(JACKSON, Miss.) – Jackson State University Vice President of Information Management Dr. Deborah F. Dent was inducted on May 15 into the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s Waterways Experiment Station Gallery of Distinguished Employees. The event was held at the Vicksburg City Auditorium.
The honor is reserved for retired or deceased employees who have made a major contribution to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Dent is the first African-American woman to be inducted into the gallery.
“When I first started working for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 38 years ago, I used to see the wall of pictures of all the employees in the gallery and wonder if I could ever get on that wall,” Dent said. “Often I was on the committee to decide on the inductions. I would look at it as a litmus test for myself and ask, ‘Have I done enough for the Corps?’ I’m just excited I passed the test.”
Before joining Jackson State’s leadership team in 2012, Dent worked for more than 36 years at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. She started as a computer science trainee, and worked her way up over the years as a computer programmer, a computer scientist and a supervisory computer scientist. The decade before she joined JSU, Dent served as deputy director of the Information Technology Laboratory (ITL) at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center. There she managed the day-to-day operations of the lab and oversaw the execution of ITL’s facility budgets and assisted the execution of its research and development, engineering, information technology and major computational efforts. She also assisted in the management of ITL’s human, financial and physical assets, which encompass more than 400 government and contractor employees, a $219 million annual budget and $150 million in equipment and facilities.
With her induction, Dent joins her mentor, James Jefferson, who is the only other African American in the gallery. She also joins JSU colleagues Dr. Robert Whalin, professor of engineering, and Dr. Thomas Richardson, deputy director of JSU’s Coastal Hazards Center.
Dent, a Hattiesburg native, received a bachelor’s degree in computer science and a Ph.D. in scientific computing from the University of Southern Mississippi. She earned a master’s degree in computer science from Jackson State University.