Alumni Fellow

CALS Alumni Fellow

For more than a decade, this educational activity has served as a means for enriching students' university experiences by exposing them to outstanding alumni who are willing to talk about specific competencies, attitudes, and efforts needed to succeed. It is an exciting and stimulating way to blend the interests of the accomplished professional, the student, and the professor.

Alumni Fellows are chosen to return to campus as distinguished guests and as mentors, friends, and counselors. They are honored in recognition of the ultimate measure of a university - the quality of its alumni.

2015 Alumni Fellow - Mr. M. Todd Jarvis


Mr. M. Todd Jarvis

Because of his impressive accomplishments, M. Todd Jarvis has been selected as the 2015 Alumni Fellow for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Jarvis earned a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Engineering Technology and Business. He credits the mentors who invested in him and pushed him beyond what he thought his boundaries and limits were for his success.

“The MSU experience provided me the foundation and confidence to pursue challenges which later became successes,” he said. “My greatest accomplishment at MSU was getting a good education and meeting friends that continue to be part of my life today.”

Jarvis is an executive with more than 20 years of experience in the Clean-Tech sector and currently serves as the chief operating officer for Chateau Energy Solutions in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a certified energy manager, and his extensive management experience includes responsibility within both publicly traded firms and privately funded businesses.

Mr. Barry Knight


Oklahoma native Barry L. Knight is representing the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences as Alumni Fellow. Knight holds a bachelor's degree from Oklahoma State University, as well as a master's from MSU, both in agronomy.

A 1988 MSU graduate, he currently serves as executive vice president of Jimmy Sanders, Inc. in the Memphis, Tenn., regional office.

While a student, Knight worked on a USDA research team, focused on the fruiting behavior of the various cotton varieties. His work on this project, which was the basis of his thesis, has provided growers and researchers tools to maximize their opportunity.

"My college experience directly impacted my personal and professional life," stated Knight. "Dr. David Shaw, current vice president of research and development connected me to, and recommended me for my first job. That job has taken me to where I am today."

Prior to working for Jimmy Sanders, Knight worked with American Cyanamid and Monsanto Co., where he held several positions in the Southern U.S. region.

Knight credits Mississippi State for more than his degree earned. He learned valuable skills that he continually applies to his career, and also met his wife, Lana, as a student.

"Without exception my fondest memory at State was the introduction to my wife," he said. "Lana went to church with my major professor, Dr. Jenkins, and I received my degree and marriage license the same month."

The Knights currently live in Cordova, Tenn.

Mr. Michael Hatcher


Mr. Michael Hatcher

The Mississippi State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has chosen Michael Hatcher as the 2010 Alumni Fellow. Hatcher, a 1982 landscape contracting graduate, is president of Michael Hatcher and Associates, Inc.

In 1974, Hatcher was selected to represent Lincoln County by the Garden Clubs of Mississippi, Inc. to attend a horticulture summer seminar at Mississippi State. This opportunity led to a passion that continued his career path in the landscape industry.

Hatcher owes much of his success to what he learned at Mississippi State, and from many professors who served as mentors during his time as a student.

"MSU provided the foundation to develop my creativity and visionary thinking, which has been a catalyst for my professional career," he said.

He recalls countless hours spent in Montgomery Hall working on design projects with fellow students, friends and professors.

"Some of the best days were those spent in the classroom under our professor Ed Martin, and the 'red line' pen slashing of your design. He was constantly encouraging while demanding excellence," he continued. "I also credit the late professor Bob Callaway with his visionary understanding of what the landscape contractor's profession required, and his ability to push you outside your comfort zone for personal growth."

Since founding his company in 1986, Hatcher realized the need for quality employees to provide the level of experience and expertise to develop the company. A constant relationship with the programs at Mississippi State supplied the human resource capital, which was key in the continued growth of the company.

In the last 24 years, Michael Hatcher and Associates, Inc. has provided career opportunities for literally dozens of alumni from Mississippi State. With his continued passion for the university and the green industry, Hatcher helps young alumni develop professionalism while encouraging creative thinking for the next generation of outdoor environments. Recently, Hatcher converted the company to an employee owned organization through an employee stock option plan, which recognizes the significance of the greatest asset, people.

