Michael W. “Mike” Sanders of Cleveland is the Mississippi State University Alumni Association’s 2014 National Alumnus of the Year. A 1964 physical education graduate, he has served his alma mater as an active member of the MSU Alumni Association.
“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.”
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 now is semi-retired after a 55-year career in various capacities with the company. Since its 2012 sale to Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, he has served as a consultant to the company and member of Pinnacle’s board of directors.
In 1969, Sanders married the former Nan Long, a Delta State University English graduate and art enthusiast. They are the parents of three children, Michael W. Sanders and Amanda Sanders Turner, both of Cleveland, and Ellen Sanders Voelkel of Baltimore, Md., and six grandchildren. The family’s philanthropy extends to the arts, the community and their universities.
At Mississippi State, Sanders has been a board member for the Alumni Foundation, MSU Foundation and Bulldog Club. Over his lifetime, Sanders has generously supported varsity athletics and made transformational gifts to the MSU track and field program. His giving also extends to an academic scholarship available to students across campus.
“We are proud to salute Mike Sanders on behalf of Mississippi State University for his success as a businessman and for his loyal, lifelong connection with his alma mater,” said Jeff Davis, executive director of the MSU Alumni Association. “Representing our nearly 128,000 living alumni, I am honored to express our thanks and appreciation for his distinguished service over the years.”