An Academic Affairs UpdateDear Colleagues

January 2020

The start of a new semester is always an exciting time to be on our campus, and I hope your spring semester is off to a great start. Please let me take a few minutes to give you a quick update from the Division of Academic Affairs.

Shaffer to keynote MLK Jr. Day Breakfast

On Monday, the nation will honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Mississippi State University will host our 26th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Breakfast and Day of Service at The Mill at MSU. Donald Shaffer, our director of African American Studies and an associate professor in the Department of English, will deliver the keynote address. I look forward to hearing from Dr. Shaffer and seeing many of you at this very special event that brings together our campus and local community every year. Read more at

Additional Bachelor of Applied Science MOUs signed

As I’ve mentioned the past few months, our new Bachelor of Applied Science program is making great progress, and I appreciate the feedback that many of you have provided. In November, we signed our first BAS memorandum of understanding with Hinds Community College. Last month, I’m pleased to report we signed additional agreements with Jones, Holmes, and Itawamba officials, and we are looking forward to signing MOUs with East Mississippi, Meridian, and Co-Lin in the coming weeks. Read more at and and

Applications sought for Community-Engaged Learning Fellows program

A reminder that the deadline for applications to this year’s Community-Engaged Learning (CEL) Fellows program is coming up February 21. The program will meet for three weeks in May with CEL Fellows exploring community-engaged learning theory, course design, and pedagogy. Participants will receive a $1,000 course or research development award, peer support, and one-on-one assistance to design a new community-engaged learning course or modify an existing course. Additional information and application instructions are available at

Bully’s Closet and Pantry opens

Our students face any number of challenges on their way to earning a degree, but wondering where their next meal will come from shouldn’t be one of them. I’m very proud of the active and caring way our campus community embraces those of us who may be in need. The latest example of this giving spirt is Bully’s Closet and Pantry, which is now open to serve students Monday, Tuesday, and Friday afternoons. I applaud Vice President Regina Hyatt and her Student Affairs team, as well as the Student Association and other partners, who made Bully’s Closet and Pantry a reality. I’d also invite you to consider supporting this effort with a donation or a gift via the MSU Foundation. 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:

  • Kudos to Dr. Hyatt, who is leading the Vice President for Research and Economic Development Search Committee and to the faculty and staff who are serving as members. Read more at
  • Congratulations to Ashli Brown Johnson, an associate professor in the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology and Plant Pathology and the director of the Mississippi State Chemical Laboratory, who is one of 26 new Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities’ Food Systems Leadership Institute Fellows. Read more at
  • Kudos to Michele McDonnall, research professor and director of the National Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision, who served as guest editor for the Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness’s special issue on employment. In addition to Dr. McDonnall’s role as guest editor, eight of the 12 articles are by MSU NRTC contributors. Well done! Part one of the issue is online at with part two set to publish later this month.
  • Congratulations to Lynda Moore, the director of the University Academic Advising Center, who has been awarded a competitive NACADA Administrators’ Institute Scholarship. NACADA provides a network and professional identity for the thousands of faculty, full-time advisors, and administrators whose responsibilities include academic advising. I’ll also note that Mississippi State will host the NACADA Southern Region Conference in Spring 2021. Learn more about NACADA at
  • Kudos to Kevin Hunt, a professor in the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture and the Forest and Wildlife Research Center, who has been named Sharp Professor of Human Dimensions. Read more at
  • Congratulations to George Hopper, who recently announced his plans to retire as dean of the College of Forest Resources and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and as director of the Forest and Wildlife Research Center and the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, this summer after a long and distinguished career. Dr. Hopper, thank you for your many contributions to Mississippi State University! Read more at
  • And a hearty Hail State! welcome to Mike Leach, who was named Mississippi State’s new head football coach last week. Read more at

Final words

Thank you for taking the time to read this month’s letter. I look forward to seeing many of you at the spring meeting of the General Faculty on January 22 at 2 p.m. in Colvard Student Union’s Foster Ballroom.


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