interview, McCord recognized Prof. Harold Lyons for encouraging him to become a biochemist. “It was my honors research in Dr. Lyons’ laboratory that confirmed my career choice and prepared me for graduate work at Duke.” 

McCord has held faculty positions at Duke University Medical Center, University of South Alabama, and the University of Colorado Denver. He also served as chief science officer of LifeVantage, which offers science-based, research-backed products. McCord currently lives in West Palm Beach, FL.

Black Student Association’s Distinguished Alumni Award 

Established in 1998, the Black Student Association’s Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes African American alumni whose record of outstanding personal achievement and service to others has inspired Rhodes students and brought honor to their alma mater. 

Dr. Sandra Waller Shelton received a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1976 and currently is the KPMG/Neil F. Casson Endowed Professor of Accountancy at DePaul University. Her research interests focus on judgment and decision-making issues with financial information. 

Shelton has been involved in the KPMG Foundation’s PhD Project and Accounting Doctoral Students Association since their inceptions. These initiatives were developed to enlarge the pool of minority business school faculty members, create role models and mentors for minority business students, and support diversity in business. Shelton was inducted into the PhD Project Hall of Fame in 2014 and honored by the Accounting Doctoral Students Association in 2017 for her outstanding service, leadership, and commitment to the accounting profession.

A resident of Evanston, IL, Shelton has served on the boards of Evanston Community Foundation, Second Baptist Church, Blue Ribbon Committee of the City of Evanston, McGaw YMCA, and the North Shore Chapter of the Links, Inc., just to name a few.

Distinguished Service Award

The Distinguished Service Award recognizes individuals with outstanding service to the greater community.

A resident of Memphis, TN, Pat Morgan enrolled at Rhodes College when she was 48, at a time the college was seeking out non-traditional students. “To go back to school at my age, at a beautiful liberal arts school with superior professors was an incredible experience,” Morgan said once in an interview. “I wrapped up my time at Rhodes with the Washington semester program, and I realized my potential to make an impact on policy.” Morgan received a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1991. 

Morgan’s experiences include directing the Calvary Street Ministry in Memphis and serving in a dual position as a program analyst at the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness and as a special assistant at HUD in Washington, DC.  She also has served as the executive director of Partners for the Homeless, a public-private partnership in Memphis. She is author of the award-winning The Concrete Killing Fields, a memoir about her battle to break the cycle of homelessness.

In April 2017, Morgan was honored with the Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis’ Legend Award for her three decades of work to break the cycle of homelessness locally, statewide, and nationally.