News Release: International, Law, People

Oct. 4,  2011

2011 Emory Medalists Honored for Dedication to the Greater Good

Two of Emory University’s most distinguished and dedicated graduates will receive one of the university’s highest honors, the Emory Medal, Thursday, Oct. 6 in a special ceremony on the Emory campus. The 2011 Emory Medalists include:

  • Mary Ann B. Oakley, a skilled lawyer who has distinguished herself through her legal work and accomplishments for civil rights, and
  • James Turpin, a doctor and humanitarian who founded a thriving international non-profit devoted to providing health care to underserved communities around the world.

Awarded by the Emory Alumni Association (EAA), the Emory Medal is the highest university award given to alumni.

Mary Ann B. Oakley

Mary Ann B. Oakley

As a highly regarded lawyer based in Atlanta, Mary Ann B. Oakley has dedicated her life and career to changing and enforcing the law to improve the rights of women and minorities through her work on behalf of reproductive rights, children’s rights and employment law. Her professional activities have ranged from chairing the State Board of Bar Examiners and the Investigative Panel of the State Bar, to presiding over fundraising for the Georgia Legal Services Program. She began her career in private practice, ultimately becoming a partner in several firms, including Holland and Knight in Atlanta.

During her many years as an employment lawyer, she spent countless hours in the courtroom fighting for the rights of employees. Oakley has been an integral part of the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Guardian ad Litem program, and has appeared regularly in court pro bono on behalf of children in the middle of some of the most challenging custody and visitation cases the program sees. She was listed among the Best Lawyers in America for close to two decades, among numerous honors. Oakley earned a master’s degree from the Institute of Liberal Arts at Emory in 1970, and her juris doctor degree from Emory Law School in 1974.

James Turpin

James Turpin

Doctor and humanitarian James Turpin founded Project Concern International (PCI) in 1961. The San Diego–based health and humanitarian organization works to promote health and self-sufficiency in poverty-stricken populations by preventing disease, improving community health, and supporting sustainable development.

Turpin, inspired by his volunteer work in clinics in Mexico, officially started PCI in China on a 62-foot barge turned into a modern floating clinic called the Yauh Oi (Brotherly Love) on Hong Kong harbor. Due to Turpin’s 50 years of unwavering dedication, PCI now operates in 19 countries with programs in Africa, Asia and the Americas, reaching more than 5.5 million people. Though Turpin is retired, he continues to volunteer and visit PCI bases around the world. His work led him to receive the Red Cross Humanitarian of the Year Award in 1994. 

Turpin also was recently named one of Emory’s “175 History Makers” in honor of the university’s 175th anniversary this year. Turpin earned two degrees from Emory: a bachelor’s degree in 1949 and a medical degree in 1955. He also studied at Emory’s Candler School of Theology.

“Once again this year, our Emory Alumni Board nominating committee has selected two outstanding recipients to receive the prestigious Emory Medal Award,” says Allison Dykes, vice president of the Emory Alumni Association. “The caliber of these alumni, their tremendous accomplishments and the good they have done and continue to do for society, make me enormously proud to count them as Emory alumni.”

About the Emory Medal

The Emory Medal was first awarded in 1946 and is one of the highest honors given by the university. Designed and first cast in 1987, the medal is Emory's highest alumni honor. It previously was known as the Alumni Association Award of Honor, and has been awarded to more than 150 alumni. The medal is emblazoned with Emory's seal, which features the university motto, Cor prudentis possidebit scientiam: "The prudent heart will possess knowledge."

Honorees are recognized for their accomplishments in at least one of the following areas: distinguished service to Emory, the Emory Alumni Association or a constituent alumni association; distinguished community or public service; or distinguished achievement in business, the arts, government, education or other professions.

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