Class Notes


Harold Gary (B.A., agriculture and extension education, ’60) was elected president of the National Rural Rehabilitation Corporation, which lends money to allow farmers and ranchers to acquire additional land to increase the rural-American standard of living. He also serves as vice president of the Mississippi Rural Rehabilitation Corporation.

Tom Bryant (B.S., civil engineering, ’68) earned the 2016 Teddy Roosevelt Award from the American Council of Engineering Companies. He is principal emeritus for Mississippi business development for Pickering Firm, a full service engineering and architecture firm headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee.



Richard Carson (B.A., foreign language, ’77) was named a Fellow by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. A professor of economics in the University of California, San Diego, Division of Social Sciences, he has developed widely used methods for assessing the benefits and costs of environmental policies and the economic impacts of environmental disasters.

After nearly 40 years, Dr. Arthur Wade Parker (B.S. biochemistry, ’77) finally got to add a Mississippi State University degree to his wall. In 1977, he left the university just nine credit-hours short of graduating to begin work towards a medical degree. At the time, bachelor’s degrees were not a prerequisite for medical school admission, however, many undergraduate institutions did present the degrees to their alumni after the successful completion of the first year in a medical program. Working with MSU administrators, Parker’s family secured his long-awaited diploma and presented it in December. He practices internal medicine in Bend, Oregon.

With more than 30 years of experience in global agribusiness development, John Rabby (B.S., M.S. entomology, ’77, ’79) has been elected chairman of the North Carolina Biotechnology Center’s board of directors. He leads RE LLC, a global agribusiness consulting form and is commercial lead for AgBiome Innovations LLC.





Janet Marie Smith (BARC, ’81) has been named one of SportsBusiness Journal’s Champions: Pioneers and Innovators in Sports Business for 2017. She is senior vice president of planning and development for the Los Angeles Dodgers and has been involved in ballpark projects including the original design of Camden Yards in Baltimore, converting Atlanta’s Olympic Stadium to Turner Field and renovating Boston’s Fenway Park and L.A.’s Dodger Stadium.

Jim Jeffords Jr. (B.S. civil engineering, ‘88) is now chief of the Engineering, Construction and Operations Division for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers—Alaska District. A 27-year veteran of the corps, he oversees the organization’s engineering, construction and operations activities across Alaska and the Pacific Rim. He also serves on the district’s corporate board and is a member of the Pacific Ocean Division Regional Management Board.

Francis C. “Franc” Lee (B.B.A. banking and finance, ’89) was sworn in as chairman of the American Financial Services Association. He has been president and chief executive officer of Tower Loan since 1999, growing the company to more than 200 locations. He is founding president of the National Installment Leaders Association and past president of the Mississippi Consumer Finance Association.



Stacey R. Corley (B.A. professional accountancy, ’90; MBA, ’91) was named vice president for advancement by the Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida, following a national search. Before joining Ringling College in 2012, she served as associate director for development for the Florida State University Foundation and the John Mable Ringling Museum of Art. She is a board member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

James A. Williams III (B.S. civil engineering, ’91) has been named deputy executive director and chief engineer for the Mississippi Department of Transportation. He is responsible for oversight of the Office of Highways, which oversees all MDOT projects, including planning, design, construction and maintenance.

Andy Cantrell (B.S. social studies education, ’93) has been named assistant superintendent of the Tupelo Public School District. He previously served the district as director of operations overseeing major construction projects and renovations funded by a $44 million bond issue.

Michael Farris Smith (B.A., communication, ’94) released his latest novel, “Desperation Road,” in February. It’s been named an Amazon Best Book of the Month, an Indie Next Pick, and a Barnes and Noble Discover Pick. This and his other works, including the widely acclaimed “Rivers,” are available online and in stores.

Jeff G. Curtis (B.S. civil engineering, ’95) was named state materials engineer for the Mississippi Department of Transportation. A 20-year veteran of the agency, he will now oversee the central lab in Jackson where research, sampling and testing of materials is performed. He is a licensed engineer and surveyor, and previously served as assistant local public agency engineer.

