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Four successful CAS graduates honored with college awards

CAS Dean George Watson (center) with alumni honorees (from left) Frank B. Wickes, Johanna E. Murphy, Emily Young Denney and Maj. Gen. John R. Ewers Jr.

Four College of Arts and Sciences graduates were honored with Alumni Achievement Awards at the sixth annual Celebrating Achievement and Success ceremony, held May 19 in the Roselle Center for the Arts on the UD campus.

CAS chooses recipients of the award based on their many accomplishments since graduation and their continued involvement with and support for their alma mater. This year’s honorees have had successful careers in the fields of marketing, communications, the military and music education.

“Their dedication to our college helps strengthen our mission, vision and reach,” said Dean George Watson in presenting the awards.

Emily Young Denney ’98 ’06M

Emily Young Denney, who received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in communication from UD, currently serves as head of Global Communications at West Pharmaceutical Services, leading a team responsible for designing, implementing and managing the communication strategies for the company.

She previously was head of External Affairs at AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, where she worked for 17 years, serving multiple roles within U.S and Global Corporate Affairs. In 2012, she was recognized as a “Rising Star” by the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association for her noteworthy achievements in her field.

Denney serves as vice president on the Board of Directors at the Delaware’s Children’s Museum and director at large for corporate relations for the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association.

During her acceptance speech, Denney called UD “the college of my dreams” and expressed gratitude to professors of communication and the impact they made on her. She also mentioned her involvement in Greek life while a student and said that serving as president of her chapter taught her leadership qualities that have helped her get where she is today.

“It’s a pleasure to be engaged as an alum and a gift to come back here and remember when it all began,” said Young, who continues to support the University as an active alumni volunteer.

Maj. Gen. John R. Ewers Jr. ’81

John Ewers received his bachelor’s degree in philosophy and political science from the University in 1981 and went on to Georgetown University Law Center, where he graduated cum laude with a Juris Doctor degree.

Ewers later earned a Master of Laws degree as an honor graduate of the U.S. Army’s Judge Advocate General School. He was commissioned as a Marine second lieutenant in 1984 and certified as a judge advocate shortly after.

He rose through the ranks of the U.S. Marine Corps and was deployed to Iraq twice, earning many military decorations including the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, Navy-Marine Corps Commendation Medal and Navy-Marine Corps Achievement Medal. In 2014, he was promoted to his current rank of major general and became staff judge advocate to the commandant of the Marine Corps.

Ewers told the audience at the awards ceremony that he came to UD to play football but had no idea where he was headed in life until he met the late James R. Soles, a faculty member in the Department of Political Science and International Relations for 34 years.

“He gave me a sense of scholarship and a sense of service,” Ewers said. “I owe a great deal of my success to the University of Delaware and to Jim Soles.”

Johanna E. Murphy ’92

In 1992, Johanna Murphy graduated from UD with a bachelor’s degree in political science. Today, she is an executive in the fashion industry, where she has worked with brands such as Calvin Klein, Burberry and Kate Spade. She currently is chief marketing officer at Ivanka Trump, where she is responsible for the company’s overall brand strategy.

Murphy has been a pioneer in online fashion marketing, leading the team that nearly doubled digital business at Kate Spade with a new social media strategy. She has also held several leadership roles at GSI Commerce (now eBay), leading the fashion and luxury practice, and Razorfish, one of the largest digital agencies in the world.

In 2013, she was named one of the Top 50 Women In Brand Marketing by Brand Innovators.

When she first came to UD, Murphy said, she was planning a career as a doctor. She said it wasn’t until the late Chuck Stone, a nationally respected journalist who taught at UD from 1984-91, complimented her writing and told her she had potential as a writer that she decided to explore other options besides medical school.

“I loved telling stories,” she said, “and I never would have appreciated that” interest and ability without Prof. Stone’s encouragement. She called her recognition by her alma mater “absolutely humbling.”

Frank B. Wickes ’59

Frank Wickes came to UD on a basketball scholarship, and although athletics kept him busy, his love of music was able to blossom into a full-grown passion during his time as an undergraduate. After earning his bachelor’s degree in music, he went on to earn two master’s degrees in music and music education from the University of Michigan.

Wickes taught music in high schools and college and was a professor and director of bands for 30 years at Louisiana State University, where he currently is the Carruth Alumni Professor Emeritus.

During his time at LSU, he received numerous awards and in 2010, he was inducted into the National Band Association Hall of Fame of Distinguished Band Conductors. The LSU Tiger Marching Band, which he directed, in 1997 was named the outstanding marching band of the SEC, and in 2002 it received the Sudler Trophy for a distinguished history of marching and performance excellence.

Although Wickes had grown up with music, he attributed much of his success to the UD Department of Music and the faculty members who were his mentors and teachers. Throughout his career, he said, “I never for one minute doubted that I should be in the field of music education. I loved it.”

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Four College of Arts and Sciences graduates were honored with Alumni Achievement Awards at the sixth annual Celebrating Achievement and Success ceremony.

Four College of Arts and Sciences graduates were honored with Alumni Achievement Awards at the college's sixth annual Celebrating Achievement and Success ceremony, held May 19 in UD's Roselle Center for the Arts.

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