LaGrange College will recognize three new honorees for its Wall of Outstanding Alumni during homecoming ceremonies Friday, and will introduce the inaugural class of Honorary Alumni during a recognition breakfast Saturday morning.
This year’s Wall recipients are Karen Faye Bullock ’75, M ’77 of Peachtree City; Dr. Steven Randall Harris ’88 of Pike, Ky.; and Dr. Sherry L. Thrasher ’01 of Fayetteville, N.C.
Those being named as honorary alumni are Dr. Walter and Marianne Murphy, H. Speer Burdette III and Nancy Thomas Alford.
Wall of Outstanding Alumni
Bullock received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s in education from LaGrange College. In 1991, she earned a Specialist in Administration and Supervision degree from the State University of West Georgia.
She served as principal of Kedron Elementary School in Peachtree City from 2002-2009, and was a teacher and administrator for the Fayette County School System from 1978-2009.
During her tenure at Kedron Elementary, the school was designated as a Georgia School of Excellence by the Georgia Department of Education in 2006 and as a Platinum School by the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement for 2005-2008. It was nationally recognized as a Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education in 2006.
Bullock was recognized as a high-performance principal 2006-08 by Gov. Sonny Perdue and State Schools Superintendent Kathy Cox; served as president of the Fayette County Association Educators 1985-86 and 2000-01; and received the Administrator of the Year Award at the school level in 2001.
In addition to her work at Kedron, she served as assistant principal at Spring Hill Elementary in Fayetteville from 2000-02; Brooks Elementary in Brooks from 1996-2000; and at Peachtree Elementary from 1988-96. Her teaching career included working as a fifth-grade teacher at Fayetteville Elementary from 1978-85 and fourth-grade teacher at Hollis Hand Elementary from 1975-1978.
Her community awards include founder of the annual Fayette County Pumpkin Wall, a Fayetteville/Main Street event; member of the board of directors for Fayette YMCA, 2001-04; volunteer construction manager for all-volunteer Fayette County Play Park, 1991; and nominee for Fayette County Schools Friends Mentoring Program’s Mentor of the Year, 2011-12.
Bullock is a member of Alpha Omicron Pi sorority, volunteer for the Fayette County Friends Mentoring Program; president of Fayette County Retired Educators Association 2012-13; historian for Alpha Delta Kappa, the international honorary organization for women educators; member of the board of directors for the Lois Woodward Scholarship Fund for the afterschool programs of Fayette County; and a volunteer in the Bee Hive/Teacher Resource Center for Fayette County School System 2009-13.
She is a member of National Heights Baptist Church in Fayetteville, a special-event planner and an interview coach for perspective education candidates to enhance their chances of getting a job as an educator in the Fayette County School System.
Dr. Thrasher graduated cum laude from LaGrange College with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She earned her master’s in rehabilitative and disability studies from Springfield (Mass.) College in 2003, a doctorate in clinical psychology from Georgia School of Professional Psychology in Atlanta and a postdoctoral fellowship in neuropsychology at Yale University School of Medicine.
She served internships at Youth Villages Organization in Cookeville, Tenn.; Well Star Outpatient Hospital in Marietta, Ga.; West Georgia Psychiatric Center in LaGrange; and Atlanta VA Medical Center.
Dr. Thrasher taught in LaGrange College’s Evening Program from 2006-2007 and in the traditional program from 2011-2012. She also worked as a clinical neuropsychologist at Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation in Warm Springs from 2011-12 and is now serving at Fayetteville Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Fayetteville, N.C.
She is active in the Church of Christ, a volunteer for Camp Diva (a camp for underprivileged girls in Meriwether County), a participant in the National Walk for Epilepsy and Walk to End Alzheimer’s and an active member of the LaGrange College Alumni Association.
Dr. Thrasher is a member of the American Psychological Association, the International Neuropsychological Society and the National Academy of Neuropsychology.
She remains active in research projects at Yale University School of Medicine and has delivered multiple presentations at local and national conferences.
Dr. Harris earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry from LaGrange College, a master’s degree in pharmacology and toxicology from Auburn University and a doctorate in pharmacology and toxicology from the University of Georgia.
He was born in North Carolina but lived most of his life in Georgia. Following postdoctoral training at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md., he moved to Pikeville in 1998 to organize and teach the medical pharmacology course at the University of Pikeville-Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine.
He served as associate dean for basic sciences from 2002-08, and as associate dean for academic affairs from 2008-present, where he oversees grants, the four-year COM curriculum and faculty development. He also chairs the curriculum committee. He is the course director for the medical pharmacology course and holds the faculty rank of professor.
Dr. Harris is a member of American Medical School Pharmacologists, American Association for Cancer Research, International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids (charter member), American Society of Toxicology, American Southeastern Society of Toxicology, Rho Chi Pharmaceutical Honors Society and Sigma Xi Science Honor Society.
He received the Golden Apple Award for Teaching Excellence 14 times in 14 years; the Student Advocate Award five times; the KYCOM Administrator of the Year three times; the Joseph P. LaRocca Award for Research Excellence at the University of Georgia in 1995; and is included in Who’s Who in American Universities and Colleges.
Dr. Harris also is active in his community, where he has coached YMCA football, baseball and basketball teams. He has been a member of Pikeville United Methodist Church since 1998 where he chairs the staff parish relations committee, served as a lay leader from 2007-2010 and as a Sunday School teacher from 2000-present.
