University of Mississippi’s Viola Acoff Honored for Her Policymaking Role in Materials Engineering

Viola L. Acoff, dean of the University of Mississippi School of Engineering, has been presented with a Distinguished Lectureship in Materials and Society Award from The Minerals, Metals and Materials Society and ASM International, formerly known as the American Society for Metals.

This annual award recognizes an individual who is experienced in a policymaking role in the materials engineering field. Dr. Acoff was specifically acknowledged for leading the organizations’ “advocacy for racial justice for African Americans in U.S. legislative offices” and for “exceptional technical achievements and impact on broadening participation” in materials science and engineering.

“I was truly honored,” Dr. Acoff said. “To have people from both major professional societies come together to nominate me – and then for me to win – I’m just thrilled. The former winners are a who’s who of people in my field – from education, industry, government agencies, and those who have made major contributions to society in general. I consider it a privilege to be listed among them.”

Dr. Acoff became dean on July 1. She is the first woman and first African American to hold the position. From 2014 to 2023, she was the associate dean for undergraduate and graduate programs at the University of Alabama.

Dr. Acoff earned her bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in materials engineering from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

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