Remembering Gloria Correro

Gloria Correro (B.S., M.S. elementary education, ’62, ’63; emerita professor, administrator) 82, Starkville – A professor emerita of curriculum and instruction and associate dean of the College of Education at MSU, Correro was a two-time alumna of Mississippi State. As a student, she was a member of Chi Omega sorority and MSU’s Famous Maroon Band as head majorette. She was also a member of Kappa Delta Pi, the education honor society, an ROTC sponsor, Reveille favorite and a member of Phi Kappa Phi. She taught fifth grade in Starkville before earning a doctorate from the University of Alabama. She and her husband John, a former Alumni Association executive director, both took teaching positions in Natchez for five years before ultimately returning to Starkville. She joined the MSU faculty as a part-time instructor and graduate assistant in the Department of Curriculum, Instruction and Special Education, assuming progressive roles until reaching the position of associate dean for instruction before her retirement in 1999.

Correro served on numerous state and national early childhood education panels, including an appointment to the National Reading Panel. She was instrumental in the development of MSU’s Aiken Village Preschool and the MSU/Starkville Cooperative Demonstration Kindergarten. She was on the committee that established uniform guidelines for kindergarten programs and later directed the statewide assessment for the Mississippi Board of Education, which ultimately secured funding for public kindergarten.

She received many honors for her dedication to education, including being named the College of Education’s Alumna of the Year in 2003. She was part of the Starkville Education Hall of Fame and earned the Council for Advancement and Support of Education Professor of the Year and MSU Alumni Faculty Achievement Teaching Award. In 2006, she received the Delta Kappa Gamma, Alpha Kappa Chapter Red Rose. Other award highlights of her career include: Outstanding Faculty Member, MSU Student Association, 1989; Distinguished Major Professor Award, Association of Teacher Educators, 1987; Phi Delta Kappa Teaching Award, 1982; Faculty Achievement Teaching Award, MSU Alumni Association, 1981; and the Outstanding Leadership and Service Award, President’s Commission on the Status of Women, MSU, 1979.

In addition to supporting their alma mater through financial gifts to the College of Education, scholarships, athletics and the Hunter Henry Center, the Correros established a lasting legacy through the John V. and Dr. Gloria C. Correro Annual Scholarship for full-time juniors and seniors in the College of Education. — Dec. 19, 2023

Lawrence Atkins (B.S. business administration, ’50) 96, Camden, Tennessee – He served in the Pacific Theater during WWII. After graduating from Mississippi State, he worked for the Tennessee Valley Authority for 38 years. He held an MBA from Murray State University and was a salesman for Allstate Insurance. — Nov. 7, 2023

Douglas Michael Davidson (attended; former Bulldog athlete) 85, Chesterfield, Virginia – He attended Mississippi State on a football scholarship before graduating from Southern Illinois University with a bachelor’s and later Pepperdine University with a master’s. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and served more than 27 years on active duty, eventually retiring as a colonel. He served two tours of duty in Vietnam and later served with the Multinational Peacekeeping Force in Beirut, Lebanon. Following his retirement, he worked at Virginia Commonwealth University as a teacher and administrator. — Sept. 27, 2023

Charles Everett Jenkins (B.S. civil engineering, 63) 85, Pulaski, Tennessee – He was a U.S. Army veteran and served in the Mississippi National Guard. A retired civil engineer with the Tennessee Valley Authority, he was a Mason, a Shriner and a member of the Pulaski American Legion Post 60. He served 17 years as a Rotarian, including a term as president. He was part of the Giles County School Board for 14 years, serving eight years as vice chairman. He was also active in the Tennessee School Boards Association, which he served as part of the board of directors and state president. He served as a Pulaski alderman, vice mayor and member of the Planning Commission, board of zoning appeals, taxicab committee and education committee. — Oct. 4, 2023

William H. “Billy” Robbins Sr. (B.S. public affairs, ’52; M.S. government, ’55) 94, Columbus – After two years as a lieutenant in the Air Force, he was commissioned into the U.S. Army 31st Infantry Division, serving as aide-de-camp to Maj. Gen. A.G. Paxton. He was named MSU’s first full-time alumnus field representative in 1956 while he served as president of the MSU alumni chapter of the Beta Tau, Kappa Alpha Order. During that time he selected the lot and organized the campaign to construct the MSU KA house. He was a board member of the Mississippi Historical Society. He served as president of the Columbus Jaycees and manager of the Columbus Chamber of Commerce. — Aug. 22, 2023

