MSU Alumni Association announces 2015 fellows

Contact: Amy Cagle

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Residents of the Magnolia State, as well as Georgia and Ohio, make up Mississippi State 2015 class of Alumni Fellows.

Representing each of the university’s academic colleges, the nine individuals honored for distinguished service and achievements in their professional careers return to campus Thursday [Oct. 22] to spend three days with students, faculty and staff members.

Established more than a quarter-century ago, the MSU Alumni Association program serves to expose current students and others to the 137-year-old land-grant institution’s most outstanding graduates. While back on campus, those selected share their accumulated knowledge and experiences in a series of classroom presentations and informal gatherings.

“We are proud to continue this tradition of bringing high-caliber alumni back to campus as role models for our students and for our faculty,” said Jeff Davis, the association’s executive director. “Each individual alumni fellow brings a wealth of experience in his or her field to share with students and faculty across the university.”

Fellows, who carry the title for life, are among the university’s more than 132,000 living graduates currently residing at locations around the globe.

This year’s honorees include (by college):

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

M. Todd Jarvis

M. Todd Jarvis of Atlanta, Georgia, a 1989 agricultural engineering technology and business graduate who now is chief operating officer of Chateau Energy Solutions. A certified energy manager, he has extensive experience with both publicly traded firms and privately funded businesses.

College of Architecture, Art and Design

Joel A. “Tony” Carroll

Joel A. “Tony” Carroll of Tupelo, a 1975 industrial arts education graduate who now is vice president and construction manager of Sanderson Construction Co. Inc. In addition to being honored as Mississippi’s Construction Man of the Year, he is a former president of the Mississippi Associated Builders and Contractors.

College of Arts and Sciences

Laurie R. Williams

Laurie R. Williams of Madison, a 1979 communication/mass media graduate who now is senior litigator with the firm of Copeland, Cook, Taylor, and Bush, P.A. Also a 1985 University of Mississippi Law School graduate, she has three decades of defense litigation experience and has been included by the Mississippi Business Journal in its 50 Leading Business Women recognition program. During her senior year on campus, the former Laurie Rosenbaum was MSU’s first female Student Association president.

College of Business

Kenneth B. “Ken” Robinson

Kenneth B. “Ken” Robinson of Mason, Ohio, a 1977 finance graduate who now is as vice president of global diversity and inclusion for Cincinnati-based Proctor & Gamble Co., where he leads its global audit, enterprise risk and compliance efforts. He also is a 1981 MBA/finance graduate of the University of Memphis.

College of Education

Celia Thomason Knighton

Celia Thomason Knighton of Rosedale, a 1972 special education graduate who retired as superintendent of schools for the State of New York. She also is a former principal of Career Technical High School, the Empire State’s largest high school of its kind, and the first female superintendent of its Germantown School District. She also holds a master’s degree in administration from the University of Southern Mississippi and a second master’s in public affairs from Baruch College in New York City.

James Worth Bagley College of Engineering

Dr. Thomas R. “Tommy” Byrd

Dr. Thomas R. “Tommy” Byrd of Florence, a 1981 biological engineering graduate who went on to establish Florence Dental Practice. Also a 1988 University of Mississippi School of Dentistry graduate, he previously was named by the Bagley College as a Distinguished Engineering Fellow. Byrd currently is a member of the MSU Alumni Association’s national board of directors.

College of Forest Resources

Ruth J. Cook

Ruth J. Cook of Seminary, a 1982 forestry graduate currently directing government affairs and forest certification for the Molpus Woodlands Group LLC. A registered forester in Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas, she has been included by the Mississippi Business Journal in its 50 Leading Business Women recognition program. She was Alumnus of the Year for the College of Forest Resources in 2005.

College of Veterinary Medicine

Drs. Jefferson D. “Jeff” Grady and Karen G. Collins

Drs. Jefferson D. “Jeff” Grady and Karen G. Collins of Cincinnati, Ohio. Both 1990 graduates, the now-married former classmates operate separate professional practices. Grady assumed ownership of his family’s Grady Veterinary Hospital in Cincinnati, while Collins owns Companion Care Animal Hospital in nearby Fairfield.


For detailed biographies of the 2015 Alumni Fellows, along with information about the MSU Alumni Association and its programs, visit

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

Wednesday, October 21, 2015 - 3:41 pm