MURRAY, Ky. — Below is information regarding recent news, notes and accomplishments from Murray State University for the week of July 8-12.

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Murray State University students took home the 2019 YETI FLW College Fishing National Championship in Maryland last month.

Adam Puckett and Blake Albertson, both of Bloomington, Indiana, clocked in a three-day, 15 bass total of 51 pounds, 3 ounces to take home the $50,000 prize package, the first championship for the Racer fishing team. Their 3-ounce margin over second-place Bethel University is the smallest margin of victory in the tournament’s history.

The Racers emerged on top against a field that included several large universities, including Clemson University, Auburn University and West Virginia University.


Murray State University students took home the 2019 YETI FLW College Fishing National Championship in Maryland last month. Pictured from left are Adam Puckett and Blake Albertson.

“It was a huge accomplishment for both Blake and I and we’re proud to boast the Murray State name,” said Puckett, a junior majoring in agricultural science technology. “It’s also a huge accomplishment knowing other schools pay and provide everything for their anglers, and our club is student-ran and self-funded, and we are able to compete and always stay at the top of the leaderboard.”

“I’m absolutely speechless right now,” Albertson, a junior majoring in business administration, told FLW after the win. “This whole week could not have gone any better. It’s been unbelievable. We knew nothing about tidal water fisheries coming into this event. We came up here and really made it up as we went in practice, and everything just fell into place. This is just insane.”

“This is the biggest win our program has had in over five years,” said Nick Montilino, team president and business administration graduate from Minneapolis, Minnesota. “Blake and Adam are excellent anglers and have certainly earned the title. It is also a great reflection on our team as a whole. We have a lot of very good anglers here at Murray State, and our program has been knocking on the door for so long that it feels great to finally take one home.”

The team isn’t done just yet; Puckett and Albertson will compete against the best anglers in the world for the ultimate title at the 2019 FLW Cup on Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs, Arkansas, next month.

FLW is the world’s largest tournament fishing organization, providing anglers of all skill levels the opportunity to compete for millions in prize money in 2019 across five tournament circuits. Headquartered in Benton, Kentucky, with offices in Minneapolis, Minnesota, FLW and their partners conduct more than 290 bass fishing tournaments annually around the world, including the United States, Canada, China, Italy, South Korea, Mexico, Portugal, South Africa and Spain.

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Murray State University alum and ophthalmologist Dr. Jerry Shields is the 2019 Honoree of the Lucien Howe Medal from the American Ophthalmological Society. Shields, who is an ophthalmology professor at the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia as well as director emeritus and founder of the Wills Eye Ocular Oncology Department, was honored during the AOS meeting in Virginia in May.

The award recognizes Shields’ distinguished service throughout his career to the fields of ocular oncology and ophthalmology. He has been a leader for more than 50 years in the care and management of patients around the world with ocular tumors and eye disease. He has authored or co-authored over 1,800 scientific publications, close to 20 major textbooks and has presented 1,500 national and international scientific lectures, including 70 named lectures. 


Murray State University alum and ophthalmologist Dr. Jerry Shields is the 2019 Honoree of the Lucien Howe Medal from the American Ophthalmological Society.

He has received numerous professional awards including The American Academy of Ophthalmology’s highest honor, The Laureate Award, The National Physician of the Year Award for Clinical Excellence from Castle Connelly Medical Ltd, and is consistently named a Top Doctor by Philadelphia Magazine. 

First awarded in 1922, the Howe Medal is international in scope and has recognized some of the most lauded and influential ophthalmologists in history. 

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Dr. Tony Brannon, dean of the Hutson School of Agriculture, was recognized last month at the Kentucky FFA Foundation’s “Ag Teachers Change Lives” luncheon, held at the annual Kentucky FFA Convention in Lexington.

