The Mississippi University for Women Alumni Association (MUWAA) is proud to announce the recipients of its 2023 awards, which recognize exceptional achievements and contributions to the university and the community. The awards were presented during Mississippi University for Women’s Homecoming Convocation held April 1.

Lesley Norwood Davis (’06), Dr. Kendall Dunkelberg, Edmond McDavis III (’03) and Dr. Alex Torres (’14) were recognized for their contributions.

“I am so incredibly honored to recognize these esteemed alumni and award winners. Their unwavering dedication and support to our alma mater and the world around us is truly remarkable. We are all proud of their accomplishments as those actions not only bring pride and recognition to our beloved university, but also inspire current and future generations,” said current MUWAA President Symone Bounds.

Edmond McDavis III

Edmond McDavis III (’03) was the recipient of the Alumni Achievement Award. The award is presented to alumni and friends of The W 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. McDavis is director of the Tennessee Delta Alliance, a new organization aimed at improving ecotourism in the five counties in Tennessee that border the Mississippi River, as a member of the Great River Road. From 2006 to 2019, he was the communications coordinator for Keep Tennessee Beautiful, a part of the University of Memphis, before serving as affiliate services and training coordinator from 2019 to 2022.

“This is a great challenge that I’m meeting head-on, as this region of the state deals with flooding from the river and poverty in some of its counties,” McDavis said. “I look forward to utilizing my experience from my years at Keep Tennessee Beautiful to serve these folks and combat the issues that they’ve accepted as part of everyday life. I also look forward to learning from other members of the 10-state coalition that I’m now a part of as the representative for Tennessee.”

McDavis was honored in 2017 as Nonprofit Recycler of the Year by the Tennessee Recycling Coalition and in 2019 with the National Cigarette Litter Prevention Award from Keep America Beautiful.

Davis was recipient of the Alumni Achievement Award which is presented to alumni of the university who have consistently demonstrated outstanding commitment, dedication, leadership and service to the advancement of the university and alumni association.

Lesley Norwood Davis

She is chief marketing officer of Waggoner Engineering, a regional engineering firm serving clients throughout the southeast. Davis oversees all firm marketing operations including sales, brand positioning, communications and overall revenue growth. At Waggoner, she is an inaugural member of the firm’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee.

Previously Davis was an integrated account executive at DEVENEY, a boutique, research-driven marketing agency specializing in crisis, hospitality, health care and higher education. She provided strategic support for 14 client accounts and managed multiple client accounts. Davis has served in multiple positions for the Southeast Louisiana chapter of the Society for Marketing Professional Services, including its communications, SeLAbration and Regional Conference Committees and as membership chair for the chapter’s board of directors.

For MUWAA, Davis recently served as part of the social media committee for the Long Blue Line Auction. For the past two years, she also served as an alternate for the Nominations and Elections Committee. From 2020-2021, Davis served as part of the Public Relations Committee. She was a key volunteer for MUWAA’s inaugural BLUE event, working to brainstorm the naming of the event, designing the brochure, nominating panelists and providing Facebook Live content.

Dr. Kendall Dunkelberg

Dunkelberg was presented the Distinguished Achievement Award at convocation. The award is extended to faculty, staff 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.

Dunkelberg has taught English at the university since 1994, serving as adviser to Dilettanti and Sigma Tau Delta. He is director of the Eudora Welty Writers’ Symposium, editor of Poetry South and adviser for Ponder Review.

Dunkelberg is a member of the Association of Writers & Writing Programs and served as co-executive director of the Southern Literary Festival Association from 2015 to 2018. He served as president of the Southern Literary Festival Association in 2010. He was featured poet in Delta Poetry Review in June 2022 and in Valley Voices in spring 2019. He was keynote speaker for the Mississippi Philological Association in March 2019.

The Outstanding Recent Graduate Award was presented to Torres. The award recognizes recent graduates for outstanding service and contributions in their careers and to the university within 15 years following graduation.

Torres has more than 10 years of experience of facilitating and advocating for implementing culturally sustaining and healing-centered educational approaches in public schools and higher education institutions in the Deep South. She was a founding member of the Baton Rouge Immigrant Rights Coalition, worked closely with the Louisiana Organization for Refugees and Immigrants and served as the inaugural Latinx Director for Louisiana State University. Torres was a member of the LSU LGBTQ+ caucus and co-developed the educational justice non-profit Humanities Amped, which she leads as board president.

Dr. Alex Torres

She is a residency coordinator for Windcall Institute, which provides retreats for activists and organizers. She has served as LSU Reily Center Community Collaborative Grant reviewer and as a member of the East Baton Rouge Public School System Social Emotional Learning Task Force and the Baton Rouge Mayor’s International Relations Commission. In 2021, Torres received the James Olney Distinguished Dissertation Award from the LSU Department of English. She is also the recipient of the Rise and Shine Leadership Award from the Louisiana Organization for Refugees and Immigrants, the LSU Center for Community Engagement, Learning and Leadership “Happy” Award, and a fellowship from Andover Bread Loaf Summer Writing Workshop.

About The W

Located in historic Columbus, Mississippi, The W was founded in 1884 as the first state-supported college for women in the United States. Today, the university is home to 3,453 students in more than 70 majors and concentrations and has educated men for 40 years. The university is nationally recognized for low student debt, diversity and social mobility which empowers students to BE BOLD.

Be Bold. Tower with Blue.