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Alumnus Establishes Prize in Philosophy Department to Honor Late OHIO Professor Emeritus

Alumnus Establishes Prize in Philosophy Department to Honor Late OHIO Professor Emeritus
The 1960’s was a turbulent time on college campuses all across the nation. Race riots, political assassinations, and the Draft made headlines in the daily news. For high school graduates, choosing a college to attend was often based on issues that had little to do with education. Clewell Smith chose to attend Ohio University on a whim, selecting it only because a good friend applied. His thought? It would be fun to room with someone he knew.

Fortunately for him, Smith was accepted and enrolled in a class that would change his life forever. The class was taught by a professor that would serve as a role model for years to come.

“As you go through life, you meet someone once or twice that ends up having a huge influence on you,” said Smith, who graduated in 1967 with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy. “Dr. Idus Murphree was that person for me. I remember being impressed with his teaching style right from the beginning. He was able to present difficult ideas in ways that made them understandable and exciting to learn.”

To demonstrate his gratitude to both OHIO and Murphree, Smith established the Idus Murphree Prize in Philosophy, an endowed prize that will support first-year graduate students in the Department of Philosophy in perpetuity.

“Giving back to Ohio University is my way of saying thank you” to Dr. Murphree, Smith said.

Smith enrolled in Murphree’s history of philosophy class because he thought it would be an easy course. It wasn’t. But Dr. Murphree’s enthusiasm for the subject matter and his ability to make complicated concepts relevant to everyday life inspired him to work hard and stay in school, which is exactly what he did, he said.

Thanks to Murphree’s encouragement, Smith recognized and appreciated campus life and all that Ohio University and Athens, Ohio, had to offer. Murphree fueled Smith’s new-found passion for learning by occasionally bringing books from his large personal library to class and reading passages to the students to foster a deeper understanding of the class’s curriculum.

“For the first time in my life, learning became fun and it has been ever since,” Smith said.

After graduation, Smith was drafted into the U.S. Army and served in Vietnam. He returned Bay Village, Ohio, and began a 40-year career in the automotive parts industry from which he retired as a regional vice president with NAPA Auto Parts in 2006.

“I sincerely believe that a great deal of the success that came to me during my business career is owed to Ohio University for providing me with the opportunity and a place to learn, and to Dr. Murphree for teaching me to love learning.”

Smith retired to Florida where he enjoys keeping up with OHIO Bobcats sports and reading from his personal library, just as Dr. Murphree once did.