2017 Alumni Fellow Awards
As a part of our 50th anniversary celebration, the Mitchell College of Business inducted our first class of Alumni Fellows at our annual Scholars Banquet. This program formally recognizes Mitchell College alumni whose lives, professions, and contributions to society exemplify the highest ideals of the College and the University. The program also enriches the Mitchell College students through the sharing of the honoree’s professional knowledge and experience. The six individuals in this inaugural class represent the true spirit and intent of the award.
Mr. James J. (Jake) Gosa earned his Bachelor of Science degree in marketing from the Mitchell College of Business. He is the former Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of American Woodmark. Prior to joining American Woodmark, Jake spent 18 years in sales, marketing, and operational positions with Owens-Corning and the Thomas Somerville Company. He is a former Trustee of the Burke Mountain Academy and member of the Economic Development Council of Virginia. Jake resides in Amelia Island, Florida where he serves as Chair of the Parish Council, St. Michaels Parish.
Mr. Daniel A. (Dan) Grafton earned his Bachelor of Science degree in finance with a minor in economics from the Mitchell College of Business. Dan retired as Chairman of the Board of Trustmark Corporation and Trustmark National Bank in 2016. He previously served as President and Chief Executive Officer of L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace, one of the largest aerospace and technical services companies in the world. He serves as Vice-Chairman of the Board at St. Dominic’s Hospital and is a member of the President’s Council of the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation. He received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of South Alabama in 2015. He is a past chairman of The Nature Conservatory-Mississippi and was inducted into the Mississippi Business Hall of Fame in 2004.
Mr. Christopher C. (Chris) Melton earned his Bachelor of Science degree in finance from the Mitchell College of Business. He has over 35 years of business experience emphasizing corporate turnarounds and restructuring. Chris currently serves as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The White Oak Group in Atlanta. Prior to founding White Oak, he served as CEO of CNP, Inc., CEO of Amplified Holdings, and spent 19 years at IBM where he served in numerous executive positions including President of IBM Asia Pacific Investment Corporation and CFO of IBM’s Asia Pacific Services Corporation. Chris is a Lifetime Member of the USA National Alumni Association and serves on the 50th Anniversary USA Annual Fund Leadership Council. He is a member of the Business Executives for National Security Board of Directors, and serves on the boards of a number of privately held companies and a number of non-profit and faith-based organizational boards. He is a past director of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce board and is an active member of the Society of International Business Fellows.
Mr. Jimmy Shumock earned his Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from the Mitchell College of Business. A CPA, he currently serves as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Thompson Holdings, Inc. Jimmy also serves as the Vice Chair of the USA Board of Trustees, is the Jaguar Athletic Fund President, and is a Lifetime Member of the USA National Alumni Association. He served as a member of the Alabama Commission on Infrastructure and is active in the community serving on a number of local charity and professional boards including the Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo, the Mobile Jaycees, the Greater Gulf State Fair, and the Coastal Conservation Association.
Dr. Jeanne Sylvestre is a native of Belize. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in accounting and an MBA from the Mitchell College. She has the distinction of being the first undergraduate of the Mitchell College to return to teach at USA. During her tenure with the Department of Accounting she served as Chair of the Department and Beta Alpha Psi chapter advisor. She holds the rank of Professor Emeritus. Jeanne currently serves as Treasurer of the University of South Alabama Foundation. She is a long-time member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and is an active officer of the Order of St. John.
Although not an alumnus, Mr. Abraham Mitchell holds a singular place among supporters of the University of South Alabama. The philanthropy of Mr. Mitchell, his late brother Mayer, and Mayer’s wife, Arlene has been transformative in the life of the University of South Alabama and the Mitchell College of Business. We are pleased to welcome him as a member of the inaugural class.
Each Alumni Fellow receives a commemorative award designed and hand cast by nationally-known sculptor and medalist Jeanne Stevens-Sollman. In addition, each Fellow receives a ceramic sculptured jaguar created by alumnus and nationally recognized representational sculptor Sam Nettles.