An Academic Affairs UpdateDear Colleagues

October 2019

With our students away for Fall Break for a couple of days, I hope that you are enjoying a brief pause in the semester too. I’d like to take a moment of your time for an update from the Provost’s Office.

New task forces at work

I’m now into my fourth month as provost, and I appreciate all of the feedback that I’ve received from many of you about what we’re doing well, where we can improve, and other changes and investments we should consider making. We’re also commissioning task forces to examine several key areas, including:

  • The new Bachelor of Applied Science degree program, chaired by Peter Ryan.
  • Student success, chaired by Regina Hyatt.
  • Clinical and instructional faculty, chaired by Mary Ann Jones.
  • Recruiting strategies, chaired by John Dickerson.
  • Student evaluation of teaching, chaired by Jeff Dean.
  • Graduate school enhancement, chaired by Peter Ryan.
  • Non-traditional course offerings, chaired by John Dickerson.
  • Faculty performance evaluation, chaired by Jim Dunne.

I appreciate everyone who has committed to serving on these task forces, and look forward to sharing more about their work in the months to come.

MSU and Starkville Oktibbeha County School District receive partnership grant

The Starkville Oktibbeha County School District just received word about a 5-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education School Climate Transformation Grant program. The program, called safeSPACE: Starkville Partnership to Address Climate and Engagement is a partnership between SOCSD and MSU that will address school climate and student engagement at Armstrong Middle School, and, starting next year, the Partnership School. Funded for $1.43 million over five years, safeSPACE will focus on building capacity for leadership to implement school wide positive behavior supports, middle school student mentoring and mental health students, opioid abuse prevention and treatment, and other technical assistance. MSU faculty will collaborate with school leadership and teachers to implement a comprehensive program to support students' feelings of safety and belonging, decrease suspensions, and support students' academic achievement and social and emotional well-being.

Applications sought for faculty athletics representative

As you may have read in the university’s announcement, Steve Turner will be stepping away from his role as faculty athletics representative in 2020. Dr. Turner has served as FAR for 15 years, and he’s done a terrific job with our student-athletes. The FAR search committee is taking applications until October 16th, and additional information is available at

Deadline for teaching excellence awards

As a reminder, faculty who are interested in submitting applications for the 2020 Grisham Master Teacher Award, the Alumni Association Early Career Undergraduate Teaching Excellence Award or the Alumni Association Graduate and/or Professional Teaching Excellence Award have until Oct. 15 to do so. All current full-time faculty members at MSU with the required years of service, regardless of rank, are eligible to apply for these awards. Read more at

MSU honored with national Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award

It was great to see that the university has been named a 2019 recipient of the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. Mississippi State is the only institution of higher learning in the state and one of only six in the Southeastern Conference to be so honored. Congratulations to Vice President Regina Hyatt, Assistant Vice President Ra’Sheda Forbes, the Student Affairs team, and everyone who makes our campus a welcoming and inclusive place for all. Read more at

Kudos and congratulations

Every month, I look forward to sharing faculty and staff success stories with you, and here are a few that have crossed my desk recently:

  • Congratulations to Tim Barnett in the Department of Management and Information Systems for winning the 2019 James G. Hunt SMA Sustained Outstanding Service Award from the Southern Management Association. The Hunt Award recognizes individuals who have consistently helped SMA reach its goals and mission over a period of years. The individuals recognized have made important, sustained, and current contributions to SMA. Read more at
  • Kudos to chapter advisor Julie Jessop, a professor in the Swalm School of Chemical Engineering, and the leadership team of our student chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers for winning a 2019 AIChE Outstanding Student Chapter Award. The annual awards are presented to student chapters “that show an exceptional level of participation, enthusiasm, program quality, professionalism, and involvement in the university and community.” Of note, our students have been recognized with the Outstanding Student Chapter Award for 18 of the past 19 years and 28 years out of the 50 years the award has been bestowed.
  • Congratulations to Matt Brown, an associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, who is the new 2020-21 president of the International Society of Protistologists. The organization is devoted to research on single-celled eukaryotes, or protists. Read more at
  • Kudos to the following MSU Libraries faculty: Assistant Professor Corinne Kennedy was awarded an Emerging Scholars Award and grant funding to attend the 10th International Conference on the Image in Manchester, England. Assistant Professor DeeDee Baldwin is currently serving as president of the Society of Mississippi Archivists. Assistant Professor Jessica Perkins Smith has been elected vice president/president-elect of the Society of Mississippi Archivists.
  • Congratulations to Blair Reed, the business manager for the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, who was recognized with the Newcomer Career Professional Excellence Award from the Society of Research Administrators International. Read more at
  • Congratulations to Checky Herrington, brand manager in the Office of Public Affairs, who was recently honored with the 2019 Professional Achievement Award from the Southern Public Relations Federation. Read more at

Final words

Please feel free to contact me at if you have any questions, suggestions, or concerns.

Hail State!


Dr. David R. Shaw is Provost and Executive Vice President at Mississippi State University.