MSU interior design students continue to dominate regional ASID competition

April 15th, 2018 Comments Off on MSU interior design students continue to dominate regional ASID competition

(photos via Hayden Hunt)

Mississippi State interior design students again received more than half of the awards with six schools in attendance at this year’s American Society of Interior Designers Student Competition.

The event – held at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Ark., from April 6-7 – drew representatives from higher education institutions throughout Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas.

“We were excited about the number of awards that the MSU interior design program received,” said Professor Beth Miller, MSU Interior Design Program director.

“Only 15 students were able to travel to the University of Arkansas for the event. Eleven students submitted work in the competition, and 85% of the students who won awards were in their second year in the program. The Interior Design faculty are doing a great job educating our students at MSU.”

(Click here to view the gold award winners).

The 2018 MSU winners and their categories include (by hometown):

    • MACON, Georgia–Sophomore Hayden Hunt, gold in hand rendering
    • BIG SANDY, Texas–Junior Natalie Allen, gold in hand rendering
    • BRANDON–Junior Bailey Cummins, gold in hand rendering and computer-generated rendering; silver in product design and hospitality
    • GULFPORT–Sophomore Natalie Wilson, gold in new student spotlight – commercial
    • CORDOVA, Tennessee–Junior Regan Sanders, gold in workplace design; silver in product design and hospitality
    • NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana–Junior Emily Frischhertz, silver in hand rendering and hospitality; bronze in product design
    • BRANDON–Sophomore Haley Lawrence, bronze in hand rendering and new student spotlight-commercial
    • ARLINGTON, Tennessee–Sophomore Kennedy Martin, bronze in institutional
    • MADISON, Alabama–Junior Kaitlynn Harness, bronze and silver in hospitality

The group was able to stop during the trip over in Little Rock to visit Hefiner International, a platinum-rated LEED green building system.  

Accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation and National Association of Schools of Art and Design, MSU’s interior design program is part of the College of Architecture, Art and Design. Its curriculum provides a broad background in interior elements, materials, sources and practical experiences. 

Miller also may be contacted at 662-325-7689 or

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

Interior Design holds annual Academic Insight event

February 20th, 2018 Comments Off on Interior Design holds annual Academic Insight event

(Photos by Kelsey Brownlee and Natalie Watson)

On Sat., Feb. 17, the College of Architecture, Art and Design held Academic Insight, an annual event for admitted MSU students and their guests.

The event is meant to help students get a better understanding of the programs within the college and is a chance for students to meet other incoming students, current students and professors.

After a department fair, students and their guests had a chance to mingle with current students and faculty over breakfast before Dean Jim West presented an overview of the college.

After the presentation, the group split up into the four college units – architecture, art, interior design and building construction science – and went to those facilities for a “breakout session.”

During the sessions, parents had a chance to meet with the program directors and faculty while students worked on an activity meant to give them a glimpse into their program.

Students interested in interior design worked on an interactive activity with Assistant Professor Ashley Hughes along current interior design student volunteers.

Interior design students learn, evaluate lighting design at restaurants

February 13th, 2018 Comments Off on Interior design students learn, evaluate lighting design at restaurants

Mississippi State University interior design students recently evaluated lighting design at area restaurants.

The students were part of Robin Carroll’s Integrated Lighting Solutions class.

Britt Caldwell of J. Britt Lighting and Interiors in Tupelo designed custom fixtures for the three Starkville restaurants that were evaluated – Bulldog Burger, Central Station Grill and Harveys. 

Caldwell shared his design approach with the class and provided his simple tips for the proper amount of lumens for a space as well as sizing and placement of the light source. 

Carroll’s students will incorporate this information into their lighting projects later in the semester.    

Interior Design alumna Cristi C. Moore named 2018 CAAD Alumni of the Year

February 5th, 2018 Comments Off on Interior Design alumna Cristi C. Moore named 2018 CAAD Alumni of the Year

By Amy Cagle | Mississippi State University

Mississippi State will recognize retired Baldor Electric Company president and CEO and agricultural economics graduate Dr. R.L. Qualls of Little Rock, Arkansas, as the university’s national alumnus of the year during the Friday [Feb. 2] MSU Alumni Association 2018 awards banquet.

