Engineering school announces 2023 alumni honorees, distinguished friends

Two business leaders and a retired Navy Vice Admiral will join the School of Engineering’s Academy of Distinguished Alumni, and two business professionals associated with the school have been named a Distinguished Friend of the school. They will be recognized in an induction ceremony at an April 20 Engineering Celebration Dinner.

The five honorees are School of Engineering alumni Douglas Chope, Vice Admiral (Ret.) William French, and Bob Higgins. Teresa Chope and Winston Hoy, both Vanderbilt alumni, will join the School of Engineering’s Circle of Distinguished Friends.

“The newest members of the Academy of Distinguished Alumni and the members of our Circle of Distinguished Friends are leaving their marks on our world,” said Philippe Fauchet, Bruce and Bridgitt Evans Dean. “Their achievements are truly worthy of our recognition and we are grateful for their interest in the School of Engineering and its mission.”

The Distinguished Alumnus Award recognizes notable achievement, significant service and excellent character. The Distinguished Friends Award recognizes individuals associated with the School of Engineering, but who are not alumni, whose professional, civic and philanthropic pursuits reflect the high standards and values associated with the school. Honorees are chosen by an awards committee that comprises the dean, faculty members and alumni representatives.

2023 Distinguished Alumni Honorees

Douglas Chope, BS’86, MBA’88

Douglas Chope

Douglas Chope graduated from Vanderbilt’s School of Engineering in 1986 and two years later earned his MBA at the Owen Graduate School of Management. He is currently Principal Solutions Engineer for Tableau, a data-visualization software company that is now part of Salesforce. Over a 35-year career in the big-data industry, working for companies including Oracle and MicroStrategy, Chope has served in roles at the leading edge of data integration, analytics and visualization. In his position at Tableau, Chope helped develop innovative public health applications for New York City, as well as the states of Massachusetts, New York and New Hampshire. An active philanthropist, Chope serves on the boards of Brookline Music School and Excel Academy Charter. He and his wife, Teresa Ford Chope, BA’87, live in Boston and have three children, two of whom are current Vanderbilt undergraduates.

William French, BE’79

William French

Vice Admiral (Ret.) William French graduated from Vanderbilt University’s School of Engineering in 1979 and was commissioned through the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps program. Before retiring from the Navy in 2014, French served as an officer and commander on numerous submarines, including as commander of Submarine Squadron Three at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. His final assignment was leading Navy Installations Command, where he was responsible for the Navy’s 72 bases with oversight of all shore support operations worldwide. French earned a Master of Science from Naval Postgraduate School and a Master of Arts from the Naval War College. Following his Navy retirement, he served as the President and CEO of the Armed Services YMCA. He also serves as a member of the National Advisory Committee for the Military Child Education Coalition and is a member of the Vanderbilt University NROTC Alumni Board.

Bob Higgins, BE’97

Bob Higgins

Bob Higgins graduated from Vanderbilt’s School of Engineering in 1997 and currently serves as president and CEO of Barge Design Solutions, where he launched his career. In his leadership role, Higgins has led the firm through a successful re-organization into core business units and has directed the development and implementation of key technical, project management, and leadership programs. Higgins currently services as vice chair of the School of Engineering’s Board of Visitors. He recently helped establish a civil engineering scholarship that is funded through Barge by matching employee contributions, which will lead to two $100,000 endowments. Higgins serves on the board for the Nashville Downtown Partnership is chair of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce. Additionally, he is a member of both the National and Tennessee Society of Professional Engineers (TSPE) and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

2023 Circle of Distinguished Friends Honorees

Teresa Ford Chope, BA’87

Teresa Ford Chope

Teresa Ford Chope graduated with a degree in economics from Vanderbilt’s College of Arts and Science in 1987 and holds an MBA from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. For more than 15 years, Chope held senior roles in pharmaceutical and biotechnology commercialization at Merck & Co., later consulting to companies including Genzyme and Biogen. In 2016, she changed her career focus and founded BOOST Journeys, a travel design firm committed to enriching lives through discovery and connection. As CEO, she and her team of experts work with families and executives to deliver personalized travel services. A longtime supporter of Vanderbilt, Teresa served as the 2022 General Chair for Vanderbilt’s triple reunion along with her husband, Douglas Chope, BS’86, MBA’88, and is co-chair of the Campaign Cabinet for the School of Engineering. She is also the former president of the Philadelphia Vanderbilt Alumni Chapter. The Chopes live in Boston and have three children, Clasby, Ford, class of 2023 and third generation engineering student; and Sallie, Peabody, class of 2024.

William Winston Hoy, Jr., BA’64

Winston Hoy, Jr.

William Winston Hoy, Jr., a native of Rutherfordton, North Carolina, entered Vanderbilt’s School of Engineering as an undergraduate in 1957. He transferred to the College of Arts and Science where he received his BA degree in 1964. After graduation, Hoy returned to work in his family business in Rutherfordton. He moved to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, in 1977 and continued to work in his family business until he retired in 2003 as Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of The Jackson Companies. In 1968, Hoy married Laura Chapman Jackson of Tryon, North Carolina.  They have three children and eight grandchildren. Winston Hoy has been a loyal supporter of Vanderbilt as a member of the Oak Leaf Society since it began and has long supported the School of Engineering as a member of the Fred Lewis Society. In 2018, the Hoy Family Lecture in Biophotonics was endowed. In cooperation with Vanderbilt University, the Hoy Family Faculty Fellowship was established in the School of Engineering in 2020 by Laura and Winston in honor of their son, Thomas Nelson Hoy, BE’05, and daughter-in-law, Alanna Marie Patsiokas, BE’06, MD’10, as well as Alanna Patsiokas’ service on the school’s Board of Visitors.

Contact: Brenda Ellis, Vanderbilt Engineering Communications