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2015 Hendrix Odyssey Medal Convocation

Odyssey MedalCONWAY, Ark (October 22, 2015) – Four Hendrix College alumni were awarded the Hendrix Odyssey Medal at the 2015 Odyssey Medal Convocation today in Staples Auditorium.

Awarded by the Hendrix College Board of Trustees, the Odyssey Medal is given to Hendrix alumni whose personal and professional achievements exemplify the values of engaged liberal arts and sciences education. 

“Today we are here to recognize the spirit and the genius of this place and this community that has long nurtured and continues to nurture individuals of character, accomplishment, and true substance ... and to celebrate and to hear from four extraordinarily accomplished graduates, folks who took that broad, rigorous, and engaged experience of the liberal arts at Hendrix and built upon it careers of distinction and lives of meaning,” said Hendrix College President Bill Tsutsui. “They are testaments to the Hendrix faculty and staff who taught and mentored them, models to the students here who are following in their footsteps, and inspirations to us all.” 

The 2015 Hendrix Odyssey Medal recipients include:

  • Dr. Omer L. Shedd ’93 (Service to the World)
  • Dr. John C. Byrd ’87 (Research)
  • Ferris Wendel Norton III ’73 (Special Projects)
  • Elizabeth Ragsdale Norton ’75 (Special Projects)

About the 2015 Hendrix Odyssey Medal recipients

Dr. Omer L. Shedd ’93

Arkansas native Dr. Omer L. Shedd ’93 received the Odyssey Medal for Service to the World.

Dr. Shedd graduated with distinction in chemistry from Hendrix College, where he received the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and the Hendrix President’s Medal. He received his medical degree from Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, where he completed his internal medicine internship and residency. Afterward, Dr. Shedd completed a cardiology fellowship and electrophysiology fellowship at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida. 

Dr. Shedd is board certified in cardiology and cardiac electrophysiology and a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology and the Heart Rhythm Society. He has helped to develop a robust electrophysiology program at Caromont Regional Medical Center in Gastonia, North Carolina, where offers the latest treatment options in heart rhythm disorders. His expertise is focused on implantation, explantation and follow up of cardiac rhythm devices such as pacemakers, defibrillators, and heart failure devices.

Dr. Shedd is also the president of  Promise for Haiti, which supports the 65-bed Hospital Bienfaisance in Pignon, Haiti, with two high-quality operating rooms, and the community with nine elementary schools and a clean water project. As part of his role in PFH, he is developing a cardiology and pacemaker implant program for the poor people in the country and is training Haitian physicians to perform the life-saving procedure.

Dr. John C. Byrd ’87

Dr. John C. Byrd received the Hendrix Odyssey Medal for Research. He is a nationally known researcher and clinical specialist in leukemia and other hematologic malignancies at Ohio State’s Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute; he is also the head of the Division of Hematology. He is a professor of medicine and medicinal chemistry and holds the D. Warren Brown Chair in Leukemia Research.

After graduating from Hendrix, Dr. Byrd received his medical degree from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. His education and experience continued in hematology and oncology at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Johns Hopkins University before he moved to Columbus to join the faculty in Ohio State’s College of Medicine and Comprehensive Cancer Center. 

Dr. Byrd has more than 325 publications in the area of leukemia and experimental therapeutics research. He runs a highly translational laboratory focused on drug development in CLL and related lymphoproliferative disorders. He has been part of the successful development of multiple acute myeloid leukemia and chronic lymphocytic leukemia therapeutics. At a national level, Dr. Byrd is the co-chair of the Leukemia Committee and Leukemia Correlative Science Committee in the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology and a member of the NCI Leukemia Steering Committee.

Despite his passion for clinical and translational research, he spends eight to 12 hours each week in the clinic providing care for patients with CLL and other types of leukemia. 

Ferris Wendel Norton III ’73 and Elizabeth Ragsdale Norton ’75

Elizabeth and Wen Norton received the Hendrix Odyssey Medal for Special Projects. The couple co-founded Norton Arts, Inc., practicing fine art conservation. After Hendrix, the Nortons made their home in the Arkansas Ozark Mountains, where they raised their daughter, Vanessa, Hendrix Class of 2002. In 1989, the Nortons moved to New York City, where Elizabeth, a music major, became an administrator in a private Manhattan school and also sang as a member of the Oratorio Society of New York. Five years later, they returned to Arkansas and established their fine arts conservation company, while retaining professional and artistic ties to New York City.

Elizabeth has served as board member for the Arkansas Education Association and the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas (now Preserve Arkansas) as well as Commissioner for Historic Arkansas Museum. Wen studied marble sculpting at the Art Students League in New York with Phillip Pavia, the last of the artists of the New York School. As a League Life Member, Wen works at the historic midtown facility, when in town. He also paints and sculpts at Cave Creek Studio and Lab on the May Family Homestead by the Buffalo National River in Arkansas Ozarks Mountains.

Nominations for the 2016 Odyssey Medals are due Dec. 31, 2015 and may be emailed to For more information and a nomination form, visit

About Hendrix College

Hendrix College is a private liberal arts college in Conway, Arkansas. Founded in 1876 and affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884, Hendrix is featured in Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think about Colleges and is nationally recognized in numerous college guides, lists, and rankings for academic quality, community, innovation, and value. For more information, visit