Lance Davis (BARC, ’95), a sustainability architect with the U.S. General Services Administration, was named a LEED Fellow by Green Business Certification Inc. He was one of 24 selected for the honor nationwide in 2016 for exemplifying a diverse array of achievements and contributions in the green-building community.

Louisville-based Taylor Machine Works promoted Matt Hillyer (B.S. mechanical engineering, ’95) to director of engineering. He is now responsible for overseeing product design and development, engineering support to production, and in-service product support.

George County head football coach Matt Caldwell (B.S. teaching and coaching, ’96) was selected as one of the assistant coaches for the prestigious Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Football Classic.

Cynthia W. “Cindy” Simpson (B.S. interior design, ’96) was recently named one of the most powerful and influential business leaders in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, for DCEO Magazine’s Dallas 500 issue. She is principal and managing director at Gensler.

Jerry Toney (B.B.A. real estate and mortgage finance, ’96) was named one of the Top Bank Advisors for 2016 by industry-magazine Bank Investment Consultant. Toney ranked 31st, placing him among the top 50 for the second consecutive year. He is senior wealth advisor for Cadence Investment Services and Mississippi president for Cadence Bank.

Scott McCarver (B.S. industrial engineering, ’98) is now chief operating officer for the Vanderbilt University Adult Hospital. Before coming to Vanderbilt, he was employed by Duke Regional Hospital, most recently serving as vice president of operations.

Billy Owen (B.S. civil engineering, ’98) was promoted to assistant chief engineer of operations from his position as contract administration division director. An 18-year veteran of the agency, he will oversee contract administration, materials, research and local public agency divisions.



Joe Cowart (B.S., M.S., industrial technology, ’00, ’02) was promoted to director of industrial engineering and quality at Louisville-based Taylor Machine Works. He now oversees the development and efficiency of manufacturing processes to maintain proper product functionality and efficiency.

C. Meade Hartfield (B.A., economics and foreign language, ’01) has been named partner at Birmingham, Alabama-based Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP. As an attorney, she has represented clients in a variety of industries and her financial services practice includes representing financial institutions and mortgage companies throughout the country.

Seth Barnes (B.S. chemical engineering, ’03) competed in the 2017 Iditarod, a world-famous, 1,000-mile sled-dog race through the rough, frozen terrain of Alaska.

Ingenuity in the classroom has earned Jason Wiles (M.S. geoscience, ’07) two national awards. An associate professor of biology at Syracuse University, he earned the Evolution Education Award from the National Association of Biology Teachers and the Teaching Excellence Award from the Association of College and University Biology Educators.

BankFirst Financial Services promoted Josh Oller (B.S., business administration, ’08; MBA, ’09) to vice president and credit analyst manager. A five-year veteran of the financial services industry, he previously served as a consumer loan officer, credit analyst and assistant vice president-credit analysts.



Jeremy Winborne (B.B.A. real estate finance, ’10; B.B.A. banking and finance, ’11) joined First Bank as vice president of commercial lending at its new downtown location in Brookhaven.

Corey Deer (B.S., elementary education, ’14) has been named the Herb Handley Outstanding New Teacher by the Mississippi Science Teacher’s Association. He teaches at Hawkins Middle School in Forest.

Former Bulldog quarterback Dak Prescott (B.S. interdisciplinary studies, ’14; M.S., workforce education leadership, ’15) earned NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors and a Pro Bowl bid following a standout season with the Dallas Cowboys that broke several records for first-year quarterbacks.

Tracy Mullins (M.S. geoscience, ’15) and Raymond Truesdell (M.S. geoscience, ’16) are finalists for the Presidential Management Fellows Program. Only 417 finalists were selected from more than 6,370 applications. Administered by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the program was created in 1977 to match outstanding graduate students with opportunities in the federal government.

Scott Snicoff (M.S., geoscience, ’16) is now morning meteorologist for KVRR, a Fox affiliate in Fargo, North Dakota.



Robert Gregory Moore III, Sept. 28, 2016 to Bob Moore (’05) and Haley Huggins of Corinth.