Messages from the Provost

  • April 2014
    Dear Faculty and Staff:

    April has been a great month on the MSU campus. During the first three days of the month, we hosted the SACS-COC on-site team that was here to review us for our accreditation reaffirmation. I join Dr. Keenum in thanking the campus and all of those who participated in what was a great visit for MSU. The final decision of the reaffirmation will come in December at the annual meeting.

    On April 3rd, fourteen MSU undergraduates were recognized for their accomplishments in research and creative discovery activities at MSU’s Undergraduate Research Symposium which was sponsored by the Shackouls Honors College and others and open to all students. As reflected in the State of Excellence strategic plan, we continue to encourage undergraduate (and graduate) research as an important component of the educational experience at MSU. We hope to release a new web site this fall that will allow undergraduate students to peruse opportunities to connect with MSU faculty members in research and creative discovery.

    Later in the first week of April, the MSU drill field was the site of this year’s International Fiesta. This event brought together international students, staff, faculty, and local residents to celebrate the cultures that contribute to the richness of our university and our community. The international dimension of our university is important in educating our students to become contributing members of our increasingly global society. This too is a focus of the State of Excellence strategic plan.

    Several significant infrastructure projects are underway in April. Ground was broken on the Fresh Food Company which is being built behind Cresswell Hall on the site of the old intramural tennis courts. In addition, the new classroom room building which is being constructed behind the YMCA Building is seeing considerable progress, with a formal groundbreaking ceremony planned in the near future. Both of these constructions projects are part of the long-range plan to improve our infrastructure as is stated in State of Excellence.

    I am pleased to recognize Dr. Hossein Toghiani who was selected to be the 2014 SEC Faculty Achievement Award recipient for MSU. Dr. Toghiani is a professor of Chemical Engineering at MSU and has a distinguished record of teaching, research, and service. He is in the 2014 group of 14 faculty members who are receiving recognition from SECU, the academic initiative of the Southeastern Conference. www.thesecu.com

    At the Faculty Senate’s April meeting, I stated that my office is going to partner with Extension to convene a campus-wide symposium or town meeting to engage the MSU faculty in discussions around the following topic: “Assessment of Teaching in Extension: Implications for Tenure.” I have also invited the Faculty Senate to be a co-sponsor and will also involve the University Promotion and Tenure Committee. I plan to have this meeting in late August or early September. It is my desire to foster a better understanding of the issues surrounding different forms of teaching as they relate to tenure.

    I extend my best wishes for a successful completion of the spring semester.

    With warm regards,


    Jerry Gilbert
    Provost and Executive Vice President
  • March 2014
    Dear Faculty and Staff:

    On March 31st, an on-site review team will arrive on our campus for the final stages of the review of our accreditation reaffirmation from SACS-COC. A major portion of this review will be the examination of our Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), “Maroon and Write”, which promises to have a significant impact on improving the writing abilities of MSU students. There are two optional levels of engagement in the plan for faculty: formal training for incorporating writing-to-learn strategies in courses and more modest inclusion of such things as journaling, free-writing, and other informal writing opportunities into classes. You can learn more about our QEP at: http://qep.msstate.edu/pdf/Maroon_and_write_final.pdf

    I would urge you to get a copy of the Maroon Edition book for 2014, “The Invisible Girls: A Memoir” by Sarah Thebarge. I think you will find it to be an inspirational book about hope, perseverance, and overcoming obstacles. We look forward to having Ms. Thebarge speak at our inaugural Freshman Convocation which will be held during the first week of class in the fall. Although focused on our freshmen, the Convocation will be held in the Humphrey Coliseum and open to all.

    The month of March marks the fourth year of my service as provost and executive vice president, and I continue to consider it an honor to be able to serve MSU in this capacity.

