Engineering school establishes Board of Visitors

The Vanderbilt University School of Engineering has established a Board of Visitors, a distinguished group of advisers to Dean Philippe Fauchet. The new board’s first meeting is March 22.

The Board of Visitors is the successor organization to the school’s Committee of Visitors and the Engineering Alumni Council and it consists of alumni and non-alumni members who will meet twice a year.


Chad Chesney (BE’94), director of product marketing, Data Acquisition, National Instruments, is chair of the Board of Visitors. Vice chair is John Gass (BE’74), retired president of Chevron Global Gas and retired vice president of the Chevron Corporation.

Chesney joined National Instruments in 1994 after graduating from Vanderbilt with a degree in electrical engineering. At National Instruments he has served as a group manager  and a department manager in applications engineering, a product marketing manager, a group manager of strategic marketing, and an international sales manager and director (Japan). He has served on the Committee of Visitors and he is a member of the school’s donor organization, the Fred J. Lewis Society.


Gass spent 37 years with Chevron in engineering, operations and management positions. Gass has been instrumental in the creation of the Chevron Human Energy Scholarship in Engineering at Vanderbilt. He served on the school’s Committee of Visitors, and he is a member of the Lewis Society. Gass graduated magna cum laude with a degree in civil engineering and he is a member of the school’s Academy of Distinguished Alumni.

The agenda for the March 22 inaugural meeting includes a vote on the BOV bylaws, a ‘vision’ presentation by Dean Philippe Fauchet and brainstorming sessions on entrepreneurship and on music and technology.

An entrepreneurship panel session will include remarks by Alan Bentley, director of Vanderbilt’s Center for Technology Transfer and Commercialization; Michael Burcham, president and CEO of the Nashville Entrepreneur Center and professor of the practice of management, Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt; David Owens, professor of business strategy and innovation, Owen Graduate School of Management, professor of the practice of engineering management and a registered professional engineer; and Professor Doug Schmidt, chair of the engineering school’s Technology Entrepreneurship Task Force and professor of computer science and computer engineering.


Tim Smith, president and CEO of MyWerx, a technology company that develops cloud computing software solutions to optimize copyright ownership identification, will lead a presentation on music and technology. Smith is an entrepreneur and a 28-year veteran of copyright administration services and IT solution development.

Three engineering students also will speak about their undergraduate research projects and activities.

The role of the board members is to support, through their professional and personal activities, the dean and other leaders as they advance the school’s mission and strategic direction. The board members are:

  • Rob Alley, president, New Era Holdings
  • Bob Anderson, president, R.G. Anderson Company, Inc.
  • Rob Barrick, president and CEO, Smith Seckman Reid
  • Gary Butler, founder, president and CEO, Camgian Microsystems Corp.
  • Peter Carson, senior vice president of worldwide sales, PureWave Networks
  • Jason Chambers, president, Golden Blends, Inc.
  • Libby Cheney, vice president of Environment, Health, Safety and Social Responsibility, Hess Corp.
  • Chad Chesney, director of product marketing, Data Acquisition, National Instruments Corp.
  • Ed Clark, president and CEO (retired), FedEX Trade Networks
  • Pam deZevallos, systems analyst (retired), Vinson & Elkins, LLP
  • Stephen Forrest, vice president for research and professor, University of Michigan
  • John Gass, president (retired), Chevron Global Gas
  • Steve Hays, chairman, Gobbell Hays Partners, Inc.
  • Landis Hicks, managing director, PAE Singapore Private Limited
  • Bob Higgins, president and CEO, Barge Waggoner Sumner & Cannon
  • Greg Iglehart, president, GWI Investments
  • Ralph Jolly, Waters Enterprises
  • Sam Ko, president, Philos Technologies
  • Jim Littlejohn, president, Littlejohn Engineering Associates
  • Hubert Ma, senior technical project manager, Clorox
  • Tim McKechnie, president, Plasma Processes
  • Robert Nemanich, chair and professor OF PHYSICS, Arizona State University
  • Kevin Parker, dean emeritus, Hajim School of Engineering & Applied Sciences, University of Rochester
  • Sarah Rajala, dean, College of Engineering, Iowa State University
  • Richard Schroeder, president and CEO, Cresline Plastic Pipe Company, Inc.
  • David Walker, senior vice president of sales and marketing, Spirit AeroSystems
  • Jack Williams, president, XTO Energy
  • Elizabeth Wright, realtor, Coldwell Banker Wallace & Wallace


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