By Emily Gouin
When Diane Roberts first arrived at Mississippi State University, she was one of the 500 females on a campus of 5,000 students. Magruder Hall was the only dorm for females, and it had a house mother, a curfew and a Dean of Women. Despite being in the minority, Roberts was determined to succeed in her academic endeavors.
“At the official orientation, T.K. Martin, assistant to the president, said ‘Look to your left and to your right. Two of three of you will not be here at the end of the academic year,’” Roberts recalled. “He was correct, and I was the one."
Roberts received her bachelor’s degree in 1963 and her master’s degree in 1964. She continued her education journey by earning her Doctor of Public Health degree from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston in 1976.
Roberts credits MSU for teaching her how to think critically and be successful in all of her professional endeavors.
In the years following graduation, Roberts has gone on to build a very successful career in biological research and education. Her research experience includes work at Eli Lilly and the USDA Bee Breeding Lab. She was a faculty member at both the School of Allied Health Sciences at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston and the School of Primary Medical Care at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. She served as dean of the College of Health Professions, and she served as vice chancellor for Academic Affairs at Indiana University in Richmond. Roberts retired after 45 years of work.
In addition to her professions, Roberts served as secretary and president of the Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions. She received the J. Warren Perry Distinguished Author Award and the Cultural Diversity Award.
Community service has been a big aspect of Roberts’ life. She has been involved with various organizations that focused on senior citizens, family planning, employee wellness, mental health, rehabilitation services and more.
Roberts has countless fond memories of her time at MSU, and her favorite school tradition is the cowbell.
While attending MSU, Roberts’ favorite classes were genetics with Bruce Glick, English with Donald Houston, and zoology with Leslie Ellis. Ellis, who served as chairman of the Department of Biology in the College of Arts and Sciences, was Roberts’ greatest mentor during her college years.
Roberts’ advice for students is simple — get involved and don’t be afraid to ask for help. “Reach out to professors, administrators and staff. They all want to help you. Let them.”
Roberts enjoys traveling, reading and gardening in her retirement years. She is a large follower of women’s basketball, softball and volleyball.
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