An Academic Affairs UpdateDear Colleagues

June 2020

We face no shortage of challenges these days – as a university, in our state, and across the country. I was in Oklahoma on a family visit on June 6th and unable to participate in the march of remembrance for George Floyd and the peaceful protest against racial injustice in the MSU Amphitheater. But, it was remarkable to watch it all unfold on social media. It made me proud to be a part of the Starkville community and Mississippi State University family. I’m grateful for the hard work so many of you put into this special event, and I believe the momentum from it will be a catalyst for positive change moving forward. Please let me take a few minutes of your time for an update from the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President.

Weekly COVID-19 updates

I hope you’ve had an opportunity to read my new weekly COVID-19 updates as we more fully expand campus operations through the summer and prepare for the return of students this fall. These do indeed remain challenging times for all of us, but I believe we are making progress by working together. I appreciate the feedback many of you have shared with me personally and with members of our MSU COVID-19 task forces. Keep it coming!

Tenure clock extension available

As a reminder to the message I sent earlier this month, the IHL Board of Trustees has approved an automatic one-year extension of the tenure clock for any faculty member who accepts this extension. The acceptance can be made, at any point up to the deadline for tenure application, by any faculty member who was employed by MSU at the time of the COVID-19 outbreak. Additional details and a request form can be found online at

Summer school a resounding success

It was quite an accomplishment for us to offer our summer classes entirely online, and to also expand offerings and lower costs for our students. I want to commend all of you who have helped make this year’s summer sessions a resounding success – thank you! As of June 8th, our all-online summer enrollment stood at 9,189 – compared to 7,374 at the same time in 2019. So, summer enrollment is up 24.6 percent from 2019, and it is the largest summer enrollment in Mississippi State’s history. Also of note, average credit hours were at 6.24 – compared to 5.88 last summer. I’m confident we’ll be able to build off this momentum leading into the fall, and at this time, fall enrollment is holding steady.

Astronaut Scholarship Foundation honors two students

I hope you’ve seen the recent news about two of our outstanding Shackouls Honors College students who have been named 2020 Astronaut Scholars. Zoe Fowler, a senior electrical engineering major, and Hannah Scheaffer, a junior biochemistry major, are receiving two of 56 scholarships being presented, which includes students from 41 universities across the nation. A special word of thanks to the faculty whose mentorship have helped them with this incredible achievement, including especially Matthew Ross, a professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Basic Sciences Department; Barbara Kaplan, an associate professor in CVM Basic Sciences; Anastasia Elder, Provost Scholar mentor; and Jean Mohammadi-Aragh, an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Read more at

College of Business supporting new 30 Day Fund

Coronavirus-related closings and disruptions in our state have hit small businesses hard, and I’m pleased to see that our College of Business is working with a new initiative to assist them. The MSU Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach is helping the just-established Mississippi 30 Day Fund with initial application reviews to expedite the time it takes to get money to small business owners. The Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach’s Peer Review Panel, along with business college graduate students, will help screen applicants. The panel is made up of successful entrepreneurs that worked with the E-Center to start businesses. The group regularly reviews pitches by current students seeking their first funding from the E-Center. Jeffrey Rupp, director of outreach for the College of Business, is coordinating MSU’s involvement. Read more at


Interior design program earns reaccreditation

It was very good to see that the interior design program has received accreditation for another six-year term from the Council for Interior Design Accreditation. I join College of Architecture, Art and Design Dean Angi Bourgeois in congratulating Professor and Director Beth Miller and our faculty in this outstanding program. And congratulations to Dr. Miller for being selected to participate in The Attingham Trust’s Royal Collection Studies, which is a program that examines the patronage and collecting of the kings and queens of England and the United Kingdom dating back to the 15th century. Well done! Read more at and

Kudos and congratulations

While addressing the significant challenges posed by COVID-19 is our most pressing priority, it’s also important for us to remember that the work of our colleagues continues, and we should celebrate their achievements. Here are a few that have come to my attention recently:

  • Kudos to Dennis Truax, professor and head of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, who will be inaugurated as president-elect this fall and then serve as president of the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2022. The American Society of Civil Engineers represents more than 150,000 civil engineers worldwide and is America’s oldest national engineering society. Read more
  • Congratulations to the Department of Chemistry’s Xin Cui and Colleen N. Scott for being honored with prestigious CAREER awards from the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development Program, which recognizes outstanding faculty exhibiting potential as academic role models and education, as well as leadership. Read more
  • Kudos to Sadik Artunç, professor and head of the Department of Landscape Architecture, who has been elected president of the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture, an international professional organization focused on advancing education in landscape architecture specifically related to teaching, research, scholarly works, and service. Read more
  • Congratulations to Jesse Morrison, an assistant research professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences and MAFES researcher, who has been recognized with an American Forage and Grassland Council Early Career Award. Read more Read more
  • Kudos to Philip Poe, an associate professor and the coordinator for print and digital journalism in the Department of Communication, who is the new president of the Mississippi Communication Association, an organization with members representing every institution of higher learning in the state. Read more
  • Congratulations to Darrin Dodds, professor and head of the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, and Charles Freeman, associate professor in the School of Human Sciences, who are new graduates of the LEAD21 leadership development program. Administered by the Committees on Policy of the Associations of the Public and Land-grant Universities and its strategic partners, LEAD21 develops leaders in land-grant institutions, along with strategic partners, who effectively link research, academics and extension to better lead in an increasingly complex environment. Read more
  • Kudos to Ginger Brown-Lemm, MSU women’s golf head coach, who has been elected by her peers to serve as vice president of the Women’s Golf Coaches Association. She will serve as president of the organization in 2022. Read more
  • Congratulations to Alexis Gregory, an associate professor in the School of Architecture, who has been awarded a four-year, $100,000 grant from the PCI Foundation. Jackson Precast, Tindall Corporation, US Formliner and M2 Solutions are industry partners for the grant. Read more
  • Kudos to Tamra Swann, the distance education coordinator for the Bagley College of Engineering, who has earned the Teaching Online Certificate from Quality Matters. This certification allows her to better support faculty who are teaching online courses. Read more
  • Congratulations to Alex Bostic, an associate professor in the Department of Art, whose work has been chosen to appear online as part of American Illustration’s The ARCHIVE collection. His work will represent the best images from 2019.Read more
  • Kudos to Kelly Moser, an assistant professor in the Department of Classical and Modern Languages and Literatures, who has been honored by the Southern Conference on Language Teaching with the 2020 Educator of Excellence Award, which recognizes educators who have demonstrated excellence in language teaching, active organization participation, and leadership and advocacy at the local, state and/or regional or national level. Read more
  • And a special congratulations to MSU Libraries Dean Frances Coleman on the occasion of her well-deserved retirement. Dean Coleman has led our library and information services through extraordinary growth and transformative change, and I appreciate her exceptional dedication to Mississippi State University. Please join me in congratulating her on a momentous career. Read more

Final words

Thank you for reading this month’s letter, and I hope you will also continue to read my weekly updates related to COVID-19. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, suggestions, or concerns.


Hail State!



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