UMMC head to address MSU grads; alums Cobb, Holliman honored

LouAnn Woodward

A Mississippi State alumna who leads the state’s only academic health science center will be commencement speaker for the university’s Friday [May 5] and Saturday [May 6] graduations.

Dr. LouAnn Woodward is vice chancellor for health affairs at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, as well as dean of UM’s School of Medicine. A Carroll County native and 1985 MSU microbiology graduate, she previously was UMMC’s associate vice chancellor.

Nearly 2,900 Mississippi State students are candidates for 2017 spring semester degrees.

Also during the Humphrey Coliseum ceremonies, William M. Cobb of Dallas, Texas, and W.G. “Mickey” Holliman Jr. of Tupelo -- both previously recognized as MSU national alumni of the year -- will receive honorary doctorates of science. Cobb’s degree will be presented at the 7 p.m. Friday event; Holliman’s, at the 10 a.m. Saturday program.

Friday evening’s graduates have been students in MSU’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and its School of Human Resources, and the Bagley College of Engineering, along with the colleges of Education, Forest Resources and Veterinary Medicine.

Saturday morning’s degrees will be awarded by the colleges of Architecture, Art and Design; Arts and Sciences; and the College of Business and its Adkerson School of Accountancy.

After graduating from MSU, Woodward entered medical school and completed a residency in emergency medicine at UMMC. Today, she also is a tenured professor of emergency medicine at the Jackson-based institution of higher learning.

Beyond holding the prestigious rank of Fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians, she is a member of the Association of American Medical Colleges, Mississippi State Medical Association, Society of Academic Emergency Medicine and American College of Emergency Physicians, among other groups.

In 2008, Woodward was named Outstanding Business Woman by the Mississippi Business Journal. For additional biographical information, see

As for MSU’s latest honorary degree awardees:

William M. Cobb

Cobb is a petroleum reservoir engineer nationally recognized as an authority in the water injection field. A native of Kewanee in Lauderdale County, he received petroleum engineering bachelor’s and master’s degrees in 1966 and 1967, respectively.

He earned a 1971 doctorate in the major at Stanford University before coming back to MSU as an assistant professor. He later returned to work with the Atlantic Richfield Co., where his professional career began. In 1983, he and wife Carolyn founded a national oil-field management firm.

Prior to the 2016 selection as national alumnus of the year, Cobb was named Alumni Fellow and Distinguished Engineering Fellow of MSU’s Bagley College. Along with an endowed chair, he and his wife support the Bill and Carolyn Cobb Loyalty Scholarship and a petroleum engineering alumni scholarship.

W.G. “Mickey” Holliman Jr.

Holliman, born in Columbus and raised in the Noxubee County town of Shuqualak, is a 1960 industrial management graduate who joined furniture manufacturer Futorian Corp. and rose over time to become manager of its Stratolounger Division.

In 1970, Holliman and Alvin E. Bland founded Action Industries, a company now known as Lane Furniture Industries. He served as Action president and CEO until 1996, when he was elected to similar positions at Furniture Brands International, parent company of Broyhill, Thomasville and Lane. Also named a director when promoted, he later became the company’s board chairman and led in acquiring Henredon, Drexel Heritage and Maitland-Smith, all makers of fine home furnishings and accessories. He retired in 2008.

In 1998, Holliman was selected as both the MSU Alumni Association’s national alumnus of the year and College of Business’s alumnus of the year. A longtime supporter of both academics and athletics, his corporate partnerships and personal contributions made possible the campus fitness and training center for all student-athletes that was named in his honor. He is a member of the MSU Foundation and current president of the Bulldog Club.

Holliman and his wife Babs currently reside in Tupelo, and in 2013 they were awarded the CREATE Foundation’s McLean Award for Philanthropy in recognition of their charitable contributions in their community.

Family members and others planning to attend MSU graduations should be aware that Humphrey Coliseum admission requires a pass through metal detectors. Since bags and purses also may be searched by security personnel, attendees are encouraged to utilize “clear” bags like those required for football games at Davis Wade Stadium.

For additional information on spring commencement, contact the Registrar’s Office at 662-325-2022 or

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

Sammy McDavid | Public Affairs

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