By GWEN SISSON
Amy Tuck challenged the Mississippi State University Women’s Club to celebrate the unique contributions of women, to Mississippi and the campus.
The former Lieutenant Governor for the state of Mississippi and MSU’s current executive director of campus operations said MSU has numerous inspirational “can do” women who serve as leaders and role models.
“As we celebrate MSU women, think about the women who have most influenced you,” Tuck said. “Think about women you admire for their strength, their contributions, their talent, their compassion and their ability to get things done.”
Some of the “can do” MSU women Tuck bragged on included:
u Coach Sharon Fanning-Otis — Now in her 15th season as head women’s basketball coach, Tuck said she influences countless young women through her collegiate coaching and summer camps;
u Dean of Libraries Frances Coleman — Appointed Dean in 1997, Tuck said she has been a visionary at moving the library into a leadership position in the state, especially in terms of providing collaborations that benefit the entire state. She has served as president of the Mississippi Library Association, which presented her its Outstanding Achievement Award. She also serves as president of the Southeastern Libraries Association;
u MSU Police Chief Georgia Lindley —She heads a 31-officer department that has earned the elite distinction of accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. MSU is one of two university police forces in Mississippi with that distinction.
u Judy Spencer — She has just been named director of human resources at MSU. Tuck said she is a very experienced HR professional who will be a strong role model for other women on campus.
u MSU’s First Lady Rhonda Keenum — Tuck said how many other universities can say their First Lady served in the White House? Keenum served as director of the Office of Public Liaison. Tuck said Keenum has had a distinguished public service career in her own right, earlier serving as Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Trade Promotion and Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service. Tuck said she is also an experienced public relations professional who served as senior vice president for Edelman Public Relations, a major national public relations firm.
u Maridith Geuder — Director of Mississippi State University Relations.
“Across our campus, we have women in classrooms and laboratories who are earning national recognition for their accomplishments,” Tuck said. “They’re making scientific breakthroughs. They’re writing books. They’re creating great works of art and they’re helping us keep our campus one of the most beautiful anywhere. They’re showing what women can do by doing it.”
Tuck also highlighted three female faculty members who have been named Giles Distinguished Professors: Dr. Nancy Hargrove, professor emeritus of English; Dr. Jan Chambers, director of the Center for Environmental Toxicology in the College of Veternariary Medicine; and Dr. Allison Pearson of the College of Business.
“This is the highest honor Mississippi State can bestow on a faculty member and it does say something very significant about their academic and professional accomplishments,” Tuck said.
Tuck also mentioned Dr. Sara Rajala of the Bagley College of Engineering. Rajala has recently served as president of the American Society for Engineering Education.
“In that capacity, she has literally traveled the entire world and has represented Mississippi State at the same time,” Tuck said.
Tuck said that each of these women, and all outstanding leaders, share 11 special qualities.
“Some of the most talented, capable, hard working women in Mississippi, are right here at Mississippi State,” Tuck said. “...these women, and other leaders, have these important characteristics.”
She said a good leader must be a good listener and acknowledge the contributions of others. Teamwork is important and Tuck said leaders exemplify quiet confidence.
The MSU Women’s Club also recognized six current MSU Women with scholarships. The scholarship winners and their major fields of study included Tara Conkling, wildlife and fisheries; Heather Duoss, animal and dairy sciences; Rebecca Krogman, wildlife and fisheries; Melanie Morse, clinical psychology; Valtresa Myles, biomedical engineering; and Whitney Snow, history.
These women each received $500 scholarships funded by donations from club members, with many donations were made in memory of Marion “Mike” Couvillion, a club member who passed away during the year.