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.

College of Architecture, Art and Design names 2017 faculty, staff award recipients

September 20th, 2017 Comments Off on College of Architecture, Art and Design names 2017 faculty, staff award recipients

By Kelsey Brownlee | Mississippi State University

The College of Architecture, Art and Design annually honors faculty and staff with monetary awards recognizing excellence in teaching, service and dedication. The recipients are selected by an awards committee, which includes the dean, associate dean, department heads and a faculty member from each unit.

Faculty are chosen for the award based on demonstrated excellence in teaching as evaluated by a statement of personal pedagogy or philosophy, student work, a self-critique of their own work and teaching evaluations.

The 2017 CAAD Tenured Faculty Teaching Excellence Award went to Professor Soon Ee Ngoh in the Department of Art.

Assistant Professor Lyndsey Miller in the Interior Design Program received the Tenure-Track Faculty Teaching Excellence Award.

The 2017 CAAD Staff Award went to Darlene Gardner, business manager for the college, and Amy Massey, administrative assistant for Interior Design.

The staff award honors a staff member in the college who exemplifies professionalism and dedication by performing above and beyond the job description; takes initiative on tasks; relates to others on the staff or faculty; and has demonstrated innovation or creativity in his/her job.

MSU students learn value of creativity, teamwork through Armstrong Middle School outreach project

September 19th, 2017 Comments Off on MSU students learn value of creativity, teamwork through Armstrong Middle School outreach project

By Sasha Steinberg | Mississippi State University

When the highly anticipated Starkville Oktibbeha School District Partnership School opens its doors to sixth and seventh graders in 2019, Armstrong Middle School also will welcome eighth and ninth graders to upgraded facilities, thanks to input from more than 50 students in Mississippi State University’s College of Architecture, Art and Design.

With individual members representing architecture, art, building construction science and interior design disciplines, nine student groups recently presented proposals addressing innovative ways to redesign classrooms and other spaces in Armstrong Middle’s main building. The group projects were part of an annual student design competition sponsored by Birmingham, Alabama-based construction firm Brasfield and Gorrie.

Each group’s 15 to 20-minute presentation was critiqued by representatives from Brasfield and Gorrie, the Starkville Oktibbeha School District and MSU, who selected three winners. Shared equally among group members, prizes were as follows: first place, $1,400; second place, $900; and third place, $600.

Senior Anna K. “Katie” Erickson of Madison was the sole art major in the first place-winning group, which also consisted of two building construction science, three interior design and four architecture majors.

While there was no budget requirement for the project, Erickson said her group “wanted to provide valuable designs that implemented science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics, or STEAM.”

 “We called our project ‘Illuminating Innovative Ideas,’ and one of our goals was to bring in more natural light from the sun,” said Erickson, who is concentrating in graphic design and photography. “We proposed a central atrium that goes from the first floor up to the second floor to help with that concept.”

Erickson said the atrium would be surrounded by glass walls on all sides, thereby enabling people to look down and see into the Learning Commons on the first floor. Equipped with booths, tables and technological equipment, the Learning Commons space would provide students with a fun and comfortable spot for studying, group work or leisure.

 “We also proposed the idea of having a compass in the middle of the first floor,” Erickson said. “It would be a design element, but also an orientation device to help students and others interact with the space. A mural on the wall of the staircase that extends from the first floor to the second floor also would help people orient themselves within the school.”

The group’s proposal also features plans for an indoor multipurpose classroom with a garage door allowing easy access to an outdoor courtyard space or classroom area with a percola, where teachers could hold class.

 “We had two weeks to get the job done, and we all put in equal effort to determine the best solution for the school,” Erickson emphasized. “We will be working in group environments with people across different disciplines in the real world, so it was important that we were all passionate about the project and willing to validate each other’s input.”

“I learned things about architecture, interior design and building construction science that I may not have otherwise. The project worked out well,” she said.

Additional project information is available from Jacob Gines, MSU School of Architecture assistant professor, at 662-325-0094 or

Learn more about MSU’s College of Architecture, Art and Design and its academic programs at, as well as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @CAADatMSU.

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

FIRST PLACE – “Illuminating Innovative Ideas”

  • Davis Byrd
  • Regan Horn
  • Lee Bryant
  • Mitchell Hubbell
  • Alan Pittman
  • Kirkland Webber
  • Christine Smith
  • Ansley Zimmerman
  • Brooke Pogue
  • Katie Erickson

SECOND PLACE – “Regrowth”

  • Charles Cary
  • Cora Howell
  • Mariam Cancio
  • Nate Johnson
  • Asher Paxton
  • Kelli Weiland
  • Tanner Jeffers
  • Hannah Stricklen
  • Abby Richardson

THIRD PLACE – “Dynamic Space – Creative PODS”

  • Johnathan Burcham
  • Matthew Harkey
  • Rayce Belton
  • Hannah Hebinck
  • D’Shari Richardson
  • Jacob Turner
  • Katie Coit
  • Felicia Martin
  • Hannah Gentry
  • Sarah Tewolde

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