Hatcher, a native of Brookhaven, Miss., currently serves as an advisory board member for the landscape management program at Mississippi State, as well as a board member of The Bulldog Club. He and his wife, Mary, now make their home in Olive Branch.

Honorable William J. "Billy" McCoy


Honorable William J. 'Billy' McCoy

Honorable William J. "Billy" McCoy, of Rienzi, will represent the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. McCoy is a 1964 graduate with a degree in agriculture and extension education.

Speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives, McCoy, D-Miss, is currently serving his eighth term as representative for House District 3 in Alcorn and Prentiss counties. Since taking office in January 1980, McCoy has become a guiding force in efforts to improve Mississippi's public schools and community colleges. He was instrumental in passing the Mississippi Adequate Education Program in 1997, which is one of the premier education bills passed in recent years. He also worked tirelessly in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to ensure that Gulf Coast communities were rebuilt.

A native of Prentiss County, McCoy attended Booneville High School and Northeast Community College. He has been a lifelong farmer and businessman, and partners with his son, Sam, in a family farm and wholesale fish bait business. In his career, he has served as a vocational agriculture teacher, a loan officer with the Farmers Home Administration, and an auditor with the State Department of Audit.

McCoy's fondest memories at Mississippi State were shortly after he married his wife, Edith. The McCoy family enjoyed spending time with their friends and fellow married couples in a housing complex on campus.

During his time at MSU, McCoy learned to devote time and attention necessary to achieve academic success. He believes his efforts in college greatly impacted his personal and professional life through the years.

McCoy credits his family to much of his success.

"My mother and my father, my wife, my son and my daughter have had the greatest influence on my personal and professional life", he said.

Apart from his public service career, McCoy is a member of Gaston Baptist Church and the Prentiss County Farm Bureau. He is also a Shriner and Scottish Rite Mason.

McCoy and his wife, Edith, have two children: a son, Sam, and a daughter, Kim Eubank. They have four grandchildren, Molly Beth and Chloe Eubank and Lee and Tate McCoy.

Mr. Joe Gordy


Mr. Joe GordySpeaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives, McCoy, D-Miss, is currently serving his eighth term as representative for House District 3 in Alcorn and Prentiss counties. Since taking office in January 1980, McCoy has become a guiding force in efforts to improve Mississippi's public schools and community colleges. He was instrumental in passing the Mississippi Adequate Education Program in 1997, which is one of the premier education bills passed in recent years. He also worked tirelessly in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to ensure that Gulf Coast communities were rebuilt.

A native of Prentiss County, McCoy attended Booneville High School and Northeast Community College. He has been a lifelong farmer and businessman, and partners with his son, Sam, in a family farm and wholesale fish bait business. In his career, he has served as a vocational agriculture teacher, a loan officer with the Farmers Home Administration, and an auditor with the State Department of Audit.

McCoy's fondest memories at Mississippi State were shortly after he married his wife, Edith. The McCoy family enjoyed spending time with their friends and fellow married couples in a housing complex on campus.

During his time at MSU, McCoy learned to devote time and attention necessary to achieve academic success. He believes his efforts in college greatly impacted his personal and professional life through the years.

McCoy credits his family to much of his success.

"My mother and my father, my wife, my son, and my daughter have had the greatest influence on my personal and professional life", he said.

Apart from his public service career, McCoy is a member of Gaston Baptist Church and the Prentiss County Farm Bureau. He is also a Shriner and Scottish Rite Mason.

McCoy and his wife, Edith, have two children: a son, Sam, and a daughter, Kim Eubank. They have four grandchildren, Molly Beth and Chloe Eubank and Lee and Tate McCoy.

Mr. Hollis Cheek


Mr. Hollis Cheek

Hollis Cheek, a Marshall, Texas, native and 1970 MSU graduate, is the 2007 Alumni Fellow for the university's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Cheek currently serves as president of J.C. Cheek Contractors, Inc., which has offices in Mississippi and Alabama and performs contracts for state and federal agencies and general contractors throughout the South.

A graduate of Kosciusko High School, Cheek earned a bachelor's degree in landscape architecture and horticulture from Mississippi State. In addition to his work with J.C. Cheek Contractors, Inc., he also directs the operations of Techno-Catch, LLC, and Old Trace Coffee Co. His public service includes stints as a city alderman, state senator and president of the Mississippi Roadbuilders' Association.

