Honorary Degree Nominations
Nominations for honorary doctoral degrees to be awarded by Mississippi State at the spring commencement ceremony are being accepted until January 9, 2016. Nominations, including supporting materials, should be sent to the Honorary Degree Committee in care of the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President.
The Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning authorized state universities to begin awarding the degrees in 1999 and generally allows each institution to give up to two each year. Mississippi State has awarded twenty-seven honorary degrees since then.
Under IHL guidelines, persons eligible for the doctor of laws, doctor of science, doctor of humane letters, doctor of creative and performing arts, or doctor of public service must have demonstrated nationally recognized sustained achievement in scholarship, public service, creative and performing arts, or professional activity. Faculty, staff, and administrators of the university and elected or appointed public officials are ineligible for an honorary degree until one year after leaving their position. Candidates for public office also are ineligible.
Those who are eligible to submit nominations are MSU faculty, staff, students, and alumni. All information that nominators wish to present to the Honorary Degree Committee should be provided along with the nomination by the January 9 deadline. The Honorary Degree Committee will evaluate nominations, develop additional information about nominees, and verify information submitted. The committee will recommend to the President candidates for degrees to be presented at May 2016 commencement ceremonies. The state College Board must approve honorary degrees at least two months prior to their announcement. Names of nominees will be kept confidential until they are approved.
Prior recipients of honorary degrees at Mississippi State are John H. Bryan, Jr., former chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Sara Lee Corp.; Leo W. Seal, Jr., chairman and CEO of Hancock Bank in Gulfport; Harry Charles F. Simrall, dean of engineering at Mississippi State until his retirement in 1978; Dave C. Swalm, retired petroleum products company owner; G.V. "Sonny" Montgomery, former 3rd District congressman from Meridian; Hunter Henry, retired Dow Chemical Co. executive; Bobby Martin, president of The Peoples Bank in Ripley; Jack Cristil, radio play‑by‑play announcer for MSU football and basketball games for more than 50 years; Charles B. Cliett, head emeritus of the aerospace engineering department; Hartley D. Peavey, owner and chief executive officer of Peavey Electronics in Meridian; James Worth Bagley, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Lam Research Corporation; Will D. Carpenter, retired Vice President and General Manager, New Products Division, Monsanto Company; Myrna Colley‑Lee, acclaimed theatrical designer; William G. Riley, Meridian physician and philanthropist; Fred E. Carl, Jr., founder of the Viking Range Corp; Richard C. Adkerson, president and chief executive officer of Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold, Inc.; Bobby S. Shackouls, retired chairman, president, and CEO of Burlington Resources, Inc.; Earnest W. “Earnie” Deavenport, retired head of Eastman Chemical Co.; Richard Holmes, the first African American student to attend Mississippi State who went on to hold a distinguished career in medicine; Robert B. Deen, Jr., a founding member of The Phil Hardin Foundation and The Riley Foundation; James L. Flanagan, distinguished electrical engineer and National Medal of Science winner who made significant contributions to the field of digital communications technology; the Honorable William F. Winter, former governor of Mississippi; Robert V. M. Harrison, architect who was instrumental in establishing MSU’s architecture academic program; Ertharin Cousin, executive director of the United Nations World Food Programme; Sebastião Barbosa, an executive administrator in EMBRAPA in Brazil and a champion for fighting global poverty and food insecurity; Charles W. “Tex” Ritter, former president and CEO of Attala Mills in Kosciusko; and Tommy E. Dulaney, founder of Structural Steel Services Inc. in Meridian.