Keenum touts university growth, accomplishments at general faculty meeting

President Mark E. Keenum shares update with faculty

MSU President Mark E. Keenum shares a university update during the fall 2018 general faculty meeting. PHOTO: Megan Bean | Public Affairs

During his annual address to the general faculty last Thursday [Sept. 6], Mississippi State President Mark E. Keenum highlighted the university’s many successes as the land-grant institution begins another academic year.

Keenum said MSU is welcoming another strong group of freshman and transfer students, as well as 97 new faculty members. Keenum noted that many of the new faculty hold terminal degrees from, or came to MSU from, prestigious colleges around the country.

“Clearly, we are a destination,” Keenum said. “In fact, for the third straight year, the Chronicle of Higher Education has named us a ‘Great College to Work For.’”

Faculty recruitment and retention is supported in part by MSU’s Infinite Impact fundraising campaign, which is well on its way to reaching its $1 billion goal. The campaign has helped MSU establish 91 endowed faculty chairs and 1,655 endowed scholarships. In fiscal year 2018, MSU’s total fundraising topped $100 million for the fifth consecutive year.

“The generosity of the Mississippi State family and our many friends is remarkable, and these funds that we are receiving are making a tremendous impact here on our campus,” Keenum said.

Last month, MSU was selected to shelter a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious honor society. The selection came after decades of campus efforts to gain a chapter, which most recently was led by MSU English Professor Robert West. During his speech, Keenum announced that the university has raised more than $1 million to establish an endowment to support Phi Beta Kappa operations at MSU.

Keenum also detailed several ongoing campus capital improvement projects. The university recently opened a new Meat Science and Muscle Biology Lab and completed a renovation to the historic YMCA Building. Projects currently under construction include the $67 million College View student housing project, the Starkville Oktibbeha School District-MSU Partnership School, the new Animal and Dairy Sciences Building and Dudy Noble Field.

A groundbreaking for the university’s new Rula Engineering and Science Complex is tentatively scheduled for November. Work also is expected to begin on the new Poultry Science Building later this year. Planning also is underway for a new music building, a 500-space parking garage and improvements to campus roadways that will support a growing student enrollment.

MSU is currently working to update its State of Excellence master plan, a process that is being led by Provost and Executive Vice President Judy Bonner and a team of campus representatives. David Shaw, MSU vice president for research and economic development, recently led an update of the university’s research priorities for the strategic plan. In the latest National Science Foundation survey, MSU’s $239 million in fiscal year 2016 research and development expenditures accounted for more than half of Mississippi’s total research and development expenditures.

“I believe that we -- the people of this great university -- will continue on this great momentum that we have as we are looking forward to the future,” Keenum said. “I am very grateful for the exceptional leaders and administrators we have on our campus, the world-class faculty that we have here, our outstanding staff, and our outstanding students that we have here at Mississippi State.”

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

James Carskadon | Public Affairs

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