Gift from engineering alumnus encourages home state success

West Point native Prentice McKibben is a visionary leader who recognizes that the success of Mississippi State University is an indispensable key to the success of the state of Mississippi. Over the years, his continuous support of the James Worth Bagley College of Engineering has embodied true dedication to the university and the state. Recently, McKibben chose to make a generous deferred gift, in addition to his outright gifts, which will ensure that same level of support for generations to come.

Created through a bequest in his will, the Prentice McKibben Endowed Excellence Fund will be used by the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering within the James Worth Bagley College of Engineering. Nationally ranked and serving as the state’s leading engineering program, the Bagley College provides world-class education, to which McKibben credits much of his success.

“Earning an engineering degree was the pivotal point of my life. It opened all the doors to the things I’ve had in my life since then—challenging jobs, meeting new people, traveling the world, financial security—it was so beneficial to me,” said McKibben. “MSU provided me with a quality education and allowed me to afford it through a graduate assistantship and my participation in the Cooperative Education Program.”

After earning a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering in 1973 and a Master of Business Administration in 1974, both from MSU, McKibben began his career with Kingsport, Tennessee-based Eastman Chemical Co., where he held numerous positions of increasing responsibility during his 34 years of service. In 2008, he retired as the vice president of strategic planning and corporate development, though he later returned to serve the company as a consultant for a special project from 2010-2011.

In addition to a prosperous business career, McKibben was named as the MSU Distinguished Engineering Fellow in 2004 and continues to serve on the advisory board for the Bagley College. After retiring, he returned to campus from 2008-2009 to teach courses in industrial systems engineering. During his time as a faculty member, he developed a better understanding of the significance of alumni financial support.

“Everyone decides whether they can or will contribute,” said McKibben. “But if possible, it’s important for alumni to support Mississippi State and allow it to continue to be one of the best engineering schools in the nation. My gift allows me to return the favor of my education by helping the university and its future students.”

Mississippi State is dedicated to creating opportunities for students who will, in turn, take those experiences and skill sets into the world and build a better future. Since the university’s outreach is limited to available resources, contributions from devoted alumni and friends allow the university to extend that outreach and afford valuable educational experiences that will make an infinite impact in the state and world.

“One of the major keys to progress in Mississippi is quality education, particularly in engineering, and the Bagley College is at the pinnacle of Mississippi education,” said McKibben. “It recruits the best students, and we need to do all we can to provide opportunities that will keep them in the state as they enter the workforce as graduates.”

As the university continually strives to enhance and develop the state of Mississippi, research and service are among the greatest commitments of the historic land-grant institution. Mississippi State proudly builds upon the state’s traditions while positioning it for a brighter future. Outright gifts allow immediate results, while deferred gifts through charitable planning help envision the goals of tomorrow and pave the foundations for success.

If you are interested in establishing your legacy at MSU through a deferred gift, please contact Vance Bristow, director of planned giving for the MSU Foundation, at 662-325-3707 or email him at

By Addie Mayfield, Photography by Beth Wynn