Rudy Kittlitz Remembers Alma Mater through Generous Donation

Successful chemical engineer becomes major donor to School of Engineering

Donor Rudy Kittlitz Jr. (left) meets with Marni Kendricks, assistant dean for academics in the UM School of Engineering. Submitted photo

Since he graduated from the University of Mississippi half-a-century ago, Rudolf “Rudy” G. Kittlitz Jr. (BSChE 57) has enjoyed a long and prosperous career. Not one to forget where he came from, the retired chemical engineering alumnus has become a major donor to the School of Engineering at his beloved alma mater.

“For the past several years, I’ve provided a gift so that engineering students, who are otherwise not financially able, may attend the engineering banquet in the spring,” Kittlitz said. “To continue supporting Ole Miss, I’ve included the university in my will.”

The funds tentatively will be used for scholarships and lab equipment.

“Rudy Kittlitz has a deep appreciation for the education he received as an Ole Miss student and has been inspired to assist our School of Engineering students for years,” said Dean Dave Puleo. “Now he has committed a thoughtful planned gift that will strengthen the engineering school and transform students’ lives. We are grateful for his generous gift that reflects his great love for the University of Mississippi and his concern for young people.”

Marni Kendricks, the engineering school’s assistant dean for undergraduate academics, agreed.

“I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Rudy in Waco last fall,” she said. “What a fun, memorable lunch, reminiscing about Oxford and the Ole Miss campus and people we both knew and our common affection for Ole Miss Engineering! His warm emails addressed ‘Howdy Marni’ always make my day better.”

Kittlitz’s connection to UM began when he decided to attend its engineering school in 1953. The Waco, Texas, native chose chemical engineering as his major after he read a novel on space travel by Willy Lee.

“I wanted to major in rocket engineering,” he said. “However, at that time it was not possible.”

As a student, Kittlitz recalled that each of his classes had no more than 10 students. Among his favorite professors was the late Frank Anderson, dean emeritus, and chair and professor emeritus of chemical engineering.

“These small classes enabled the students to quickly ask questions and get understandable answers,” Kittlitz said.

Rudy Kittlitz Jr. spends time reading in his backyard. Submitted photo

Following graduation, he began a 43-year career with the DuPont Chemical Co. There he worked with polychemicals research in Wilmington, Delaware, from 1957 to 1960. Kittlitz then moved to the company’s textile fiber divisions in both Seaford, Delaware, and Chattanooga, Tennessee, before switching to the nylon division and eventually becoming a senior research associate and statistical consultant for fibers.

“I taught myself statistics, which eventually became my career at DuPont,” he said. “My new knowledge of statistics and the Delrin plant startup were very beneficial as I began to learn the making of textile fibers.”

A member of the American Society for Quality since 1972, Kittlitz became a fellow in 1981. He served in leadership positions within ASQ including chair, program chair, chemical divisional councilor, founding member of the Delmarva Section, co-developer and instructor of the Quality Engineering Review course for the Delmarva Section, Region 5 director and executive regional director.

“In 1989, I was awarded the second William G. Hunter Award by the statistical division of the ASQ,” he said. “This was recognition of my being chair of a multicompany quality control group. Our people wrote ‘Quality Assurance for the Chemical and Process Industries.’”

He also has held professional memberships in the American Statistical Association and National Association of Parliamentarians. A registered professional engineer from 1984 to 2015, Kittlitz was an adjunct professor at University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, a Citizen Ambassador to Russia and Ukraine, and a Delaware Quality Award judge.

“My attending and then graduating from Ole Miss means very much to me,” Kittlitz said. “I honestly did not know what kind of career I would have had, had I not received the NROTC scholarship to Ole Miss.”

Kittlitz earned his Master of Science in Engineering degree from the University of Alabama in Mobile. He is co-author of several publications and articles in peer-reviewed journals.

The father of three daughters and a son, Kittlitz lives at Lutheran Sunset Ministries, a retirement community in Clifton, Texas. He enjoys reading, traveling and hiking the Big Bend National Park area of Texas.

 

Jake McCall Finds True Calling

Electrical engineering senior succeeds in major and as C Spire intern

Jake McCall (right) works with a fellow student in the electrical engineering lab. Submitted photo

Jake McCall applied to the University of Mississippi as a psychology major. However, at the advice of a close family member, the Memphian decided to pursue engineering and found it to be the best fit with his interest in doing creative work.

Before classes officially started, McCall chose to study electrical engineering with an emphasis in computer engineering. Since then, he has found the experience to be both challenging and fulfilling.

“My favorite class has probably been EL E 425: Local Area Networks taught by Dr. John Daigle,” he said. “The class teaches the basics of how networks operate, specifically internet networks, and I enjoy learning the mechanics of commonly used pieces of technology.”

McCall also reflected that he found the practical applications of the course helpful in his understanding of computers and how to fully use them as instruments of engineering.

A highlight of McCall’s undergraduate experience happened last summer when he interned with C Spire. He enjoyed the collaborative working environment fostered by the staff.

“C Spire treated me like I was important to their work,” McCall said. “Instead of being given stereotypical intern tasks, I worked directly with full-time employees on real projects in the systems integration department.”