Rev. Harold Woodruff Wells (attended; former Bulldog athlete) 90, Rainbow City, Alabama – He attended Mississippi State on a baseball scholarship and later graduated from Auburn. He was a coach and teacher at Anniston High School for four years before earning a Doctor of Ministries from New Orleans seminary. He was pastor of the First Baptist Church of Attalla for more than 12 years and was also on the board of directors at Baptist Memorial Hospital. He ultimately served as a pastor for 24 years and as a teacher in high school, community college and churches for 54 years. — Nov. 19, 2023

Ian A. Munn (retired faculty, administrator) 69, Starkville – A graduate of North Carolina State University, he worked as a forester for 10 years before earning a doctoral degree from the University of North Carolina. He then joined the Mississippi State faculty as a biology professor. He retired in 2021 as associate dean of the College of Forest Resources after 29 years at the university. – Oct. 20, 2023

Donald Newsom Downer (emeritus professor) 79, Starkville – He joined the MSU faculty in 1978 as an assistant professor in microbiology. He served as chairman of the Robert Holland Faculty Council and received the Burlington Northern Foundation Faculty Achievement Award for Excellence in Teaching. He was named head of the Department of Biological Sciences in 1993 and remained at that position until 2004 when he returned to teaching and advising, the two major loves of his academic career.

In 2005, he was one of the first two recipients of the Irvin Atly Jefcoat Excellence in Advising Award and went on to be among only 10 collegiate faculty members nationally to receive awards sponsored by the Natinal Academic Advising Association. He received the Friend of the MSU Student Association Donna Mayowski Award in 2008. Following his retirement, he was named Professor Emeritus of biological sciences and in 2015, he was selected as the second recipient of the Robert E. Wolverton Legacy Award in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Downer earned a bachelor’s in biology from the University of Mississippi in 1966 and a doctoral degree in microbiology from the University of Mississippi Medical Center in 1971. He completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship and Sessional Lectureship in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada where he was involved in virology research. — Dec. 21, 2023

In Memory of Bob Tyler

Bob Tyler, who led the Bulldogs to two nine-win seasons and a Sun Bowl victory during his turn as head football coach from 1973-78, died April 28. He was 91.

A native of Water Valley, Tyler began his coaching career in 1957 at his hometown high school. Over the next 11 years, he coached across the state earning a 91-19-6 record in the high school ranks. He then moved to the college level as an assistant coach at Ole Miss and Alabama, under legendary coaches Johnny Vaught and Paul “Bear” Bryant, before coming to Mississippi State as offensive coordinator under Charles Shira, now namesake of MSU’s Shira Field House.

Tyler became MSU’s 27th head football coach in 1973 and would hold that position for six seasons. During the 1975 season, Tyler led the Bulldogs to a 9-3 record, including Southeastern Conference wins against Georgia, LSU and Ole Miss, and earning a season-capping win against North Carolina in the Sun Bowl. That team ended the season ranked No. 17 in the nation, a second-best in program history at the time.

From 1976-79, Tyler served as Mississippi State’s director of athletics, a dual responsibility with his coaching role. He then moved to North Texas where he was football coach for one year before becoming that school’s athletic director. He returned to Mississippi as coach of Northwest Community College from 1984-85 and became head coach at Oxford High School in 1986 before finishing his coaching career at Millsaps College in 2000-02.

Tyler was inducted into the Mississippi State Hall of Fame in 2022 and the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 2022.

Remembering Robert “Bob” Wolverton Sr.

Robert “Bob” Wolverton, who instilled in generations of Bulldogs a love of the classical studies, died Dec. 15, 2023. He was 98.

A native of Indiana, he earned a Bachelor of Arts from Hanover College, a Master of Arts from the University of Michigan and a doctoral degree from the University of North Carolina. He also held an honorary Litt.D from Mount St. Joseph College in Ohio.

Wolverton joined the Bulldog family in 1977, beginning a 43-year career during which he would serve as vice president of academic affairs before stepping down to return to teaching and become head of the Department of Classical Languages and Literatures. He remained in the classroom until his eventual retirement in May 2020, helping expand the horizons of students and pique their interest in subjects they might otherwise have ignored.

Among his achievements at MSU, Wolverton is credited with helping lead the university’s decades-long effort to earn a Phi Beta Kappa chapter, which came to fruition in 2018. He was named a John Grisham Master Teacher, Humanities Teacher of the Year, and earned the College of Arts and Sciences’ Legacy Award, which recognizes distinguished service within the college. The Legacy Award, which now bears his name, was presented in the rotunda of the Old Main Academic Building, which was also dedicated to his honor.

Upon his retirement, Wolverton said he believes Classics remain relevant in society and that his love of the field and of his students are a big part of what has kept him teaching well into his 90s, noting that they “keep all of us pretty young.”