Cheek currently serves on the U.S. Department of Energy's Small Business Advisory Board and the board of Momentum Mississippi. He is president of the Kosciusko Attala Development Corp.

"My years at State influenced me to realize we are our successes, failures, hopes and visions," Cheek says. "My greatest professional accomplishment is to have started something with one single thought and, with the help of dedicated co-workers, built it into a marketable product or service."

"In the corner of my memory is a special place for my time at MSU," he says.

Cheek and his wife, Sarah, reside in Kosciusko.

Mr. Robert "R.J." Reed


Mr. Robert Reed

Robert J. Reed readily admits that starting and building his own company, Reed Food Technology, from the ground up is his greatest accomplishment. His business manufactures seasonings, sauces, marinades, batter, breadings and salad dressings for industrial and food service makers. Reed Technology has grown from nothing to over $11MM since inception.

A strong work ethic motivated Reed while he was a student at Mississippi State. He maintained a 3.9 grade-point average while working and being active as an orientation leader. "Mississippi State equipped me with the 'tools' of my trade versus counterparts from other universities," he says.

Upon graduation Reed joined Pilgrim's Pride and later became vice president of technical services for McCarty Foods where he was responsible for all aspects of product development and quality assurance for $165 million-1,200 employee manufacturer.

Reed assists his alma mater in many ways. He serves on search committees and advisory committees and is always a keen sounding board for technical issues from faculty or students. He assists with placement of MSU graduates within his own company and across the industry. In 2003, he received MSU's Alumni Achievement Award for his efforts.

Reed has an assortment of memories from his time at Mississippi State. He fondly recalls crushing grapes in the Enology Lab and a number of philosophical debates with his professor Dr. Gale Ammerman.

Reed was born in Indianapolis, Ind., but was raised in Mishawaka. He now calls Brandon home.

Dr. James E. Smith


Dr. James E. Smith

James Smith declares that the two most crucial things he learned at Mississippi State were research and relationships. He learned that it's not what you know, but knowing where to find the answer. He also learned through his relationships with professors and fellow students- the importance of listening and being respectful.

Today, as founder and president of Delta Rice Services, an agricultural consulting firm, he is able to put those qualities to good use.

Through Delta Rice Services, established in 1978, Smith provides rice farmers with the most current information on growing and harvesting the crop. The same year he opened the consulting firm, he opened a sales and marketing office. Later, he began adding grain storage bins, which now total 66.

Delta Rice now employees 15 full-time employees and several part-time workers. A primary customer is Greenville-based Uncle Ben's Rice, for which Smith currently stores 1.2 million bushels of grain.

Dr. Karen S. Kubena


Dr. Karen S. Kubena

Dr. Karen S. Kubena credits the graduate program at Mississippi State University with giving her the perseverance, patience and work ethic to establish a successful career in education.

In addition to her duties as associate dean for academic affairs at Texas A&M University, she is a professor of human nutrition and food science in the university's Department of Animal Science.

Kubena says that one of her greatest accomplishments while at Mississippi State University was achieving a true understanding of biochemistry through the teaching of her professor, Dr. Robert Wilson. Another accomplishment was finishing her master's thesis while caring for her 4-year-old son and 1-month-old daughter.

Kubena has held her current administrative position at Texas A&M since 1995 and has taught nutrition there since receiving her doctoral degree in 1982.

The professional accomplishment in which she takes greatest pride is her role in launching a new human nutrition program at A&M.

She is the author of numerous academic papers and presentations and has worked tirelessly on behalf of the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges.

Dr. James E. Newsome


Dr. James E. Newsome

James E. Newsome was nominated by President George W. Bush to serve as Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. He was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on December 20, 2001, to a term expiring in June 2006. Chairman Newsome has served as a Commissioner of the CFTC since August 10, 1998.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission regulates U.S. commodity futures and options markets, which include the trading of futures and options on both agricultural and non-agricultural physical commodities such as grains, livestock, metals, and energy, as well as those on financial products such as Treasury instruments, foreign currencies, and stock market indices. These markets provide producers and users of commodities with the ability to discover prices and manage risks. The CFTC is responsible for preserving the integrity of the futures and options markets and protecting market participants from fraud, manipulation, and abusive trade practices. During his CFTC tenure, Chairman Newsome has served as Chairman of both the Technology and the Agricultural Advisory Committee's.

