By Maggie Barrett
February 3, 2005
Wake Forest University presented the Medallion of Merit to Dr. Timothy Pennell of Winston-Salem and Willis Murphrey III of Roanoke Rapids at the university’s Founders’ Day Convocation on Feb. 3. The Medallion of Merit is Wake Forest’s highest award for service to the university. Wake Forest President Thomas K. Hearn Jr. presented the awards during the ceremony in Wait Chapel featuring speaker James Carville, Democratic strategist and host of CNN’s “Crossfire.”
Several faculty awards were also presented during the ceremony.
Pennell, professor emeritus of surgery at the Wake Forest School of Medicine, was a member of the school’s faculty for 37 years. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in 1955 and his medical degree in 1960, both from Wake Forest. In addition to serving as professor of surgery, Pennell was chief of professional services at North Carolina Baptist Hospital for 14 years.
Pennell has embarked on countless medical missions and was involved in more than 20 medical mission organizations throughout the world. He also served as president of the Southeastern Surgical Congress, the North Carolina Chapter of the American College of Surgeons and the North Carolina Surgical Association.
Murphrey, affectionately known as “Doc,” is a former North Carolina district attorney and is well-known for his loyalty to Wake Forest. In his “History of Wake Forest,” Bynum Shaw wrote of him, “To students of every generation he symbolized friendliness, school spirit, and devotion to Wake Forest.”
Murphrey entered Wake Forest as a freshman in 1946, but interrupted his undergraduate studies to serve in the U.S. military. He returned to complete his Bachelor of Science degree in 1952 and his law degree in 1957. A member of Wake Forest’s Half Century Club, he served two terms on the Alumni Council and received the Alumni Association’s Distinguished Alumni Award.
Murphrey’s devotion to his alma mater was most visible in the stands at Wake Forest football games. He attended every home football game, rain or shine, always wearing his trademark straw “boater” hat. When spirits were low, he would leave the stands to join the cheerleaders and encourage the crowd to raise their voices. Wake Forest Magazine once described him as “indefatigable” because of his die-hard devotion.
University awards for teaching and research were also presented to faculty during convocation.
James Powell, associate professor of classical languages, was awarded the Kulynych Family Omicron Delta Kappa Award for contribution to student life. The Reid-Doyle Prize for Excellence in Teaching was presented to Martin Guthold, associate professor of physics. The Award for Excellence in Research was presented to Ulrich Bierbach, assistant professor of chemistry. The Kienzle Teaching Award was presented to Jonathan Pinder, associate professor of management. Simone Rose, professor of law, was awarded the Joseph Branch Excellence in Teaching Award. Timothy Smunt, professor of management, was presented the Cowan Faculty Research Prize.