An Unexpected Anniversary Surprise

Drs. Michael and Milady Murphy.
Drs. Michael and Milady Murphy.

From the November 2016 Desktop News “To surprise someone after 30 years of marriage is no small feat,” said Dr. Michael Murphy, an emeritus professor and former chair in UA’s Department of Anthropology.

But on Oct. 8, Murphy revealed a months-in-the-making anniversary surprise to his wife Dr. Milady Murphy, the Wellness Center director and division chair of health and wellness at Shelton State Community College.

According to Milady, the couple had already exchanged gifts the evening of their anniversary when Michael said he had one more present. He pulled out a large envelope, and she guessed he’d gotten her tickets for a vacation, but he responded, “No, it’s better.”

He’d actually donated $15,000 to the College of the Arts and Sciences to establish a scholarship fund in her name.

“Milady earned two graduate degrees at UA, and she loves her alma mater,” Michael said. “It seemed to me that this scholarship perfectly reflects her devotion to UA and Arts and Sciences while furthering the kind of research that she draws upon on almost a daily basis.”

Upon full endowment, the Dr. Milady Murphy Endowed Scholarship in the Anthropology of Health and Wellness will provide financial support for doctoral students whose research is focused on issues of health, illness, and wellness.

“My husband and I have helped establish scholarships for others, but I’d never even thought of doing anything thing like that for myself,” Milady said. “This is such an honor and a surprise.”

Milady received her bachelor’s degree in 1976 in health, physical education, and recreation from Bridgewater State College of Massachusetts. In 1978 and 1985, respectively, she received her master’s degree and doctorate in physical education—both from The University of Alabama.

As a graduate student, her excellence in teaching was recognized twice by The University of Alabama, which awarded her the Faculty Recognition Award in 1979 and Most Outstanding Student Award in 1981.

After leaving UA, Milady founded the Wellness Center at Shelton State Community College, and she continues to direct the center today, nearly 25 years later. Additionally, she has designed a wide range of physical fitness, conditioning, and wellness programs both in the United States and in Europe. She has implemented conditioning and nutritional programs for professional athletes, physically and intellectually challenged people, children, senior citizens, and adults who want to stay fit and healthy.

Her extensive background in health care includes experience as a cardiac rehabilitation instructor; a cardiopulmonary technician; a Red Cross instructor of first aid, safety, and CPR; and a certified water safety instructor. Before establishing Shelton State’s Wellness Center, she owned and directed the Total Approach Fitness Clinic of Tuscaloosa. Among her many athletic accomplishments, Milady has won a number of triathlon, running, and swimming events in New England and the Southeast. The couple currently lives in Tuscaloosa.

“The University holds so many great memories for me, and I am honored for this opportunity to give back,” Milady said.

The College is currently seeking another $10,000 for the scholarship to reach full endowment. For more information or to make a donation, contact Kathy Yarbrough at 205-348-0696 or