Page 1


Driven by Success Donald “Field” Brown, Rhodes Scholar, shares advice on finding your place in the world p. 34

I N S I D E Spring 2014

The Mill at MSU p. 3 | History goes digital p. 26 | Bulldog has out-of-this-world NASA career p. 18


30 Spring 2014 | Vol. 91 | No. 1


Campus News



Shuttle system gets S.M.A.R.T.


The Mill at MSU underway


Faculty and administrator achievements

John P. Rush (’94, ’02)


‘Invisible Girls’ selected as latest Maroon Edition book

Alumni Association Executive Director


Alternate routes lead to teacher certification

Jeff Davis


Autism clinic expands school psychology services

Chief Communications Officer


Forum examines Mississippi’s energy assets


Hogan, Walters honored by state legislators


MSU broadens research ties with United Nations FAO


Women of Color Summit


Phil Hardin Foundation gift funds libraries


University hosts living legacy of courage, determination


Agricultural economics department marks milestone

Mark E. Keenum (’83, ’84, ’88)

Vice President for Development and Alumni

Sid Salter (’88)

Editorial office:

P.O. Box 5325, Mississippi State, MS 39762-5325 Telephone: 662-325-3442 Email:


Libba Andrews 662-325-3479


Harriet Laird Sammy McDavid (’70, ’75)


16 State Snapshot 34 Our People

Leah Barbour Amy Cagle Jim Laird Allison Matthews (’00) Sasha Steinberg (’14)


Rhodes Scholar talks about family, the future and his alma mater


Bulldog alum pens ‘Rivers’


Joining the family: Meet Jeff Davis, alumni association executive director


44 Infinite Impact


46 Class Notes

Heather Rowe Megan Bean Russ Houston (’85) Beth Wynn

Video Producer David Garraway

48 Forever Maroon

22 16



Bulldog has out-of-this-world NASA career


Nusz family engineers passionate impact


History goes digital


WMSV 91.1 FM Celebrates 20 Years of ‘World Class Radio’

Mississippi State University’s ALUMNUS magazine is published three times a year by the Office of Public Affairs and the Mississippi State University Alumni Association. Send address changes to Alumni Director, P.O. Box AA, Mississippi State, MS 39762-5526. telephone 662-325-7000; or email // //

Campus NEWS

To learn more about the shuttle systems, explore the routes and see the bus schedules, visit

Shuttle system gets S.M.A.R.T. A

n expanded shuttle system servicing campus and the local community is averaging nearly 3,500 passengers every day. The new Starkville-Mississippi State University Area Rapid Transit, also known as S.M.A.R.T., is an expansion of an earlier shuttle system that primarily focused on the MSU campus. The new service provides campus-to-city service from 7 a.m.6 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, with a couple of routes also operating Saturdays. MSU officials say daily ridership continues to increase as the new transportation service works to carry out its mission of more easily linking a growing campus with a growing city. While passengers ride at no cost, children 13 and under must be accompanied by an adult. All of the new shuttles meet accessibility requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Off-campus stops include Vowell’s Marketplace (formerly Piggly Wiggly), Regions Bank, OCH Regional Medical Center, Walmart, Collegiate Heights Apartments, Spruill Townhouses and Starkville Sportsplex, among others. Specific details on the system’s seven routes may be found at www. “We have had a shuttle program in service since 1996, but S.M.A.R.T. expands that program to offer much needed transportation services to the City of Starkville,” said Jeremiah Dumas, MSU’s director of parking, transit and sustainability. “We have a total of 32 buses in our fleet, 11 of which are used in support of the university for campus tours and other events, and 21 that are utilized on the S.M.A.R.T. system.” Easily identifiable, S.M.A.R.T. shuttles are wrapped in graphics that incorporate campus, city and Mississippi Department of Transportation attributes, which set them apart from the traditional shuttles. Dumas said most universities have public transit operated by the city, a private contractor or both. What makes the S.M.A.R.T. system unique is its operation by the university through MDOT, he emphasized. 2


Funded via a 5311 Rural Transit Grant by MDOT, the S.M.A.R.T. system is unique “because it is a free service to all. “This program provides matching operation and capital dollars,” Dumas said. “The matching funds for the grant are provided by MSU Parking Services.” Feedback for the S.M.A.R.T. system has been very positive, Dumas added. “Several riders rely on our system for all of their daily transit needs, and those are the stories that really make you feel great,” he said. “Even with our short history, it is great to see the reliability and the impact this system has on an individual’s quality of life. “We realize that we are a new program and that we have much to learn,” he said, while adding that “we are committed to continual improvement.” Dumas said, “Our goal is to evolve this system so that it has the ability to serve as a replacement—not just a supplement—for private and single occupancy People Riding travel miles. the Bus Daily “We have already requested changes in our next grant application,” he said. “We hope to shorten length of routes, increase number of routes, and provide more services to targeted areas in the community. “We also plan to extend hours, so that we can overlap with evening classes, shift changes and dining hours,” Dumas said.

“We hope to shorten length of routes, increase number of routes, and provide more services to targeted areas in the community.” Jeremiah Dumas


21 Buses 7 Routes 35 Stops

$0.00 to Ride

To learn more and see the groundbreaking event for The Mill at MSU visit

The Mill at MSU underway


Renderings of The Mill at Mississippi State University. The $40-million mixed-use development is located at the corner of Russell Street and Highway 12 in Starkville.

ampus and community came together earlier this spring to celebrate the official groundbreaking of a $40-million economic development project in “Mississippi’s College Town.” The Mill at Mississippi State University features three main projects: transforming a landmark former cotton mill into a conference center and related office space, building an adjacent hotel and parking garage, and developing mixed-use business parcels on the land around the university’s old physical plant. A crowd of several hundred joined university leaders, elected officials and the developer at the historic E.E. Cooley Building, the former home to MSU’s Facilities Management operations, for the public event. At the podium, MSU President Mark E. Keenum noted that “what’s good for Starkville and Oktibbeha County is good for Mississippi State University. And vice versa.” “This is a win-win-win for all of us,” he said. The afternoon ceremony was the culmination of a multi-year, collaborative effort by public and private stakeholders to preserve the best of the

National Register of Historic Places-listed mill while creating new economic opportunities. “What we are about to build here will have both immediate and far-reaching benefits for Mississippi State University and for the surrounding area. It will also be a testament to the power of partnerships, without which none of this would have been accomplished,” Keenum said. The 10.89-acre site at the corner of Russell Street and Highway 12 will feature a 73,975-square-foot office and conference center with a 1,000-seat ballroom in the renovated Cooley Building. The Class A office space will include exposed wood beams and columns, open spaces and abundant natural light. Additionally, there will be a new four-story, 110-room Courtyard by Marriott Hotel adjoining the complex, along with a 450-car parking garage. Mark Castleberry and Peachtree Hotel Group are leading development of The Mill at MSU with Dale Partners providing architectural services and Copeland & Johns Inc. serving as construction manager. The project is slated for completion in fall 2015. MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY ALUMNUS


Campus NEWS Faculty and Administrator Achievements

Gerald A. “Jerry” Emison, a professor in Mississippi State’s Department of Political Science and Public Administration, has been elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Certified Planners. The distinction is among the highest for the nation’s professional planners with about 1 percent achieving this status. Emison came to MSU after a professional career in public sector organizations, including director of air quality planning for the Environmental Protection Agency where he was a leading architect of the Clean Air Act of 1990. As EPA’s deputy regional administrator in the Pacific Northwest, he directed land use planning that saw the resurgence of the northern spotted owl and the $50 billion clean-up of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. He also managed EPA’s water quality planning to protect Puget Sound’s salmon. Emison has used his experience in planning to connect practice to university teaching at MSU. He has trained more than 1,000 students through courses in public management and planning. He was selected by students as professor of the year in 2006, 2010 and 2012. Currently chair of the Starkville Planning and Zoning Commission, he has led in adopting one of the first formbased codes in Mississippi and in the construction of a municipal complex in the city.



Mississippi State Provost and Executive Vice President Jerome A. “Jerry” Gilbert has been elected to the inaugural board of directors of the Association of Chief Academic Officers. The ACAO is the first national organization representing chief academic officers, such as provosts and vice presidents for academic affairs, from all accredited higher education institutions. The organization provides a forum for discussing important academic affairs issues, as well as an environment where CAOs can communicate with, inform and educate one another. Gilbert earned a bachelor’s degree in biological engineering from Mississippi State and a doctorate in biomedical engineering from Duke University. After academic appointments at Duke, North Carolina State University, University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill) Medical Center and University of Mississippi Medical Center, Gilbert has been affiliated with MSU since 1988. He was appointed MSU’s provost in 2010. The American Council on Education, in its role as a convener for higher education associations, has assisted in the organization’s start-up. The election of the ACE’s first officers and board of directors and approval of its bylaws took place at the March 2014 ACE Annual Meeting held in San Diego, CA.

Dave C. Swalm School of Chemical Engineering director Jason Keith assumed his new role this spring as interim dean of the James Worth Bagley College of Engineering. Associate professor Bill Elmore will serve as interim leader of chemical engineering in Keith’s absence. “We are confident that Dr. Keith will help us maintain the momentum of the Bagley College of Engineering in gaining greater national and international recognition for the great work of our faculty, staff and students,” said Jerry Gilbert, MSU provost and executive vice president. Keith came to Mississippi State in 2011 as the Earnest W. Deavenport Jr. chair and director of chemical engineering. For the past seven months he also has served as the director of the MSU Energy Institute. “I came to Mississippi State because of the quality of the institution, the faculty and staff, and the facilities available to teach and perform multidisciplinary research,” Keith said. “The fact that my family loves college athletics and a small college-town atmosphere in a warm climate helped sell the idea to my family. We love MSU.” Prior to joining the Bagley College, Keith spent 11 years on the faculty at Michigan Technological University, being recommended for full professor status shortly before leaving for the Magnolia State. He holds bachelor’s and doctoral degrees in chemical engineering from the University of Akron and the University of Notre Dame, respectively.

Saw the SIGN A first, full-time sign language interpreter





beginning his duties with the university’s Student Support Services office. An endowed professor in Mississippi State’s James Worth Bagley College of Engineering is receiving the highest membership honor from an international organization. Pedro Mago, the Tennessee Valley Authority professor of mechanical engineering, has been selected as a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. The rank of Fellow is the highest grade of membership in many professional organizations and is awarded to those who have made a significant impact to their respective fields. Less than 3 percent of ASME members have received this honor. Mago has been an active ASME member since he joined the MSU faculty in 2003 as an assistant professor. In the heat and energy transfer division of the organization, he has participated on several technical committees, helped organize conferences and reviewed technical papers. He is being recognized for his service to the organization and dedication to the field of mechanical engineering. Mago earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at Universidad de Oriente in Venezuela. He also holds master’s and doctoral degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of Florida.

Rani Warsi Sullivan, a Mississippi

State associate professor of aerospace engineering, was named the 2014 Diversity Educator of the Year in February by the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning. Sullivan is an academic advisor for senior aerospace students in MSU’s James Worth Bagley College of Engineering. She is an advisory board member of the engineering honor society Tau Beta Pi and since 2004 has served as the faculty advisor for the internationally diverse Muslim Student Association. In 2013, she received MSU’s faculty diversity award from the President’s Commission on the Status of Minorities. Sullivan and her graduate and undergraduate students provide active learning experiences in engineering mechanics to incoming minority freshman students in the Bagley College of Engineering’s Summer Bridge program and to students at East and West Oktibbeha County High Schools. She supports programs to encourage women in science and engineering, such as the MSU student chapter of the Society of Women Engineers, the Graduate Women in Science and Engineering, and the Dreams of Wings event for inspiring women to seek careers in aviation. An aerospace engineering doctoral graduate of Mississippi State, Sullivan also received her master’s degree in engineering mechanics and her undergraduate degree in aerospace engineering from MSU.

Niall Cook was a staff interpreter at

Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services for 10 years before joining MSU earlier this year. Cook said he became fascinated by different languages in childhood and began learning American Sign Language in 1993 while studying linguistics at the University of Mississippi. While there, he quickly made friends with members of the local deaf community who eagerly shared their language and culture with him. His ultimate goal is to help individuals with disabilities become self-empowered. “So many people with disabilities may have had people speak for them and make choices for them their whole lives,” the Coffeeville native explained. “They may not be aware of the rights that they have or the technology that’s out there. “ With Disability Support Services, Cook will conduct counseling and related sessions for new students, as well as assisting those with hearing and sensory impairments. Cook is a member of the state and national chapters of the National Association of the Deaf and Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf. He has served in several capacities on the board of the Mississippi Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf and currently is its treasurer. For more about MSU Student Support Services, telephone 662-3253335 or visit MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY ALUMNUS


Campus NEWS Thebarge’s ‘Invisible Girls’ selected as latest Maroon Edition book Sarah Thebarge’s “The Invisible Girls: A Memoir” is the 2014 Maroon Edition selection at Mississippi State. Maroon Edition is the annual universitywide program that encourages incoming freshman class members to read the same book during the summer. Participants then engage in dialog with other students, administration, faculty and staff members throughout the school year. “We hope that all of next fall’s incoming freshmen will read the book before the fall semester begins and participate in related activities planned for next academic year,” said President Mark E. Keenum in making the announcement in March. A Pennsylvania minister’s daughter, Thebarge had earned a master’s degree from the Yale School of Medicine and was studying journalism at Columbia University when she was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 27. Published last year by Jericho Books, “Invisible Girls” chronicles Thebarge’s diagnosis, years of treatment, and drastic

Alternate routes lead to teacher certification at MSU



career and relationship changes as she relocated to Oregon in an effort to put her life back together. While there, an unexpected involvement with a struggling Somalia refugee mother and daughters–”invisible” people in their own neighborhood–led her to better understand and overcome her own devastation and realize that she also had been an “invisible girl.” “This powerful story helps readers see the world around us with new eyes,” Keenum said. Calling the book “reading time well spent,” he noted that Thebarge’s writings also have been included in “Just Between Us,” “Relevant” and “Christianity Today,” and featured on All incoming freshmen attending MSU’s orientation sessions will receive a copy of the 272-page book. It also will be available through the Barnes & Noble at Mississippi State and other outlets. For information about Maroon Edition events and activities, visit maroonedition.

