MSU Grad, Noted Stadium Designer to be Graduation Speaker
STARKVILLE, Miss.–Janet Marie Smith, a Mississippi State alumna and architect internationally recognized for her innovative baseball stadium designs, will be commencement speaker next month for both of the university’s spring graduations.
Also during the May 10 and 11 public programs in Humphrey Coliseum, MSU will bestow honorary doctoral degrees on, respectively, former governor William F. Winter and Madison architect Robert V.M. Harrison. Winter’s degree will be in public service; Harrison’s, in science.
More than 2,400 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students are candidates for 2013 spring semester diplomas.
Smith, a Jackson native who last year was named senior vice president of planning and development for the Los Angeles Dodgers, speaks first at the 7 p.m. ceremony on the 10th for graduates of the Bagley College of Engineering and its Swalm School of Chemical Engineering; College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and its School of Human Sciences; and colleges of Education, Forest Resources and Veterinary Medicine.
Her second address will be at 10 a.m. on the 11th to graduates of the colleges of Architecture, Art and Design and its School of Architecture; Arts and Sciences; and Business and its Adkerson School of Accountancy.
Smith is a 1981 MSU architecture graduate who also holds a master’s degree in urban planning from City College of New York. In 1994, she was named the architecture school’s alumna of the year; in 2011, the inaugural class of the Sports Business Journal’s “Game Changers: Women in Sports Business.”
Before being hired last summer by the Dodgers organization, Smith was vice president of planning and development for the Baltimore Orioles, a position she had held previously in the early 1990s. Prior to returning to Baltimore, she was in similar leaderships positions with the Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves. With the Braves, she also was president of Turner Sports and Entertainment Development, a division of the Turner Broadcasting System.
During her first stint in Baltimore, Smith oversaw the design and construction of Camden Yards and, in the process, created a model for other downtown ball parks around the country. In Atlanta, she led in transforming Olympic Stadium into Turner Field; in Boston, she was responsible for transforming venerable Fenway Park and leading the program that placed the ballpark on the National Historic Register.
Winter, Mississippi’s chief executive 1980-84, is nationally recognized for leadership in helping bring about the state’s education reform act that created the Magnolia State’s first public kindergartens, among other school improvements. A former state legislator who later was elected state tax collector, treasurer and lieutenant governor, he has been honored with a Profile in Courage Award by the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum and the 2009 Mississippi Medal of Service by his home state.
A graduate of the University of Mississippi and its law school, the Grenada native also holds a Mississippi Bar Association Lifetime Achievement Award and is a Fellow of the Mississippi Bar Foundation. He currently is special counsel for the Jones Walker firm’s Government Relations Practice Group in Jackson.
Winter is a World War II veteran who continually has been praised for a lifetime of work involving efforts to expand opportunities for others. He is the namesake of Ole Miss’ racial reconciliation institute and the state’s teacher scholar loan program.
Harrison is a former two-term president of the state chapter of the American Institute of Architects and former member of the national AIA board. A partner for more than three decades in the Jackson architectural firm of JH&H, he was instrumental in helping establish MSU’s architecture academic program. Additionally, he served on the architecture school faculty for 13 years, and continues two decades of service on the school’s advisory council.
An intern development program for architecture graduates that Harrison proposed in his University of Florida master’s degree thesis was adopted, after being pilot tested, by Mississippi as the model in 1978. It now is mandatory for architectural registration in all 50 states.
He helped found the state chapter of the Construction Specifications Institute and served as its president. He remains among only a few professionals to hold the distinguished rank as a Fellow of both the AIA and CSI.
Harrison’s continuing support of the MSU architecture program includes endowment of a lecture series, gifts for scholarships and facilities in both architecture and landscape architecture, and fund raising assistance. The popular campus auditorium in Giles Hall, home of the College of Architecture, Art and Design, is named for him and his wife Freda.