Two BCoE employees earn MSU Diversity Awards

March 8, 2013

STARKVILLE, Miss. – Representatives of the Bagley College of Engineering earned two of four awards presented at the university’s annual diversity award program Friday.

Rani Sullivan, an associate professor of aerospace engineering, and Angela C. Verdell, director of diversity programs and student development, were presented the 2013 faculty and staff awards, respectively.

The awards program is administered by the President’s Commission on the Status of Minorities. Recipients are selected from a pool of nominees based on their commitment to diversity initiatives, which go beyond their normal responsibilities. The student award was presented to graphic design senior Katja Walter, while the Cooperative Extension Service’s Collegiate 4-H earned the team award.

Outside of her duties as a faculty member, Sullivan is active in various outreach activities meant to encourage and support minorities in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The 2011 Aerospace Engineering Professor of the Year, she has assisted with Summer Bridge, a program for incoming minority freshmen, and led outreach activities at East and West Oktibbeha County high schools. A member of the BCoE Academy of Distinguished Teachers, she has also served as faculty adviser for the Muslim Student Association. Sullivan also received the 2013 Distinguished Community Service Award presented by MSU’s Intercultural and Interfaith Dialog Student Association.

Sullivan holds bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from Mississippi State University. She is a 2012 participant in the National Science Foundations Frontiers in Engineering Education Symposium.

Verdell serves as faculty adviser to Mississippi State’s Increasing Minority Access to Graduate Education program and National Society of Blacks in Engineering chapter. She also works closely with the Society of Hispanic and Professional Engineers. She is a founding member of the Professional Leadership Alliance, a non-profit organization designed to empower underrepresented populations within the Golden Triangle. She has also logged many hours developing and administering programs that expose children to STEM and explain how education and careers in these fields can be life changing for themselves and their communities.

Verdell holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from Jackson State University and a master’s in industrial engineering from Mississippi State University.

The President’s Commission on the Status of Minorities serves as an advisory board to the university’s president on policies, procedure, practices and program that relate to diversity, equal opportunity or affirmative action at Mississippi State. For more information, visit