MSU Foundation appoints 2017 officers, members

Earnest W. “Earnie” Deavenport Jr.

The Mississippi State University Foundation is announcing its officers, as well as new members for the 47-seat board of directors. In its 55th year, the MSU Foundation is being led by Earnest W. “Earnie” Deavenport Jr. of Kiawah Island, South Carolina, who is entering his second term as board chair.

Deavenport is joined by returning 2016 officers D. Hines Brannan Jr. of Atlanta, Georgia, vice chair, and William A. “Lex” Taylor III of Louisville, treasurer. The three alumni began new one-year terms January 1.

Mississippi native Deavenport earned an MSU chemical engineering degree in 1960 and received a 2011 honorary Doctor of Science in the fields of business and engineering from the university. He is the retired chairman and CEO of Kingsport, Tennessee-based Eastman Chemical Company.

A 1970 industrial engineering graduate who earned an MBA the following year, Brannan is a retired managing director of Accenture. Fellow alumnus Taylor is chairman and CEO of The Taylor Group Inc. and president of Taylor Machine Works Inc. He earned a general business administration degree in 1977.

Other leadership includes John P. Rush, MSU vice president for development and alumni who serves as board president and CEO; David Easley, executive director of finance, who is chief financial officer; and Jack McCarty, executive director of development, who serves as secretary. All three are MSU graduates.

New board members who began three-year terms include:

-- Robert P. “Bob” Bowen of Holly Springs. A 1963 MSU history and political science graduate, Bowen is a retired partner-in-charge for mid-south audit practice with Arthur Andersen & Co.

-- Thomas G. Hixon Sr. of Ridgeland. He is chairman of Phoenix Development Company LLC and a 1967 accounting graduate.

-- Gregory C. “Gregg” Rader of Columbus. He is CEO of Columbus Recycling Corp. and a 1984 petroleum engineering graduate.

Members may be reappointed after vacating the board for at least a year. Those incoming, returning members, beginning new three-year terms include:

-- John N. “Nutie” Dowdle of Columbus. A 1965 marketing graduate, Dowdle serves as chairman of the board for Dowdle Enterprises.

-- Jan L. Gwin of Memphis, Tennessee. A 1971 banking and finance graduate, he is managing director of Raymond James & Associates.

-- Herbert V. “Herb” Johnson of Houston, Texas. Johnson received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering in 1978 and 1981, respectively, and is president of HVJ Associates Inc.

-- Linda F. Parker of Bolton. Parker is the retired secretary of Sunbelt Wholesale Supply and a longtime friend of the university.

-- Richard H. Puckett Sr. of Flowood. A 1977 general business administration graduate, Puckett is chairman and CEO of Puckett Machinery Company.

-- Richard A. Rula of Ridgeland. A 1970 civil engineering graduate, Rula is president of Hemphill Construction Company.

-- Michael W. “Mike” Sanders of Cleveland. A 1964 physical education graduate, Sanders is the retired president and CEO of Jimmy Sanders Inc.

Also returning to the board, by virtue of position, are Ronald E. “Ron” Black of Meridian and Wilbert G. “Mickey” Holliman Jr. of Belden. Black continues as MSU Alumni Association president, while Holliman is in his second year as president of the university’s Bulldog Club.

Black holds a 1980 bachelor’s degree in marketing and is human resources director for Southern Pipe & Supply Co. Inc. Holliman earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial management in 1960 and is retired chairman and CEO of Furniture Brands International.

Chartered in 1962, the MSU Foundation administers most of the campus-based fundraising activities and endowment funds. In fiscal year 2016, the organization marked its third consecutive giving year in excess of $100 million recorded for Mississippi State.

The record years of private support are part of “Infinite Impact: The Mississippi State University Campaign,” the largest fundraising endeavor in school history. To date, the campaign has reached $700 million in commitments toward its $1 billion goal.

The MSU Foundation is available at and @MSU_Foundation.

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

Amy Cagle | MSU Foundation

Return to Memo

Mississippi State University  •  Mississippi State, MS 39762  •  Main Telephone: (662) 325-2323  •   Contact: The Editor  |  The Webmaster  •   Updated: February 13, 2017Facebook Twitter