Mississippi State offers three online alternate routes to teacher certification for prospective Magnolia State teachers who already hold bachelor’s degrees. The university’s College of Education features the programs, which include a master’s in teachingmiddle level education, or MAT-M, and a master’s in teaching-secondary level education, or MAT-S. Both require 36 credit hours of coursework via 12 classes. The third option involves the completion of 15 credit hours–or, three classes–to earn the Teach Mississippi Institute, or TMI, certification in special education. “Our primary recruiting tool is word of mouth,” said Dekota Cheatham, the college’s outreach coordinator. “I try to get the word out to as many different groups in as many different ways as possible.” In addition to contacting people who express interest in the programs, Cheatham said she regularly attends job fairs and visits with principals and superintendents.

Read the 2014 book selection, The Invisible Girls: A Memoir by Sarah Thebarge, over the summer.


To learn more, see


Stacey Butera was a teacher’s assistant when she heard MSU was organizing a MAT-M informational meeting where she worked, Biloxi’s North Bay 14-095 Bookmark.indd 1 4/11/2014 9:42:22 AM Elementary School. “I saw I could just take the classes online to get my licensure,” Butera said. “Earning my master’s really appealed to me, and getting into this program was a great thing for me.” Butera now leads an eighth-grade English and language arts class at Biloxi Junior High. Her experience is typical of others in the alternative program, said Susan Steward, the education college’s project coordinator. Steward said TMI certification students can take three summer courses and get their non-renewable licenses before they complete six hours of classroom internship during the fall semester. For more about the MAT-M program, visit For MAT-S or the TMI certification, see

Autism clinic expands school psychology services Families with children who struggle with autism and other developmental disabilities have a new resource at Mississippi State. MSU officials announced the newly opened Autism and Developmental Disabilities Clinic as representing a logical expansion of the university’s School Psychology Services Center. The center and clinic are units of the College of Education and its counseling and educational psychology department. Both are open to the public. Director Daniel L. Gadke, a licensed psychologist, said all services are rooted in applied behavior analysis and designed to be affordable. “We’re working very hard now to get the word out around the region about our expanded services,” Gadke said. Located in the Barry F. Box Building on Morrill Road, the facility primarily serves clients with autism spectrum disorders that may range in age from birth to 22 years of age. Services also are available to others with intellectual or developmental disabilities, various genetic

and chromosomal disorders, including Down Syndrome, as well as speech and language delays and disruptive behavior disorder. He said services have been designed to assist with problem behaviors such as tantrums, aggression, non-compliance and mild self-injury. Building functional life skills, social and coping skills also are among the services provided. In addition, client assistance is available in pre-academics, reading, mathematics, writing, and spelling. Supplemental services include school-based behavioral consultations and autism assessments. MSU school psychology faculty members also will be available to help deal with certain rare genetic disorders, such as CHARGE syndrome. Additional information may be obtained by calling 662-325-2568, emailing schoolpsychservices@ or visiting autismclinicmsstate. Gadke also is on Twitter @ DrGadke. He said social media is used to provide information about autism, the clinic, the school psychology field and ongoing research.

Forum examines Mississippi’s energy assets The state of Mississippi is playing a pivotal role as traditional sources of energy get new, high-tech treatment, and the economic impact is expected to be significant here, as well as the nation as a whole. In March, energy industry leaders from around the country gathered to learn about enhanced oil recovery (EOR) and carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS) technologies that are being utilized in Mississippi. Mississippi State University’s National Strategic Planning and Analysis Research Center (nSPARC) and the Energy and Environment Initiative at Rice University organized the EOR and Global Impacts: Transformative Technology for Energy Security, Global Environment and Sustainability Symposium at the Jackson Marriott. Gov. Phil Bryant delivered the keynote address at the conference, which also included panelists and speakers Charles McConnell, executive director of Rice’s Energy and Environment Initiative and former assistant secretary of energy at the U.S.

Department of Energy; Christopher Guith, vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy; and Domenico Parisi, director of Mississippi State’s nSPARC. The event showcased Mississippi’s role as a national leader in energy development, according to MSU’s chief research officer. “Energy is one of Mississippi State’s highpriority research areas, and we see it as a vital part of our land-grant mission,” said David Shaw, vice president for research and economic development. “MSU-led research and innovation are making a difference in how we utilize our state’s abundant natural resources to meet global energy needs, and this symposium is an excellent forum for showcasing our work,” he said. Throughout the day, industry leaders, government officials, market analysts and policy experts explored how EOR is being implemented in Mississippi in conjunction with transformative technology for CCUS at sites around the state.

“Energy is one of Mississippi State’s high-priority research areas, and we see it as a vital part of our land-grant mission.” David Shaw MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY ALUMNUS


Campus NEWS Hogan, Walters honored by state legislators

Student Association President Michael Hogan and university mathematics instructor Kimberly “Kim” Walters are Mississippi State’s 2014 HEADWAE honorees. An acronym for Higher Education Appreciation Day, Working for Academic Excellence, the program is administered by the Board of Trustees, State Institutions of High Learning, and annually recognizes those “who have made outstanding contributions in promoting academic excellence.” Joining students and faculty members from 34 Mississippi public and private institutions, Hogan and Walters were recognized formally in February by the Mississippi Legislature. A senior management major from Memphis, Tenn., Hogan has been a member of the Division of Student Affairs’ Roadrunner student recruiting team. Before becoming SA president, he served as a Career Center Student Ambassador and chief programming officer for the SA Executive Council. Hogan said he feels “Mississippi State University views its students as more than a number on a grade scale.” A faculty member since 1995, Walters was selected in 2010 for the MSU State Pride Faculty Award and, in 2013, the John Grisham Master

Teacher Award. She is a mathematics graduate of MSU who also holds a master’s degree in the subject from the University of Alabama at Huntsville. In describing the HEADWAE award, Walters said, “To be Hogan selected to represent this institution is a great honor. I hope that I have a positive impact on the students that I teach, and I hope that they see math as something in which they can be successful.” Walters primarily Walters provides instruction to freshmen. In that critical role, she said she strives “to give them a good introduction to college courses and to Mississippi State, in general. I want them to see teachers as resources that still will be available to them after they complete their course.”

MSU broadens research ties with United Nations FAO During January meetings in Rome, Mississippi State officials formally broadened a 2010 agreement to work with the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on initiatives to address world hunger and poverty. MSU President Mark E. Keenum and FAO Deputy Director General Daniel Gustafson signed a memorandum of understanding that expands the 2010 foundation for collaborations focusing most immediately on aquatic animal health, disease prevention and emergency diagnostics, and FAO recognition of MSU as a Center for Knowledge for Aquatic Health. The MSU delegation to Rome included Keenum, Provost and Executive Vice President Jerry Gilbert, Vice President for Research and Economic Development



David Shaw, Vice President for Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine Greg Bohach, College of Veterinary Medicine Associate Dean Mark Lawrence, and Associate Vice President for International Programs Jon P. Rezek.

“As a land-grant institution, Mississippi State has a distinguished history of research and education to advance global development.” Mark E. Keenum, MSU President The MOU makes MSU a member of the Global Aquaculture Advancement Partnership and will engage MSU’s existing facilities and expertise in aquatic animal disease diagnostics and management to

expand the work of FAO’s Emergency Prevention System (EMPRES). It is a component of FAO’s Food Chain Crisis Management Framework to prevent food chain emergencies, and to promote effective containment and management of the most serious epidemic pests and diseases and food safety threats through international cooperation. “As a land-grant institution, Mississippi State has a distinguished history of research and education to advance global development,” Keenum said. “We are well positioned to be in the forefront of developments that can reduce hunger and help other nations improve the response to needs within their own borders. This expanded agreement with FAO is another significant step forward in that process,” he said.

Women of Color Summit

emphasizes education, leadership

RIGHT: Pearl Pennington, left, director of student affairs for Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning, and RoSusan D. Bartee, professor and program coordinator of leadership and counselor education at the University of Mississippi, were the two feature speakers at Mississippi State University’s 2014 Women of Color Summit.

More than 550 women gathered at Mississippi State in March to participate in the university’s 2014 Women of Color Summit: “Changing Lives: Destination Success.” “We had ladies from all regions of the United States to attend: California to Washington, D.C.,” said NaToya Hill, recruitment, retention and program specialist for the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion. “We had to close registration approximately three weeks before the actual summit, and I believe we had representation from each county in Mississippi.” With more than 10 sessions held in Colvard Student Union and better than 20 speakers, women at the summit explored a variety of topics, all of which related to the importance of empowering themselves as leaders and graduating from an institution of higher learning. RoSusan D. Bartee, professor and program coordinator of leadership and counselor education at the University of Mississippi, focused on leadership. Whether in classrooms, workplace or homes, leadership can expand the numbers of better educated women of color who are economically competitive with their peers, she said. “As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others,” she said.

“Be awakened to the light and the genius that is in each of you.” Pearl Pennington, director of student affairs for Institutions of Higher Learning, the governing body of Mississippi public colleges and universities, discussed data trends related to degree completion, as well as the numbers of women in administrative and faculty positions. “We’re still not reaching the goals that we need to reach for women of color,” she said. “We’re enrolling in record numbers; we’re just not graduating. You can only improve the condition of education if you engage in education.”

MSU President Mark E. Keenum, right, and the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization Deputy Director General Daniel Gustafson signed a memorandum of understanding in January that expands a 2010 agreement for collaborations addressing aquatic animal health, disease prevention and emergency diagnostics. The agreement also recognizes MSU as a Center for Knowledge for Aquatic Health. Keenum led an MSU delegation to Rome that included university administrators involved in the partnership. During a five-day mission to Rome with top Mississippi State University academic officers, MSU President Mark E. Keenum, right, met with United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) executive director Ertharin Cousin. Part of the United Nations System, the WFP has a special mission of responding to civil conflict, natural disasters and other emergency situations. It is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting worldwide hunger. Since 2010, MSU has partnered with WFP on issues related to food safety and nutrition. MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY ALUMNUS


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Campus NEWS Phil Hardin Foundation gift funds libraries at MSU-Meridian campuses Mississippi State University officials dedicated the new Phil Hardin Foundation Library in December 2013 at the Meridian College Park Campus and looked ahead to a second Phil Hardin Foundation Library in the future. A $1.25 million gift by the Meridianbased foundation made possible the new 1,860 square-foot university library that opened in November. A portion of the gift will also provide an additional library to be housed in the Kress Building on the Meridian Downtown Campus once building renovations are complete in 2015. The newly opened College Park facility was created through the renovation of three existing spaces formerly used for classrooms. Though MSU-Meridian has employed a faculty librarian for more than a decade, it represents the first physical library on the College Park Campus. MSU President Mark E. Keenum called the facility a significant educational asset, adding that libraries are the “heart” of all institutions of higher learning. “We are extremely proud of this new library and profoundly grateful to the Phil Hardin Foundation for the gift that makes this library and a second library named in their honor possible,” Keenum said. In addition to housing 8,000 print volumes and journals, the library’s resources include 16 public computer workstations, 15 laptop computers, a conference room, microfilm reader print station, and instructional laboratory and teacher station with capacity for 30 students. Frances Coleman, dean of MSU Libraries, said, “We are extremely grateful to the Phil Hardin Foundation for their generous support of our efforts to enhance library services at MSU-Meridian,” Coleman said. “We long have appreciated our cooperative relationship with Meridian Community College and know these facilities will expand cooperation.” Coleman also reminded those in attendance that the Hardin Foundation Libraries will offer access to the same services and resources available on the Starkville campus.



University hosts living legacy of courage, determination As the African-American teens approached Little Rock Central High School in fall 1957, a mob protested the “Little Rock Nine” as they sought to defy segregation and become agents of change. President Dwight D. Eisenhower commanded the U.S. Army 101st Airborne Division to escort them, and Ernest Green was frightened. Green told more than 500 at Mississippi State in February that he knew then he was meant to be a leader, but becoming one wasn’t easy. During his “Lessons from Little Rock” talk, Green shared his ideas about how people today, especially college and high school students, can become agents of change. Green recalled a person in his community who asked Green why he wanted to leave his all-black high school if he knew pushing for true integration would only create more troubles for his fellow AfricanAmericans. “But, he should have asked a bigger question: ‘Why not?’” Green

said. “Why not change things for the better? Why not challenge separate but equal? Why not prove that all men are truly created equal and deserve the same opportunities?’” “You have the opportunity to be someone who’s accepting of other people; the agent of change really starts with each individual,” Green said. “You have to be willing to step up personally and take responsibility for implementing the change.” After Green became the first African-American to graduate from Central High, he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Michigan State University. Green received honorary doctorates from Michigan State, Tougaloo College and Central State University in Ohio. Green is the managing director of public finance for Lehman Brothers in Washington, D.C. He also served as the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training during former President Jimmy Carter’s administration.

