Two neurosurgeons, both alumni, to speak at MSU commencement

Contact: Allison Matthews

Dr. John D. Davis IV (Photo submitted) Dr. Allen K. Sills Jr. (Photo submitted)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Fall semester Mississippi State graduates will hear Dec. 8 from two alumni who are renowned neurosurgeons now assisting the National Football League.

Dr. Allen K. Sills Jr. of Franklin, Tennessee, will deliver the 9:30 a.m. commencement address, while Dr. John D. Davis IV of Flowood will speak at the 4 p.m. ceremony. Both programs take place at Humphrey Coliseum.

More than 1,400 students are candidates for December degrees. The Starkville university recently announced expansion of fall graduation from one to two ceremonies, with three planned for May.

The morning program will include graduates of the colleges of Architecture, Art and Design; Arts and Sciences; and Education; and the General Studies program. The processional begins at 9 a.m.

During the afternoon, degrees will be awarded for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and its School of Human Sciences; College of Business and its Richard C. Adkerson School of Accountancy; James Worth Bagley College of Engineering and its Dave C. Swalm School of Chemical Engineering; and the College of Forest Resources. Master’s and doctoral graduates of the College of Veterinary Medicine also will be recognized. The second processional begins at 3:30 p.m.

“We tell prospective students that no matter where they want to go in life, Mississippi State University can help them get there,” said MSU President Mark E. Keenum. Having Sills and Davis as graduation speakers “will provide powerful reinforcement to that point by illustrating that two Bulldogs have achieved national prominence in the field of medicine and highlight the solid foundation and preparation they received at MSU.”

Sills and Davis are both summa cum laude biological engineering graduates who went on to earn professional degrees at the prestigious Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland. Both also served as MSU Student Association president during their senior years; Sills, in 1985-86, Davis, in 1987-88.

Sills was born in Kosciusko and reared in Starkville, where his late father and namesake was the longtime director of the Famous Maroon Band. Davis was born in Starkville and reared in Jackson.

In March, Sills was named the National Football League’s first chief medical officer, a full-time position based in New York City. He continues as professor of neurological surgery, orthopaedic surgery and rehabilitation at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. He is a founder of the Vanderbilt Sports Concussion Center and specializes in treatment of athletes with neurological problems. He also is a member of the Concussion In Sport Group, which creates and publishes the worldwide standard for concussion care. He has cared for and operated on collegiate and professional athletes from every major sport and has been the consulting team neurosurgeon for all Mississippi State athletics for the past 18 years.

Davis is a surgery division physician at NewSouth Neurospine, a comprehensive multispecialty spine-focused practice in Flowood, where he has particular interest in cervical spine and neck disorders. He was named in August as one of the NFL’s unaffiliated neurotrauma consultants for the 2017 season. He helps oversee evaluations and identify players who may have suffered concussions. Davis has served terms on the board of directors of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons and as chairman of the board of directors of NeurosurgeryPAC, organized neurosurgery’s political action committee in Washington, D.C. He also serves on the board of directors for the MSU Foundation and as a member of the MSU Bagley College of Engineering Advisory Board. He has received honors from the Bagley College and from the Central Mississippi Chapter of the MSU Alumni Association.

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