Brannon was nominated for the award by a core group of former students and current agriculture teachers from across the Commonwealth and many contributed monetarily to promote the Kentucky FFA Foundation in his honor. The award recognizes Brannon for his 31 years of teaching and mentoring agricultural education teachers and FFA members across Kentucky. A permanent plaque and photo signifying his induction into the “Ag Teachers Change Lives” wall of fame will be permanently displayed at the Kentucky FFA Leadership Center in Hardinsburg.

“I’m grateful for the recognition and appreciative of all the former students and associates who nominated me for the award and contributed on my behalf,” Brannon said. “I appreciate the Kentucky FFA Foundation for all they do to support the FFA members and shape future generations in agriculture.”


Dr. Tony Brannon, dean of the Hutson School of Agriculture, was recognized last month at the Kentucky FFA Foundation’s “Ag Teachers Change Lives” luncheon, held at the annual Kentucky FFA Convention in Lexington.

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Murray State University’s Army Reserve Officer Training Corps program had an active spring semester, participating in several events on campus and around the region.

Racer Madness is an annual event that Murray State’s ROTC program hosted on April 19. It consists of nine challenge lanes that test not only physical strength, but the mental toughness of each four-person team in the competition. This event also serves as a fundraiser for disabled veterans.

In March, Murray State cadets collaborated with other cadets from the University of Memphis, Austin Peay State University and the University of Tennessee at Martin for the annual four-day Joint Field Training Exercise (JFTX) to apply what they have learned over the past two semesters. This year, the JFTX was located at Camp McCain, Mississippi. The cadets from each school completed day and night land navigation courses, rifle qualification, tactical road marches, and practice of several special attacks (raid, ambush, etc).

Cadet Matthew Chinn, a Cadiz, Kentucky, native, graduated from Murray State with a Bachelor of Science in business administration and a minor in military science. His first duty assignment will be with the 149th MFC as a maintenance platoon leader.

This summer, several Murray State ROTC cadets are attending camps:

Advanced Camp

Fort Knox, Kentucky  

10 cadets attending

Basic Camp

Fort Knox, Kentucky

5 Cadets attending

Airborne School    

Fort Benning, Georgia

1 Cadet attending

Cadet Troop Leader Training

1 Cadet – Germany (infantry)

1 Cadet – Ft. Riley, Kansas (infantry)

1 Cadet – Ft. Bliss, Texas (air defense)

1 Cadet – South Korea (aviator)

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Murray State alum Bruce Thomas, ’90, and his wife, Joyce, have generously donated a print of Oakhurst bearing signatures of nearly a dozen Murray State presidents to the University.

The Thomases, of Cadiz, Kentucky, presented the gift to University President Dr. Bob Jackson recently. It bears the signature of 11 of the University’s last 14 presidents, going back to Dr. Ralph Woods, the university’s fourth president that served from 1945-68.

With the help of some family friends, Joyce said she was honored to take the print to each president’s office for a new signature before sealing it back in its frame.


Murray State alum Bruce Thomas, ’90, and his wife, Joyce, have generously donated a print of Oakhurst bearing signatures of nearly a dozen Murray State presidents to the University. From left are Joyce, Murray State President Dr. Bob Jackson and Bruce.

Photo 1 (Bass_Fishing.jpg): Murray State University students took home the 2019 YETI FLW College Fishing National Championship in Maryland last month. Pictured from left are Adam Puckett and Blake Albertson.

Photo 2 (Shields.jpg): Murray State University alum and ophthalmologist Dr. Jerry Shields is the 2019 Honoree of the Lucien Howe Medal from the American Ophthalmological Society. 

Photo 3 (Brannon.jpg): Dr. Tony Brannon, dean of the Hutson School of Agriculture, was recognized last month at the Kentucky FFA Foundation’s “Ag Teachers Change Lives” luncheon, held at the annual Kentucky FFA Convention in Lexington.

Photo 4 (Oakhurst_print.jpg): Murray State alum Bruce Thomas, ’90, and his wife, Joyce, have generously donated a print of Oakhurst bearing signatures of nearly a dozen Murray State presidents to the University. From left are Joyce, Murray State President Dr. Bob Jackson and Bruce.

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