In addition to his summer internship experience, McCall is working on his senior thesis as part of his membership in the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. He is working under the mentorship of Daigle, professor of electrical engineering. McCall’s project is focusing on localization using multiple inertial measurement unit, or IMU, sensors to perform digital dead reckoning.

“I have really enjoyed getting to work on a problem that has not really been solved in the public domain (at least not very well),” he said. “I have also gained a lot of practical knowledge along the way that I can use in my own personal projects.”

McCall said he is looking forward to presenting his research next spring.

Daigle taught McCall in both his Theory of Controls course and his Networking course and praised his academic performance. This, ultimately, led to them working together based on a common research interest area focusing on inertial measurement units. They began working together on this project last spring.

“Initially, Jake approached a different professor to inquire about working on this topic, but that faculty member knew that I was already researching this issue and had a graduate student working on it, so he directed Jake to me,” Daigle said. “I had written a proposal to (the) National Institute of Standards and Technology in which I proposed techniques based upon a combination of IMUs and Wi-Fi to track responders in emergency situations.”

McCall has been recognized for his academic success on campus. A 2018 Taylor Medal recipient and named the 2018 Outstanding Junior in Electrical Engineering, he has been inducted into Phi Kappa Phi honor society and Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society, and serves as treasurer of Eta Kappa Nu electrical engineering society. Additionally, he has been heavily involved in the Baptist Student Union, where he leads worship and volunteers with its Grove cleanup after home football games. McCall is the recipient of the C Spire-Nokia Bell Labs Fellowship, which entails a four-month-long position at Bell Labs in New Jersey.

After graduation, he will return to Mississippi to work for C Spire in Jackson. He also is considering graduate school as he is interested in pursuing a Master of Science in either electrical or computer engineering.

 

 

The Storied Life of Charley Calhoun

Civil engineering alumnus's prestigious career spans decades, miles and milestones

Charles A. ‘Charley’ Calhoun (BSCE 61) enjoys sharing stories from his half-century-long career with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Submitted photo

Charles “Charley” A. Calhoun (BSCE 61) never set his sights on becoming well-known. Yet, the University of Mississippi civil engineering alumnus’s career has made him somewhat of a living legend within the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, where he was employed for more than 50 years.

“My father had a strong influence on me,” said Calhoun, who was born July 4, 1939 in Hattiesburg. “I remember when I was in about the 10th or 11th grade, we would sit down on the back steps talking about careers. He asked me what I wanted to study when I went to college.”

While Calhoun assumed he would go to college, he didn’t determine his major beforehand.

“My father thought civil engineering was the best career,” he said. “I got into the technical aspects of civil engineering and discovered that, to a large extent, he was right. It’s been a fascinating profession and one that has served me well.”

The Calhoun family moved several times during Charley’s early years. His father was a civil engineer for the Mississippi State Highway Department. During World War II, he briefly worked for the Corps of Engineers in Louisiana before returning to his wife’s hometown of Lucedale, Mississippi, and working in the shipyard in Mobile, Alabama, until the war ended. He then returned to Hattiesburg where Charley grew up and graduated from high school.

Calhoun’s father was a UM alumnus who earned his degree in 1927. Thirty years later, Calhoun followed in his father’s footsteps.

“The Ole Miss School of Engineering is made up of many wonderful stories of connections that have brought people together at different times for similar engineering educational experiences at this flagship university,” said Marni Kendricks, assistant dean of undergraduate academics in the engineering school. “We always enjoy meeting and hearing about our legacy alumni because of the deep-roots commitment to their alma mater. For Ole Miss Engineering to be an integral part of this family for so many years, we consider it to be a very, very special honor.”

During his junior and senior years at the university, Calhoun worked part time at the USDA Sedimentation Lab. Following graduation, he began a long career working for the Bureau of Reclamation.

“Dean Kellogg told us the Bureau of Reclamation offered some of the best engineering professional opportunities anywhere,” Calhoun said. “As I learned more about the mission and the program of the Bureau of Reclamation and the work in water resources, it had a great deal of appeal to me.”

Calhoun was offered a job with the bureau after graduation in June 1961. He went to Denver and worked there in a variety of jobs.

“I got in some real neat foreign activities,” Calhoun said. “There was a great deal of interest in the Soviet Union. We entertained Soviet engineers over here with Deputy Commissioner Ed Sullivan, and accompanied him over to the Soviet Union for a couple of weeks in ’74.”

Calhoun also went to Spain for a couple of weeks in early 1975, and entertained Spanish engineers visiting the U.S.

“We were looking for ways to achieve an operation of open-channel canal systems,” he said. “I was expected, and fortunate, to have the opportunity to go through a one-year rotation program. So I spent three months in canals and pipelines, I spent three months in contract administration doing construction contract work, three months in the soils lab over in soil mechanics, and then three months out in California in Los Banos doing some fieldwork, pre-construction and construction work.”

Calhoun remembers the drought of 1976-77, which was one of the worst droughts since the ‘30s, throughout most of the Western United States.