See more pictures of the proud Class of 2014 at

SPRING 2014 GRADUATION - Ertharin Cousin, executive director of the United Nations World Food Programme, rings the Mississippi State cowbell given to her by MSU President Mark E. Keenum for her participation in the university’s 2014 commencement ceremonies. Almost 2,800 bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees were awarded, and MSU conferred two honorary degrees. Cousin received a Doctor of Public Service, while MSU alumnus and Brazilian native Sebastião Barbosa was awarded a Doctor of Science. Photography by Megan Bean, Russ Houston and Beth Wynn

Go Bulldogs!!!


Jim Westbrook, AAMS Financial Advisor 500 Corporate Dr Suite C Houma, LA 70360 985-851-6482 MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY ALUMNUS


Campus NEWS

Ag economics department marks centennial milestone BY ALLISON MATTHEWS, PHOTOGRAPHY BY BETH WYNN


ississippi State University President Mark E. Keenum was among dignitaries recently congratulating the university’s Department of Agricultural Economics as alumni, faculty, staff and students celebrated 100 years of excellence. Keenum said the department, from which he earned undergraduate, master’s and doctoral degrees, was the section of the university that not only had prepared him well for a future in government and academic leadership, but also prepared thousands of other students who walked the halls of the LloydRicks-Watson building over the decades. “It’s had a tremendous impact on our state agricultural economy,” Keenum said. He added that one of his biggest honors was when he was given the opportunity to join the ag economics faculty, and that years later in his role as president, he still is extremely proud of his title of professor within the department. Keenum said agricultural economics offers a very practical education and degree that helps young people prepare to be successful in a wide array of fields, including business, marketing, commodity and financial trading, banking, law and governmental service, as well as international trade, scientific

Established as the Department of Markets and Rural Economics in 1913 under the direction of Professor T. J. Brooks.

research, and extension and outreach careers. He noted the department has had a substantial influence on national public policy. “I would dare say, at least in the past 35 years, MSU has had an impact on U.S. farm policy that is unrivaled with any other academic institution in the nation,” he said. Most recently, Keith Coble, an MSU Giles Distinguished Professor of Agricultural Economics, served as minority economist for the senate agriculture committee and assisted Sen. Thad Cochran in his work on the 2014 farm bill conference committee. Former department head John Lee, who served in that role from 1993-2001, said agricultural economics is a very important science because it can be applied in so many areas. He described the field as a “decision science,” which helps people make financial and economic decisions. “If you know how to make those decisions in economics, you can use those same principles in other fields of life,” he said. Lee said agricultural economics started out helping farmers to do financial planning for their farms, including farm management and budgeting. Current department head Steve Turner, who

Thomas Tramel, a faculty member in the department, served on the original committee appointed by late MSU President Ben Hilbun to select a computer for the university in 1957.


1913 1920



In 1920, J. N. Lipscomb, a former Hinds County agent, was named head and served for more than 20 years. The Lipscomb Era included several milestone events. Most important for state farmers and planters was the advent of a program of economic research connected to the work of the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station.

1931 The department moved into its permanent home in 1931. The building was designed by architect C. H. Lindsley, and construction began in 1929 by contractor I. C. Garber at a cost of $210,000.

To learn more about the history of the department of agricultural economics, view their video at

Friends and colleagues reunited in February for a centennial celebration of MSU’s Department of Agricultural Economics. 1. From left, Marty Fuller, Bud Dillard, Verner Hurt and President Mark E. Keenum. 2. Department Head Steven Turner. 3. Ken Hood and Stan Spurlock.

joined MSU in 2003, said the department applies economics to bring value not only to the university, but to the state of Mississippi through the analysis of various commodities. Annual crop budgets prepared by the department help producers make sound economic and investment decisions, he said. The data also is useful to lending agencies, he noted. Faculty conduct research projects with implications for catfish, row crops and other commodities. The department also has been nationally recognized for strengths in computational analysis, linear programming, public policy analysis, and risk analysis. The recent expansion of environmental economics prepares students to balance the demand for natural resources with the need to preserve the environment. Research in this area lends itself to regional and national study, and MSU economists are leading experts in analyzing environmental questions. Keenum said he is proud of what the department has done over the many years and what it is continuing to do to prepare the next generation of leaders who will address some very critical issues in the future. “Tremendous challenges are going to be confronting this generation,” he said, explaining


Verner G. Hurt was named department head in 1972. By many numerical measures, the Hurt Period represented MSU Ag Econ at its greatest strength. Staffing reached an all-time record, and the numbers of graduates at all three degree levels surpassed all previous periods of similar length.


The merger of the Extension Service with this academic and research department occurred in the late 1980s. This addition allowed all of the university’s agricultural economists to work together to provide more diverse and comprehensive services to the state’s producers.

that food security is a growing issue as the world’s population continues to increase and outlining how the research capabilities of the land-grant institution are well suited to address issues related to every aspect of the food chain. Keenum said that food and agriculture policy in the coming decades will have huge implications for national security. He said the contributions of agricultural economists cannot be understated as a key component for solving issues of global importance, among them the efficient allocation of resources using basic economic theory, he said. Turner said that through the years, the department has benefited from an atmosphere of collegiality, with faculty and staff working together as a team toward common goals. Hiring and retaining top faculty has been a longtime administrative focus with superior teaching a constant objective. In addition to Keenum, the lineage of successful students includes former president of Honduras Rafael Callejas and current state economist Darrin Webb, among many others. For more on the history of the ag economics department, visit the centennial website at www.

Future MSU President Mark E. Keenum during a course he taught early in his career as an ag economics faculty member.

1983 In 2008, the building received its first major renovation since the east wing was added in 1939. The building now bears the names of the three men who served as director of the Experiment Station and Extension Service: Edward R. Lloyd Jr., James R. Ricks, and Vance H. Watson.



State SNAPSHOT “HAY” THERE! — Horses out at the Leveck Animal Research Center, better known as South Farm, enjoy dawn’s cooler temperatures as they graze. Currently, there are 1,057 acres at South Farm being used to conduct intensive beef cattle, horse, catfish, and poultry production research, aid in teaching production animal agriculture and assist Extension specialists in educational programs for livestock producers.

Photograph by Beth Wynn






Bulldog has out-of-this-wOrld NASA career F


or 1998 electrical engineering graduate Christopher D. “Chris” Wade, the term “the sky is the limit” has had no meaning. The Clarksdale native went directly from Mississippi State University to work with NASA contractors in Houston, Texas, providing support for the International Space Station. A high school science teacher’s son, he soon moved into a position as a full-time NASA employee. Wade has spent his career putting his electrical engineering expertise to work in the areas of robotics, logistics and operations that support the ongoing ISS project. At present, he leads the Visiting Vehicle Robotic Capture Project. Wade said he routinely works with an international team of partners. They include Canadians who supply the space station’s robotic arm and Japanese who provide a transit spacecraft to regularly resupply “My day-to-day work involves the permanently manned research communication with various platform as it spacecraft providers and astronauts cruises at a brisk 17,500 miles per to ensure that the spacecraft hour about 240 miles above the safely arrives at the space station, Earth’s surface. attaches with the station’s robot “My day-today work involves arm and unloads efficiently and communication with various spacecraft providers safely.” Chris Wade and astronauts to ensure that the spacecraft safely arrives at the space station, attaches with the station’s robot arm and unloads efficiently and safely,” Wade said. Wade’s first job in Houston was an eightyear stint with Lockheed Martin, where he was involved with engineering space robotics for the LEFT: MSU electrical NASA contractor. In preparation for retirement of engineering alum Chris the long-serving space shuttle, federal legislation Wade at NASA, where he had enabled the space agency to work with leads the Visiting Vehicle private companies in developing capabilities for transporting cargo to the new space station. Robotic Capture Project.

Taking advantage of local educational opportunities while at Lockheed-Martin, Wade enrolled at the University of Houston and, in 2006, received a master’s degree in systems engineering. Two years later, he received an offer to join NASA. “We had all these companies bidding to build spacecraft to bring resupply goods to the space station,” he recalled. “We were no longer going to have the space shuttle to do those things. My job was to determine how to grab those vehicles and attach them to the space station.” Described by NASA as the “most complex scientific and technological endeavor ever undertaken,” the ISS will mark its 15th year in orbit this November. The following year will be its 15th year of continuous human occupation, with three astronauts present at a time. “The number gets as high as six, depending on if we’re swapping crew out,” Wade said. On the station’s 10-year anniversary, the odometer read more than 1.5 billion statute miles— an equivalent of eight round-trips to the sun—over a course of 57,361 Earth orbits. While astronauts travel to and from the ISS aboard a Russian spacecraft named Soyuz, unmanned spacecraft routinely are flown up to deliver food, water and other needed materials. As NASA works to build the next generation of manned spacecraft, Wade’s current responsibilities include tracking logistics, reviewing design adjustments and conducting engineering reviews. He is responsible for ensuring that the spacecraft carrying vital resupply materials to the station are always successfully captured by the on-board astronauts using the space station’s robotic arm. Wade said resupply missions to the station take place about once every other month. Like so much of NASA’s work, the resupply missions involve precise practices that require the spacecraft to fly close enough to be attached, but not close enough to have a collision. He described the ISS as being located in “low Earth orbit,” about the length of a football field with end zones, and powered by large solar panels MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY ALUMNUS


on both sides. The section occupied by the astronauts is comparable to a six-bedroom house, with two bathrooms and a gym. There also is a 360-degree bay window from which the crew controls the robotic arm. The entire structure weighs 924,739 pounds. The culmination of a scientific collaboration among five space agencies representing 15 countries, the heavenly outpost clearly is visible with the naked eye at night and weather permitting. For Wade’s work providing effective management and engineering leadership for the ER3 Visiting Vehicle Capture Analysis Task, NASA selected him in 2012 for an Exceptional Achievement Medal. The recognition is among more than a dozen honors he has received since starting his career. Key to his professional success is his honest enjoyment of his every-day tasks. “I actually enjoy the technical work,” Wade said. “I like working with the space robotics and the astronauts and designing the missions.” Wade said he also considers his work as direct support of ISS’s important research goals. Because the station’s near weightless environment, known as microgravity, simplifies certain biological and physical properties and processes, scientists have a truly unique laboratory for observing and exploring phenomena normally masked by effects of Earth’s gravity. One current research project involves protein crystal growth in microgravity, which Wade said may lead to human health benefits. Looking back over his life, Wade credits his mother, a ninth grade science teacher at Clarksdale High School, for encouraging him in the subjects of mathematics and science. Though he had a natural interest in what now is termed STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects, he said the extra push from his mother gave him the momentum needed to be successful in higher education. “When I was in 12th grade, we were trying to figure out where I was going to college,” he said. “We were trying to figure out what was the best engineering school. We talked with the guidance counselors, and they recommended Mississippi State.” While academically prepared, Wade said he was like any student coming from a small town to a large university. “It was a bit overwhelming,” because MSU “was big; very, very big,” he said. Though Wade found the university environment a bit daunting at first, he successfully settled into the campus and, at graduation, found



the Starkville experience had prepared him well for things to come. “When I got to NASA’s Johnson Space Center, it was a similar type of experience, with a large, complex environment,” Wade said. “That whole MSU experience was very good practice for the NASA experience.” As an engineering major, Wade said he had little time for extra activities. He did join Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, which he now describes as a good outlet that helped him achieve a sense of equilibrium during the college years. In addition to having fraternity brothers to encourage him academically, several members also pursuing engineering degrees served as his mentors. “It helped me find a good balance for work and social activities,” Wade said. “Between engineering school, the fraternity and the co-op (cooperative education) program, that was pretty much it; there wasn’t much room for anything else,” Wade said. He did make room for dating when he met his future wife, the former Judi P. Brown, while both were co-op students at Mississippi Power Co. Asked what advice or recommendations he would share with today’s college students, his response was almost immediate: Get comfortable with multitasking. “Relish the opportunity to have to do more than one thing at a time,” he said. “Mississippi State provides an excellent opportunity for that. “I also would tell them to really focus on the coursework and the material because you get really useful real-world information and knowledge at Mississippi State,” he continued. “People are using this information in the real world; a lot of the theories and applications taught there are real-world stuff that people use every day to do great things.” Wade’s career and family responsibilities keep him very busy in Texas, but, when possible, he makes the effort to return to Mississippi and even conduct STEM camps to help teach kids about engineering careers. “It’s good to let folks know what’s going on in STEM because there are a whole lot of jobs out there,” Wade emphasized. “There’s a shortage of available workers and people who are trained in those fields,” he said, adding that “recruiting students into STEM fields early is a good idea.” He’s already encouraging his 10-year-old daughter, Kennedy, who he said is very good at math. With two engineering parents, she may have STEM skills in her genes. Wade said she definitely has “Bulldog” in her blood.

TOP-BOTTOM: 1. Chris Wade inside the space shuttle flight deck display at Space Center Houston. 2. An exterior detail look at the Christopher C. Kraft Jr. Mission Control Center. 3. Chris Wade works in a simulator of the controls for the International Space Station’s robotic arm, which astronauts use during training. 4. Astronauts train for International Space Station missions in the Vehicle Mock-Up Facility.