In addition to his responsibilities at the CFTC, Chairman Newsome, along with the Secretary of the Treasury, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, and the Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, serves as a member of the President's Working Group on Financial Markets. The Working Group serves to facilitate coordination of policies and actions of various government agencies in response to significant new developments and emergencies in financial markets. More recently, Chairman Newsome was appointed to serve on the President's Corporate Fraud Task Force to coordinate corporate fraud investigations.

Prior to joining the CFTC, Chairman Newsome served as Executive Vice-President of the Mississippi Cattlemen's Association, and as Chairman of the Mississippi Agribusiness Council, an organization devoted to the development of domestic and international agribusiness opportunities.

A native of Plant City, Florida, Chairman Newsome received his B.S. degree in Food and Resource Economics from the University of Florida and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Animal Science/Agricultural Economics from Mississippi State University. He is married to the former Mary Margaret Pomeroy of Carmel Valley, California and they have two daughters, Molly and Riley.

Dr. James Hester


Dr. James Hester

James "Ed" Hester now serves as managing partner of H & H Farms in Benoit, but the groundwork for such an enterprise may have been laid during his college days. As an MSU student in the 1950s, Hester led an effort to organize the Farm Equipment Club, later serving as its first president. He remembers that as his greatest accomplishment as a student.

He also recalls serving as a "father figure" to numerous freshman. As a veteran of the Korean War and a former resident of the 900 Section of Old Main residence hall, Hester used his experience to "protect" the younger students from upperclassmen.

He credits the friends he made and the education he received at Mississippi State as contributing to his professional success. That success can be measured in various honors, including being named the Northwest Central Mississippi Farmer of the Year in 1993, the Lancaster/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year in 1995, and winning the 2001 Delta Council Outstanding Rice Producer Award. The Dixon native also was honored by MSU in '93 for outstanding contributions to production agriculture.

Mr. Brude J. Brumfield


Mr. Brude J. Brumfield

Bruce J. Brumfield says his four years at Mississippi State taught him the value of study, planning, and how to make the best use of time while earning a degree in animal science. And, he said his father taught him that hard work is a vital ingredient in the success of any project, along with a willingness to recognize a need for change.

Those lessons have served him well. In 1999, Progressive Farmer magazine named him the Mississippi Man of the Year for Agriculture. Not too surprising since Brumsfield is a former student president of MSU's agriculture college.

A partner in Brumfield Plantation and FTB Farms in Inverness, Brumfiled has spent his life working with agriculture. Currently, he is chairman of the board of Community Bank in Indianola and vice president and board member of Duncan Gin Inc. in Inverness. He also serves on the boards of Delta Western Inc. and Delta Pride Processors, both in Indianola, and Delta Industries Inc. of Jackson, among others.

Brumfield is a past president of the Mississippi Cattlemen's Association, the Delta Council and the National Cotton Council.

Mr. Anthony S. Mancuso


Mr. Anthony S. Mancuso

Tony Mancuso remembers Mississippi State as a "major university with a small college feel and a family atmosphere," attributing to that quality his continued ties with the university, both personally and professionally.

He believes his greatest professional accomplishment is his current position as Golf Course Superintendent with Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis, which is ranked among the top 100 courses in the United States.

He lists his wife Joanne, daughter Mary Rose, and MSU agronomy professor Dr. Jeffrey Krans as the greatest influences on his life. Another great influence was his father, who motivated him to achieve academic excellence. Making the President's List, Mancuso says, was his greatest accomplishment while a student at MSU.

Mancuso has held positions at several country clubs and resorts, where he was actively involved in both maintaining and developing the courses, as well as other responsibilities. He also is involved in the Golf Superintendents Association of America as a member and chapter delegate and is president of Central Ohio Golf Course Superintendents Association. He has written articles for PGMS, Landscape Management, and Northern Turf Management Magazines and spoke at the Michigan Turfgrass Foundation's 1999 conference.

Describing himself as being "as maroon and white as it gets," Mancuso returns to campus annually for Golf and Sports Turf Management Seminar presentations and employs interns through MSU's Cooperative Education Program.

Mr. Charles R. Dismuke, Jr.