“We got into a legal confrontation with the City of Denver,” Calhoun said. “The City of Denver was diverting water out of priority beyond their entitlement at Dillon Reservoir that affected our ability to store water at Green Mountain Reservoir as part of the Colorado-Big Thompson project. And so I got involved very deeply with the Solicitor’s Office, Justice Department, pursuing possible litigation to protect the reclamation rights-project rights.”

Calhoun said he was taken from a somewhat sheltered career in the technical areas into the world of politics, law and management in a two-year period.

“All this was going on, and I realized how fortunate I was to have this type of opportunity and looked on it as a real challenge,” he said.

Calhoun was promoted to chief of water, land and power for the Southwestern regional office of the Bureau of Reclamation in Amarillo, Texas, in 1980. He remained in that position for three years before being transferred to Albuquerque, New Mexico, as a project manager.

“I stayed there nine years and went to Boulder City, Nevada, as assistant regional director,” he said. “I was there a couple of years and then moved to the regional office in Salt Lake City, Utah.”

Calhoun’s positions and assignments also included his being appointed federal commissioner and chairman of the Pecos River Commission from 2003 to 2010.

“The bureau was considered in some ways almost a graduate school at that time for young engineers,” Calhoun said. “You could come into the bureau and get some very good experience if you were fortunate enough to work in a more enlightened area.”

Calhoun considers the Meritorious Service Award that he received from the U.S. Department of the Interior in 2000 his highest professional honor. He said he owes a lot to his education and sees value in continuing to support his alma mater.

“I see it as my payback for an outstanding education,” he said. “I told my kids many times that I think everybody should pursue their education to whatever appropriate level, because education is almost a holy quest and you should be knowledgeable. It’s great to have a profession, but the people who get things done in this world are usually the people who can work the other people in some sort of team arrangement or some sort of an organizational arrangement.”

Calhoun and his wife, Paula, reside in Orange Beach, Alabama, and spend summers in Sandy, Utah. Calhoun’s hobbies include reading, walking, gardening, and applying engineering principles to drainage problems in Orange Beach. The couple has five children (all of whom have bachelor’s degrees and three with master’s degrees) and three grandchildren, “who sure are a joy,” Calhoun said.

 

 

 

Reinemann-Goss Returns to Alma Mater as Faculty Member

Accomplished alumna is newest assistant professor in burgeoning biomedical engineering program

Nikki Reinemann-Goss, a 2012 UM alumna, returns to her alma mater as assistant professor of chemical engineering in the new biomedical engineering program. Submitted photo

Even before Dana Nicole “Nikki” Reinemann-Goss graduated from the University of Mississippi, she sensed that one day she would return to her alma mater – not as a student but as a faculty member.

Starting Aug. 17, the university’s 13th Barry M. Goldwater Scholar will be an assistant professor of chemical engineering in conjunction with the university’s new biomedical engineering program.

“I applied for this position for a number of reasons,” said Reinemann-Goss, who earned bachelor’s degrees in chemical engineering and chemistry from UM in 2013 and her Ph.D. in chemical and biomolecular engineering from Vanderbilt University last May. “The prospect of building the new biomedical engineering program at Ole Miss from the ground up was an exciting opportunity I could not pass up. In addition, I would be able to return to my home state and alma mater to pursue exciting scientific areas.”

Reinemann-Goss’ research interests include probing the intersection of biology, physics and engineering by investigating higher-level cytoskeletal architecture and its constituent motor proteins.

“These are important for vital life processes such as cell division and motility,” the Batesville native said. “We can start probing how cell environmental factors or potential cancer drugs alter a certain cellular system and thus potentially make more effective therapies in the future.”

Starting this fall, Reinemann-Goss will teach a course, Biological Transport, for juniors. Her short-term goals include being effective in the classroom, establishing a biomolecular engineering lab and being a mentor to the BME students. Her long-term goals are helping the BME department develop its final curriculum, involving students more heavily in research across campus and publishing results (from both undergraduate and graduate students) in high-impact journals.

“I plan on achieving these goals by really getting to know my students and recruiting them early to work in the lab,” Reinemann-Goss said. “By obtaining and retaining students starting in their sophomore (or even freshman) year, they have time to develop really substantial experimental results that are publication worthy by their junior or senior year.”

Reinemann-Goss said to be an author on a journal article as an undergraduate is quite an accomplishment and could help foster love for continuing down the research track.

“Even if they ultimately don’t chose that path, this experience would be invaluable in applying for national scholarships, graduate school or medical school,” she said. “At the end of the day, I want to help my students be as successful for their chosen career path as they can be.”

Hiring Reinemann-Goss was a ‘rare opportunity,’ said Dwight Waddell, associate professor of electrical engineering and the BME program’s director.

“Not only is she incredibly qualified having graduated with her Ph.D. from a prestigious biomedical engineering program at Vanderbilt, she comes to us already attuned to life at Ole Miss and Oxford,” Waddell said. “Dr. Reinemann-Goss has expertise in biomolecular engineering, which will be immediately put to use through a shared research agenda with multiple departments on campus including biochemistry, biomolecular sciences in the School of Pharmacy as well as chemical engineering. We are thrilled to have her back, and we hope it still feels like home.”

