Auburn Alumni Association honors lifetime achievers
The Auburn Alumni Association recognized the four recipients of its highest honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award, in an induction ceremony March 4 at The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center. The lifetime achievers are Pat Dye, former Auburn head football coach; Nelda Lee '69, a pioneer of women in aviation and aerospace engineering; Navy Adm. Mike Rogers '81, commander of U.S. Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency; and Dwight Wiggins '62, retired CEO of the Tosco Refining Co.
K-Rob Thomas '01, transmission construction general manager at Alabama Power Co., is the recipient of the Young Alumni Achievement Award, which recognizes extraordinary accomplishments of a member of the Auburn Family age 40 and under.
Pat Dye was the head football coach at Auburn from 1981-1992, building the football program into a power in the Southeastern Conference. He was instrumental in moving the Iron Bowl to Auburn every other year, and led the first victory against rival Alabama hosted on Auburn's campus in 1989. A two-time All-American football player at the University of Georgia, Dye also spent nine years as assistant coach at the University of Alabama under Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant and six years as head coach at East Carolina University. During his Auburn coaching career, Dye amassed a record of 99-39-4, following only coaches Mike Donahue and Ralph Jordan for the most wins in school history. He received SEC Coach of the Year honors in 1983, 1987 and 1988. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2005. Dye currently works at Auburn as a special advisor to the president, lives on his farm in Notasulga and hosts a weekly radio show, "The Coach Pat Dye Show."
Nelda Lee is a pioneer in women's aviation history, responsible for flight and ground test engineering for the four military aircraft manufactured by Boeing, including the F-15 Eagle, AV-8 Harrier, T-45 Goshawk and F/A-18 Hornet. She is the level-two manager for test and evaluation personnel located in St. Louis and at the military test sites at China Lake, California; Patuxent River, Maryland; and Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. Lee has been an employee with McDonnell Douglas Corp., now Boeing, for 44 years. A highlight of her career with McDonnell Douglas was being the first woman to log 1.5 hours of flight time in the F-15 Eagle. In addition to her career with Boeing, Lee also enjoys aviation in her free time and is a licensed commercial pilot with instrument, multi-engine and helicopter ratings. She previously served as international president of Whirly-Girls Inc. and was recipient of the 10th annual Doris Mullen Whirly-Girls Scholarship. Lee is charter member No. 15 of Women in Aviation International and currently serves on the organization's board of directors. A life member of the Society of Flight Test Engineers and the Auburn Alumni Association, she has served both St. Louis Auburn Alumni Clubs as president. Lee was inducted into the International Women in Aviation Pioneer Half of Fame in 2004, received the Whirly-Girls Livingston Award in 2001 and was awarded the 2010 Katherine and Marjorie Stinson Trophy by the National Aeronautic Association. In 1969, Lee became the second woman to earn an aerospace engineering degree from the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. Lee currently lives in Ballwin, Missouri.
After a career in the military spanning more than 35 years, U.S. Navy Adm. Mike S. Rogers currently serves as director of the National Security Agency, commander of the U.S. Cyber Command and chief of the Central Security Service. He has worked in cryptology and signals intelligence, recently helping write the Navy's strategy for cyber warfare and "information dominance" in the internet age. As the director of intelligence for the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2009-2011, he regularly briefed the top leaders of the armed forces and the civilians who run the U.S. Department of Defense. Rogers assumed his present duties in March 2014. A 1981 graduate, he and his wife, Dana, live in Fort George G. Meade, Maryland.
Dwight Wiggins served as an officer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers before joining ExxonMobil from 1967-1993, during which time he held numerous professional and managerial assignments. In 1993, he joined Tosco Corp. as president of Bayway Refining, affecting an intense overhaul that boosted productivity and allowed the company to present employees with year-end bonuses for the first time. In 1996 Wiggins became president of Tosco Refining Co., and executive vice president of Tosco Corp; by his retirement in 2001, his responsibilities had expanded to include refining and distribution facilities in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Illinois, California and Washington state. The Dwight L. Wiggins Mechanical Engineering Hall was dedicated at Auburn University in April 2012, in memory of Wiggins' father. Wiggins graduated from Auburn in 1962 before returning to earn a master's degree in mechanical engineering in 1967; he now resides in Philadelphia and survives his late wife Mrs. Sara "Sally" Price Wiggins, whom he met at Auburn.
Following graduation from Auburn in 2001, K-Rob Thomas joined Southern Co. as a transmission line maintenance engineer. In a short amount of time he has progressed through many roles within Southern Co. and currently serves as transmission construction general manager for Alabama Power in the company's Birmingham headquarters. A mentor to students and member of the College of Engineering's advisory council, Thomas established the Dennis Weatherby Annual Scholarship Award, named for the founding director of Auburn's Minority Engineering Program, through the Alabama Power Academic Excellence Program. Thomas and his wife, Marcia, live in Hoover.
The Auburn Alumni Association is a member-based nonprofit organization funded by membership contributions, individual donations and corporate sponsorships. The mission of the Auburn Alumni Association is to foster and strengthen the relationship between Auburn University and its alumni and friends; to preserve and promote the university's traditions, purposes, growth and alumni; and to keep alive the spirit of affection and reverence for Auburn University.
The Auburn Alumni Association recognized the four recipients of its highest honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award and the recipient of the Young Alumni Achievement Award in a ceremony March 4 at The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center. From left to right are Beau Byrd, K-Rob Thomas, Nelda K. Lee, Dwight L. Wiggins, Coach Pat Dye, Admiral Mike Rogers and Gretchen VanValkenburg.
Media interested in this story can contact Communications Director Preston Sparks at (334) 844-9999 or email@example.com.
Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite, top-tier Carnegie R1 classification, life-changing outreach with Carnegie’s Community Engagement designation and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 30,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn’s commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact.