Engineering’s Distinguished Alumnus Award bestowed on business leaders, Vanderbilt cardiologist

Vanderbilt engineering alumni Andre Churchwell, W. Hibbett Neel Jr., and J. Roy Wauford Jr. each received a Distinguished Alumnus Award from Vanderbilt’s School of Engineering during the School’s annual Engineering Celebration Dinner held Oct. 21 at the university’s Student Life Center.

The School of Engineering Distinguished Alumnus Award recognizes distinguished achievement, significant service and excellent character.

Andre Churchwell

Andre Churchwell, M.D., associate clinical professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, graduated magna cum laude in biomedical engineering in 1975 from Vanderbilt University. He received his medical degree from Harvard Medical School in 1979, and later completed his internship, residency and cardiology fellowship at Emory University School of Medicine.

Churchwell is Associate Dean for Diversity in Graduate Medical Education and Faculty Affairs at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and holds faculty appointments in Medicine and Biomedical Engineering. Churchwell serves on the biomedical engineering department’s Industry/Practitioner Advisory Board.

He has received numerous awards and honors and for several years has been named one of the nation’s top cardiologists in “The Best Doctors in America.”

Hibbett Neel

W. Hibbett Neel Jr. graduated with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 1963. At that time he was the third generation of his family to attend Vanderbilt University.  He earned a master’s degree from Georgia Tech and served as an officer in the U.S. Army.

In 1983 he founded the engineering firm Neel-Schaffer, Inc. in Jackson, Mississippi.  This company today is one of the largest privately-held engineering firms in the South with more than 400 employees and 33 locations.  In April the company was ranked among the Top 500 Design Firms in the country by Engineering News-Record.

Neel has been an active member of the Institute of Transportation Engineers for more than four decades. He has received numerous services awards from this organization including the Herman J. Hoose Distinguished Service Award and the ITE Outstanding Service Award in 2000. He was recognized by the American Public Works Association as Mississippi Member of the Year in 2000 and in 2004 by the American Society of Civil Engineers, receiving the Diversity Champions Award for his work fostering diversity within the industry.

In 2007 Neel received the American Council of Engineering Companies Community Service Award. In 2009 the National American Public Works Association recognized him with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

He is a member of the School of Engineering’s Lewis Society, served on the Engineering Alumni Council, and he has established the W. Hibbett Neel Jr. Scholarship in Engineering.

Roy Wauford

Lebanon, Tenn. resident J. Roy Wauford Jr. left Vanderbilt in 1952 after graduating cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in civil and environmental engineering and joined the Tennessee Highway Department. Four years later he left to found J.R. Wauford & Company.

Today, J. R. Wauford & Company Consulting Engineers specializes in environmental engineering and the company is considered among the top water supply and wastewater consulting firms in the southeastern U.S.

Wauford also has had a successful career as a banker. In 1968, he purchased control of a small bank and directed the organization of a national bank in 1974. He merged the two banks in 1982, served as Chairman of the Board, and managed the bank’s investment portfolio.

His civic activities are numerous.  He organized the Castle Heights Foundation and served as its inaugural Chairman of the Board.  He presently serves as a Trustee on the Board of Cumberland University in Lebanon and as a member of the Regional Leadership Committee for the Monroe Carrell, Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.

As an alumnus, he established the J.R. Wauford Jr. Scholarship in Engineering.

As distinguished alumni, Churchwell, Neel and Wauford become members of the School of Engineering Academy of Distinguished Alumni.