Reinemann-Goss’ former professors recalled her academic achievements and dedication.

“I had the privilege to mentor Nikki from her first day in college,” said Nathan Hammer, associate professor of chemistry. “Because of her dedication and unique aptitude in chemistry, I recruited her to work in my research group.

“From day one in the lab, her natural abilities to perform high-level science were evident. She developed her research project on her own without any assistance and has operated on the level of a graduate student for the past few years. She’s a brilliant young scientist who has a bright future ahead of her. Her success is due not only to her intelligence and aptitude for science but also her unparalleled work ethic.”

Charles L. “Chuck” Hussey, chair emeritus and professor emeritus of chemistry and biochemistry, echoed those sentiments.

“Nikki is a multidimensional, exceptionally talented student,” said Hussey, now associate dean for research and graduate education in UM’s College of Liberal Arts. “She sees and understands concepts that most of her peers may never understand. We are very lucky that she chose to seek a degree in chemistry with us. She is destined for a great career in science or engineering.”

A Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College alumna, Reinemann-Goss also held memberships in Phi Kappa Phi, Tau Beta Pi, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and American Chemical Society. Conducting research under the supervision of Hammer, she presented at the 242nd national meeting of the American Chemical Society and the 41st International Conference on Environmental Systems of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Her extracurricular activities included serving in the Society of Women Engineers and the university’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders, and playing trumpet in the Pride of the South marching band.

In addition to having been a Goldwater Scholar, Reinemann-Goss’ said her most gratifying personal achievement was to receive a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.

“Receiving this funding allowed me to pursue the research path I wanted throughout graduate school and thus helped shape and build my scientific toolbox that I plan to use at Ole Miss,” she said.

She was also involved in the Engineering Ambassadors Network at Vanderbilt.

“Through this organization, I co-coordinated an Engineering Day at Vanderbilt for local eighth-grade students who come from low-income, high-risk environments to expose them to a variety of engineering disciplines,” Reinemann-Goss said. “They chose three disciplines and then performed related hands-on activities led by graduate students. Seeing their confidence in themselves and in STEM work grow throughout the day was an outstanding experience.”

Reinemann-Goss is married to Timothy Goss, a band director for the South Panola School District in Batesville. The couple has a son, Will, who starts first grade this fall. Her hobbies include spending time with her family and playing trumpet in local ensembles and at church.

 

 

Wade Stinson’s Unwavering Support Helps Engineering Students

Civil engineering alumnus's most recent donation funds student scholarship

Wade Stinson (BSCE 78) has been a faithful donor to the UM School of Engineering since his graduation. Submitted photo

By the time Wade Stinson (BSCE 78) received his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, he had already decided he would be a lifelong supporter of the University of Mississippi. Forty years later, the Memphis, Tennessee, native is still generously giving financial assistance to his beloved alma mater.

“I’ve always felt it was important for me to give back to Ole Miss engineering,” Stinson said. “In the early years, my contributions were fairly meager as I was just beginning my career. As soon as I was in a position to give more, I joined the Woods Order. After fulfilling my initial Woods Order pledge, I have continued to give at a similar level.”

Most recently, Stinson donated $25,000 to fund a scholarship for a deserving undergraduate civil engineering student in need of financial assistance. Stinson said he realizes that not everyone is as fortunate as he was.

“I earned several scholarships and my parents paid for my college education, so I only worked during the summers to earn spending money,” he said. “I had a roommate and good friend who was not as fortunate and worked several jobs while taking a full course load in civil engineering. I observed firsthand how difficult it could be to work your way through college.

“By establishing this scholarship, I hope to ease the burden for a deserving student like my former roommate.”

Stinson’s ongoing generosity is greatly appreciated, said Denson Hollis, UM Foundation development officer for the School of Engineering.

“For four decades, Wade Stinson has proven a faithful and generous benefactor of Ole Miss engineering,” Hollis said. “The School of Engineering in general and the Department of Civil Engineering in particular are deeply grateful to him for his gifts and his valuable counsel as a member of the Engineering Alumni Advisory Board.”

Stinson’s journey to the university began as a teenager following his family to Oxford to attend college basketball games.

“My dad received his engineering degree from the University of Tennessee,” Stinson said. “Since we lived in Memphis, he would frequently take me to Oxford to see his Vols play basketball. As we all know, once you’ve seen the Ole Miss campus, nothing else quite compares.”

When he was a senior in high school, Stinson went to Oxford and met with School of Engineering Dean Karl Brenkert and Department of Civil Engineering chair and professor Sam DeLeeuw.

“I was always pretty good in math and science, so CE was somewhat of a natural choice for me,” Stinson said. “Meeting with these two extraordinary gentlemen and educators sealed the deal for me, and I made the decision to attend Ole Miss. It’s a decision I’ve never regretted.”

After graduation, Stinson spent a nearly 40-year career in the electric, natural gas and water utility industry. The first 27 years, he worked for Memphis Light, Gas & Water eventually becoming its vice president of construction and maintenance. After retiring from MLGW in 2005, Stinson joined City Utilities of Springfield, Missouri, where he worked over 12 years as operations executive. He retired in September 2017 and now works part time as a consultant in the energy industry.

“Ole Miss provided me with an excellent technical engineering education, without a doubt,” Stinson said. “My time at Ole Miss also helped prepare me for future leadership roles, which proved invaluable in my career. We learned teamwork from working in groups on various projects.”

As an undergraduate, Stinson served in leadership roles through organizations such as Tau Beta Pi, Chi Epsilon and the American Society of Civil Engineers student chapter. He considers being selected to serve as chairman of the board for the American Public Gas Association as his most significant professional accomplishment.

“APGA is the nationwide association for municipal and community-owned natural gas utilities and has over 700 members in 37 states,” Stinson said. “After serving on the APGA board for several years, I was elected chairman in 2012. This was a very busy yet rewarding year as my duties included meeting with members of Congress, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Department of Energy.”

Stinson and his wife, Christy, live in Olive Branch. The couple has two adult children and four grandchildren. In addition to keeping up with the grandkids, he enjoys golf, traveling and attending Ole Miss sporting events.

“Some of our favorite travel destinations are the California wine country, Hilton Head and the Gulf Coast beaches,” Stinson said. “I recently rejoined the Engineers’ Club of Memphis, which has allowed me to reconnect with many friends and former colleagues. I also have more time to spend on physical fitness and try to work out frequently at the DeSoto Athletic Club.”

 

Dan Gailey Is Wired for the Future

Electrical engineering alumnus is founder and CEO of Synapse AI

Dan Gailey, founder and CEO of Synapse AI, earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Mississippi. Submitted photo

Like an electrical circuit that makes connections and produces and transfers power, Dan Gailey (BSEE 10) has found a way to do something similar with data.

As founder and CEO of Synapse AI, a decentralized network and marketplace for programmatic access to data and machine learning models, the University of Mississippi alumnus has formed lucrative and powerful partnerships with clients around the globe.

“I’ve had opportunities to work in various startups, venture capital and at Make: magazine,” said the Houston, Texas, native who migrated with his family to Tupelo. “I’m most proud of all the teams I’ve had a chance to know and work with, and the products we’ve launched together. Each venture is a new baby that takes significant love, support and care to grow through good times and bad.”

Through his profession, Gailey has met many makers from all over the world. Based in San Francisco, California, since he graduated, he spends most of his time in Europe and Asia traveling and working.

“My responsibilities are helping to move everyone forward through uncertainty to discovery as fast as possible to build something that has never existed before and making sense of everything while maintaining vision,” Gailey said.

The AI expert’s journey to worldwide success began when he decided to attend the university.

“My family suggested I check out Ole Miss, which I did,” he said. “I really enjoyed the culture, food and environment in and around the campus. I also met some smart and fun people that I really enjoyed spending my time with.”

Among Gailey’s favorite electrical engineering courses were Circuits, taught by associate professor Elliott Hutchcraft, labs taught by adjunct instructor Matt Inman and any class taught by associate professor Richard Gordon.

“Elliott really worked to make complicated topics more approachable,” Gailey said. “Richard was great because he is basically a super genius that knew all the answers to any questions we had. Matt’s labs were always wonderful because he really knew how to inspire everyone to work together and converge on solutions as a team.”

Inman recalled that Gailey was an excellent and innovative student.

“Dan showed a mix of maturity, excitement and inquisitiveness that helped bring others along to interacting in class. From the first day, he exuded that sort of entrepreneurial creativity and was never going to be content without leaving his mark on the world, finding his niche and making his name be known.”

During his junior year in electrical engineering, Gailey learned how to balance challenging workloads under significant time constraints. He also became fearless in leading, planning, prioritizing and delivering results-driven outcomes. The most significant lesson for Gailey was learning how to do all of that as part of a team.

“Ole Miss brought together some of the best and brightest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing, working and growing with,” he said. “For that, I’m grateful.”

Gailey’s family includes his mother, Angie Gailey, and brother Patrick Lee Gailey, both of Tupelo.

His spare moments are spent creating art, visiting museums, hanging out at hacker/maker spaces, experiencing new cultures and people, prototyping with electronics, reading science fiction and thinking about artificial general intelligence, or AGI.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alumnus Paul Whitfield Murrill Dies

Chemical engineering graduate was chancellor at Louisiana State University

Paul W. Murrill, a University of Mississippi engineering alumnus who served as chancellor at Louisiana State University for several years, passed recently. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – Paul Whitfield Murrill, a University of Mississippi alumnus who served many years as chancellor at Louisiana State University, died April 2 at his home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He was 83.

Murrill was fondly remembered by a UM alumnus who knew him.

“Dr. Murrill received numerous accolades for his academic and business proficiency, all of which are certainly well deserved,” said Norman Jones, a 1970 civil engineering graduate who met the deceased through the church both attended. “His sincere and genuine people skills, however, are more difficult to describe. Regardless of the occasion or who was present, he was able to put his audience at ease and explain things in a manner that not only showed his expertise of the subject matter, but which also demonstrated his innate ability to connect with people on a personal level.”

