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Elizabeth Perkins Prothro and Robert Priddy named 2006 Southwestern University Medal recipients

Four longtime supporters of Southwestern University have received one of the University’s highest honors - the Southwestern University Medal. The medals are given for contributions to the University, either through service or philanthropy.

The medals were presented March 31 at a luncheon on campus. The luncheon was held in conjunction with the kickoff for Southwestern University’s $125 million “Thinking Ahead” fundraising campaign.

Houston businessman James V. Walzel received the award for his longtime service to Southwestern University’s Board of Trustees. Walzel is stepping down as Board chair this fall after serving in that position for six years. During this time, he helped guide a presidential transition, initiated a new 10-year strategic plan and helped plan for the largest fundraising initiative in the University’s history. He also had made several personal contributions to the University, and will continue to serve as a member of the Board of Trustees.

“Jim’s gifts to Southwestern and his work on its behalf are appreciated more than we can say,” said Southwestern University President Jake B. Schrum.

“It’s been a real pleasure for me to do the work I do for Southwestern University,” Walzel said in accepting the award.

Also receiving the medal were three Wichita Falls residents - Elizabeth Perkins Prothro and Robert and Ruby Priddy.

The Priddys received the medal for their support of Southwestern’s Paideia® Program, which challenges students to make connections between their learning in the classroom and issues facing the world. The program was launched in 2002 with the help of an $8.5 million grant from the Priddy Charitable Trust.

“The extraordinary grant from the Priddy Trust gives Southwestern the opportunity to become one of the most distinctive undergraduate colleges in America,” said President Jake B. Schrum. “We will forever be grateful for their belief in this concept of Paideia integrated into a liberal arts education.”

Prothro is the daughter of two longtime Southwestern supporters, Lois Craddock Perkins and Jay J. Perkins. The Perkins-Prothro Foundation has donated $3.5 million for the construction of a new building at Southwestern that will be called the Charles and Elizabeth Prothro Center for Lifelong Learning. The new building will house the Paideia(R) Program, provide classroom space, and enable students to receive academic, career and technological support in one place.

“Elizabeth represents the legacy of a family that has meant so much to Southwestern,” Schrum said. “She truly understands the benefit of a liberal arts education in a church-related college. She and her family believe that a Southwestern education is truly transformative.”

The Southwestern University Medal was first presented in 1998. Previous recipients of the award include Red McCombs, Red and Genevieve Caldwell, Bernice Kilgore Giddings, Benjamin R. Oliphint and Evie Jo Craven Wilson.

The medals are cast in bronze and are a faithful reproduction of Southwestern’s official seal, which was adopted in 1879. The seal has four interwoven rings that represent Southwestern’s four root colleges - Rutersville College, Weslayan College, McKenzie College and Soule University. The rings are united by a superimposed shield representing Southwestern today.