Co-op program brings future careers, and sometimes families, in sight


hile Chris Wade’s NASA career is the stuff movies are made of, his wife Judi Brown Wade, an MSU chemical engineering alumna, also has had a successful career path since her 1997 graduation. The Vicksburg native works for INVISTA as an environmental compliance engineer at its Houston facility. Headquartered in Wichita, Kan., INVISTA is one of the world’s largest integrated producers of chemical intermediates, polymers and fibers. “Mississippi State did give me a great background for being able to work as a process engineer, and to help improve processes at the plants that I’ve worked with. I’ve seen that the chemical engineering degree prepares you well for several different roles, including management,” Judi Wade said. The Wades’ story also points to the success of MSU’s cooperative education program. Chris and Judi met during college when both were participating in MSU’s coop program and working with Mississippi Power Co. Judi Wade said that while she and Chris actually had a calculus class together on campus, it wasn’t until he was working for Mississippi Power’s distribution office and she was working in the power generation plant that the two got to know each other. Each semester, about 200 MSU students co-op with about 100 different employers, and MSU has the second

largest co-op program in the South. About 80 percent of co-op students receive job offers from their coop company, and it’s not uncommon for their work experience during college to bring up to a 20 percent increase in their starting salaries, according to the MSU Career Center. Chris said the Mississippi Power work experience was his first electrical engineering experience outside of the classroom. “I did primarily work associated with managing the local distribution power grid and learned how all the lines were routed into individual homes and businesses,” Chris Wade said. He also helped maintain a database of the power company’s equipment. He said the work experience was very relevant to his work when he started with NASA because the robotics group works with electrically based equipment. “Some of the experience I got learning about electrical distribution power systems turned out to be really useful when I was learning about electrical systems associated with robotic arms,” Chris Wade said. Judi Wade likewise said the co-op experience was an excellent way to prepare

Chris and Judi Wade with their daughter Kennedy.

for her future role as an environmental engineer. As part of her work with Mississippi Power, she conducted water testing from the plant outfalls to make sure the plant was operating within state and federal guidelines. “Probably one reason I’m in environmental now is because of that coop,” Judi Wade said. After her MSU graduation, Wade initially worked as a process engineer at International Paper in Vicksburg until she and Chris became engaged in 1999. When they got married, she worked as a process engineer for several years before joining environmental engineering groups. “Houston is an engineering mecca, so it turned out to be a really good thing,” Chris Wade said of their move to a city that also serves as America’s hub for the petrochemical industry. The Wades married in 2000 and now have a 10-year-old daughter, Kennedy. MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY ALUMNUS




Nusz family engineers

passionate impact



LEFT: Alumni Terri and Tommy Nusz at their home.

ommy and Terri Nusz can picture the Mississippi State University of tomorrow, and as valuable alumni of the 136-year-old landgrant institution they are doing their part to help it take shape through the university’s ongoing capital campaign. It is by design that Tommy and Terri support areas for which they feel an emotional connection. The Houston, Texas, couple met as MSU classmates and later married. Over their 31-year union, MSU has become a family tradition as they raised their two children, Meagan and Brant, in the Bulldog fold. “Our children grew up as part of MSU because we returned to campus often–this is where we made many wonderful memories. They are adults now, and we want our giving to be truly reminiscent of what is important to our entire family at this time in our lives,” said Terri. A $12.3 million gift from the couple will benefit multiple colleges and areas of the institution as part of Infinite Impact: The Mississippi State University Campaign. The gift brings the total raised for the endeavor to nearly $418 million, as fundraising moves toward a $600 million goal by 2018. Like many other graduates, Tommy and Terri support MSU, in part, because they credit Mississippi State with their professional success. The petroleum engineering degree Tommy earned in 1982 gave him a great basis for a successful career in the oil and gas industry. He is CEO and chairman of the board of NYSE listed Oasis Petroleum, Inc. Tommy co-founded the independent exploration and production company in 2007. He previously served as a vice president for several divisions of

Burlington Resources prior to its acquisition by Conoco Phillips. Fellow class of ’82 graduate Terri Foster Nusz earned a degree in interior design. Terri followed her passion in interior design after college and started a design company. She is originally from Memphis, Tenn., however she and Tommy affectionately call Mississippi home since they have lived in many places. The Nusz’ children share their parents’ love of Mississippi State. Son Brant is following in their footsteps as a Bulldog student. He is a junior majoring in business management and marketing. MSU also holds a special allure for their daughter, Meagan. She attended Texas Christian University, and is an accomplished equestrian. The impact of the Nusz gift, along with many other campaign gifts, will be immeasurable because the benefits will resonate well beyond Mississippi State. “Alumni and friends should invest in areas of the university that they are personally connected with, passionate about, and want to advance,” said Tommy. “By serving on university boards, I have learned why private gifts are such an important source of revenue. So we try to do our part, increase awareness, and encourage others to consider financially supporting MSU.” As an engineering alumnus, Tommy wants to bolster the reputation of the James Worth Bagley College of Engineering, one of about 40 named engineering colleges in the nation. To that end, the gift provides $250,000 for a strategic initiative fund to be utilized by the engineering dean, and MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY ALUMNUS


“Alumni and friends should invest in areas of the university that they are personally connected with, passionate about, and want to advance,” said Tommy. “By serving on university boards, I have learned why private gifts are such an important source of revenue. So we try to do our part, increase awareness, and encourage others to consider financially supporting MSU.” $1 million to create the Nusz Engineering Student Excellence Endowment for such areas as study abroad and technology society memberships. Additionally, $1 million will help construct a new engineering and science building to house the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department as it works to maintain a nationally recognized program. Other designations for engineering include $1.75 million to create the Thomas B. Nusz Endowed Chair. Endowment earnings will provide a salary supplement and support for the holder with a focus on petroleum- and energy-related study. An earlier gift from the couple funded a similar endowed professorship also named for Tommy. “It is truly an honor for these endowed positions to carry my name,” said Tommy. “This is such a crucial way to be involved at MSU because the advances in research that chair and professorship holders make can impact the energy industry on a global scale.” The Nusz gift benefits yet another academic college–the College of Education by way of a proposed Partnership School to foster excellence in rural education. The school is a unique opportunity for the education college and the Starkville-Oktibbeha County School system. The Partnership School would serve as a demonstration model for current students and educators in the state and nation, and a site for research on rural education. The partnership calls for the creation a middle school to serve all sixth and seventh grade students from the StarkvilleOktibbeha County area. The $1 million gift from the Nusz’ is the first of gifts needed for the school’s construction and will help provide start-up needs. The school will help MSU graduates master effective teaching practices through observations that they can carry to schools statewide. An opportunity to structure a great learning environment for students, even before they enroll at Mississippi State, is important to the Nusz



family. Tommy’s mother, Bette Nusz, is a former teacher, and the gift honors her life’s vocation. She worked toward her secondary education certificate at Mississippi State while the family lived in Starkville. The Nusz’ have a willingness to assist with MSU’s long-term academic goals, and their family gravitates toward support for athletics. A love of State began when Tommy’s dad, Dave Nusz, was as a defensive backfield coach for the Bulldog football team from 1970-1972. The Nusz’ lifetime support for Mississippi State includes a significant portion for athletics. Their most recent gift continues this tradition. Specifically, $2 million will serve as a lead gift toward construction of a new Olympic sports facility at MSU. Because Meagan competes as part of the U.S. Equestrian team and participated in 2013 Nation’s Cup events in Slovokia and Brazil, the family wants to encourage student achievement in Olympic sports. Also, $300,000 will establish the Meagan Nusz Excellence in Women’s Sports Fund to generate more emphasis in this area, and an additional $1 million will support several sports programs, including baseball, women’s basketball, softball and volleyball. The Nusz family also shares a bond with the College of Veterinary Medicine. Their gift will create an endowed position known as the Terri Nusz Endowed Equine Professorship. Earnings from the $1 million endowment will provide a faculty holder salary supplement and support in teaching and research. Terri oversees the family’s various interests in equine sport including TnT Equine Partners, Amalaya Investments and Oasis Stables, and the family wants to encourage faculty efforts in equine study. “A focus on equine health is important because of our family’s personal involvement and love for animals,” said Terri. “The MSU-CVM has a great reputation and can further developments

TOP: Meagan Nusz exhibits her accomplished equestrian skills. BOTTOM: She and her brother Brant, an MSU junior, share time on campus.

in equine health with far-reaching benefits for animals and humans.” It is with deep appreciation the Nusz family honors the nation’s veterans. Their gift designates $2 million as a cornerstone contribution to build a new facility for the G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery Center for America’s Veterans. The center is a national leader in providing campus-based veteran resources in support of 2,000 currently enrolled student veterans, service members, dependents and survivors, and in need of a larger base of operations. MSU has been recognized for its veteran-friendly campus, most recently as a top 30 institution by U.S. News & World Report. “We realize what it takes for military personnel and their families to regain a certain quality of life after serving their country. We want to support those who currently serve in the military on our behalf and honor our relatives who previously served to uphold our freedom,” Tommy said. The Mississippi State master plan includes a proposed site for the facility on the northern central portion of the Starkville campus. MSU hopes to secure an additional $1.5 million for construction and is actively pursuing additional gifts through the capital campaign. Because of their support through Infinite Impact: The Mississippi State University Campaign, Tommy and Terri are an inspiring example for other alumni and friends. “It’s really not the amount you give in support of Mississippi State, but simply all of us sharing a belief that we can preserve our Bulldog traditions and make our university extremely competitive with any higher education institution in the nation,” Tommy said. For more on Infinite Impact: The Mississippi State University Campaign, please see the Infinite Impact section of this publication or visit www.






Digital Unique histories, scores, photos and letters now digitally preserved and accessible BY LEAH BARBOUR, PHOTOGRAPHY BY BETH WYNN

Digitizing the past Many Mississippi State graduates can remember the late night hours they spent browsing antiquated volumes along the dwarfing bookcases in Mitchell Memorial Library. Today, many university library patrons visit to browse library holdings, many of which are fully accessible online. Digital collections are expanding at a phenomenal rate, thanks to the library’s Digital Preservation and Access Unit. As the Digital Age continues sweeping books, journals and other printed materials into archival vaults, the team develops electronic access capabilities for a variety of unique materials. Newly available digitized collections include: Reel-to-reel weekly radio addresses by two nationally influential alumni—U.S. Sen. John C. Stennis and Rep. G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery—discussing Mississippi-centric issues they faced in office. “Echoes of Lloyd-Ricks-Watson,” oral accounts of university employees who worked in the building which housed the Mississippi Cooperative Extension Service, Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, and other agricultural programs. The complete Charles H. Templeton Sr. Sheet Music Collection, including more than 12,000 titles. The U.S. Grant Presidential Library’s photos of the 18th U.S. President’s 1877-80 world tour, as well as more than 130 letters in the Grant Family Correspondence Collection.

Digital projects coordinator Randall McMillen said the rare, unique materials digitized and made available online in 2013 are just another step in “future-proofing the past.”

Listening to history From radio talks by two influential Magnolia State leaders to recordings of longtime employees who worked in an iconic university building, the digitized audio histories available at Mitchell Memorial Library allow patrons to listen to the past. Mississippi State has long held original reelto-reel recordings of the weekly radio addresses made by Stennis, who served in the Senate from 1947 to 1989, and Montgomery, who held office in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1967 to 1997. “The audio tapes are actually in really good shape because they were meant to go out on the radio, so they were professionally produced, then played one time and stored in a good setting,” McMillen said. “Our player, on the other hand, breaks down periodically; you can’t get parts for it, and we’re learning how to fix it ourselves. If you wanted to buy a new one, it would be costprohibitive because they were built in the 1970s, and equipment and parts are hard to find.” Thus, digitizing the Stennis-Montgomery addresses is critical to preserving their first-hand accounts of issues Mississippians faced during the second half of the 20th century. “Echoes of Lloyd-Ricks-Watson” chronicles oral histories of individuals who worked in the

OPPOSITE PAGE: Mississippi State’s reelto-reel tape recorder has been an instrumental tool in preserving the weekly radio addresses of Sen. John C. Stennis and Rep. G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery. The librarians at Mitchell Memorial Library digitized the addresses that the Congressional leaders gave to inform their constituents of how the national leglislative agenda was directly impacting Mississippi during their terms, from 1947 to 1989, and 1967 to 1997, respectively. MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY ALUMNUS


To learn more about the MSU Libraries’ new online digital collection visit

building from its opening in 1929 through its 2010 renovation, said Ryan P. Semmes, archivist at the library’s Congressional and Political Research Center. Numerous research projects, collaborative efforts and related topics are featured in the more than 40 personal accounts describing day-to-day work at Lloyd-Ricks-Watson, Semmes said. “It was a lot of fun conducting these interviews and listening to these folks share their memories of Mississippi State and creating this unique oral history available online,” he explained.

