HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The following is a news release from The University of Southern Mississippi:
Michael Mason and Kevin Smathers were honored as the 2014 Boardman Distinguished Alumni of the Year by the College of Business at The University of Southern Mississippi during the annual Honors Banquet held on Nov. 20 at the Thad Cochran Center.
Mason, CEO & president of Weathermatic and Chairman of the Board of Directors for Telsco Industries, received the Boardman Distinguished Alumnus of the Year award and was inducted as an honorary member of Beta Gamma Sigma International Honor Society. Smathers, director of Saks.com, was honored as the Outstanding Young Alumnus of the Year.
Born and raised in Hattiesburg, Miss., Mason has been a Golden Eagle fan for life. He was head cheerleader from 1982 to 1985 and a member of Phi Kappa Tau while studying for his degree in marketing. Mason finished his studies at Southern Miss in 1985.
Early in his career he partnered to form Heartland Wireless Cable Television, one of the more successful IPOs of the 90s. Mason is currently revolutionizing the green industry through technology, using cloud-based water management software and hardware. Mason built a network of irrigation distributors and acquired technology companies to create an industry-leading sustainable, high-tech, socially conscious water management brand: Weathermatic, which is now the world's leader in smart irrigation technology.
Smathers is a 2005 graduate from the Southern Miss College of Business, where he served as the president of the International Business Fraternity of Delta Sigma Pi and was awarded a scholarship to attend the LeaderShape Institute in Champaign, IL. Smathers worked part-time for Saks Incorporated during his undergraduate studies and spent weekends traveling to Jackson, Miss., for work.
Upon graduation from USM, he accepted an opportunity to transition into Saks Fifth Avenue's rapidly growing .com business. Smathers held multiple management positions in the .com area and in July 2013 was promoted to Director of saks.com. He also serves on the Business Advisory Council for the College of Business.
Dr. Faye Gilbert, dean of the College of Business, noted that both of the award winners exemplify the College's hopes for its graduates. "Mike Mason's work ethic as CEO is balanced by a strong and genuine commitment to give back to world through cutting edge innovations for his industry," she said.
"Kevin Smathers truly enjoys his career and provides an example for our students to accept leadership positions while in college," added Gilbert. "Our students can learn a great deal from Kevin about appreciating not only business, but also art, music, and people."
In addition to celebrating the Alumni of the Year, the Honors Banquet recognizes the best-of-the-best among the University's business students. Awards were presented to students in each business discipline with the recipients selected by faculty members.
The new members of Beta Gamma Sigma were recognized following their induction ceremony, which took place earlier that evening. Those students who completed their MBA, MPA, or MSED this past summer or will complete it in December were also honored.
College of Business Award winners included the following:
Becker CPA Review 50% Scholarship - Kristy Wilson
Outstanding Accounting Student - Orain McLeggon
Outstanding Beta Alpha Psi Officer -Paula Byrd
Outstanding Student in Finance - Benjamin Arnold
Management & International Business:
Outstanding Student in Business Administration - Jordan Smalley
Outstanding Student in Management - Bryant Baucum
Marketing & Merchandising:
Outstanding Student in Marketing - Jamil Murray
Outstanding Student in Marketing - Katie Steelman
First BSBA Merchandising Graduate - Jessieca Green
Outstanding Tourism Student - Lauren Denise Gaudet
Spirit of Hospitality - Channing Lauren Griffin
Outstanding Master of Science in Economic Development Graduate - Thomas Ashley Edwards
Outstanding Graduate in Professional Accountancy - Richard Collingwood
Outstanding MBA Graduate Award - Travis Wayne Hart
College Wide & Faculty:
Dean's Excellence Award -Jordan Smalley
Outstanding Gulf Coast Business Student Award -Tamara L. Kinnard