STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State University is honoring Robert B. Deen Jr. of Meridian, president and chairman of The Riley Foundation, by naming the Newberry Building on the MSU-Meridian Riley Campus for the philanthropist.
A public ceremony and reception will be held in Meridian in Deen’s honor in January 2015 to formally celebrate the event.
The Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning approved the renaming of the building as the Robert B. Deen Jr. Building earlier this year. In the same vote, the board also approved the renaming of the MSU-Meridian downtown campus as the Riley Campus of MSU-Meridian and the renaming of the Kress Building as the I. Alfred Rosenbaum Building.
“We are delighted these facilities that will be so important in the further growth and development of Mississippi State in Meridian will henceforth be known by the names of leaders who have made such great contributions to the university and the community,” said MSU President Mark E. Keenum. “These designations are a most fitting tribute to the transforming vision and generosity of Mr. Deen, Mr. Rosenbaum and others who have made the Riley Foundation such a positive force in our state.”
Deen was one of the four founding members who established The Riley Foundation in 1998, and has served as a director, officer and general counsel of the Foundation since its creation. He currently provides a leadership role for the Foundation as its chairman, president and CEO. He is a founding member of the Phil Hardin Foundation, as well as the Mississippi Bar Association Foundation.
A 1950 Vanderbilt University Law School graduate, Deen was a Lauderdale County attorney in general practice for 55 years.
Deen served in the Pacific Theater during World War II after his 1943 graduation from Starkville High School. In 1946, he entered Mississippi State after three years in the U.S. Army Air Corps, studying electrical engineering until the summer of 1947, when he left for law school.
A national and international award-winning photographer, Deen is a former national secretary of the Photographic Society of America.
He has a long record of public service to the Meridian/Lauderdale County community and to MSU. This service was recognized by MSU in 2012 when MSU awarded him an Honorary Doctorate of Public Service.
Deen said the naming of the Newberry Building, and the awarding of the honorary doctorate by MSU, are the two most significant honors of his career.
The late I. Alfred (Al) Rosenbaum served as mayor of Meridian from 1977 to 1985. He was a decorated veteran in World War II, serving as a naval aviator in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Rosenbaum was a former vice president, treasurer, and chief financial officer of The Riley Foundation. In the 1960’s, Rosenbaum was a leader in civil rights movement and played a major role in rebuilding black Christian churches and the Congregation Beth Israel temple after it was firebombed in 1968.