Music in time More than 12,000 sheet music scores representing a wide range of genres are available online, thanks to Charles H. Templeton Sr., a Starkville businessman who donated his collection of ragtime and related American music in 1987. Since many pieces are in the public domain—not copyrighted—they may be downloaded in full. McMillen said the digitization project began at the turn of the 21st century when MSU digitizing efforts had a small scope of maintaining only the rarest pieces of various genres. However, when the U.S. Small Business Administration funded a grant to establish comprehensive digitization, the university’s mission expanded. “We’ve got 100 years of published music available online, and people seem to like being able to download, print and play it, but this collection also has a lot of value beyond that,” McMillen said. He explained that many of the pieces are no longer in print and feature unique cover art. Overall, the digital Charles Templeton Sheet Music Collection offers researchers, historians, artists and interested individuals opportunity to explore representations of gender, race and culture through music and illustration. “Now, we’re working to normalize name headings, and we’re going to make the cover art searchable,” McMillen said. “We’d like to have more of an image gallery where people can compare cover images side by side.” By making the sheet music collection more searchable, its value for historians, musicians and cultural theorists will increase exponentially, he emphasized.



“Now that we’ve got all the music with every unique title scanned, we can focus more on the metadata to make it more accessible than it’s ever been,” McMillen said.

19th-century life Through digitization and online access, the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library is fulfilling its mission of publicly communicating information about the Union general’s life and times. Formally housed at Mississippi State since 2012, the presidential library features online holdings including hundreds of photographs from Grant’s three-year world tour. “We’re really excited about this because this opens a new window into history,” said John Marszalek, executive director and managing editor of the presidential library. “We have a number of scrapbooks, and this is a goldmine of what it was like all over Europe and Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean leading up to the 20th century.” Not only are pictures of the world’s leaders in 1880 available, many pictures of children, cabinet members and other officials are in the collection. Additionally, more than 130 letters—the Ida Honoré Grant Correspondence penned by Ulysses S. Grant’s daughter-in-law—were scanned to expand the online availability of the Grant Family Correspondence Collection, said David Nolen, assistant editor for the Grant Library. “A digital image for every page of every letter in the collection is already online,” said visiting associate editor Robert Karachuk. “The next step is to transcribe the text of the letters and make the content searchable. Then we’ll put together a timeline tracing the course of events and a biographical dictionary identifying the people mentioned in the letters.” Marszalek, Nolen and Karachuk agreed these materials’ online accessibility makes people more likely to take an interest in Grant’s presidency, as well as visit the physical building at 395 Hardy Rd. in Starkville. “The longtime function of the Grant Association is to make this information available to everybody, and that’s exactly what we’re doing,” Marszalek said.

A: The Ida Honoré Grant Collection, part of the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Collection, preserves the hand-written letters of U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant’s daughter-in-law in a digital, online format. She wrote 130 letters to her mother and sister between 1889 and 1893, when she lived in Vienna with her husband, Col. Frederick Dent Grant, U.S. minister to AustriaHungary. B: Online holdings for the Presidential Collection housed at Mississippi State include a variety of personal portrait photographs of state officials that the 17th president and his wife, Julia, collected during their world tour, from 1877 through 1880. She wrote notes on many of the photos, including names and impressions of the individual and his or her family. C: Ram Singh, Maharaja of Jaipur, is one of many state officials whose photographs Julia Grant, wife of President Ulysses S. Grant, returned to the United States following her and her husband’s world tour, which ended in 1880. D: All the scores housed at Mississippi State’s Charles S. Templeton Sr. Music Library are now available online. In total, more than 12,000 unique pieces can be downloaded, printed and played. E: The online world tour photographs from the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Collection include family portraits, as well as those of state officials. F: Ida Honoré Grant wrote a variety of letters about international 18th-century life. G: A variety of artists, colors and cover art approaches can be reviewed online as part of the Charles S. Templeton Music Library at Mississippi State.










WMSV 91.1 FM Celebrates 20 Years of ‘World Class Radio’ BY SASHA STEINBERG, PHOTOGRAPHY BY BETH WYNN

“I love this place; I really do,” said manager Steve Ellis of Mississippi State’s noncommercial, community radio station, WMSV 91.1. For 20 years, the 14,000-watt FM station in the university’s Henry F. Meyer Student Media Center has broadcast 24 hours a day, seven days a week throughout a 70-mile radius. WMSV is not, however, the first FM station on campus. That distinction is held by the late WMSB, a 10-watt station once housed in cramped spaces on the top floor of Lee Hall. WMSB, with a tiny signal didn’t reach much beyond the campus grounds, went silent in 1986. Explaining how the “new” station came about, Ellis said “a group of students wanted to have a college radio station again, so they started a petition, and were able to get it on a referendum that ultimately passed.” The enterprising students “then approached David Hutto, who was director of the University Television Center at that time, and asked him to apply for a license that, in time, was granted by the Federal Communications Commission.” Together, Hutto and Joe Farris, then-head of the University Relations office, approached Ellis about developing the new station. Ellis, broadcast coordinator for the university at the time and a radio veteran since age 16, accepted the task. 30


“Sometime in late 1993, I came over here and found absolutely nothing in these offices except light switches and lights,” the Columbus resident recalled. “I’d say it took us close to six months to get the station ready to go on the air.” At precisely 6 a.m. on March 21, 1994, music began flowing over the airways from the Tracy Drive location to ears of listeners across the Golden Triangle region and beyond. Ellis said the original WMSV slogan, “Radio with a Vision,” was changed to the current “World Class Radio” around 2,000 as the musical format evolved. “We had five student directors when we first went on the air,” Ellis said. “They worked long hours and very hard. One weekend, they even came out to my house to help build shelves for the station, and those shelves, in fact, still hold the CDs in our music library.” Ellis is one of the station’s two full-time university employees. News and public affairs director Anthony Craven is the other. A Clinton native, Craven is an MSU communication/broadcasting graduate who went on to complete a master’s degree in secondary education. He began working at WMSV in 1999, shortly after transferring from Hinds Community College.

“We had five student directors when we first went on the air. They worked long hours and very hard. One weekend, they even came out to my house to help build shelves for the station, and those shelves, in fact, still hold the CDs in our music library.” Steve Ellis

“I started out as a volunteer doing a short sports segment as part of the morning news, and that was when I realized that I really enjoy working in radio,” Craven said. With demonstration tapes from his two-anda-half-year stint at WMSV, Craven successfully landed some sports-related radio gigs in Jackson following graduation. Eventually, though, he became a middle school teacher in the Lowndes County Public Schools. “Even when I was teaching fulltime, I was doing something in radio or broadcasting,” Craven said of the ongoing love for broadcasting that brought him back to work fulltime at WMSV in 2007. Craven said work at WMSV as an undergraduate student was “a fantastic experience and one of the highlights of my time here at Mississippi State.” Of Craven’s early days, Ellis recalled, “He had the same enthusiasm all of them do: ‘You’re going to give me a microphone with an on-andoff switch?!’” “Whether I knew how to use it or not!” Craven quickly retorted, admitting that “at first, I didn’t.” As with so many students at the station, Craven said he enjoyed the range of musical

selections that filled the offices and hallways. He said the things he learned from Ellis helped him develop a professional voice and become a better overall communicator. Ellis said Craven “was one of those, like so many students we’ve had, who realized what an opportunity it can be to work at WMSV.” While “World Class Radio” may be the primary motto, the station also proudly describes itself as being “professionally-run and student-staffed,” he noted. “We’ve had so many talented students come through here,” Ellis said. “Since we’re not tied to any academic department, we have gotten, and continue to get, student employees from all kinds of backgrounds. I feel like we get the most creative from all over campus. We have kids who come in here to work who may not know the majority of the music we play, but within a week are singing along with half the songs.” As Craven pointed out, “We want this to be a good experience for the students because these are their college years, but we also want to teach and train them and broaden their horizons.” Ellis and Craven said students interested in working at WMSV are encouraged to try out. Prior radio experience is not required. Following a two-week training session and onair auditions, those selected have the opportunity

L-R: Some of WMSV’s former student employees include Melissa Roberts, a student worker from 1995-97; Robbie Stanley, the station’s first public service director in 1994; and Niki Eisgruber, a student DJ from 2012-13. MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY ALUMNUS


L-R: Anthony Craven, WMSV news/public affairs director, and Steve Ellis, WMSV station manager

to earn an on-air spot. Unlike in the early days when all announcers and news staff were volunteers, students now are paid employees—a change Ellis and Craven agree to be among the biggest evolutions the station has gone through over its two decades of existence. While most college stations often “look in”—cater to students as their primary audience—Ellis and Craven have worked to maintain a “look-out” approach when it comes to programming. “We’re on campus, but because we broadcast up to a 70-mile radius, we also try to reach out to the community and tell people what’s going on here at Mississippi State,” Ellis said. As for the music formats, Ellis said that in the beginning, “We were looking for something that wasn’t in the market and decided on an alternative format.” Around 1999, after noticing other area stations copying much of WMSV’s musical playlist to one degree or another, a change took place. Wanting to stay a step ahead of the game, Ellis said the decision was made to switch to Triple A, or the adult album alternative format. While very close to the alternative sound, Triple A is a bit more adult-oriented,



a format that remains very popular with college-aged and younger students, as well as middle-aged adults. Craven said, “Even though there’s been some movement in the alternative music field to conform to more of a Triple A format, WMSV is still the only station in our listening area that has this format.” As for news programming, Craven said “most radio stations will give listeners, at the most, two to five minutes of news at the top of the hour.” WMSV, on the other hand, employs “a 30-minute, comprehensive daily newscast called “Observations from MSU.” As home to the “Largest Music Library in the Golden Triangle”—another station moniker—WMSV works to give listeners “a whole lot more than just the same dozen or so ‘hits’ played over and over,” said Ellis. “If you hear a song on our station, you’re going to be real lucky if you hear it a second time in the same 24-hour period,” he said. “Plus, we have a two-hour rule; we don’t want you to even hear the same artist within two hours.” While artists such as Mumford & Sons, Of Monsters and Men, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, The Avett Brothers and The Lumineers may be heard on other area stations, Ellis proudly noted that “you never

heard them in this market until you heard them on our station. We also go so much deeper into their catalogs than commercial stations do.” Ellis said one especially popular specialty show is “The Juke,” a blues program running since 1994 each Sunday from 6 p.m.-midnight. In 2007, WMSV took its broadcast worldwide with the addition of a live stream to the station website, www.wmsv. “We get emails all the time from longdistance listeners telling us that they are listening on the Internet, and that’s really special,” Ellis said. “We have a lot of MSU alumni who listen because it gives them a little touch of home, and some say they love listening to us because it makes them feel like they’re in college again.” Craven said the station’s website also features an app that listeners may download free of charge. To do so, access the link on the front page of the university’s mobile site, search for WMSV 91.1 and begin listening. Also free and as a courtesy to non-profit organizations on campus and in the community, WMSV announcers make daily public-service announcements— usually, about two each hour.

Teresa Lowther Mason

Where are they now?

Hometown: Houston, Texas Current city: Los Angeles, Calif. Education: Bachelor’s in communication with an emphasis in broadcasting and minor in public relations. Graduated cum laude with honors in 2005. Work Experience at WMSV: I was an on-air DJ radio personality for three years every morning from 10 a.m. to noon during my sophomore, junior and senior years of college. What do you do for a living?

Benjamin Price Hart

Hometown: Detroit, Michigan Current city: Jackson, Miss. Education: Bachelor’s in communication with an emphasis in broadcasting Work Experience at WMSV: I was an on-air jock in 1997-98 for the short-lived, Friday night hip-hop show, “Weekend Warmup.” What do you do for a living?

Over the years, the station has received numerous professional awards, but Ellis said the best mark of appreciation is “to walk into a local business to have lunch and know that everybody in that restaurant is listening.” Broadcasts also may be heard throughout the Colvard Student Union. “It’s so gratifying to go sit in the Union with a cup of coffee and know that everybody sitting in there is listening to our station; that is a cool feeling,” Craven said. The two radio veterans said they consider themselves very fortunate to be making a living while fulfilling their passions for the broadcast medium. It wouldn’t be possible, both emphasize, without the strong and continued support of the station’s diverse listeners and sponsors. “There are people and businesses that have been financial supporters as well as just fans of what we do,” said Ellis. “Not only did they see the value in our station from very early on, but they’ve been with us the whole time, and that’s so important to us.”

I am the news director at WAPT, the ABC affiliate in Jackson, Miss. What do you miss about attending Mississippi State and working at WMSV? How has what you learned while at MSU and WMSV helped you or prepared you for your career and life in general? MSU/WMSV is where I got my first chance to find my voice. At WMSV, Steve Ellis let me and my crew experience what it took to be a professional, but he gave us plenty of lessons about what you can’t do, too. The experience was instrumental in getting me an on-air job with Cumulus Broadcasting in Columbus, Miss., where I became a prime-time DJ and eventually program director for Power 92. All of that radio background set me up for my 14-year career in television news. As a leader of a newsroom, I have had the pleasure of watching dozens of young people chase their dreams to be broadcasters. What would you say to encourage current students to consider working at WMSV? My recommendation for every student is to grab every opportunity. The time you spend in a real professional place like WMSV will make you 10 times more prepared when you hit the broadcast world outside.

