Mississippi State will recognize 1964 physical education graduate and Delta businessman Michael W. "Mike" Sanders of Cleveland as its national alumnus of the year during the Friday [Feb. 7] MSU Alumni Association 2014 awards banquet.
"We are proud to salute Mike Sanders on behalf of Mississippi State University for his success as an entrepreneur and for his loyal lifelong connection with his alma mater," said Jeff Davis, executive director of the MSU Alumni Association. "Of our nearly 128,000 living alumni, Mike is a distinguished selection for Alumnus of the Year."
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 is now semi-retired following a 55-year career in various capacities with the company. Since its 2012 sale to Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, he now serves as a consultant for the company and is a member of Pinnacle's board of directors.
"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."
Since 1969, Mike has been married to the former Nan Long, a Delta State University English graduate and an artist. He has three children, Michael W. Sanders and Amanda Sanders Turner, both of Cleveland, and Ellen Sanders Voelkel of Baltimore, Md., and six grandchildren. The Sanders' philanthropy extends to the arts, the community, and their universities.
At Mississippi State, Sanders has served on the boards for the Alumni Foundation, the MSU Foundation and the Bulldog Club. Since graduation, he has been a member of the MSU Alumni Association and affiliated with the Bolivar County Alumni Chapter.
Sanders attended Mississippi State on a dual scholarship for football and track. Although his football career ended due to injuries early in his college days, Mike ran track and sprinted for most of his time at MSU. In his sophomore year, he and fellow members of the MSU track team competed to win the 1962 SEC championship.
Over his lifetime, Sanders has generously supported MSU athletics and has made transformational gifts to the Track and Field program.
His giving also extends to an MSU scholarship, which assists students across the university.
Along with the national alumnus recognition, each of MSU's eight academic colleges will honor a graduate for outstanding personal, professional and community achievements.
The new MSU alumni-of-the-year group includes (by hometown):
ATHENS, Ga.--Dr. Michael L. Clutter, College of Forest Resources. A 1981 forestry graduate, he is dean of the University of Georgia's Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources. He also holds degrees from the University of Georgia. He spent 17 years with Georgia Pacific, which included serving as vice president of decision support and information services.
BARTLETT, Tenn.--Dr. Susanne Taylor, College of Veterinary Medicine. A 1983 doctor of veterinary medicine graduate, she owns the Wolfchase Animal Hospital. For a number of years, she was a veterinarian for Elvis Presley's Graceland in Memphis.
BLUFFTON, S.C.--Henry E. "Hank" Johnston, College of Arts and Sciences. A 1965 mathematics graduate, he is a retired corporate vice president of Electronic Data Systems who also served as Bluffton's mayor from 2000-08. After graduation, he worked for IBM and was the project leader for the Apollo-Saturn flight program for the first manned moon rocket launch.
BOLTON--Ted H. Kendall III, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He is a 1958 agriculture graduate who was president of the MSU student body. Presently, he is president of Gaddis Farms Inc. and president of R&B Land Co.
EUPORA--Dr. Fred R. "Rick" Young, College of Education. President of East Mississippi Community College, he received a bachelor's degree in marketing in 1972; a master's in technology education in 1974; and a doctorate in educational leadership/higher education administration in 1993. He has been with EMCC for 35 years, becoming president in 2004.
HOUSTON, Texas--Herbert V. "Herb" Johnson, James Worth Bagley College of Engineering. President of HVJ Associates Inc., he earned bachelor's and master's degrees in civil engineering in 1978 and 1981, respectively. He has served as a member of the MSU Foundation board of directors.
JACKSON--Judge Debra M. Brown, College of Architecture, Art and Design. A 1987 architecture graduate, she is the new federal judge for the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Mississippi--and only the second female federal judge in the state's 196-year history.
MADISON--Laurence E. "Larry" Favreau, College of Business. A 1974 accounting graduate, he is executive vice president and CEO of the Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Co. A Gulfport native, he joined the company in 1974. He holds the Chartered Life Underwriter designation and is a Fellow of the Life Management Institute.
Other graduates to be given special recognition at the banquet for service to the alumni association during 2013 will include (by hometown):
BILOXI--Jeffery Michael Ellis, a 2006 mechanical engineering graduate receiving the Outstanding Young Alumnus Award. Jeff has served four terms as president of the Harrison-Stone Chapter. He is presently young director for the Southern region of the MSU Alumni National Board of Directors. He is an engineer for Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula.
DIAMONDHEAD--Sherri Carr Bevis, a 1986 graduate receiving a Distinguished Service Award. She currently works as the South Mississippi Service Coordinator for the Mississippi Secretary of State's office in Gulfport. For the past four years, Sherri has been part of the Hancock County alumni chapter where she is currently president. She is a native of Greenwood.
PASCAGOULA--David Michael "Mike" Eley, a 1964 graduate receiving a Distinguished Service Award. Mike is a self-employed contractor after a 36-year career with Northrop Grumman. He is a native of Terry. He serves the Jackson County Alumni Chapter.
STARKVILLE--Dr. Carol Moss Read, a 1976 graduate receiving a Distinguished Service Award, is past president of the Oktibbeha County Alumni Chapter. The longtime Starkville resident is a native of Winfield, Ala. She served her alma mater for 24 years, working for the Mississippi State University Extension Service and later with the MSU Division of Continuing Education. She is now self-employed as a leadership consultant.
Other highlights of the awards banquet will include the announcement of individual chapters recognized for their achievements during the 2013 calendar year.
The 2014 alumni awards banquet will be simulcast live via the Internet, beginning at 6 p.m. on Feb. 7. For a broadcast link and more on the MSU Alumni Association, visit www.alumni.msstate.edu.
Post event photos of honorees will be available. Press representatives may contact Amy Cagle at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 662.325.1006.