Southern Miss’ Prominent Alumni
Natalie Allen ’84 – Natalie Allen has been a broadcast journalist for more than two decades on both the national and local levels, working as an award-winning correspondent, news anchor, producer, writer, copy editor, photographer and videotape editor.
Today, Allen is an anchor for CNN International.
Bruce Aust ’85 - Bruce Aust serves as NASDAQ's executive vice president of the Corporate Client Group. In that position, he is responsible for global business development and relationship management with the 3,200 companies listed on NASDAQ.
Phil Bryant ’77 – Phil Bryant is currently serving as Mississippi’s lieutenant governor, a position he was elected to in 2007.
Previously, Bryant represented Rankin County in the state House of Representatives for five years and served as state auditor for more than a decade.
Jimmy Buffett ’69 – A singer, songwriter and author, Jimmy Buffett has recorded more than 30 records, most of which have gone gold, platinum or multiplatinum. His recording, “Boats, Beaches, Bars & Ballads,” is one of the biggest selling box sets in MCA Records history.
Buffett is also one of less than 10 authors to have a bestseller on both the fiction and nonfiction rankings of The New York Times.
Gene Carlisle ’64 – Gene Carlisle is an entrepreneur whose corporation includes more than 100 restaurants and hotels.
The founder and sole shareholder of Carlisle Corporation, he owns and operates more than Wendy’s restaurants throughout Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, and North Carolina employing more than 3,000 people and topping $140 million in sales.
James Ray Carpenter ’50, ’51 – James Ray Carpenter is the former president of the Professional Golfers’ Association of America.
Carpenter continues to serve on the PGA Rules Committee and has worked as an official at virtually all of the major tournament championships.
Tena Clark ’75 - Tena Clark is chief executive officer and chief creative officer of DMI Music and Media Solutions, which creates nontraditional media in music technology and marketing for well-known corporate brands such as General Mills, AARP, Build-A-Bear Workshop, McDonalds and has composed the official theme song for NASA.
Clark has written for film and television with credits that include “Hope Floats,” “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” “Desperate Housewives" and “Where The Heart Is.” Her work also includes gold- and platinum-selling songs for many renowned artists, including Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle, Dionne Warwick and Sara Evans.
Cat Cora ’90 - Cat Cora made television history on the Food Network’s “Iron Chef America” as the first and only female Iron Chef. She is the author of multiple best-selling cookbooks and has developed a global barbecue concept for Macy’s called CCQ. Cora is the president and founder of Chefs for Humanity, a group of culinary professionals working to fight hunger, provide food nutrition education and emergency food relief worldwide. In 2006, Bon Appetit magazine bestowed her with their Teacher of the Year Award.
Sally-Ann Roberts Craft ’74, ’76 – Sally-Ann Roberts Craft is the co-host of the “Eyewitness Morning News” on WWL-TV in New Orleans, the highest-rated local morning newscast in the nation. In addition, Craft hosts “Our Generation,” a Saturday morning teen talk show that gives young people a platform for their thoughts and creativity.
During her tenure at WWL-TV, Craft has received first place awards in reporting excellence from several organizations, and in 2000, received the Edward R. Murrow Award for reporting excellence.
Ralph Dunagin – Ralph Dunagin is the creator of the editorial comic strip “Dunagin’s People,” a nationally syndicated commentary cartoon that was printed in more than 100 newspapers for 30 years.
In 2001, he retired as editorial art director of The Orlando Sentinel and retired “Dunagin’s People,” although he continues to work on other cartoons.
Brett Favre – The National Football League’s first three-time most valuable player, Brett Favre won the award in consecutive years from 1995 to 1997.
In 1996 and 1997, he led the Green Bay Packers to two-consecutive Super Bowls, and is the NFL's all-time leader in virtually every significant passing category, including passing yards and touchdowns.
Evelyn Gandy – Evelyn Gandy, who died in 2007, was the first female in Mississippi to serve as a state representative, assistant attorney general, commissioner of public welfare, state treasurer, commissioner of insurance and lieutenant governor in Mississippi.
Gandy's many honors include the Margaret Brent Award from the American Bar Association and the Lindy Boggs Women in Public Service Award.
Gary Grubbs ’72 – A Hollywood actor, Gary Grubbs has appeared in such big-screen productions as Oliver Stone’s “JFK,” “Silkwood” and “The Astronaut’s Wife.”
Grubbs has co-starred in NBC’s “Will and Grace,” and has also appeared in such shows as “ER,” “X-Files” and “Touched by an Angel.”
Ray Guy ’78 – The first Southern Miss player ever to be inducted into College Football Hall of Fame, Ray Guy was the first pure punter ever taken in the first round of the NFL Draft. Guy, who spent 14 seasons with the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders, earned seven Pro Bowl selections and was a member of three Super Bowl-winning teams.
At Southern Miss, he also played defensive back and was an outstanding baseball pitcher.
Major General Jeff Hammond ’78, ’86 – A military leader who as a battalion commander led one of the initial battalions into Bosnia in enforcement of the Dayton Peace Accords, Major General Jeff Hammond has served as the commander of U.S. forces in Baghdad, where he proudly served 33,000 troops of the U.S. Army 4th Infantry Division and Multi-National Division Baghdad in their effort to protect the people of Iraq's capital city.