I moved to Los Angeles to pursue my dreams in the field of broadcasting/ television the summer after graduation. I am a television casting director/producer. My job is discovering talent and casting a variety of projects, pilots and TV shows for major network television. I also have casting credits for several national commercials, such as MasterCard, Walmart, Justin Timberlake’s Grammy Commercial, Sony, Vitamin Water and Converse national ad campaigns, to name a few. What do you miss about attending Mississippi State and working at WMSV? How has what you learned while at MSU and WMSV helped you or prepared you for your career and life in general? I loved everything about working at WMSV. It was my first official job in the world of broadcasting that opened doors leading me to where I am today! I gained so much knowledge and experience at WMSV. Being on-air and behind the scenes of WMSV is what truly played a vital role in my life and my career. I had amazing mentors—Steve Ellis and Krista Vowell. Their encouragement, wisdom, guidance and willingness to give me an opportunity to learn, build my résumé and gain experience helped me follow my dreams of a career on the West Coast. Looking back, I know my life and career wouldn’t be what it is today if it wasn’t for WMSV. What would you say to encourage current students to consider working at WMSV? I would absolutely 100 percent encourage every student who is studying the field of broadcasting to interview with WMSV, whether it be as an on-air DJ, assistant or intern. If you are truly interested in pursuing a career in broadcasting, working at WMSV is a foot in the door leading to so many possibilities. If you don’t work hard to follow your dreams and take opportunities in front of you, someone else will! MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY ALUMNUS



‘I want to always be the person that takes time to give back.’ Rhodes Scholar Field Brown talks about family, the future and his alma mater.




To learn more about Field Brown you can watch a video about his MSU experience at


he Office of Public Affairs at Mississippi State recently interviewed Rhodes Scholar Field Brown and asked questions that had him reminiscing about the past and contemplating what’s on the horizon. Here are his answers. Talk about the role of your parents in bringing you to the point where you could see yourself as a Rhodes Scholar. Growing up, my parents read to me a lot–Dr. Seuss, Berenstain Bears, Bible stories–and my dad, who’s a big history buff, would read to me from the Almanac. He’d have me name the U.S. capital cities, the biggest cities in the world and other interesting facts. It was an environment where we saw education not as a burden, but as something that’s fun. It helped make learning a lot easier, and it made academics something I wanted to do as I got older. What were your goals about your college experience? I was looking for a university where I had individual time with my professors and where they had time to spend with me. I’m also a big sports fan and SEC fan, so I also wanted a school that was big enough to get that experience as well. When I was a junior at Vicksburg High School and attended MSU’s Spring Preview Day, the English professors told me that the majority of my classes would have about 20 people and would largely be discussion based. After talking with them, I knew I had found the right combination in what I was looking for, and it proved true during my four years here. With the benefit of hindsight, what’s different about you now as a student? I think I’m a much more critical-thinking person than I was coming out of Vicksburg High School. I had this naive mindset where if I read something I usually accepted it as the truth. When I got into my academic studies at Mississippi State, I began to read Aristotle and Plato–two people who obviously didn’t agree on everything. I realized that many times what we read is usually not wholly true. We have to look at the strengths and weaknesses of each person’s argument and just be more critical.

What sort of personal discipline is required to be positioned for a Rhodes Scholarship? You have to love reading, and you have to love reading about current things that are going on in the world. I read the New York Times every Sunday and at least three or four times a week. You can’t just know about the field in which you’re studying. Many people can be engineers or chemists, but you have to be able to fit the knowledge of your field with current debates over such things as public policy. A well-rounded person sees things more in a disciplinary sense than someone who is just stuck in their one field. What did you do to become a Rhodes Scholar? I gave a lot of time to the Rhodes Scholarship process. I was president of numerous organizations, including the Philosophy and Religion Club and Golden Key Honor Society, and I was a co-founder of the Street Car, a new literary magazine on campus. I also did a lot of research, and my professors helped me find research opportunities I could do during the summer. I went to the University of Iowa after my sophomore year and to Stanford University the next year to do research. Those are just a few of the big things that I did to accomplish this goal. When you look back on your time at Mississippi State, what is one thing that you will hold on to in terms of who you are and who you want to become? I’ll definitely hold on to my time as a Roadrunner student recruiter. I recruited a lot of students and gave tours once a week. It was a big time commitment, but I always kept my word on doing my part. There were days I’d be busy with other things, but I’d still take that genuine time to share with prospective students considering Mississippi State. I want to always be the person that takes time to give back. What does it mean to you to be a Bulldog? I think it means to give everything 100 percent, and I think that’s one thing I’ve done since I’ve been here. I’ve learned from looking at my professors and looking at other students around me. Being a Bulldog means to have that tenacity, to have that passion, to always give your all. MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY ALUMNUS


Our PEOPLE What does it mean to Mississippi State for you to have obtained this very high honor? It shows that a lot of bright students go to Mississippi State, and I was just one of many students who I feel could have gotten this honor. It shows that MSU has a lot of great professors that are putting in a lot of time with students helping them to reach their dreams. Students who have intellectual curiosity that they want to explore in any field of study are going to have professors leading them in that direction. Mississippi State may be known for agriculture and engineering, but it also has great programs in the liberal arts such as English and philosophy. Was the support network at Mississippi State important for you as a student? The support network was great, especially in my two departments of English and philosophy, and in the Judy and Bobby Shackouls Honors College. All my professors had office hours and encouraged me to come by any time. They always had welcoming, smiling faces when I’d come to see them. I also was involved with the Philosophy and Religion Book Club for four years, and I learned so much through that group. There are a lot of avenues in general that students can get involved in at Mississippi State. It felt like a small college setting, but I’m appreciative that it was a large university because I got to know so many different people. It was definitely a good combination. What are the things Mississippi State offers to every student regardless of their major, the things that attracted you to MSU? Well, Mississippi State offered a home away from home for me. I’m from Vicksburg, and I went to a high school where there are about 1,000 students. Even though there are more than 20,000 students at Mississippi State, it felt like home because I saw so many hospitable faces. It was an encouraging atmosphere, and that was something that I knew I needed in the university I chose. Why was being a part of the Shackouls Honors College good for you? Coming from Vicksburg High School, I was pretty much the best student in my class, and I felt like I was the one always telling other people new and interesting things. When I got to the Shackouls Honors College, I was one of many bright students who also had all these very interesting ideas that I’d never explored. There were students, especially juniors and seniors, who knew way more than I did 36


about many topics. Learning about new topics and talking to other students was really good for me and made me a better student. What is the thing most people don’t realize about Mississippi State? The thing that most people don’t realize about Mississippi State is that it’s not only a university that’s obsessed with SEC football and agriculture and engineering, it’s a place that loves English, philosophy and the humanities. It’s a very well-rounded university that has so much to offer. In looking five, 10 or even 25 years into the future of Field Brown, what will we see? I hope to be an African-American leadership professor, that’s my big goal. The main part of that would be research and writing books based on my research. I’m also interested in writing fiction in my spare time. And, I’m interested in starting something like a mentoring program or a scholarship program geared towards African Americans in particular. How do you see your future role in changing some of Mississippi’s vexing problems such as race relations and poverty? What’s your role in being a change agent? One of my role models is Dolphus Weary, the founder of Mission Mississippi. What his organization does is create relationships and communities between people from different backgrounds. He gets them in the same room talking about issues like the state’s public school system, race, religion and other topics that these groups would probably never talk to each other about without the connection to this organization. He’s a role model for me because I hope to also get different organizations or different clubs together, that traditionally never have anything to do with each other, in the same room talking about issues that control Mississippi’s future. What is your vision for the experience on which you’re about to embark? Oxford is a city known by the book, so I see myself talking a lot about poetry and literature. That’s something I love doing. I can see myself eating in a pub with a professor and discussing writers like Willie Morris or philosophers like John Paul Sartre. Hearing the experiences of people from around the world and them listening to mine is a dialogue that should be intriguing and very enlightening.


“It’s impossible to become a good writer without being a good reader. But I would add one thing, and that’s be curious.” Michael Farris Smith


rom teaching to writing, Michael Farris Smith of Columbus is one creative Bulldog. The 1994 Mississippi State alumnus recently went on sabbatical from teaching creative writing at Mississippi University for Women to promote his book, “Rivers,” published by Simon & Schuster. Mississippi State remains a special place for Smith, and he appreciates the opportunities he had there, he said. “State gave me the chance to make great friends and to be free and try to figure out what I was going to do and where I was going to do it,” he said. Though writing is his central focus these days, when Smith graduated with his communication degree in public relations, he had no idea he would become a writer, he said. However, he did already know that he enjoyed being creative. “The communication department did appeal to my personality,” he said. “The classes and assignments were project-driven. I liked being asked to come up with new ideas and then figure out how to make them visually striking or how to make words fit together to give a project the most appeal. It was a creative outlet.” However, when graduation came, Smith felt restless, and he said that same restlessness finds its

way into his books. “Rivers” is no exception. Set on the Mississippi Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina, “Rivers” explores how one man deals with losing everything he valued. “The idea of a normal life has become a lost memory for the characters, and all they know is survival. It’s a day-to-day, even a moment-tomoment thing,” Smith said. His book was welcomed by critics: Indiebound listed “Rivers” on its September 2013 Indie Next List; Goodreads named it to the Movers & Shakers List; and Library Journal listed it as a Hot Debut. Additionally, Esquire, Kirkus Reviews, The Atlanta Journal Constitution and The New York Times and gave the book favorable reviews. Smith said the positive feedback is “inspiring and rewarding and humbling.” In fact, “Rivers” has done so well, Simon & Schuster requested Smith write a prequel to be launched as an e-book, and he is developing ideas for a screenplay with Silver Lake Entertainment. “It’s impossible to become a good writer without being a good reader. But I would add one thing, and that’s be curious,” he said. “I think you have to be curious about the craft and willing to talk to others or read interviews with others who have had success.” MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY ALUMNUS


Our PEOPLE MSU honors Sanders as National Alumnus of the Year

Michael W. “Mike” Sanders of Cleveland is the Mississippi State University Alumni Association’s 2014 National Alumnus of the Year. A 1964 physical education graduate, he has served his alma mater as an active member of the MSU Alumni Association. “It is with pleasure that I accept this great honor bestowed upon me by Mississippi State University,” said Sanders. “MSU taught me life lessons I have carried with me, and I am forever grateful for my association.” Sanders is the former longtime president and CEO of Jimmy Sanders Inc., one of the Mid-South’s largest agricultural input supply and distribution businesses. He now is semi-retired after a 55-year career in various capacities with the company. Since its 2012 sale to Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, he has served as a consultant to the company and member of Pinnacle’s board of directors. In 1969, Sanders married the former Nan Long, a Delta State University English graduate and art enthusiast. They are the parents of three children, Michael W. Sanders and Amanda Sanders Turner, both of Cleveland, and Ellen Sanders Voelkel of Baltimore, Md., and six grandchildren. The family’s philanthropy extends to the arts, the community and their universities. At Mississippi State, Sanders has been a board member for the Alumni Foundation, MSU Foundation and Bulldog Club. Over his lifetime, Sanders has generously supported varsity athletics and made transformational gifts to the MSU track and field program. His giving also extends to an academic scholarship available to students across campus. 38


“We are proud to salute Mike Sanders on behalf of Mississippi State University for his success as a businessman and for his loyal, lifelong connection with his alma mater,” said Jeff Davis, executive director of the MSU Alumni Association. “Representing our nearly 128,000 living alumni, I am honored to express our thanks and appreciation for his distinguished service over the years.”

Chapter volunteers honored as Distinguished Service Award winners

Ellis saluted as Outstanding Young Alumnus

L-R: Sherri Carr Bevis, David Michael

Jeffery Michael Ellis of Biloxi is the university’s 2013 Outstanding Young Alumnus. A 2006 mechanical engineering graduate, he received the prestigious award at the annual alumni awards banquet in February. While attending MSU, Ellis was a member of the Student Association. As the SA’s history and traditions director, he and other students initiated the idea of a special student tailgating area. Later, as the organization’s director of athletic affairs, he helped with the planning and development of the Junction that now provides enjoyment for generations of Bulldogs. Since graduation, Ellis has served four terms as president of the HarrisonStone chapter. Presently, he holds the office of young director for the Southern region of the alumni association’s national board of directors. Ellis also has helped weave a maroon and white path throughout the Mississippi Gulf Coast in his roles as coordinator for the Road Dawgs and Send-Off Party events in the Biloxi area. Ellis, an engineer at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, has committed to continuing his active service on behalf of MSU and the alumni association.

“Mike” Eley and Carol Moss Read

Mississippi native Sherri Carr Bevis is honored for her work with the Hancock County alumni chapter, where she is president and previously was vice president. During her time as a student in Starkville, Bevis served as an Alumni Delegate and Orientation Leader while pursuing a degree in communication. Following graduation in 1986, she worked as an MSU admissions counselor. Chapter volunteer David Michael “Mike” Eley is recognized for seven years of service as treasurer of the Jackson County alumni chapter. Also a Mississippi native, the 1964 industrial technology graduate was reared in Terry and now resides in Pascagoula. Over the decades, he has worked tirelessly to ensure others have the opportunity to benefit from the same great MSU experience he enjoys. Carol Moss Read of Starkville is honored for her leadership as a president, vice president and membership chair of the Oktibbeha County alumni chapter. A 1976 MSU doctoral graduate in education, she served her alma mater for 24 years, first with the Mississippi State University Extension Service and, later, the Division of Continuing Education. Now retired from the university, she is a self-employed leadership consultant.

Bulldog Pride

Colleges name Alumni of the Year Each year, the MSU Alumni Association recognizes outstanding graduates for their personal, professional and community accomplishments. In February, eight individuals whose lives and service to others represent the strong values of Mississippi State University were announced as the 2014 College Alumni of the Year. By academic unit, they include:

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Ted H. Kendall III of Bolton, a 1958 agriculture graduate and former student body president. He now is president of Gaddis Farms Inc. and president of R&B Land Co.

