Cleveland Honored as MSU National Alumnus of the Year


Contact: Addie Mayfield

Randy J. Cleveland (Submitted Photo)

STARKVILLE, Mississippi—Mississippi State University honors Randy J. Cleveland with its highest alumni honor. In an on-campus ceremony on April 29, the longtime Fort Worth, Texas resident will be officially recognized as the university’s 2022 National Alumnus.

A 1983 petroleum engineering graduate and Newton County native, Cleveland has been a successful leader in the oil and gas industry for more than 35 years. He began his career with Exxon in 1984 in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he held various technical and planning assignments for the Gulf of Mexico and Gulf Coast region. His progressive career placed him at the helm of company operations, allowing him to run locations in the United States and abroad.

Following the merger of Exxon and Mobil in 1999, Cleveland served as director of operations for the company in Aberdeen, Scotland, and later served in London, England, as director of joint interests for the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, before returning to Houston, Texas, to manage the company’s production activities in the United States. After coordinating the merger of XTO Energy, Inc. with ExxonMobil Corp. in 2010, he became president of Fort Worth-headquartered XTO. He was named Vice President Americas for ExxonMobil Production Co. in 2016 and served in that role until his retirement in 2019.

At MSU, Cleveland has a long tradition of support and service. He is a member of the MSU Foundation Board of Trustees, where he leads the Fundraising Committee as Chair, and also serves on the Dean’s Advisory Council of the James Worth Bagley College of Engineering. He had previously been recognized as Bagley College’s Alumnus of the Year in 2019 and one of the college’s Distinguished Engineering Fellows in 2008.

“We are proud to salute Randy Cleveland on behalf of Mississippi State University for his success in the industry and for his long-standing connection to his alma mater. He is a great role model for current and future generations of the Bulldog family, and their outstanding professional and personal achievements are a prime example of the success that MSU inspires each of its graduates to achieve,” said Jeff Davis, executive director of the MSU Alumni Association. “Out of more than 155,000 alumni living students, Randy is a distinguished selection for this honor.”

Along with Cleveland, a host of other outstanding alumni will be recognized by the MSU Alumni Association at the annual awards ceremony. Individual University College Alumni of the Year selections for 2022 include (by city of residence):

ABERDEEN—Regina L. Sanford, College of Education. She graduated in education in 1991 and is a retired assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction for St. Tammany’s parochial schools.

COLLIERVILLE, Tenn.—Dr. Mark A. Akin, College of Veterinary Medicine. She graduated in veterinary medicine in 1986 and owns Akin Veterinary Services, an equine outpatient practice.

FRANKLIN, Tennessee—Dr. Allen K. Sills, James Worth Bagley College of Engineering. A graduate in biological engineering in 1986, he is chief medical officer for the National Football Association and professor of neurological surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

FLORA—Curtis R. Hopkins, College of Forest Resources. Executive secretary of the Southeastern Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies, he graduated in forestry in 1971 and also earned a master’s degree in wildlife ecology from the university in 1973.

GREENWOOD—Dr. A. Randle “Randy” White, College of Arts and Sciences. A 1966 graduate in chemistry and premedicine, he is the founder and managing member of Delta Hills Nephrology Associates, PLLC.

NEW YORK, New York—Angela Roberts Cavaluzzi, AIA, College of Architecture, Art, and Design. She graduated in architecture in 1982 and is president of the Hudson Yards Development Corporation.

PERKINSTON—Daniel B. “Dan” Batson, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. President and CEO of Greenforest Nursery, Inc., he graduated from MSU twice and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in horticulture in 1980 and 1982, respectively.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.—Don Whitmire Jr., College of Business. An accounting graduate in 1978, he is Vice President and Controller – Financial Reporting at Freeport-McMoRan, Inc.

In addition, the association annually honors outstanding young graduates or alumni of the university. This honor goes to Walker Price of Germantown, Tennessee, a sales and marketing professional for Airheads/Mentos. He earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from MSU in 2011.

Rounding out the award selections are two distinguished service recipients for their efforts in 2021: Creath Edens Townsend of Mobile, Alabama, an elementary education major in 1985; and the late Joe Abston of Pascagoula, a two-time accounting graduate from MSU, who received a bachelor’s degree in 1991 and a master’s degree in 1992, and served as director of finance and administration for the Jackson Port Authority. Abston’s wife and fellow MSU graduate, Missy, will accept the award on his behalf at the awards ceremony.

More details on the awards ceremony and winners will be available in the coming weeks. To learn more about the association, visit

MSU is the main university in Mississippi, available online at


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