    With warm regards,


    Jerry Gilbert
    Provost and Executive Vice President
  • February 2014
    Dear Faculty and Staff,

    My thanks go out to everyone who helped with the visiting team from Phi Beta Kappa. Despite the bad weather that caused some minor travel delays, the team had a very good visit on our campus. We are optimistic that the next steps will go well. Impending weather conditions also caused us to close the university for two days in early February. Our teaching faculty is advised to compensate as necessary for any missed class time to ensure that the class outcomes and learning objectives are met.

    The construction on the new classroom building began in February. I hope that you will enjoy seeing the building take shape over the next 20 months as we build this new state-of-the-art facility to support our instructional mission. We hope to schedule our first classes in the building in 2016.

    We continue to focus on improving the overall success of students at MSU. Dr. Rodney Pearson is now working half time with my office as a Coordinator of Academic Success to help improve strategies for higher retention and graduation rates. This fall we will be rolling out a new one-hour seminar designed to help students make the transition to university life and to assist them in becoming more connected with the campus. Also this fall, we will implement our first Freshman Convocation to commemorate their academic journey toward completing college and preparing them for the future.

    On Thursday, February 20, the Board of Trustees of the Institutions of Higher Learning honored Dr. Rani Sullivan as the “Diversity Educator of the Year” for the IHL system. Dr. Sullivan is an associate professor of Aerospace Engineering and was the 2013 MSU Faculty Diversity Award Recipient. Her acceptance can be viewed at this link (at 32:10) http://www.mississippi.edu/board/webcast/embed_140220.asp She captivated the audience and received a standing ovation. Her view of diversity and her reflections on MSU were inspirational. Dr. Sullivan’s recognition follows a recognition earlier in the week by the Mississippi Legislature of Grisham Master Teacher Kim Walters and Student Association President Michael Hogan as the 2014 faculty and student HEADWAE recipients from MSU. http://www.msstate.edu/web/media/detail.php?id=6483

    As we finish out the month of February, I am hoping for nicer weather for the rest of the semester.

    With warm regards,


    Jerry Gilbert
    Provost and Executive Vice President
  • January 2014
    Dear Faculty and Staff:

    The year 2014 promises to be an eventful one. As you may have read, I participated with several other administrators in President Keenum’s visit to Rome in early January to expand our partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, as well as to explore other collaboration opportunities in the areas of world hunger, international education, and aerospace research. MSU is clearly becoming a global leader in research, learning, and outreach as we have stated as a goal in our Strategic Plan, “State of Excellence.”

    Also in early January, our campus responded admirably to the challenge of relocating students after the unfortunate bursting of water pipes in several residence halls. Our collective appreciation goes out to all of those in Student Affairs, Campus Services, and Academic Affairs who have been and are providing assistance with this situation.

    Later this month, the campus will host a delegation representing the national honor society of Phi Beta Kappa (ΦBK) which honors students of high achievement in the liberal arts and sciences. This group of ΦBK members will meet with university faculty, staff, and students as part of the process of considering our application to shelter a chapter. Should our application be successful, our most outstanding students would have the opportunity to be recognized by and to participate in the activities of one of the country’s finest honor societies. If you have the opportunity to interact with these guests, please extend a warm welcome to them and our appreciation for their visit.

    I would invite you to consider attending the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Breakfast in the Colvard Student Union on Monday, January 20, at 7:00 a.m. The invited speaker will be MSU Senior Field Brown. Field has recently been selected to be MSU’s first Rhodes Scholar in over 100 years. The breakfast will be an exciting event for the university and the community. The event will also be broadcast live online at http://mymedia.msstate.edu/viewer.php?live=mlk.

    If you have a chance, take time to check out the new shuttle system that started this month, the Starkville-MSU Area Rapid Transit (SMART). SMART connects the city and the campus and provides additional transportation opportunities for students, MSU faculty and staff, and citizens within the community. The following website provides information on the system: www.smart.msstate.edu.

    Best wishes for a successful semester and a prosperous 2014.

    With warm regards,


    Jerry Gilbert
    Provost and Executive Vice President