College of Architecture, Art and Design U.S. District Judge Debra M. Brown of Jackson, a 1987 architecture graduate. When confirmed by the U.S. Senate last year to the bench of U.S. District Court, Northern District of Mississippi, she became the second female federal judge in the state’s 197-year history. (Brown joins fellow Bulldog Sharion Aycock, a 1977 economic graduate whose 2007 appointment to the Northern District bench made her the first woman to hold that distinction.)

College of Arts and Sciences Henry E. “Hank” Johnston of Bluffton, S.C., a 1965 mathematics graduate. A retired corporate vice president of Electronic Data Systems, he was Bluffton’s mayor from 2000-08. After graduation from MSU, he worked for IBM and was project leader of the Apollo-Saturn flight program for the first manned moon rocket launch.

College of Business Laurence E. “Larry” Favreau of Madison, a 1974 accounting graduate. Now executive vice president and CEO of the Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Co., he is a Gulfport native who joined the company in 1974. He holds the Chartered Life Underwriter designation and is a Fellow of the Life Management Institute.

education in 1974 and doctorate in educational leadership/higher education administration in 1993. He has been with EMCC for 35 years and was named president in 2004.

James Worth Bagley College of Engineering Herbert V. “Herb” Johnson of Houston, Texas, president of HVJ Associates Inc. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering in 1978 and 1981, respectively, and has served as a member of the MSU Foundation board of directors.

L-R: Front row - Susanne Taylor, Herb Johnson, National Alumnus Mike Sanders, Hank Johnston, and Michael Clutter L-R: Back row - Ted Kendall, Larry Favreau, MSU Alumni Association National President Tommy Roberson, and Rick Young. Not pictured, Debra Brown.

College of Forest Resources Michael L. Clutter of Athens, Ga., dean of the University of Georgia’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources. He is a 1981 forestry graduate who also holds degrees from Georgia. Before working in higher education, he spent nearly two decades in private industry that included service as Georgia-Pacific’s vice president of decision support and information services.

College of Veterinary Medicine Dr. Susanne Taylor of Bartlett, Tenn., owner of Wolfchase Animal Hospital. A 1983 doctor of veterinary medicine graduate, she served for a number of years as veterinarian for Elvis Presley’s Graceland in Memphis.

College of Education Fred R. “Rick” Young of Eupora, president of East Mississippi Community College. After receiving his 1972 bachelor’s degree in marketing, he went on to earn a master’s in technology MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY ALUMNUS


Our PEOPLE Outstanding Chapters named for 2013


Each year, the alumni association recognizes chapters throughout the state and nation for their continuing dedication to MSU. In February, more than 30 were honored at the annual alumni awards banquet. Gold, silver and bronze cowbells were presented to organizational representatives in appreciation for their service.



Gold chapters include (L-R) Joy Herndon, George-Greene chapter; Sonja Moseley, Atlanta, Ga., chapter; Carol Moss Read, Oktibbeha County chapter; and Jason Snider, Lincoln County chapter. Silver chapters include (L-R) Fred Carl, East Texas chapter; Sherri Carr Bevis, Hancock County chapter; Lisa Lake,

Central Mississippi chapter; and Ford Wall, Lawrence-Jefferson Davis chapter. Bronze chapters include (L-R) Richard Cannon, Jackson County chapter; Brian Sabourin, Huntsville-Decatur, Ala., chapter; Christie Walters, Covington County chapter; and Todd Bennett, Chickasaw County chapter.

2014 Alumni Delegate Officers The MSU Alumni Association has named 2014 officers for its 40-member Alumni Delegates student liaison group, now in its 34th year. They include, secretary Amari Kimble of Memphis, Tenn., a kinesiology major and the daughter of Willyn and JoeDae Jenkins; president Charlie Stocks of Birmingham, Ala., a civil engineering major and the son of Stacey and Scotty Stocks; vice president for education Grant Krag of Hattiesburg, a political science major and the son of Charlotte and Ray Krag; vice president for public relations Rob Hairston, also of Hattiesburg, a communication/public relations major and the son of Kathryn and Lath Hairston. Alumni Delegates have been serving as student liaisons between the land-grant university and its alumni since 1980. Members work to improve understanding and appreciation of the MSU Alumni Association’s role by involving students in various activities and events. For more information on the association and delegates organization, visit www.alumni/ 40


L-R: Secretary Amari Kimble, president Charlie Stocks, vice president for education Grant Krag, and vice president for public relations Rob Hairston.

Bulldog Pride

Alumni Association breaks membership record for sixth consecutive year The MSU Alumni Association recently surpassed its annual membership goal for the sixth consecutive year. A total of 43,772 members in 2013 broke the all-time record for active alumni. Gifts or pledges of any amount to the MSU Foundation or Bulldog Club qualifies an individual for active membership. The gifts become part of Infinite Impact: The Mississippi State University Campaign that is working to advance MSU’s efforts in promoting success, discovery, outreach, globalization and student experiences. Alumni memberships are annual and may be renewed for successive years through additional financial contributions.

Take a Trip with the Traveling Bulldogs Travel with the MSU Alumni Association. The travel opportunities are enriched with informative educational programs, services of a professional tour director and expert local guides.

Plan now for Fall 2014: —Autumn in America’s Heartland —Town and Country Life in Oxford, England —Accent on the Adriatic —Pearls of the Mediterranean Wish you were there? For more information on becoming part of the Traveling Bulldogs, see or contact Libba Andrews at or 662-325-3479.

“It is so important for our alumni and friends to give back and support Mississippi State, not only to show our sense of pride in being a Bulldog, but also to ensure that current and future generations of students at MSU will have a tremendous and meaningful experience,” says Jeff Davis, association executive director. For more information on the MSU Alumni Association, visit www. or telephone 662-325-7000. MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY ALUMNUS



Joining the family J

eff Davis began his position as the executive director of the MSU Alumni Association in November 2013. His wife Jenny and daughters Campbell and Collins also are new members of the Bulldog family. Having previously served as an alumni association executive at Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches, Texas, Davis brings years of experience and energy to his new position. As executive director, he serves as the key liaison between the 136-year-old land-grant institution and its nearly 128,000 living alumni. Today, the association includes 95 alumni chapters located across the U.S. and overseas. Though maintaining a very busy schedule that included his first MSU alumni awards banquet, Davis made time to talk about his new role and passion for Mississippi State University.

L-R: Campbell, Jenny, Jeff and Collins Davis.

What brought you to Mississippi State? Mississippi State is in my DNA and is a proud part of my family’s history. Along with this being such a dynamic place that values its faculty and staff, MSU has such an incredible reputation across the country as a premier university. The university has tremendous leadership in President Mark Keenum and the administrative team he has in place. There are so many positive things happening here and the future of MSU is incredibly bright. From my first day on campus, people genuinely welcomed me as one of their own, and valued my experience and ideas. I am honored and excited to be part of the Mississippi State family. I look forward to the opportunity of making a positive impact here at State. Tell us a little about your family connection to Mississippi State. My grandfather, Richard Warfield Davis, played football at State in the late 1930s, and graduated with an engineering degree in 1940.



Questions about the Alumni Association can be directed to Jeff Davis at

Meet Jeff Davis, alumni association executive director, and learn more about where Mississippi State is headed He loved Mississippi State, and even after he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, the news of a Bulldog victory would bring a wide smile to his face. He passed away when I was eight, and the opportunity for me to come to Mississippi State, serve his school and wear his colors are things that are so very special to me and to my family. This is a time for me to reconnect to him and my family roots, a chance to be part of his Mississippi State story. I am so blessed for the opportunity to be here and serve his alma mater. Our family has been so touched by the amount of support and the warm welcome that the MSU and Starkville communities have extended to us. It has felt like home from day one, and we are so blessed to make Mississippi State and Starkville our home. Having been on board over six months, what are some of your initial thoughts? Our alumni association has a storied and decorated history. I am so fortunate to follow in the footsteps of my predecessors, Charlie Weatherly, Steve Grafton, John Correro, and Jimmy Abraham, and build on the foundation of success they established. I am honored to serve Mississippi State and its dedicated alumni. I look forward to working with our staff, board, volunteers, and others across campus to continue to advance the alumni association and encourage their support of Mississippi State University. What do you think is the association’s biggest strength? It is evident to me that our biggest strength is our people. Mississippi State alumni are proud to be Bulldogs and eager to support MSU. We have a tremendous, hard-working and talented staff, dedicated and loyal board members and chapter leaders, and alumni that love and care about their

university. Our folks are true maroon, and they want to be involved in supporting State and helping the university accomplish great things. I have had the opportunity to meet so many of our alumni, and the constant theme is their love for Mississippi State and their willingness to help. I believe we need to continue to invest in and support our chapters and volunteers. They are Mississippi State in their communities, and the impact they have on MSU is enormous.

“I am honored

What are some of the things you would like to see the association emphasize? I would like for us to look for ways to continue to add value for our alumni and keep them informed about how they can help make an impact at State. I think being relevant in and adding value to the daily lives of our graduates are keys to getting a larger percentage of our alumni involved. I think a great opportunity to add value is by laying the groundwork for building a robust Bulldog Alumni Career Network that provides resources for our graduates in finding their first career opportunity, as well as those transitioning from one career to the next. Another opportunity is to invest in and grow our MSU ring tradition. I think by placing emphasis on our ring tradition, telling our MSU ring story and creating a meaningful way to present class rings will benefit Mississippi State and the alumni association for years to come. I also think by getting input from students, faculty/staff, and alumni, we can solidify our ring tradition as an important part of our university’s history and future.

making a positive

and excited to be part of the Mississippi State family. I look forward to the opportunity of impact here at State.” Jeff Davis

Alumni and friends may visit with Davis at his office in the Hunter Henry Center’s Alumni Wing, or contact him at 662-325-7000 or MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY ALUMNUS


Infinite IMPACT MSU capital campaign nears $418 million The infinite impact of success, discovery, outreach, globalization and experience all begin at Mississippi State University, and alumni and friends may positively affect lives through these vital areas during the university’s ongoing capital campaign.


New Endowed Faculty Positions


New Student Scholarships

42,730+ Bulldog Donors 44


Infinite Impact: The Mississippi State University Campaign continues at a steady pace. Since counting began, nearly $418 million has been raised toward a $600 million goal. Alumni and friends may contribute to MSU’s continued success and growth in years to come by making a campaign commitment now. Over time, the multi-year endeavor will help Mississippi State achieve its long-term institutional goals. Campaign gifts will enable the university to pursue higher graduation rates, a lower studentfaculty ratio, more competitive faculty salaries, and expanded opportunities for study abroad and other international experiences. These greater opportunities for faculty and students alike in interdisciplinary research can help make life better for people here and around the world. Infinite Impact: The Mississippi State University Campaign will equate the best all-around college experiences from academics to athletics for all that make their way to the 136-year-old land-grant institution. The campaign is designed to benefit areas across campus, ranging from the eight academic colleges, Judy and Bobby Shackouls Honors College, MSU-Meridian, University Libraries and athletics. Campaign gifts may support scholarships, chairs and professorships, facilities and programs.

 Since the campaign’s inception, 273 new scholarships have been created, both annual and endowed. Besides college-specific scholarships, alumni and friends also may contribute to the Compass Scholarship program that provides financial assistance for students in any area of study. Thus far in the campaign, 23 new endowed faculty positions have been established. Some colleges still are waiting, however, for their first

endowed position. By securing contributions for additional endowed positions, Mississippi State can successfully attract and retain top educators who, in turn, can attract significant research support, outstanding graduate students and other distinguished faculty members. Additional scholarships and endowed positions will help MSU grow over time. As the university population increases, campaign gifts for new facilities and much-needed renovations of existing structures will allow the campus infrastructure to keep pace. During the campaign, alumni and friends may choose to support the university annually through the Mississippi State Fund. These gifts daily touch the lives of MSU’s more than 20,000 students in many ways. The campaign also will generate necessary operating funds and increase MSU’s overall endowment. Counting for Infinite Impact: The Mississippi State University Campaign began July 1, 2010, when the MSU Foundation launched its most recent effort to secure leadership-level gifts. With growing momentum, fundraising team members continue working in the public phase. The MSU Foundation’s Office of Planned Giving is available to work with financial planners to help contributors utilize deferred options such as annuities, trusts and bequests. In addition, development directors located throughout campus are available to assist with tailored giving plans benefitting colleges, schools and other areas. All gifts from now through 2018, regardless of the designation, are commitments to the campaign. Gifts to the Bulldog Club and other athletic programs also will count toward the overall goal. A current summary of the university’s progress and more information on specific campaign goals may be viewed at www.

Want to get involved or contribute to the capital campaign. Visit www. today!

Foundation names incoming board The Mississippi State University Foundation is announcing five new members of its 46-seat board of directors that guides the fundraising arm of the 136-year-old land-grant institution.

James E. Newsome of Washington, D.C., a 1985 agriculture master’s degree and 2001 agricultural economics and nutrition doctoral graduate who now is a partner with Delta Strategy Group.

Having begun their three-year terms Jan. 1, the MSU alumni include:

J. F. “Bud” Thompson Jr. of Meridian, a 1962 mathematics education graduate who now is a partner with Thompson Limited Partnership.

