A new novel from Mike Thorne (Professor Emeritus) is now available from Outskirts Press and can be purchased through major book retailers. His second work of fiction, “Harper’s Bizarre,” opens with a senseless murder that sets into motion events that will rock a small, Southern college town. Though not considered a squeal to his first novel, “Murder in Memory,” both take place in the fictional town of Harper, Alabama. Prior to exploring longform creative writing, Thorne published four textbooks and many journal articles.


An older man in a suit and tie smiling.

Richard Adkerson (B.S. accounting, ’69; MBA, ’70) is now a member of the National Mining Hall of Fame in recognition of his lifetime contributions to the global industry. Namesake of Mississippi State University’s Adkerson School of Accountancy in the College of Business, he is chairman and CEO of Freeport-McMoRan Inc., an Arizona-based mining company that is a major copper producer and operates the world’s largest gold mine. He is credited as the primary architect of an acquisition that formed the world’s largest publicly traded copper companies. He is a founding member and past chair of the International Council on Mining and Metals. He was named MSU’s Alumnus of the Year in 2011. 


A bald man in a suit.

Retired Brig. Gen. Samuel T. Nichols Jr. (B.S., M.S. education, ’77, ‘79) has earned a doctorate in urban higher education from Jackson State University. His dissertation focuses on the study of African American faculty job satisfaction at Historically Black Colleges and Universities as compared to predominantly white institutions. With a distinguished military career that spanned more than 36 years, he has served the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs since 2007, working to ensure transparency, efficiency and accountability. He was awarded Mississippi State’s M-Club Dowsing-Bell Award in 2021. He was a three-time All-SEC offensive guard for MSU football and was chosen for both MSU’s Sports Hall of Fame and the Army ROTC Hall of Fame. His civic work has included the establishment of a coalition to aid those without housing in the Washington, D.C. area. 


Robert J. Wills (B.S. civil engineering, ‘80) has retired as vice president of construction from the American Iron and Steel Institute after a 33-year career. The organization marked his achievement with the 2023 Market Development Lifetime Achievement Award. During his career he was responsible for overseeing codes and standards and the commercial buildings, residential construction and transportation infrastructure markets. He is widely respected for his expertise in fire safety engineering, wind engineering, and geotechnical and foundation engineering.


A smiling man in a suit and tie.

Whit Hughes (B.S. business administration, ‘97; MBA, ‘98) is now vice president of public affairs and government relations for Ergon Inc. His responsibilities include being a strategist and lead advocate for local, state and federal policies. He joined the company in 2020 as a business development executive for Alliant Construction, Ergon’s commercial construction and contracting company. 


A man wearing a black shirt.

Kyle Cunningham (B.S. forestry, ‘01; M.S. forest management, ‘03) now leads the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Division. In this role he works to ensure the health and conservation of the state’s forests. He previously served as an extension forestry specialist with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. 

A man in a blue sweater standing in front of a tree.

John Harden (B.S. chemical engineering, ’02; Ph.D. engineering, ’06) was promoted to senior director of global plant process technology for Albemarle’s specialties business. In this role, he will have oversight of the company’s process technology teams that support plant sites in Magnolia, Arkansas; New Johnsonville, Tennessee; Langelsheim, Germany; Safi, Jordan; and Taichung City, Taiwan. He has been with Albemarle since 2006.

A bald man in a suit and bow tie in front of an american flag.

Terrance West (B.S., M.S., Ph.D. electrical engineering, ’04, ’06, ’09) was named a Modern-Day Technology Leader at the Black Engineer of the Year STEM Conference Awards. A native of Meridian, he was the first African American to earn a doctoral degree in electrical engineering at MSU. Following his graduation, he began a career with U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation and Missile Center which he now serves as branch chief for missile science and technology execution at its headquarters in Redstone Arsenal, Alabama.

Ross Dellenger (B.A. communication, ‘06), who served as a writer for Sports Illustrated since 2018, is now the senior college football reporter for Yahoo Sports. He previously worked at The Advocate in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Jackson’s The Clarion Ledger; The Columbia Daily Tribune in Missouri; The Decatur Daily in Alabama and The Reflector, MSU’s student newspaper which he served as sports editor.


Rachael Burrow (B.A. communication, ’12) and Marguerite Johnson (B.A. interior design, ’15) served as co-chairs for a sold-out gala that kicked off this fall’s Antiques at the Gardens show in Birmingham, Alabama. Now in its 17th year, the fundraising event supports the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. Johnson, and her colleague Anna Still, recently opened Still Johnson, a Birmingham-based interior design studio that has been featured in magazines including Garden and Gun and Domino. Burrow is the senior style editor for Veranda.

The debut novel of Kathryn Livingston (B.A. English, ’12) is now available from Central Park South Publishing. Released under the pen name Kat Elle, “Epoch” is a mix of historical and science fiction that tells the story of a U.S. Army veteran who upon returning home from a deployment in Afghanistan finds herself sent back in time to Nazi-occupied Poland during the height of World War II.

Kadie P. Nobles (B.S. biological engineering, ‘18) joined the Institute for Defense Analyses as a research staff member in the Operation Evaluation Division of the institute’s Systems and Analyses Center.

A group of business people posing for a photo.

Buzzbassador, a company founded by Mississippi State alumni with help of the university’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach was selected as one of 24 startups across North America to be awarded $250,000 from the Google for Startups’ Black Founders Fund. Calvin Waddy (B.B.A, business admin, ’18) and Shelby Baldwin (B.B.A marketing, ‘19) credit MSU’s E-center and its network of angel investors for helping to jumpstart their company’s success. Designed to connect companies with influencers and creators to generate marketing, Buzzbassador has over 140,000 users around the world and has generated more than $20 million in sales for over 450 businesses. 


The Mississippi Society of CPA’s recognized MSU Adkerson School of Accountancy alumnae for their success in the state-certified professional accountancy exam. Karis Pannell (B.Acc., ’21) earned the Fred T. Neely Gold Medal for the year’s highest score while Gelsey Guerra (B.Acc., M.Acc., ’21, ‘22) earned the T.E. Lott Silver Medal for the second-highest score. Both women were named Stephen D. Lee Scholars at MSU for maintaining a 4.0 GPA. Pannell, a Pontotoc native, is a tax associate with Byrne Zizzi CPAs in Tupelo. Guerra, of Picayune, is an audit assistant with the St. Louis, Missouri-branch of Deloitte.