Murrill’s humility, generosity of time and resources, and his kindness and compassion for others are qualities that Jones said he will always cherish.

“He was truly a remarkable gentleman, and I am honored to have known him,” he said.

Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Murrill grew up in Hinds County, Mississippi, after his family moved there. A lifelong learner, his early education began in a one-room school in Pocahontas, then continued in the public schools of Clinton, from which he graduated in 1952. Receiving a Navy ROTC scholarship, he began his college education at UM, graduating magna cum laude with a degree in chemical engineering in 1956.

While at the university, Murrill met his wife, Nancy Hoover Williams, of Lexington. Upon graduation, he received his commission as an ensign in the U.S. Navy and spent the next three years as a naval officer aboard USS Valley Forge. Thus began a lifelong love for the Navy and the sea. He was initially machine division officer in charge of Valley Forge’s engine rooms, but always in search of a challenge, he requested and received permission from the captain to train for officer of the deck – underway, a position that was conferred upon him in 1958. He was later promoted from ensign to lieutenant (junior grade).

After discharge from the Navy, Murrill and Williams married in May 1959, and were married for 59 years. Murrill had a brief career as a chemical engineer at Columbia-Southern (PPG) in Lake Charles, Louisiana, but soon pursued higher education in chemical engineering. Encouraged by a mentor at UM, he attended LSU where he completed his master’s degree and then his Ph.D in 1963. Murrill was hired initially by LSU as an interim professor, but his natural leadership ability and intellect led to his being hired for a full-time position as professor in the chemical engineering department. He was named head of that department, then dean of academic affairs and provost of the university soon thereafter.

In 1974, at only age 39, Murrill was named chancellor of the Baton Rouge campus and served in that capacity until 1981. During that time, he was the 21st living American to be named a distinguished member of Phi Kappa Phi honor society, and in 1978, Change magazine named him one of the top 100 educators in the country. Under his leadership, LSU applied for and was granted a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa and became the 13th university to be named a Sea Grant institution.

Murrill oversaw the implementation of Title IX for women’s athletics at LSU and during the country’s bicentennial (1976) he launched a special project, “The Native Flora of Louisiana,” with botanical artist Margaret Stones executing the watercolor drawings. He was a member of 13 honorary and professional societies, including the LSU and Ole Miss alumni halls of fame. He wrote and edited many books, including seminal texts on process theory, which are still in use today.

In 2003, the Instrument Society of America named him one of the 50 most influential people in history in the fields of automation, instrumentation and control technologies. Murrill retired from LSU in 1981 and began an accomplished career in the corporate world. As a testament to his abilities, he was asked to and served on the boards of 27 publicly traded corporations regulated by the SEC. He was chief executive officer of Gulf States Utilities and continued on that board after it was acquired by Entergy Corp. He served as lead director of the board of Tidewater Inc., which named an offshore supply ship the Paul W. Murrill in his honor.

His corporate career also included serving on the boards of Piccadilly Inc, Foxboro Corp. (Massachusetts), Zygo Corp. (Connecticut) and the Baton Rouge Water Co. From 1979 to 1997, he was an adviser to the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Laboratory at Oak Ridge. He served on numerous nonprofit boards and foundations, including the Baton Rouge Food Bank and two years as chairman of the board of the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady.

Murrill was an ordained deacon at University Baptist Church, which he and his wife joined in 1960, and over the years he taught various ages in Sunday school. He had many and varying interests: early lighting, fishing and gardening, to name a few, but none so important to him as his family and religion. Of his many accomplishments, the most important was that he was humble, kind, ever-loving and compassionate. During his later years, he taught a Sunday school class of his peers (some older, some younger), and this was a most meaningful experience for him.

For six years, until January of this year, he wrote a newsletter he called “The Peep,” which began with his class and expanded to include a wide range of devoted friends in various parts of the country, who he greeted weekly as “my fellow pilgrims.”

Murrill was preceded in death by his parents, Horace and Grace Murrill, and a son Paul Whitfield Murrill Jr. He is survived by his wife, Nancy; son John (Elizabeth) of Baton Rouge; son Britt (Kasey) of Baton Rouge; daughter-in-law, Andrea, of Baton Rouge, and grandchildren, Parham, Baker, Paul, James Henry, Alexander, Boyd, Anna Grace, Gray and Mary Elizabeth Murrill, all of Baton Rouge, as well as two step-grandchildren, Ben Shea of Los Angeles and Ava Vasquez of Baton Rouge.

Information for this article came from Murrill’s obituary published in The Advocate in Baton Rouge.

 

A Vision for Engineering Education

Estate gift awards scholarships to transfer students majoring in engineering at Ole Miss

The Vassar Hemphill Estate left a generous gift to the UM School of Engineering for student scholarships. Submitted photo

A recent major gift bequeathed to the University of Mississippi School of Engineering will honor an esteemed graduate while providing financial assistance to students transferring to Ole Miss.