At Southern Miss, Hammond was a team captain and quarterback on the football team.
Ted Jackson ’84 – A Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist, Ted Jackson has covered assignments ranging from swamp-dwelling Cajuns to Pope John Paul II’s tour of the United States.
Jackson’s comprehensive look at the collapse of the world’s fisheries won the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.
Nan Kelley ’88 - Hattiesburg native Nan Kelley has become a fixture on one of the most popular and longest running shows in all of entertainment, "The Grand Ole Opry." She’s the television host of "Opry Live" and a regular personality on the Great American Country television network. The former Miss Mississippi also hosts GAC’s weekly fan-voted “Top 20 Country Countdown."
James Kitchens ’64 - James W. Kitchens serves on the Mississippi Supreme Court representing the Central District, Place 3. He was elected district attorney for the Mississippi counties of Copiah, Lincoln, Pike and Walthall in 1971, 1975 and 1979. He served for nine years before returning to the private practice of law. In 2008, he was successful in his bid for the seat on the Court.
Kathleen Koch – Kathleen Koch is a former CNN general assignment correspondent based in Washington, D.C., specializing in aviation reporting and serving as back-up correspondent at the Pentagon and the White House.
In 2005 and 2006, Koch provided moving reports from the Gulf Coast during and in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Her reports were featured in CNN Presents: Saving My Town – The Fight for Bay Saint Louis, a special that looked at the progress of Koch’s hometown in Mississippi six months after Katrina.
Margaret Loesch ’68 – From 1998 until her resignation in November 2001, Margaret Loesch served as president and CEO of the Odyssey Channel, and subsequently became the founding president and CEO of Crown Media United States LLC. Prior to that, she was the founding president and key architect of Fox Children’s Network (FOX Kids).
An Emmy Award-winning producer, Loesch is now co-owner and partner in East Carolina Radio Inc. and East Carolina Radio of Elizabeth City Inc., which operates a group of radio stations in North Carolina.
Mike Magusiak ’78 - Mike Magusiak is the President and CEO of CEC Entertainment, Inc., which operates and franchises more than 500 Chuck E. Cheese’s restaurants in 48 states and five foreign countries. Mike and the management team took the company public in 1989, and the company’s common stock is currently traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “CEC.”
Tom “Bones” Malone – A member of the Blues Brothers Band (he appeared in both movies), Tom “Bones” Malone is currently a member of the CBS Orchestra on the “Late Night with David Letterman” show. He arranges music, plays trumpet, trombone, bass trombone, alto sax, tenor sax, baritone sax, piccolo and flute on the show.
Oseola McCarty ’98 – Oseola McCarty gained national attention in July 1995 when she announced the donation of her life’s savings of $150,000 to Southern Miss.
Because of her gift, she was honored by President Bill Clinton with the Presidential Citizens Medal, the nation’s second-highest civilian award. McCarty also won the United Nations Avicenna Medal for educational commitment.
Ben Peters '56 – Ben Peters, who died in 2005 at the age of 71, wrote 14 No. 1 country hits, including "Kiss an Angel in the Morning" (by Charley Pride); "Before the Next Teardrop Falls" (by Freddy Fender) and "Daytime Friends" (by Kenny Rogers).
In his 40-year career, Peters wrote more than 3,500 songs, many of which were recorded by renowned artists such as Eddy Arnold, Conway Twitty, George Jones, Alan Jackson and Loretta Lynn.
Randy "Bubba" Pierce ’87, ’92 – Randy Pierce is a Mississippi Supreme Court Justice serving the Southern District, Place 2, which covers 27 south Mississippi counties. He has served as a Chancery Court Judge for the Sixteenth Chancery Court District (Jackson, George and Greene counties) and is a former State Representative for District 105 in the Mississippi Legislature.
Chuck Scarborough ’69 – As an anchor for WNBC News in New York, Chuck Scarborough has won 24 Emmy Awards. In addition, Scarborough has authored three novels, one of which became a CBS miniseries, and has also written articles for New York, Boston and American Home magazines.
David Sheffield ’72 – Comedy writer and Hollywood screenwriter David Sheffield broke into the business as a writer for “Saturday Night Live,” writing mostly for cast members Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo. Later, he wrote screenplays for Hollywood movies, including “Police Academy II,” and “Coming to America.”
Brigadier General Robert L. Stewart ’64 – Robert Stewart was mission specialist on two space shuttle flights and participated in two extravehicular activities involving the use of a Manned Maneuvering Unit. This was the first time ever that astronauts performed untethered operations from a space craft in flight.
Walter Washington ’70 – Walter Washington was the first African-American to receive a doctorate in Mississippi. The former president of Alcorn State University has been listed as one of the “100 Most Influential Black Americans,” in Ebony magazine.
Neil Williams ’75 - Neil Williams serves as chief financial officer and senior vice president of Intuit, Inc., which produces financial and tax preparation products like Quicken, Quickbooks and Turbo Tax. Williams was previously the executive vice president and chief financial officer for Visa U.S.A., Inc., the leading payments company in the United States.