Engineering’s Distinguished Alumnus Award bestowed on energy chiefs, business leader

Three accomplished graduates were inducted into the Vanderbilt University School of Engineering Academy of Distinguished Alumni during an Engineering Celebration Dinner held Oct. 20 at the university’s Student Life Center. The 2011 dinner also was a major event in the School’s yearlong 125th anniversary celebration.

More than 300 alumni, faculty and friends who are members of the engineering school’s donor group – the Fred J. Lewis Society – or who are returning for their reunion attended. Alumni in attendance covered a span of over eight decades— from 1948 to 2012—and represented 12 classes reuniting during Reunion Weekend.

Vanderbilt engineering alumni Robert G. Anderson, John Gass and Thomas R. Walters each received a Distinguished Alumnus Award from School of Engineering Dean Kenneth F. Galloway.

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

Bob Anderson
Bob Anderson

Nashville native Bob Anderson earned his engineering degree in 1965. He joined Rodgers Construction Company and rose through the ranks from trainee to president in 12 years. In 1989, he formed R.G. Anderson Company, Inc., and today serves as chairman of the construction company.

Anderson is a member of the School’s Committee of Visitors, an advisory group comprised of business and industry leaders, and the Lewis Society. He has served on the Engineering Alumni Council and he established the R.G. Anderson Engineering Scholarship.

John Gass


John Gass graduated magna cum laude in 1974 and joined Chevron in New Orleans to design offshore platforms for use in the Gulf of Mexico. While stationed in New Orleans, he earned a master’s degree in engineering at Tulane. He has spent the last 37 years with Chevron in engineering, operations and management positions. In 2003, Gass was named president of Chevron Gas and Midstream, where he is responsible for the company’s global natural gas business, and he is a vice president of the Chevron Corporation.

Gass has been instrumental in the creation of the Chevron Human Energy Scholarship in Engineering at Vanderbilt, and he generously supports the Vanderbilt undergraduate scholarship fund.  He serves on the Committee of Visitors, and he is a member of the Lewis Society.

Tom Walters


Tom Walters earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Vanderbilt in 1976, and a master’s in ocean engineering from Texas A&M. He began his career with Exxon in 1978 and worked on offshore developments in California, Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico.

Following several international postings, in 2002 Walters was named vice president of the Exxon Mobil Production Company for the U.S.A. In 2009 he was named president, ExxonMobil Gas & Power Marketing Company and elected a vice president of the ExxonMobil Corporation.

Walters has endowed the Walters Family Scholarship in Engineering. He is currently chairman of the Committee of Visitors, and a member of the Lewis Society.

125 poster

At the conclusion of the program, Dean Kenneth F. Galloway was surprised by Christopher Rowe, director of the division of general engineering and director of engineering communications, who presented him with a framed, signed print of a commemorative anniversary poster – created by Spirit of Nashville artist Joel Anderson – unveiled that evening. Each member of the Academy of Distinguished Alumni will receive a signed poster, and all guests were offered posters as they left the dinner.