“We are proud to salute Dr. R.L. Qualls on behalf of Mississippi State University for his loyal lifelong connection to his alma mater and for his success as a banker, business executive, educator and author,” said Jeff Davis, executive director of the MSU Alumni Association. “Of some 140,000 living alumni, Dr. Qualls is a distinguished selection for alumnus of the year.”

A Mississippi native of Burnsville, Qualls earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from MSU in agricultural economics in 1954 and 1958, respectively, and completed doctoral work at Louisiana State University. He was awarded the Doctor of Laws Degree from Whitworth College and received a Doctor of Business Administration degree (honorarius causa) from the University of the Ozarks. 

During his tenure as president and CEO of Baldor Electric, an NYSE company and member of ABB Ltd. of Zurich, Switzerland, the company reported 27 straight quarters of both increased earnings and sales growth. Baldor also twice was selected as one of the 100 Best Companies to work for by Fortune Magazine. Qualls joined Baldor in 1986 as executive vice president of finance and planning, was elected president in 1990, served as CEO from 1992-1997, and was vice chairman until year-end 2000. Before Baldor, Qualls held senior-level positions with Bank of America, including chairman and CEO of one of its banks. 

Qualls currently serves as co-chairman of Taylor Companies, an investment banking mergers and acquisition firm with offices in Washington, D.C., Paris and Stockholm. He is a former presiding independent director of the Bank of the Ozarks (NASDAQ), 1997-2016. From January 1979 to July 1980, Qualls was director of the Department of Finance and Administration in the administration of Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton, as well as cabinet secretary.

Qualls also enjoyed a distinguished career in education. He served for five years as president of the University of the Ozarks and recently completed a term as chairman of the board of trustees. Early in his career, Qualls was an assistant professor of finance at MSU with a joint appointment as economist and director of research at First Federal Savings and Loan Association in Jackson. His resume includes appointments at Louisiana State, Rutgers, Southern Methodist, St. Gregory’s and Vanderbilt universities and University of South Alabama. Qualls has published a number of books and articles, including “Entrepreneurial Wit and Wisdom” (UCA Press, 1986) and “Strategic Planning for Colleges and Universities:  A Systems Approach to Planning and Resource Allocation” (Trinity University Press, 1979).

At MSU, Qualls serves on the College of Business advisory board and the MSU Foundation board or directors. He supports MSU philanthropically with his wife, Nancy. Their generosity advances the academic curriculum of the College of Business by providing for faculty support, student-led business start-ups, and administrative operations of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach.

Along with the national alumnus recognition, each of MSU’s eight academic colleges will honor one graduate Friday for outstanding professional, community and personal success. 

The new MSU alumni-of-the-year group for 2018 includes (by college):

Dr. Alfred “Al” Rankins Jr. of Madison, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Rankins received his master’s and doctorate, both in weed science, from MSU in 1996 and 1999, respectively. The Greenville native currently serves as the 19th president of Alcorn State University, where he completed his undergraduate degree. Rankins began his career at MSU as a tenure-track assistant professor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and a specialist with the Extension Service. He then served as deputy commissioner for the Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning, where he was chief academic and student affairs officer. Rankins also has been acting president of Mississippi Valley State University.

—Cristi C. Moore of Atlanta, Georgia, College of Architecture, Art and Design. Moore earned her Bachelor of Business Administration in marketing in 1990 and a second bachelor’s degree in human sciences with an interior design focus in 1998, both from MSU. She is design director, hospitality design leader and senior associate for Gensler, the world’s largest architecture design firm. At Gensler, the Starkville native has partnered with studio leadership to develop the firm’s Atlanta Hospitality Practice area as a standard of excellence for the Southeast region. Building on her MSU education, Moore also earned a Master of Arts in design management and strategy from the Savannah College of Art and Design.

