“it isn’t every day you have a building named or you,” acknowledged Mississippi State University’s former president, Mack Portera. He and his wife, Olivia, (my high school chum and blood sistah) were honored last week during an unveiling of the new sign for the Malcolm A. Portera High Performance Computing Center. What a team!
During the West Point native’s tenure from 1998 through 2001, Portera continually advocated for the National Science Foundation’s Engineering Research Center for Computational Field Simulation on campus. Eventually, that facility evolved to become the High Performance Computing Collaboratory named for the veteran administrator at the dedication in the Thad Cochran Research, Technology and Economic Development Park.
Current MSU President Mark E. Keenum said Portera’s emphasis on research, learning and service–MSU’s trifold mission– made a variety of positive impacts at MSU, and his influence continues to benefit the institution.
“Probably no university president ever hit the ground running faster or harder than Dr. ‘Mac’ Portera did when he came to Mississippi State,” Keenum said. “All of our collective centers that are here at Mississippi State University tie into this wonderful high performance computing laboratory. It is a wonderful asset for the entire state of Mississippi, and it’s right here on our campus.”
Annual research expenditures grew to $160 million during Portera’s administration, and faculty salaries increased, said Trey Breckenridge, director of the center. Enrollment increased as MSU’s research and development capabilities expanded, and key aerospace and automotive development activities contributed to billions of dollars in capital investment in Mississippi and Alabama.
MSU Vice President for Research and Economic Development David Shaw moderated the ceremony. He said he was particularly proud to participate because he worked closely with Portera as MSU assumed its position as the premier research university in the state.
“The incredible vision that Dr. Mack Portera had for Mississippi State University is unparalleled,” Shaw said. “He was able to assess where we were and where we wanted to be.”
The center has become central to MSU’s research enterprises, Portera said. He emphasized his appreciation of having the opportunity to lead at MSU, and his spouse Olivia’s support was instrumental to his success as MSU president.
“This is a celebration about an awfully fine group of people inside and outside who compose the Mississippi State family. They simply want their school to be the best that it can be; Olivia and I just came at the right time to be part of that,” Portera said.
Along with his administrative tenure, Portera completed his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, respectively in general science and political science, at MSU. He completed his doctoral degree in political science at the University of Alabama.
Yup, it’s nice to know someone so outstanding and well respected that a building is named in his honor, but then Mack is no ordinary man. He continues to score victories for the Golden Triangle in his current position as a consultant to the Link which is charged with the task of developing new research and development opportunities for Columbus, West Point, Starkville, and Mississippi State University. I’m glad he’s on our team!