Mr. Randy Dismuke

Attending Mississippi State provided Randy Dismuke the basics he needed for the development of his career in the agriculture industry, from an assistant quality control agronomist to his presidency of Deltapine Seed in Scott, Mississippi. He is a 1997 graduate in Agricultural Engineering Technology and Business. Dismuke is also active in his community, serving as president of the Washington School Athletic Booster Club, as treasurer of the Washington School PTO, and as a board member for the school. He is also a deacon at First Baptist Church in Greenville. He says his greatest professional accomplishment is "working with others to achieve both personal and professional goals while at the same time helping them achieve theirs. I learned from my mother, Nell W. Dismuke, to be kind and considerate of others while treating them fairly."

Mr. Dismuke was honored at a reception held at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Dr. Mark E. Keenum


Dr. Mark E. Keenum

Dr. Mark E. Keenum received his bachelor's degree in 1983 and his master's degree in 1984 in agricultural economics from Mississippi State University. He completed his doctorate at Mississippi State in 1988.

While a student at Mississippi State University, Dr. Keenum feels that his greatest accomplishments were his bimonthly publication of the "Forest Product Market Bulletin" (which is still in publication today) and his technical bulletin entitled "Economic Analysis of Farm-Raised Catfish Production in Mississippi" which has been widely distributed nationwide.

Today, Dr. Keenum has many opportunities to influence major national agricultural policy as chief of staff for Senator Thad Cochran. He aided in the passage of the 1990 and 1996 Farm Bills, and was honored with the Farm Policy Commendation Award from the Mississippi Delta Council in 1996.

Mr. Kenneth B. Hood


When named the 1996 CALS Alumni Fellow, Kenneth Hood was president of Hood Equipment Company in Batesville and Hood Gin Company in Gunnison. He was also chief executive officer of Perthshire Farms in Gunnison, a family-owned operation with cotton as its major crop. Hood says his biggest accomplishment while a student at Mississippi State was not his graduation, but "deciding on what industry I wanted to dedicate my life to, then concentrating and preparing myself for that goal." He made a good choice. In 1992, Hood was the New York Cotton Exchange Cotton Marketer of the Year and the Mississippi Network Farmer of the Year. In 1993, he was the Southeastern Farmer of the Year, and in 1994 was Progressive Farmer's Man of the Year in Service to Mississippi Agriculture. His peers chose him as chairman of the board and president of the National Cotton Ginners Association, and also as vice president of the National Cotton Council of America. He says the cultivation of his abilities by his professors while at Mississippi State has been a catalyst behind his successful farming career. And, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences continues to influence his life today through its Extension Service, which Hood turns to frequently to "keep abreast of the newest technology and latest research which directly influence my destiny."

Mr. William T. Hawks


William T. "Bill" Hawks, the first person in his family to earn a college degree, says his business training in economics at Mississippi State University and his network of friends and associates have given him the most experience and guidance in his farming career. This many-times-honored farmer received his bachelor's and master's degrees in agricultural economics from Mississippi State in 1968 and 1970, respectively. When named the 1995 CALS Alumni Fellow, Hawks was managing partner of Hawks Farming, a 14,000 acre operation in Hernando, MS. He won a special election in December 1995 to represent District I (DeSoto County) in the Mississippi House of Representatives.

Mr. William E. Dickson


William E. Dickson of Huntsville, Alabama, received his bachelor's degree in agricultural engineering from Mississippi State University in 1951. Since 1960, he has risen through the ranks of the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center, serving as deputy chief of the Systems Test Division. When named the 1994 CALS Alumni Fellow, Dickson had been a driving influence in the development of in-house test capabilities, particularly in the areas of neutral bouyancy simulation, thermal vacuum, and X-ray calibration. In April of 1994, he received the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal for his contributions to the successful modifications to the Neutral Bouyancy Simulator, used in training the space shuttle crew that repaired the Hubble Telescope.

Mr. Gene A. Triggs, Sr.


When named the CALS 1993 Alumni Fellow, Triggs of Yazoo City, Mississippi, was vice president for government affairs for the Mississippi Chemical Corporation in Yazoo City. He received his bachelor's degree in agricultural education from Mississippi State in 1950. Triggs served five years as assistant commissioner of agriculture for the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce and four years as executive director of the Mississippi A&I Board. During the early years of his career, he served as county agent for Union County, Mississippi. He is a member of the board and executive committee of the Agricultural Cooperative Development International and member of the board and past chairman of the Mississippi Manufacturers Association. Triggs received the Mississippi Industry Man of the Year Award in 1982.