Dr. Howard E. Shook Jr. of Douglasville, Georgia, College of Arts and Sciences.  Shook graduated from MSU in 1962 with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. He enjoyed a long career with DuPont as a research chemist, amassing patents still in use today and earning two DuPont Special Compensation Awards. Shook received his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Duke University. The Belmont native concluded his career with Westinghouse, retiring in 1996.

Paul J. Karre of Pawleys Island, South Carolina, College of Business. Karre earned a Bachelor’s of Business Administration in management from MSU in 1974. In an over 40-year career with International Paper, he held a variety of business, human resources and corporate roles, including a stint as director of human resources of IP Europe until his return to U.S. roles. In 2000, the Natchez native was appointed IP’s vice president of human resources, and in 2009 elected senior vice president for human resources and communications, a role he held until his retirement in 2015.

Dr. Janice I. Nicholson of Florence, Alabama, College of Education.  Nicholson received her master’s and doctoratal degrees in elementary education from MSU in 1967 and 1977, respectively. Over a 50-year career, she was with the University of North Alabama for 37 years in teaching and administration. She retired from Blue Mountain College, where she earned an undergraduate degree, as executive vice president for Student Affairs and Graduate and Special Programs in 2012. From 2015-2017, the Booneville native was interim head of the MSU Department of Curriculum, Instruction and Special Education.

Gerald W. “Jerry” Thames of Duluth, Georgia, James Worth Bagley College of Engineering.  Thames earned a bachelor’s degree in nuclear engineering in 1970 and an MBA from MSU in 1971. Additionally, he holds a Master of Science degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After beginning his career with AT&T, Thames built major companies in the U.S. and Europe. He spearheaded British Telecom’s global initiative; built Global TeleSystems from concept to a $7 billion public company; built a private entity for Lehman Brothers; and assisted Booz Allen Hamilton in opening its Mideast markets. Furthermore, Thames rebuilt the Iraq communications systems and post office after the Iraq War for the U.S. government and served in the standup of the new National Counterterrorism Center. The Starkville native is chairman of Christian Heritage International and Georgia Center for Opportunity.

Tony L. Tooke of Bristow, Virginia, College of Forest Resources.  A 1983 MSU forestry graduate, Tooke is chief of the U.S. Forest Service and is responsible for the management and protection of 154 national forests and 20 national grasslands that makeup the 193 million-acre National Forest System. He also oversees the agency’s state and private forestry, research and development, and business operations divisions. Prior to his appointment, Tooke was the regional forester for the Southern Region of the USDA Forest Service based in Atlanta, Georgia, and earlier was Forest Service chief of staff and associate deputy chief for the National Forest System. His resume also includes work throughout the Forest Service Southern Region comprised of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky and Mississippi. He grew up in Detroit, Alabama, and began work with the USDA forestry service at age 18.  

Dr. Todd R. Henderson of Charlotte, North Carolina, College of Veterinary Medicine. Henderson earned a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from MSU in 1992. He is the president and CEO of Nutramax Laboratories Inc. Before joining Nutramax in 1994, Henderson was the owner of TLC House Call Practice in his native Maryland. He earlier was a veterinarian with Animal Clinic of Harford County before joining Kissimmee Animal Hospital in Florida. Henderson has further served his profession as an adjunct assistant professor for the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. 

See the story in the Starkville Daily News.

Interior design students participate in Curtis Stout Portable Lamp Competition

January 22nd, 2018 Comments Off on Interior design students participate in Curtis Stout Portable Lamp Competition

First Place (left to right: Sydney White and Kaitlynn Harness)

First, second, and third-place students with their lamp projects

Honorable Mention recipients

Winning lamp projects (photos by Regan Horn)

Students in Robin Carroll’s Color and Lighting for Interiors course were challenged last fall with the 2017 Curtis Stout Portable Lamp Competition. 

The objective of the competition was to design and construct an original pendant or portable lamp (table or floor) from an inspiration.

