An Academic Affairs UpdateDear Colleagues

August 2019

While it certainly hasn’t felt like fall the past few days, the start of the fall semester at Mississippi State is just around the corner. It’s a busy and exciting time on campus with new students moving into residence halls, new faculty moving into their offices, and staff working hard to ensure a successful start to the new academic year. Please allow me to take a moment of your time to share a brief update.

IHL approves new policy for applied baccalaureate degree

This morning, I attended my first State Institutions of Higher Learning Board of Trustees meeting in Jackson as your provost. Among the many agenda items, the board approved a new policy that allows Mississippi public universities to offer students an applied baccalaureate degree program. We are working to develop a Bachelor of Applied Science curriculum to help more Mississippians earn a college degree and compete for the jobs of the future. Read more at

Historic high for fundraising achieved

Congratulations to Vice President for Development and Alumni John Rush and the MSU Foundation team for their success in raising $113 million in private support during the recently concluded fiscal year. The total represents the single largest giving year in university history, and it’s also the sixth consecutive year of raising more than $100 million. These investments in Mississippi State by our generous donors are essential to enhancing academic facilities, as well as funding scholarships and endowed faculty chairs and professorships. Read more at

College View opens to upper-division students

It was great to see the College View development open its doors to students over the weekend after a ribbon-cutting ceremony on August 8th. College View is the first project of its kind on at a Mississippi university, and it’s going to be an incredible addition to our campus as well as the larger community for decades to come. Congratulations to all involved who worked hard to make it possible. Read more at

New chief human resources officer named

After a successful national search, we were very pleased to announce last week that Nancy Siegert from Johns Hopkins University will be joining the Mississippi State family in October as our new chief human resources officer. I thank Sharon Oswald, our dean of the College of Business, for chairing the search committee, and appreciate the committee’s work to fill this important leadership role. Read more at

NSF awards Jordan, colleagues $2.5M to study pathogen

Heather Jordan, an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, is a member of a research team awarded a $2.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to study a pathogen that causes a bacterial infection in humans. It’s a great example of how Mississippi State faculty are tackling real-world challenges, building collaborative partnerships, engaging internationally, and offering students innovative research opportunities. Read more at

$1.6M suicide prevention grant to psychology faculty

A $1.6 million, five-year subgrant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and its Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will support Department of Psychology faculty as they develop a more comprehensive approach to statewide youth suicide prevention and intervention. The initiative will be led by co-principal investigators Michael R. Nadorff and Emily S.H. Stafford, and includes colleagues Sam Winer, Mitchell Berman, Hilary DeShong and Danielle Nadorff. Read more about their very important work at

The Park Cafe opens in Cochran Research Park

A new dining option has opened in the Thad Cochran Research, Technology and Economic Development Park. The Park Cafe is open for lunch weekdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and it’s located in the II-VI Building at 60 Technology Blvd., Suite 100. Additional information is available at

Kudos and congratulations

* Congratulations to Don Shaffer, who has been named director of the university’s African American Studies program. Read more at

* Kudos to Jessica Wells, an Extension instructor in the Department of Poultry Science, who received the 2019 Poultry Science Association Recruitment Award in July. Read more at

* Congratulations to Margaret Hagerman, an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology, who has been honored with the American Sociological Association Family Section’s 2019 William J. Goode Book Award for her work, “White Kids: Growing Up with Privilege in a Racially Divided America.” Read more at

* Kudos to the Bagley College of Engineering, which has been honored by the American Society of Engineering Education’s new diversity recognition program. Read more at

* Congratulations to Rani Sullivan, a professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering, and Jean Mohammadi-Aragh, an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, who have been awarded a $200,000 National Science Foundation grant to encourage young women to pursue science-based computing fields. The research team also includes graduate research assistant Soundouss Sassi. Read more at

* Kudos to Drew Hamilton, the director of the Center for Cyber Innovation and a professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, who has been elected to a two-year term as a member at large of the Association for Computing Machinery Special Interest Governing Board Executive Committee.

* And a welcome to Terry Likes, who has been named head of the Department of Communication. Read more at

Final words

I look forward to seeing our freshmen, new transfer students, and many of you at Fall Convocation on August 22nd. And remember, there’s still time to wrap up your summer reading list with this year’s Maroon Edition selection – “Hold On with a Bulldog Grip: A Short Study of Ulysses S. Grant.” Learn more at

Additionally, the Fall General Faculty Meeting, featuring a keynote address by President Mark Keenum, will be held August 28th at 2 p.m. in Lee Hall’s Bettersworth Auditorium. I hope you will be able to join us.

Thank you for taking the time to read this month’s letter. Please feel free to contact me at if you have any questions, suggestions, or concerns.

Hail State!