STARKVILLE, Miss.--The namesake of Mississippi State's engineering college is being honored by the university as its 2009 National Alumnus of the Year.
James Worth "Jim" Bagley of suburban Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas, is among a host of the land-grant institution's graduates being recognized formally Feb. 6 and 7 during the annual MSU Alumni Association's campus leadership conference and awards banquet. A well-known philanthropist, the former Jackson resident and Forest Hill High School graduate has played a key role for more than four decades in advancing the nation's semiconductor industry.
New President Mark Keenum, who holds three MSU degrees, will be featured banquet speaker on the 6th. Others being honored then will include the nine individual college and campus alumni of the year, a young alumnus of the year and three distinguished service award selections.
Additional banquet activities include a formal welcoming of the alumni association's 90th chapter in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., and special recognitions for the three living former executive directors--all MSU graduates--Charlie E. Weatherly (1975-87) and John V. Correro (1994-2005) of Starkville, and Steve C. Grafton (1987-94) of Ann Arbor, Mich. Conference participants also will hear from athletic director Greg Byrne and new head football coach Dan Mullen during a noon luncheon address on the 7th.
Bagley, a 1961 electrical engineering graduate, is executive chairman of California-based Lam Research Corp., a leading supplier of wafer processing equipment and services. He also holds a 1966 master's degree in the same academic field and was honored by his alma mater in 2005 with an honorary doctorate in science.
In 2002, Bagley provided $25 million to enhance engineering college facilities, faculty recruiting and development, and graduate fellowships, among other areas. Later that year, the state College Board approved naming of the academic unit in his honor.
"Our leadership conference and our awards banquet always are special times that enable MSU and the alumni association to recognize some very deserving individuals and gain their input as we all work to build an even better organization," said Jimmy Abraham, the association's executive director. "We are hopeful all our alumni chapters will have representatives at this year's events."
Graduates being honored by the separate academic units include (by hometown):
DALLAS, Texas--Benjamin T. "Ben" Jenkins, College of Architecture, Art and Design Alumnus of the Year. A 1995 fine arts and graphic design graduate, he is founder of OneFastBuffalo, a strategic brand design and Web development business. Jenkins also holds a master's degree from the Art Institute of Chicago.
GREENVILLE--Charles R. "Randy" Dismuke, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Alumnus of the Year. A 1977 agricultural engineering technology and business graduate, he leads business strategy for the Delta and Pine Land Business of Monsanto Co.
HATTIESBURG--Charles E. "Eddie" Thaggard, College of Forest Resources Alumnus of the Year. General manager of Hood Industries' plywood operations, he is a 1983 petroleum engineering graduate who went on to earn a master's degree in wood science and technology in 1987.
MADISON--Danny J. Windham, Bagley College of Engineering Alumnus of the Year. He is a 1981 electrical engineering graduate now serving as chief executive officer of Digium Inc., provider of the world's most widely used open-source telephone platform.
MERIDIAN--Betsy S. Storms, MSU-Meridian Alumna of the Year. Owner and director of the Best of Both Worlds Therapy and Recovery Center, she is a 1988 sociology graduate who went on to earn master's and doctoral degrees in counselor education in 1990 and 1996, respectively.
NORMAN, Okla.--Larry R. Grillot, College of Arts and Sciences Alumnus of the Year. A 1968 physics graduate, he is dean of the University of Oklahoma's Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy and the Sarkeys Energy Center director. Also a retired Phillips Petroleum Co. manager, he holds master's and doctoral degrees from Brown University.
RIDGELAND--Richard H. Puckett, College of Business Alumnus of the Year. A 1977 general business administration graduate, he is president and chief executive officer of Puckett Machinery Co., the Caterpillar heavy equipment sales and service dealer for Central and South Mississippi.
ROXIE--Dr. Cassandra T. Vaughn, College of Veterinary Medicine Alumna of the Year. A 1988 doctor of veterinary medicine graduate, she is assistant professor of veterinary science at Alcorn State University. Vaughn also holds a bachelor's degree from ASU.
STARKVILLE--Joe Ray Underwood, College of Education Alumnus of the Year. Underwood, who holds a 1967 music education degree and a 1968 master's in guidance education, is a professor emeritus of school counseling at his alma mater, as well as founder and longtime director of the Summer Scholars Program. He also holds a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Other 2009 conference honorees include:
HELENA, Ala.--Terri L. Russell, Distinguished Service Award selection. A principal technical staff member at ATT Inc., the former Decatur [Miss.] resident received bachelor's and master's degrees in industrial engineering in 1984 and 1986, respectively. President of the Birmingham alumni chapter since 2004 and active in the MSU Alumni Recruiting Network, she also is a member of the Bulldog Club athletic support organization.
JACKSON--Carl D. Nichols, Distinguished Service Award selection. A 1992 accounting graduate and former basketball team member, he is owner of Nichols Consulting and a co-founder of the Association of Black Business Professionals. Active in alumni association activities, he has served on its national board of directors and currently is MSU's representative to the Inter-Alumni Council for Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning.
LEAKESVILLE--Steven B. "Steve" Smith, Distinguished Service Award selection. A 1977 forestry graduate, he is procurement manager for Hood Industries. Active in student recruiting for his alma mater, he has served on three occasions as president of the George-Greene counties alumni chapter, and in a similar position with the College of Forest Resources Alumni Board of Directors.
WASHINGTON, D.C.--Benjamin A. "Ben" Needham, Outstanding Young Alumnus of the Year. A 2000 political science graduate, the former Laurel [Miss.] resident now works in the nation's capital as a staff member at Grassroots Solutions, a consulting firm that helps nonprofits, corporations, political campaigns, and other organizations train and mobilize supporters at the local level.
NEWS EDITORS/DIRECTORS: For additional information on the 2009 leadership conference and awards program, contact Dr. Abraham at 662-325-7000.
For more information about Mississippi State University, see http://www.msstate.edu/.