University recognizes four ‘outstanding’ members of the BCoE family

April 7, 2011

Starkville, Miss. – Women from the Bagley College of Engineering received half of this year’s Mississippi State Outstanding Women Awards during the 33rd annual President’s Commission on the Status of Women awards ceremony.

The BCoE’s honorees include: Michele Anderson, Outstanding Professional Woman; Lori Mann Bruce, Outstanding Executive/Administrative/Managerial Woman; Thelma Neal, Outstanding Service/Maintenance Woman; and Rachel Wheeler, Outstanding Graduate Woman.

The commission collected campus-wide nominations for each of the award categories. Each winner was selected based on her contributions to the university and the Starkville community.

Anderson serves both the Sustainable Energy Research Center and department of agricultural and biological engineering as business manager and project coordinator. Off campus she spends her time raising her two adopted children and working with the Oktibbeha County Humane Society. She helped re-establish the humane society’s foster care program and a volunteer orientation program, as well as serving as chair for the Bark in the Park 5k Run and spay/neuter committee.

Bruce came to Mississippi State in 2000 and quickly worked her way through the faculty ranks, making a name for herself as an accomplished researcher, teacher and leader. Through her current role as the BCoE’s associate dean for research and graduate studies she is credited with helping increase research proposal submissions by 52 percent. In the community, she has been active with the Starkville Church of Christ, Junior Auxiliary, the 4-H Club, and the Girl Scouts of the United States of America.

As part of MSU Facilities Management, Neal currently works in McCain Hall, which houses the department of industrial and systems engineering and the BCoE’s dean’s office. She has been with the university since 2005 and is recognized going “the extra mile to meet the needs of her customers.” She works as a volunteer at area nursing homes and with the Starkville High School football booster club. She is also active at her church, Second Baptist Church, where she is a member of the choir, the food committee and college ministry.

A doctoral candidate and teaching assistant in mechanical engineering, Wheeler is involved in engineering research and plays an active role numerous organizations at MSU. She has served as secretary of the MSU chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and assistant fundraising chair for Zeta Tau Alpha sorority. Within the community, the Cleveland, Miss., native volunteers with the Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, Relay for Life, Toys for Tots and the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.

The President’s Commission on the Status of Women was created in 1977 to provide a voice for issues facing women on campus.

More information about the Bagley College of Engineering can be found at