The concept for this year was “Elements of Design,” requiring students to create a lamp that demonstrated the best use of design, coupled with energy-efficient lighting components.

This design project allowed students to use creative skills to develop a final lighting product and gain knowledge about both product design and electrical systems. 

The following winners were selected by interior designers and lighting designers:

First Place: $200.00 each 

  • Kaitlynn Harness 
  • Sydney White 

Second Place: $175 

  • Nancy Strube 

Third Place: $75.00 each 

  • Emily Frischhertz 
  • Samantha Graham 
  • Samantha Sullivan 

Honorable Mention: $25.00 each

  • Olivia Duhe 
  • Mary Campbell Gray 
  • Gaybrail Danielle Jones
  • Carlie Teffeteller

Interior design alumna Anna England Hughes wins award at Boutique Design Trade Fair New York

December 14th, 2017 Comments Off on Interior design alumna Anna England Hughes wins award at Boutique Design Trade Fair New York

A booth designed by Anna England Chaney at Boutique Design Trade Fair New York (BDNY) recently won Best Exhibit Competition. 

Chaney is a 2011 graduate of the Mississippi State University Interior Design Program and a furniture designer at Flexsteel.  

Check out the furniture from the booth here.


Interior design alumna Molly Mullet Diffee featured in Southern Living

December 14th, 2017 Comments Off on Interior design alumna Molly Mullet Diffee featured in Southern Living

Molly Mullett Diffee, a 2014 graduate of the Mississippi State University Interior Design Program and interior designer at Wier Boerner Allin Architecture was recently featured in Southern Living for her work on the Alpha Phi sorority house at the University of Mississippi.

Check out the article here.

Interior Design students travel to Chicago and New York

December 11th, 2017 Comments Off on Interior Design students travel to Chicago and New York

(Photos provided by Natalie Watson, interior design senior)

Students in the Interior Design Program at Mississippi State University participated in field trips to Chicago, Ill., and New York, NY, in late October. These were part of an annual field trip in which interior design students travel to metropolitan areas to meet with design professionals, visit sites and observe urban environments.

Sophomore interior design students plan to travel to the Biltmore Estate near Asheville, N.C., in the spring and will stop in Atlanta, Ga., on the way. 

Seniors in New York:

Juniors in Chicago:

MSU Interior design alumna Cindy Simpson elected to Gensler Board

October 12th, 2017 Comments Off on MSU Interior design alumna Cindy Simpson elected to Gensler Board

Cindy Simpson IIDA, LEED AP ID+C

Via Natalie Esfandiary | Gensler

Gensler, the world’s largest design firm, is proud to announce Cindy Simpson’s election to Gensler’s Board of Directors beginning January 2018.

Over Simpson’s 15+ year career with Gensler, she has been an impactful practice area leader, client relationship leader and office leader. As a prominent part of Gensler’s Professional Service Firms practice, she helped build relationships with key clients and strengthened Gensler’s reputation in the industry. In addition, she has been a vital part of the client relationships global team focused on elevating strategies across the firm.

Simpson, a 1996 Mississippi State University interior design graduate, extends her passion for interior design and leadership through the Mississippi State University Cindy W. Simpson Loyalty Scholarship and the Cindy W. Simpson Endowed Scholarship in the Interior Design program of the College of Architecture, Art and Design. In January 2015, she became a member of the MSU Foundation Board of Directors.

Recently, Simpson was recognized as one of the 2017 Dallas 500 Most Powerful Business Leaders in Dallas and Fort Worth by DCEO Magazine. She currently serves as Principal and Co-Managing Director of Gensler’s Dallas office. Simpson was nominated for Gensler’s Board based on her exemplary success and high degree of firm commitment, as shown by her strong leadership and performance across the firm.


Interior design student Natalie Watson featured in MSU STATEments

September 29th, 2017 Comments Off on Interior design student Natalie Watson featured in MSU STATEments

STATEments: Natalie Watson from CAADatMSU on Vimeo.