Mr. Wayne A. Boutwell


Wayne Boutwell, born in Newton, Mississippi, earned his Baccalaureate and Master's degrees in Agricultural Economics at Mississippi State University. In 1972 he received is Ph.D. degree in Agricultural Economics from Virginia Polytechnic Institute.

From 1970 to 1979, Boutwell as on the staff of the Economic Research Service in Washington, D.C., serving in several capacities including Program Leader of the Oilseeds Program Area (1973-75), Program Leader for the Forecast Support Group (1976-77), and Coordinator of the Agricultural Outlook Program (1978-79).

In 1979, he joined the staff of Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi as his Legislative Assistant for Agriculture and Natural Resources, where he was responsible for advising the Senator on agricultural and related issues.

When named the 1992 CALS Alumni Fellow, Boutwell was the President of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, having been selected for that position on May 3, 1983. He serves as a member of the board of directors for Volunteers in Overseas Cooperative Assistance and the United States Overseas Cooperative Development Committee, as well as the boards of Agricultural Cooperative Development International, and Cooperative Development Foundation.

Boutwell participated in the Agricultural Trade and Development Mission of the Department of Agriculture to Mexico in September 1988, and led a similar mission to Kenya and Cote d'Ivoire in March of 1989.

The Mississippi State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Alumni Chapter chose Boutwell for its Achievement Award for Public Service in 1983. In 1987, Progressive Farmer Magazine named Boutwell its Man of the Year in recognition of his service to American agriculture.

Dr. Will D. Carpenter


The 1997 CALS Alumnus of the Year received his bachelor's degree in agronomy from Mississippi State University in 1952. He later received two degrees from Purdue University - a master's degree in plant physiology in 1956 and a doctorate in 1958.

Dr. Carpenter currently is chairman of the board for Agridyne Technologies, Incorporated. He retired from Monsanto Company in 1992 as vice president and general manager of the new products division for the agricultural group. He had joined Monsanto in 1958 as a research biochemist.

In 1987, he was honored with the Mississippi State University Agricultural Alumni Achievement Award and was named an Alumni Fellow in 1991 by the Alumni Association. As an Executive in Residence at Mississippi State, he worked with a small group of scientists interested in promoting agricultural biotechnology at Mississippi State and donated funds for a lecture series on adaptive biotechnology.

Mr. James E. Garrison


James E. Garrison received his bachelor's degree in dairy science from Mississippi State University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in 1948. He began his career as a sales representative for Johnson & Johnson in Chicago in 1949, returning to his Pontotoc home in 1953 to manage Pontotoc Dairies, a milk condensing plant. In 1956, he moved to Ryan Milk Company in Murray, Kentucky, as a general manager. When Garrison arrived, the company was on the brink of bankruptcy, producing only 50,000 pounds of Grade A and manufacturing milk each day. His initiative and determination helped increase that daily production to 520,000 pounds when the division was sold several years later.

Garrison became a leader in the dairy field in the late 1960's through his revolutionary handling of sterile milk products and by producing specialty products such as whipping cream, half & half, and individual coffee creamers. Under his leadership, Ryan Milk Company was awarded the United States Senate's Productivity Award for Kentucky in 1985 for the firm's sustained growth, consistant plant moderation, and successful marketing. The creamer you put in your coffee every morning might not be available if not for this person. He retired as president of Ryan Milk Company in 1987.

James Garrison has also been extremely active in community service organizations, serving on the board of commissioners at the Murray-Calloway County Hospital for more than 20 years. He was a past president of the Murray Chamber of Commerce and the Rotary Club, and has served as chairman of the Murray Airport Board. The Murray business community has funded an endowed scholarship at Murray State University in his name.

In 1992, Garrison, along with his wife, Edith, pledged $100,000 to Mississippi State University to establish an endowed library fund to enhance the library collection, to purchase state-of-the-art electronic information resources, and to provide funds to maintain high levels of excellence in the library operation. He also established the Edward D. Custer Endowed Chair in Dairy Foods in memory of the late professor emeritus.

