MUWAA Announces 2014 Alumni Award Recipients


Katy PacelliEmily Myers GarnerWilliam Peppy BiddyMable MurphreeCOLUMBUS, Miss. – Four deserving individuals are being recognized for contributions to their respective career fields and Mississippi University for Women by the MUW Alumni Association.

The award winners are Dr. Mabel M. Murphree of Tupelo and William “Peppy” Biddy of Columbus, as well as Emily Garner and Katy Pacelli, both of Jackson.

“On behalf of MUWAA, we are pleased to announce the 2014 Alumni Awards,” said Sherrie Cooper, president of MUWAA. “Their accomplishments reflect well on their success and also on the merits of the university that is honoring them.”

Dr. Mabel M. Murphree is the 2014 recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award. This award is extended to MUW alumni who have achieved professional distinction and made significant community service contributions at the local, national or international level, bringing distinction and honor to the university.

The Columbus native is the district director for Congressman Alan Nunnelee and oversees the congressman’s offices and activities in the first congressional district. Previously Murphree served as senior vice president of the CREATE Foundation. Prior to that, she served as Appalachian Regional Commission state director by appointment from Gov. Ronnie Musgrove.

Currently Murphree serves on the boards of the Community Development Foundation, North Mississippi Medical Center and Natchez Trace Parkway Association. She is a member of the Tupelo Rotary Club, the Link Center, Tupelo Symphony League and Tupelo Junior Auxiliary.

Murphree graduated in 1970 from MUW and later received her master’s degree and Ph.D. from Mississippi State University. She and her husband, Bill Murphree, reside in Tupelo and have two sons and three grandchildren.

William “Peppy” Biddy is the recipient of the 2014 Distinguished Achievement Award. The award is presented to alumni and friends of the university who have achieved professional distinction and made significant community service contributions at the local, national or international level, bringing distinction and honor to the university.

Biddy is currently chair of both the Department of Theatre and Department of Communication at Mississippi University for Women. During his tenure at The W he has received the Kossen Award for Faculty Excellence, the Lowndes County Educator of the Year Award and was named the 2008 Outstanding Faculty Honoree by HEADWAE. On campus Biddy has directed more than 35 full productions for MUW theatre.

He earned his MFA in theatre at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, and has worked as either actor, director or stage manager at such companies as the Dallas Theatre Center, Dallas Summer Musicals, Casa Manana in Ft. Worth, Texas, Dallas Children’s Theatre, Mill Mountain Theatre in Roanoke, Va., and New Stage Theatre in Jackson. He has served as the production manager for the Sundance Theatre Lab in Utah since 2000.

Emily Meyers Garner is being presented with the 2014 Alumni Service Award for consistently demonstrating outstanding commitment, dedication, leadership and service to the advancement of the university and alumni association.

Garner’s professional ventures include SOIRÉE, LLC, Event Planning & Public Relations and McLaughlin Garner Group, LLC. An avid volunteer, Garner currently serves as the 2013-14 chair of the St. Mark’s Preschool Parents Association and is an active member of the Junior League of Jackson where she has served in many leadership positions.

Garner was instrumental in endowing a scholarship in her family’s honor and recognizing the three generations of family members who claim MUW as their alma mater. She also helped create the Long Blue Line Silent Auction held at spring homecoming to benefit the MUWAA Legacy Scholarship Fund and MUW Faculty Awards and served as the guest speaker of the 2013 Magnolia Chain ceremony. Named 2006 Young Alum of the Year, Garner continues to support her university through student recruiting, lectures to the Division of Business & Communications and volunteer service.

Katy Canion Pacelli is the recipient of the 2014 Outstanding Recent Graduate Award, which recognizes alumni for outstanding contributions in their careers and to the university within 15 years of graduation from MUW.

Pacelli is the director of the Kelly Gene Cook, Sr. Charitable Foundation where she oversees day-to-day operations of the office in Jackson, managing more than 50 scholarship students as well as the budget and the teacher grant program.

She serves as president of the Jackson Metro Chapter of the MUWAA and is a member of the Junior League of Jackson. She also served as coordinator of community college recruitment for MUW and associate director of admission at Millsaps College.

The MUWAA exists to support and promote the mission of Mississippi University for Women while providing alumni engagement opportunities. Any person who has been officially enrolled for at least 12 semester hours and has not met donation requirements is considered a general member. A $40 donation to the university constitutes active membership and voting rights for the calendar year.

For more information, visit the Mississippi University for Women Alumni Association at

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