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Hibbett Neel

Hibbett Neel grew up in Rutherford County, Tenn., and was the third generation of his family to attend Vanderbilt. After receiving his undergraduate degree in civil engineering in 1963, Neel earned a master’s degree at the Georgia Institute of Technology and served as an officer in the U.S. Army. In 1983, he founded Neel-Schaffer Inc., a multidisciplined engineering firm headquartered in Jackson, Miss., with more than 400 employees and offices throughout the Southeast and Texas.

Neel has been an active member of the Institute of Transportation Engineers for more than four decades. His numerous awards from this organization include 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, Hibbett 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 has also authored numerous industry articles, including “Striving for Ethics in Transportation Engineering” and “Ethics and the Transportation Consultant.”

He follows the philosophy of Sir Winston Churchill who said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” In 1992, Neel created scholarships for disadvantaged minorities at various universities and began a mentoring program for upcoming minority firms at Neel-Schaffer, subcontracting work to these firms when possible.   

Neel’s community involvement includes the Mississippi Economic Council, Mississippi Blood Services, Catholic Charities, Greater Jackson Foundation, Metro Jackson Chamber of Commerce, Keep Jackson Beautiful, Leadership Jackson and Jackson 2000. He has committed both time and resources to Vanderbilt’s School of Engineering as an active six-year member of Vanderbilt’s Engineering Alumni Council and the Lewis Society.

Neel and his wife, Susan, live in Jackson Miss. Their six children and grandchildren live nearby.