David B. Hall of Meridian, a 1999 forestry and 2002 MBA graduate who now is COO of Hall Timberlands. Malcolm B. Lightsey Sr. of Ridgeland, a 1961 graduate who earned a master’s degree in mathematics in 1963. He is the retired president and CEO of SunTech Inc. John R. Lundy of Jackson, a 1983 agricultural economics graduate who now is a partner with Capitol Resources LLC. Cynthia M. Stevens of Alexandria, Va., a 1983 political science graduate who now is management principal for government relations at Deloitte LLP. Anthony L. Wilson of Atlanta, Ga., a 1987 electrical engineering graduate who now is executive vice president of customer service and operations at Georgia Power Co. Through the years, a host of prominent alumni and friends of the university have held board seats. Members may be reappointed after leaving the board for at least a year after their three-year terms end. Those returning members for 2014 include: James W. Bagley of Trophy Club, Texas, a 1961 bachelor’s degree and 1966 master’s electrical engineering graduate. The retired executive chairman of the board of Freemont, Calif.-based Lam Research Corp., he was awarded an honorary doctor of science by MSU in 2005. D. Hines Brannan Jr. of Atlanta, Ga., a 1970 industrial engineering and 1971 MBA graduate. He is the retired managing director of Accenture. George W. Bryan of West Point, a 1967 general business administration graduate who now owns Old Waverly Golf Club.


In addition to board members, the MSU Foundation re-elected last year’s officers to another one-year term. The 2014 board officers include: President Bobby S. Shackouls of Houston, Texas; a 1972 chemical engineering graduate and retired chairman, president and CEO of Burlington Resources Inc. He was awarded an honorary doctor of science by MSU in 2010.


Vice President Earnest W. “Earnie” Deavenport Jr. of Kiawah Island, S.C. He is 1960 MSU chemical engineering graduate and retired chairman and CEO of Kingsport, Tenn.-based Eastman Chemical Co. He also holds a master’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was awarded an honorary doctor of science by MSU in 2011. Treasurer Mary M. Childs of Ripley, a 1980 banking and finance graduate who now is president, CEO, COO and vice chairman of The Peoples Bank. John P. Rush, MSU vice president for development and alumni, is the foundation board’s CEO; David Easley, executive director of finance, its chief financial officer; and Jack McCarty, executive director of development, the board secretary. All are MSU graduates. Incorporated in 1962, the MSU Foundation administers most of the campus-based fundraising activities and endowment funds. The board oversees the university’s nearly $400 million endowment. More information on the work of the MSU Foundation and a complete list of its board of directors may be found at





Class NOTES __________________________________________


‘71 & ‘75 Dr. James E. Cofer Sr., Professor in

the College of Business at Missouri State University has been awarded a Fulbright Scholar grant to lecture and perform research at Pontificia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul in Porto Alegre, Brazil during the 2014-2015 academic year.

‘74 Jim Koerber of The Koerber Company,



‘86 Joseph Sawyer has joined Barge, Waggoner,

Sumner and Cannon Inc. as senior landscape architect in the land resources business unit. Previously, he served as principal for DC Sawyer Design Group, Inc., a Chattanooga, Tenn., firm founded by his grandfather in 1936.

‘74 Tom Mason Jr., of Biloxi, has retired after


‘76 Terry Fleming of Leakesville has been named

local director of the year by the Miss Mississippi Pageant program. In addition to teaching with the Greene County School District, she directs the Miss Deep South Scholarship Pageant, a division of the Hattiesburg-based Leaf Foundation.

‘76 Jolynn Leverette of State Line is Waynesboro Middle School’s 2013 Teacher of the Year. A 34-year education veteran, she teaches computer technology at the school. ‘77 Attorney Granville Tate Jr., a partner at Bruinini, Grantham, Grower & Hewes, PLLC, was a top 10 finalist in the Mississippi Business Journal’s third annual Leadership in Law, an awards program honoring 50 members of the state’s legal community. With the firm for 25 years, he serves as chairman of the board of directors. ‘78 Allen Payne, formerly of Philadelphia, has

been appointed executive director of the National Heritage Trust by the Governor’s Appointments Office of the State of New York. The trust’s mission is to receive and administer gifts, grants and contributions to further public programs for Empire State parks, recreation, cultural, land and water conservation, and historic preservation purposes.


and chief executive officer of Great Southern National Bank that serves East and South Mississippi. An East Mississippi banking veteran of more than three decades, he also is a graduate of the Louisiana State University School of Banking.

P.A., in Hattiesburg received the 2013 Accredited in Business Valuation Champion of the Year award from the American Institute of CPAs. The honor was announced at the organization’s Forensic & Valuation Services Conference in Las Vegas, Nev.

practicing general dentistry in Biloxi for 35 years. He also received his D.D.S. in 1978 from the Louisiana State University School of Dentistry.


‘79 Jeff McCoy of DeKalb is the new president


‘90 R. Shane Ritter (M.S. ’97) is the new

engineering department chair of Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Ill. He also is owner and electrical engineering director with Ritter Engineering, P.C. A licensed professional engineer in 38 states and Canada with more than 25 years of experience, Ritter has spent his entire career working with and studying the properties of light.

‘92 James Spann of Birmingham, Ala., chief meteorologist at ABC 33/40, was named 2012 “Broadcaster of the Year” by the National Weather Association. He is the first Alabama meteorologist to receive the honor. The NWA recognized his 30-plus years of service to the community and, specifically, his life-saving broadcasts during the state’s historic outbreak of 62 tornados on April 27, 2011. ‘96 Robert Thornton (Ph.D. ’12) has rejoined

KETK-TV in Tyler, Texas, as a broadcast meteorologist. A member of KETK’s Hall of Fame, he had been working for the state climatologist of Mississippi and teaching while pursuing his doctorate. Before that, Thornton spent 13 years as a meteorologist in Texas and Mississippi.

Know of someone who should be highlighted in Class Notes? Send an email to

‘97 Whit Hughes (M.B.A. ’98) of Madison

is the new chief development officer for Baptist Health Systems and president of the Baptist Health Foundation. Previously, he was founder and president of P3 Elevations, LLC, an economic development firm. Hughes also has served as deputy director and chief operating officer for the Mississippi Development Authority.

‘97 Attorney Jason Fortenberry , a

member of the Jackson, Miss., litigation practice group for Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP, has been elevated to partner. He represents businesses in matters from consumer finance litigation and products liability actions to intellectual property disputes and commercial real estate acquisition and litigation.



‘10 Ben Wall of Atlanta, Ga., has joined Atlas

Manufacturing Co., Inc. in Monticello as eastern regional sales manager.

‘10 Scott Waller has been

promoted to executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Mississippi Economic Council. Previously of Shubuta, he joined the MEC in 2006, where he oversaw public affairs, policy and communications.

‘11 Tyler Freeman of Corinth

‘99 Rusty Burton, an Edward Jones financial

has joined Franks, Franks & Jarrell, P.A., in Tupelo as a staff accountant in the audit department. Most recently, he was a field auditor in the Mississippi Office of the State Auditor.


‘11 Robert Lord of Summit has been promoted

adviser in Owensboro, Ky., qualified for the firm’s 2014 Financial Adviser Leaders Conference. He was among only 1,003 who qualified out of the firm’s nearly 12,000 advisers in the U.S. and Canada.


to inside sales manager at Atlas Manufacturing Co. Inc. in Monticello.

licensed by the Mississippi State Board of Funeral Service and employed at Heritage Funeral Home. A graduate of the funeral service program at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, the George County High School alumna also holds degrees from Jones County Junior College and University of South Alabama.

Alabama in Huntsville as chief information security officer.

‘02 Joy Herndon of Lucedale now is officially

’02 Jason Word of Ridgeland

is the new manager of programs, administration and policy for the Mississippi Economic Council.

‘08 Jairus Bernard (Ph.D. ’13) of Lucedale is employed with the Air Force Research Laboratory at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. He began his career in 2006 at MSU’s Center for Advanced Vehicle Systems. ‘09 Drew Hollinghead of Leakesville is the new

head baseball coach at Greene County High School. He is a GCHS alumnus.

‘11 Russell Ward has joined the University of

‘12 Matthew Parker has been promoted to

general manager of Advanced Disposal’s Columbia, S.C., location. He oversees day-to-day operations for the site that is part of the largest, privately-owned U.S. environmental services company. ___________________________________________________________

BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENTS Luke Easton Ardoin, Feb. 8, 2013, to Kelli Ardoin (’08) and Jason Ardoin of Lucedale. Angel Raeyan Hester, Nov. 22, 2013, to Xiaoming Xie Hester and John Hester Jr. (’85) of Ridgeland. Reid McCaig Johnston, April 22, 2013, to Victoria McCaig Johnston and Bryan Irby Johnston (’99) of Montgomery, Ala. Catherine Frances and Caroline Olivia Ridgway, Feb. 24, 2014, to Charles Robert Ridgway (’04) and Brittany Carr Ridgway (’06) of Biloxi. Dani Lynne Smith, May 20, 2013, to Stevie Smith and Matthew Smith (’08) of Lucedale. MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY ALUMNUS


Forever MAROON Bryan Baker (’47, ’49 and former employee) – 91, Starkville; retired professor and former head of the animal science department at Mississippi State, March 31, 2014. Garcia Gerald Berry Jr. (’70 and former employee) – Starkville; former photography instructor in

the Mississippi State department of communication and longtime Bulldog supporter, Jan. 1, 2014.

Hendrix Emile Brentz Sr. (’57) – 82, Escatawpa; retired from Thikol (Morton International) and U.S. Navy veteran who served in the Korean Conflict, Dec. 14, 2013.

Zelton Knox Eubanks (’56) – 82, Dickinson, Texas;

retired NASA engineer and Korean War veteran, March 26, 2013.

Charles William Golden (’55, DBA ’74) – 81, Montgomery, Ala.; professor of information systems, Auburn University-Montgomery, Oct. 24, 2013.

Joseph Newell Graves (’49) – 88; retired engineer with Tennessee Valley Authority, Nov. 13, 2013.

Herbert Hargett (‘51) – 85, Ruleville; retired superintendent of Sunflower County Schools and former board of trustees member for Mississippi Delta Community College and the Mississippi State Board for Community and Junior Colleges, March 16, 2014. James “Jim” Benton Huff Sr. (’54) – 80, Laurel; retired director of operations for Masonite Corporation and former state director of the Farmers Home Administration, May 13, 2013. Steven Gordon Neel (’77) – 58, State Line; retired poultry science researcher, Nov. 6, 2013.

D.A.R. “Al” Peyman (former employee) – 93, Richmond; professor emeritus and former head of Mississippi State’s psychology department, Dec. 29, 2013.

J. E. Pope (’50) – 85, Lucedale; retired from Ingalls Shipbuilders and served as a George County supervisor from 2000-2004, Nov. 13, 2013.

David L. Rice Jr. (‘57) – 87, Tanner, Al.; Retired civil service employee, April 24, 2014. James Milton Russell (‘43) – 22, Collierville; retired

Collierville postmaster. After graduating from State he joined the army and served in Italy with the 51st Infantry, 88th Division, “Blue Devils.” He received both a Purple Heart and Oak Leaf Cluster, later discharged with the rank of captain, March 4, 2014.

Terry Weihing (’65) – 69, Gulfport; retired professional pilot with Federal Express and Vietnam War veteran, Sept. 17, 2013.




“I am very honored to be ranked as a Goldwater Scholar among such talented, successful individuals,” Kate Thompson said. “I have dedicated so much of my time to my research, and it is a wonderful feeling to have my work acknowledged at a national level.”

STUDYING SCHOLAR Biochemistry major Shannon Kate Thompson of Picayune studies in McCool Hall. Along with being a Malcolm and Olivia Portera Presidential Scholar, she recently received an honorable mention from the national Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program for her research. Thompson’s work focuses on fundamental questions in mammalian reproduction and genomics. The Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was established by Congress in 1986 to honor of the former U.S. Republican senator from Arizona and 1964 presidential candidate. Its goal is to provide a continuing source of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians and engineers by awarding scholarships to college students who will pursue careers in these fields. As a Portera Presidential Scholar, Thompson is one of the university’s elite students. Presidential Scholarships are established with separate endowments from donors. These prestigious awards cover tuition, fees, room and board, and books for four years of undergraduate study. Each student is assigned a mentor who is an outstanding researcher and teacher in the student’s field of study. MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY ALUMNUS


ALUMNI ASSOCIATION P.O. Box AA One Hunter Henry Boulevard Mississippi State, MS 39762-5526 ELECTRONIC SERVICE REQUESTED

Discrimination based upon race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or veteran’s status is violation of federal and state law and MSU policy and will not be tolerated. Discrimination based upon sexual orientation or group affiliation is violation of MSU policy and will not be tolerated.

Concerts help celebrate station’s 20th anniversary PHOTOGRAPHY BY BETH WYNN

Mississippi State’s radio station WMSV-FM 91.1 sponsored several concerts for its 20thanniversary celebration, including acts like Paul Thorn (top) and John & Jacob (bottom). Like the radio station itself, the musicians play the “Adult Album Alternative” genre, an eclectic mix of different sounds appealing to college students, young adults and older listeners. To learn more on the radio station, its changes and influences over the last 20 years, see the inside story.

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ALUMNUS Spring 2014 - Mississippi State University  

Mississippi State University's Alumni Publication

ALUMNUS Spring 2014 - Mississippi State University  

Mississippi State University's Alumni Publication