Faculty and Administrator Achievements

Gerald A. “Jerry” Emison, a professor in Mississippi State’s Department of Political Science and Public Administration, has been elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Certified Planners.
The distinction is among the highest for the nation’s professional planners with about 1 percent achieving this status.

Emison came to MSU after a professional career in public sector organizations, including director of air quality planning for the Environmental Protection Agency where he was a leading architect of the Clean Air Act of 1990. As EPA’s deputy regional administrator in the Pacific Northwest, he directed land use planning that saw the resurgence of the northern spotted owl and the $50 billion clean-up of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. He also managed EPA’s water quality planning to protect Puget Sound’s salmon.

Emison has used his experience in planning to connect practice to university teaching at MSU. He has trained more than 1,000 students through courses in public management and planning. He was selected by students as professor of the year in 2006, 2010 and 2012.

Currently chair of the Starkville Planning and Zoning Commission, he has led in adopting one of the first form-based codes in Mississippi and in the construction of a municipal complex.

Mississippi State Provost and Executive Vice President Jerome A. “Jerry” Gilbert has been elected to the inaugural board of directors of the Association of Chief Academic Officers.

The ACAO is the first national organization representing chief academic officers, such as provosts and vice presidents for academic affairs, from all accredited higher education institutions. The organization provides a forum for discussing important academic affairs issues, as well as an environment where CAOs can communicate with, inform and educate one another.

Gilbert earned a bachelor’s degree in biological engineering from Mississippi State and a doctorate in biomedical engineering from Duke University.

After academic appointments at Duke, North Carolina State University, University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill) Medical Center and University of Mississippi Medical Center, Gilbert has been affiliated with MSU since 1988. He was appointed MSU’s provost in 2010.

The American Council on Education, in its role as a convener for higher education associations, has assisted in the organization’s start-up. The election of the ACE’s first officers and board of directors and approval of its bylaws took place at the March 2014 ACE Annual Meeting held in San Diego, CA.

Dave C. Swalm School of Chemical Engineering director Jason Keith assumed his new role this spring as interim dean of the James Worth Bagley College of Engineering. Associate professor Bill Elmore will serve as interim leader of chemical engineering in Keith’s absence.

“We are confident that Dr. Keith will help us maintain the momentum of the Bagley College of Engineering in gaining greater national and international recognition for the great work of our faculty, staff and students,” said Jerry Gilbert, MSU provost and executive vice president.

Keith came to Mississippi State in 2011 as the Earnest W. Deavenport Jr. chair and director of chemical engineering. For the past seven months he also has served as the director of the MSU Energy Institute.

“I came to Mississippi State because of the quality of the institution, the faculty and staff, and the facilities available to teach and perform multidisciplinary research,” Keith said. “The fact that my family loves college athletics and a small college-town atmosphere in a warm climate helped sell the idea to my family. We love MSU.”

Prior to joining the Bagley College, Keith spent 11 years on the faculty at Michigan Technological University, being recommended for full professor status shortly before leaving for the Magnolia State. He holds bachelor’s and doctoral degrees in chemical engineering from the University of Akron and the University of Notre Dame, respectively.

An endowed professor in Mississippi State’s James Worth Bagley College of Engineering is receiving the highest membership honor from an international organization.

Pedro Mago, the Tennessee Valley Authority professor of mechanical engineering, has been selected as a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

The rank of Fellow is the highest grade of membership in many professional organizations and is awarded to those who have made a significant impact to their respective fields. Less than 3 percent of ASME members have received this honor.

Mago has been an active ASME member since he joined the MSU faculty in 2003 as an assistant professor. In the heat and energy transfer division of the organization, he has participated on several technical committees, helped organize conferences and reviewed technical papers.

He is being recognized for his service to the organization and dedication to the field of mechanical engineering.

Mago earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at Universidad de Oriente in Venezuela. He also holds master’s and doctoral degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of Florida.

Rani Warsi Sullivan, a Mississippi State associate professor of aerospace engineering, was named the 2014 Diversity Educator of the Year in February by the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning.

Sullivan is an academic advisor for senior aerospace students in MSU’s James Worth Bagley College of Engineering. She is an advisory board member of the engineering honor society Tau Beta Pi and since 2004 has served as the faculty advisor for the internationally diverse Muslim Student Association. In 2013, she received MSU’s faculty diversity award from the President’s Commission on the Status of Minorities.

Sullivan and her graduate and undergraduate students provide active learning experiences in engineering mechanics to incoming minority freshman students in the Bagley College of Engineering’s Summer Bridge program and to students at East and West Oktibbeha County High Schools.

She supports programs to encourage women in science and engineering, such as the MSU student chapter of the Society of Women Engineers, the Graduate Women in Science and Engineering, and the Dreams of Wings event for inspiring women to seek careers in aviation.

An aerospace engineering doctoral graduate of Mississippi State, Sullivan also received her master’s degree in engineering mechanics and her undergraduate degree in aerospace engineering from MSU.