03/18/2024 McMurry News

Lori Robinson

(Abilene, Texas, March 18,2024) – On March 21, 2024, McMurry University will hold its 11th Annual Women’s Leadership Luncheon with guest speaker General Lori J. Robinson, a retired United States Air Force general. She will share her insights on female leadership and the dynamics between men and women in leadership roles. The event will begin at 11:45 a.m. in the Kimbrell Arena on the McMurry campus, and all proceeds benefit the Dr. Sandra S. Harper Women’s Leadership Scholarship at McMurry University.

Gen. Robinson was the first female to lead a unified combatant command when she was assigned Commander of United States Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command (USNORTHCOM) in 2016, making her the highest-ranking woman in U.S. military history. She began her Air Force career in 1982, retiring in 2018 following her 37-year distinguished military career.

“McMurry is honored to have General Robinson as our guest for the 11th Women’s Leadership Luncheon,” said Mike Hutchison, vice president for institutional advancement. “She is a woman of great accomplishments, and it is special because of McMurry’s relationship with Dyess Air Force Base to have her share her insights on women in leadership as we celebrate the eleventh year of this luncheon.” Hutchison is also recognized as the Honorary Wing Commander of the 7th Operations Group for the B-1 Bomber at Dyess Air Force Base.

Founded in 2014, the Dr. Sandra S. Harper Women’s Leadership Scholarship was established to honor McMurry University’s 10th and first woman president. Each year two $5,000 scholarships are awarded – one to a traditional-age and one to a non-traditional student (a student who began her college career over the age of 22). Seventeen scholarships have been awarded to McMurry women students who excel in the classroom and distinguish themselves through service. Forty applicants were received this year for the two scholarships. This year’s recipients are Trista Brown and Mary Davis.

The traditional scholarship recipient, Trista Brown, is a junior from Crosby, Texas. She majors in biology and plans to apply to veterinary school after graduation. Brown plays for the McMurry softball team and is currently the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee representative, where she can advocate for McMurry’s athletic program. Brown is the face of the McMurry Biology Content Club and narrates McMurry’s “Bio Bits” segments, which showcase science majors on social media.

Mary Davis, the non-traditional scholarship recipient, is from Abilene, Texas. She is in McMurry’s innovative Aides to Teach program, studying early childhood education. Her career with Abilene Independent School District began six years ago, working in the cafeteria. When an opportunity arose to move into the classroom as an ADAPT paraprofessional, she jumped at the chance. Since then, she has excelled in her positions and works at Craig Middle School as the campus receptionist. Post-graduation, she is eager to fulfill her dream of becoming a teacher.

General Robinson and Dr. Harper are women of first accomplishments. This year’s table décor will feature images of other women of first, including Mary E. Clarke, the first woman to achieve the class of major general in the United States Army; Eileen Collins, the first female pilot and commander in shuttle history; Marie Curie, the first woman to win a Nobel Prize; Katherine Graham, one for the first women publishers of an American newspaper; Antonia Novello, the first female and Hispanic U.S. Surgeon General; Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States; Katherine Switzer, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon; Junko Tabei, the first woman to summit Mount Everest; Madam C.J. Walker, the first female self-made millionaire in America; and Thocmetony – Sarah Winnemucca, the first Native American woman author.

Attendance continues to grow, with this year’s luncheon having one of the highest attendances in the event’s history. Hutchison added,” With such a distinguished guest as General Robinson and Abilene’s support and commitment to Dyess Air Force Base, McMurry knew that our community would be interested in attending – and we were right.” During General Robinson’s visit to McMurry, she will address a student forum, allowing students to engage with her and draw inspiration from her words.


Nicholas Ocheltree, Director of Integrated Communications

Robin Daniels, Vice President of Marketing and Communications