Garrison's support of Mississippi State University as part of the Bulldog Club and as a member of the board of the Mississippi State University Foundation has continued through the years.

Mr. Thomas H. "Hunt" Shipman


Mr. Thomas H. Shipman

Thomas H. “Hunt” Shipman was selected for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. A 1992 agribusiness graduate, he currently is a partner at Cornerstone Government Affairs LLC.

Shipman owes much of his professionalism to skills he gained while in college. Through a series of opportunities and relationships built, he learned valuable lessons that he applies to his job every day.

As a student, Shipman was a member of several student organizations that taught him not only to be a leader, but also how to interact with varying types of individuals. As a member of the Agricultural Economics Club, he had the opportunity to network with numerous faculty, graduate students and undergraduates both in the class and in social settings.

In addition, he served as a student worker in the Department of Agricultural Economics and later in the dean’s office of the college.

“I learned a tremendous amount from the department faculty and staff in the dean's office. It was a great opportunity to gain insight into management in an academic setting,” stated Shipman.

He has been able to apply his academic experiences directly to his life in Washington, D.C., as he regularly interacts with peers from differing political parties and views, as well as administrators and faculty from universities across the nation.

“Being able to socialize and interact with the faculty outside of the classroom was invaluable. We learned that we could be friends outside of class and still maintain a respectful, appropriate relationship in class,” he said.

Another valuable experience was being one of the founders of the Phi Delta Theta Fraternity at Mississippi State. He and peers helped move the fraternity from colony status to a chapter during his time in school, and built several lifelong relationships during the process.

“I gained valuable interpersonal communications skills, made professional contacts through the alumni of other chapters, and learned leadership skills through my fraternity,” he commented.

While in school, Shipman also had the opportunity to intern with Senator Thad Cochran’s office in Washington D.C., where he worked for MSU’s current president, Dr. Mark E. Keenum. He later returned as a full-time staff member, working again under Keenum’s leadership.

“Dr. Keenum taught me about politics and process, but also how to be effective as a member of the senator’s staff. Like Senator Cochran, he values integrity and taught me to do so as well,” said Shipman.

Shipman, a native of Dyersburg, Tenn., currently lives with his wife Alison in Falls Church, Va.

Mr. Claude G. Steele III


Mr. Bryan S. Wilson

Claude G. “Gibb” Steele III has been selected as Alumni Fellow for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Steele is a 1971 agricultural engineering technology and business graduate who operates Steele Farms in Hollandale.

As a farm partner, Steele exemplifies dedication that dates back to his days as an MSU student. Working each semester on campus, he learned valuable lessons in responsibility and dependability.

“I learned that if you went to class, paid attention, took notes, and studied a little, you can make good grades,” said Steele.

Although Steele’s proudest moment as a student was graduation, he also enjoyed developing lifelong friendships as a member of Kappa Sigma Fraternity. He was also a member of the Army ROTC.

Continuing a family legacy at MSU as well as in agribusiness, Steele chose MSU because of his father. After graduation, he became a minority partner and worked closely with his dad and younger brother on the family farm until their father retired.

“My father was easily the greatest influence in my life. He taught me farming and that hard work did not kill you,” said Steele.

Mr. Bryan S. Wilson


Mr. Bryan S. Wilson

2014 Alumni Fellow for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Bryan S. Wilson, earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in entomology at MSU.

Tupelo native, Wilson, held positions with Wilson Ag Service, BASF Corp., and United Agri Products. He founded Tacoma Ag LLC in 2009, and serves as managing partner. The company produces generic crop chemicals for sale and use across the United States.

While MSU provided knowledge and skills that attributed greatly to a successful career, Wilson said he values most the lifelong friendships forged here. An active member of the community, Wilson supports CRE - ATE Foundation, Itawamba FIR ST Foundation, Itawamba County Development Council, and CropLife America.

He is on the MSU Bulldog Club board of directors. Wilson’s fondest memory of Mississippi State was the MSU vs. Alabama game on November 1, 1980. MSU beat Alabama, breaking Bear Bryant’s 200 winning game streak.

Wilson and wife, Cindy, also an MSU graduate, reside in Fulton. The couple met on campus and their daughter, Laine, is currently an MSU freshman.