He is married to Barbara (Barrow) Harris ’88, and they have three children – Stephanie, an early childhood education major at LaGrange College; Samantha; and Andrew.
Honorary Alumni Awards
Nancy Thomas Alford earned a bachelor’s degree from Georgia College in Milledgeville and a master’s degree from the University of Tennessee. She did further graduate study at Auburn University and Georgia State University. She has held positions at Sullins College in Bristol, Va.; Ashley Hall in Charleston, S.C.; and in public schools in Greensboro, N.C., and Knoxville, Tenn.
A native of Waynesboro, Alford came to LaGrange College in 1969 as assistant professor of health and physical education. In 1978, she was named associate dean of student development and in 1986, she became dean of student development.
During her 38 years on the Hill, she served as assistant professor and dean of the Non-traditional Program, chair of the Health and Physical Education Department and professor emeritus.
She has held membership in the Georgia Association of Women’s Deans, Counselors and Administrators; the Georgia College Personnel Association; and Southeaster Association of Housing Officers.
Alford lives in West Point and is a member of West Point United Methodist Church.
H. Speer Burdette III earned a bachelor’s degree in math from Vanderbilt University and a master’s of business administration in accounting from the University of Alabama.
In his career as a certified public accountant, he worked at Arthur Anderson & Co. in Atlanta from 1976-79 and J.K. Boatwright & Co. in LaGrange from 1979-2002. Since 2003, he has been president of Callaway Foundation, Inc., Fuller E. Callaway Foundation and Charitable Services Company.
He began his service at the college as a consultant for the Board of Trustees from 1989-2000. He was named to the board in December 2000 and served on the Executive Committee and as Chair of the investment subcommittee. He rotated off the board in 2011.
Burdette serves on the boards of the Downtown LaGrange Development Authority, Troup County Recreation Commission, Industrial Development Authority, LaGrange Personal Aid Association, Medical Park Foundation and West Georgia Health. He is also on the boards of Hutchinson Traylor Insurance Agency and Commercial Bank & Trust Company.
He is a member of First Presbyterian Church, where he is an elder. He is married to Debbie Burdette, who is a member of the Troup County School Board. They have three children; Katie, Becky and Bo, and one grandchild, Brooklyn.
Walter and Marianne Murphy came to LaGrange College in 1980 when he became the college’s 23rd president. Together they served until 1996.
Dr. Murphy earned his bachelor’s degree from Emory University in three years and was tapped by Phi Beta Kappa. He was a member of Sigma Chi social fraternity. He earned his Master of Divinity degree from Candler School of Theology and honorary doctorates from Bethune-Cookman College and LaGrange College.
He served churches in the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church before being named director of religious life and instructor in social studies at Oxford College of Emory University. He also was minister at Allen Memorial Church on the campus.
He served as minister at St. James United Methodist Church in Athens, then moved to Florida Southern College as assistant to the president, dean of students and eventually vice president. After 10 years, he moved to Andrew College in Cuthbert, Ga., where he served for four years as president before coming to LaGrange.
During his tenure on the Hill, the size of the campus doubled after a donation of land and facilities from Callaway Foundation, Inc. Several major building projects took place, including the Lamar Dodd Art Center and the Fuller E. Callaway Academic Building. Renovations to Smith Hall and Hawkes Hall also were spearheaded by Dr. Murphy.
The college’s endowment more than tripled during his presidency – from $8 million to $22 million. He presided over the installation of computer technology across the campus, implemented a land-use plan with extensive landscaping, and increased enrollment significantly.
Dr. Murphy was elected vice president of the Georgia Fund for Independent Colleges in 1982, and president of the National Association of Schools and Colleges of the United Methodist Church in 1990.
His community activities included work with the Rotary Club, serving as district governor. The LaGrange Rotary Club established the Walter Y. Murphy Scholarship Fund in 1998 in his honor. It has reached in excess of $250,000.
He was president of the Chattahoochee Council of the Boy Scouts and volunteered with the United Way, serving as president one year. He is a member of First United Methodist Church, the American Heart Association and the board of the Salvation Army. He also served on the executive committee of the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce, and on the board of the Troup County Historical Society. In 2011 he was named by the Council of the Boy Scouts in LaGrange as Citizen of the Year.
He was instrumental in the formation of the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra in 1989, and he continues to serve as director emeritus.
Dr. and Mrs. Murphy grew up in Thomaston, Ga., and both graduated from Robert E. Lee Institute.
Marianne Murphy is a graduate of Tift College with a degree in speech and English. She taught high school English in DeKalb County Schools while Walter was in seminary at Emory. She and Walter were high school sweethearts, and they were married immediately after she graduated college.
Mrs. Murphy helped in the organization of the LaGrange Symphony Guild and was president for two years. She was president of her garden club and has been a member of the Reviewers Guild Book Club since 1980. She is a member of First United Methodist Church.
They have two daughters, Julianne and Clare, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
A four-year liberal arts and sciences college affiliated with the United Methodist Church, LaGrange College is consistently ranked in the top 10 among Southern colleges by U.S.News & World Report. The college, an award winner in sustainability, is the oldest private institution of higher learning in Georgia.