The School of Engineering established the Vassar D. Hemphill Jr. Memorial Scholarship Endowment with a gift of $138,400 from Hemphill’s estate. Recipients will be full-time transfer students majoring in engineering at Ole Miss.

Hemphill died at age 91 in July 2016 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

“We are extremely grateful to Mr. Hemphill for his foresight in planning a gift that will benefit students within the School of Engineering,” said Alex Cheng, dean of engineering. “When our alumni want to give back in return for the education they’ve received here, it speaks volumes about the Ole Miss experience.”

A native of Greenwood, Mississippi, Hemphill was a member of Sigma Chi fraternity and graduated from the university in 1949 with a bachelor’s degree in engineering administration. His career path includes employment at B.F. Goodrich, Dixie Steel and Leopards Interiors.

Prior to college, Hemphill served in the Philippines under Gen. Douglas MacArthur during World War II.

Vassar Hemphill (left) with his mother, Adele Barnwell Hemphill, and brother Simpson Hemphill. Submitted photo

In this article published in the Tuscaloosa News, Hemphill’s friends say he possessed encyclopedic knowledge about antique cars, old silver and camellias. His passion for car racing, golf, books, dancing and music remained prominent throughout his life. Additionally, trains, fine food and parties always made him happy, but most of all, he loved his adopted hometown of Tuscaloosa, the Mississippi Delta and being surrounded by close friends.

With a keen interest in historic preservation, Hemphill was a director emeritus of the Tuscaloosa County Preservation Society and a generous benefactor of the Jemison-Van de Graaff Mansion. He also was a co-founder of the Friends of WVAL and a longtime member of the Phoenix Club.

Hemphill and his wife, Adele, attended Christ Episcopal Church in Tuscaloosa.

“Planned gifts like Mr. Hemphill’s are so important to the welfare of our great university,” said Sandra Guest, vice president of the UM Foundation. “His gift will enable generations of students to reach their higher education goals and hopefully, one day, they will return the favor and the cycle will continue.”

For information on including the University of Mississippi in long-term estate and financial plans, alumni and friends can visit www.umfoundation.planmylegacy.org or contact Sandra Guest, UM Foundation vice president, at 662-915-5208 or sguest@olemiss.edu.

The Vassar D. Hemphill Jr. Memorial Scholarship Endowment is open to gifts from individuals and organizations. To contribute, send checks with the endowment name noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; visit www.umfoundation.com/makeagift; or contact Denson Hollis at dhollis@olemiss.edu or 662-915-5092.

 

UM Chemical Engineering Alumna Named Chairman, President of BP America

Susan Dio assumes leadership position May 1

Susan Dio, a University of Mississippi chemical engineering alumna, is the new CEO of BP America Inc. Submitted photo

As of May 1, the new head of BP America Inc. will be a University of Mississippi chemical engineering alumna.

Susan Dio has been appointed BP America’s chairman and president, making her BP’s chief representative in the United States. She will succeed John Mingé, who will move to chair a National Petroleum Council study of carbon capture utilization and storage technologies. Mingé will retire from BP in March 2019.

“It will be a great honor to represent BP in the U.S., which is home to some of our most important operations anywhere in the world,” Dio said. “I look forward to telling our story and meeting with BP employees all across the country.”

A fellow alumna remembers Dio as an excellent role model who set the bar high and helped other female chemical engineering graduates from UM who were looking to begin their careers in the oil and gas industry.

“I was a freshman her senior year and have very clear memories of her sitting at the (Delta Gamma sorority house) dining room table studying late into the night,” said Lisa Wadlington, global manager of chemical sales at Chevron Oronite Co. in Houston, Texas. “I would ask her what her future career plans were, which professors to avoid and all the usual questions.”

As it turns out, her interactions with Dio had a significant impact on Wadlington’s career.

“Susan worked offshore as a roustabout one summer for Mobil Oil, and my dream was to do the same,” Wadlington said. “When I expressed to Susan my goal, she provided me with the name of her contact, and he hired me. To this day, that summer is one of my favorite work experiences.”

Bob Dudley, BP group chief executive, said, “Susan’s breadth of operational and commercial experience gained with BP around the world — including leading our global shipping business, running a major refinery and managing a chemical plant — make her ideally suited for the key role of representing BP in the U.S. The U.S is a vital part of BP — we have invested more than $100 billion here since 2005. All our businesses, from exploration to refining to renewable energies, operate at scale in the U.S., and together they make up the largest portfolio of businesses we have anywhere in the world.”

A chemical engineer by training, Dio became chief executive of BP Shipping in 2015, with responsibility for moving 200 million tons of oil, gas and products around the world each year. Responding to the demands of a changing energy marketplace, she reset the organization’s strategy and oversaw the recent renewal of the BP fleet, including the commissioning and delivery of 26 highly efficient new tankers.

Over the course of her 33-year career with BP and heritage companies, Dio also has held senior commercial and operating roles in the U.S., U.K. and Australia.

“The engineering education I received at Ole Miss served as the foundation of my career,” Dio said. “I’m grateful for all the opportunities I’ve had — including the opportunity to mentor many of BP’s future leaders — and I can’t wait to join the team at BP America.”

 

 

Lawrence Anderson, Third African-American to Graduate from UM Engineering School, Reflects on Achievements

Electrical engineering alumnus has enjoyed long, successful career in paper, pulp industry

Lawrence (Larry) Anderson received his electrical engineering degree from the University of Mississippi in 1972. Submitted photo

Lawrence (Larry) Anderson (BSEE 72) has successfully navigated a career in manufacturing operations and both domestic and international sales with multinational companies. Retired since 2013, the Jackson native quickly credits much of his career accomplishments to his personal growth while earning an electrical engineering degree at the University of Mississippi.

Fifty years ago, Anderson was one of a handful of African-American students on campus following the integration of the institution by James Meredith six years earlier. Attending the university wasn’t a decision he immediately embraced, but he became the third African-American to graduate from the School of Engineering.

Why Ole Miss?

“During the civil rights era, I was encouraged to attend the university after a recruiter visited Brinkley High School,” he said. “I enrolled with five students from my segregated senior class. Dr. Donald Cole (UM assistant provost and associate professor of mathematics) was a classmate of mine.”

A friend since childhood, Cole said that he and Anderson were like ‘peas in a pod’ who would either excel together or fail together.

“We were not only classmates; we were friends who always enjoyed each other’s company,” Cole said. “Lawrence was always the ‘smart one’ in the group who set the pace for the rest. We complemented one another and helped each other in those difficult classes.”

Cole said Anderson was a hard worker who would never give up, and he was not surprised by his friend’s success.

“He learned from every mistake, every subtle error and every mishap,” he said. “He was excellent at studying and performing under pressure and meeting deadlines. … His calm demeanor always provided rational decisions even in heated situations. We have remained friends over the years and, to this day, I appreciate the excellent advice that he renders.”

Anderson said he remembers his Ole Miss professors liked to give homework but were supportive.

“The entire staff was supportive of minority students, including Dean (Frank) Anderson,” he said. “Considering what other minority students faced in other schools at the university, the engineering school stood out as very receptive.”

Anderson said he chose electrical engineering as his major because he had an uncle who was an engineer for Lockheed Martin in California. His math background and aptitude proved to be a good match. When he graduated, he was also commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Army.

“Graduating with a degree from Ole Miss went far beyond giving me the technical skills to compete in the workplace,” Anderson said. “I developed the soft skills and EQ (emotional intelligence) needed to work in a changing and competitive social environment. Both sets of skills continue to serve me well.”

After graduating from college, Anderson spent two years on active duty at Fort Belvoir and Fort Hood. He was hired by Procter and Gamble Cellulose after leaving the military. At P&G’s Perry, Florida, facility, he held a series of operational and manufacturing roles. Each role was unique in that he was the first African-American supervisor for which the mill employees had ever worked.

He got a chance to move closer to home in Memphis, where he was responsible for the development of maintenance systems for four plant locations and also became superintendent of the cotton linter pulp mill operations.

He moved into sales as the first African-American sales manager for P&G and established a solid reputation as he became highly proficient in both domestic and international sales and marketing. He effectively marketed and launched Champion International Paper’s first wet lap product line and was recognized by executive leadership for strategic excellence in sales in the company’s annual report.

As an international sales manager for Buckeye Cellulose, Anderson developed the business case for Buckeye to purchase a cotton linter mill in Brazil. He also was the specialty fiber sales manager for South America and Asia. He later worked as a senior sales manager for Weyerhaeuser, where he was the global account manager for Procter and Gamble, the largest account for the company.

Anderson retired as the director of technical services for the pulp business at Weyerhaeuser Co. in Federal Way, Washington. In this role, he was responsible for leading a global team of technical representatives that represented both customer and manufacturing interests and supported research and development of new products.

He also retired from the Army Reserve Corps of Engineers as a lieutenant colonel.

“My military experience was invaluable in my leadership development and personal success,” he said.

Reflecting on his professional achievements, Anderson said two stand out in his mind as the most fulfilling.

“Being inducted into the Eta Kappa Nu electrical engineering honor society is definitely at the top of my list,” Anderson said. “Considering the bumpy journey and environment that was present at Ole Miss from 1968 through 1972, this recognition appeared to be an improbable achievement.”

“Second, was being hired as the first African-American pulp sales manager with national and international accounts,” he said. “Being in a position on private planes to facilitate discussions with senior executives from several companies was a ‘pinch myself’ moment. For sure, I was a long way from Kansas.”

Anderson is married to Dorothy Anderson, a Vanderbilt University alumna with an Ed.D. degree in human development counseling. She is a licensed certified mental health counselor and supervisor. Anderson has two sons: Lawrence, a University of Memphis graduate with a degree in computer science; and Kofi, a 2004 Ole Miss graduate with a bachelor’s degree in English who earned his Ed.D. from Seattle University. His daughter, Erica, is deceased.

Anderson named golfing, boating and Rotary as his leisure and volunteer activities. He has also served on the UM School of Engineering Alumni Advisory Board.

For more information about the Department of Electrical Engineering at the University of Mississippi, visit https://engineering.olemiss.edu/electrical/.