An Academic Affairs UpdateDear Colleagues

May 2020

We’ve completed another successful academic year at Mississippi State University, and without question, one of the most challenging spring semesters in our history. I continue to be amazed by and grateful for your innovation, creativity, and dedication to our students as we teach and learn, conduct research, and serve the people of our state. As chairman of IHL’s Safe Start Task Force, I am pleased to report that all of our fellow public universities in the state are committed to reopening our campuses safely, and we are making progress in planning to do so. Our MSU task force is progressing as well, planning for a safe and healthy reopening of campus this summer, and welcoming our students back in the fall, which President Mark Keenum announced this week. I’d especially highlight what Dr. Keenum said in the bulleted points of this article — the task force is working to ensure that any activity we plan on this campus is done with great forethought and planning for the health and safety of our faculty, staff, students, and visitors. Read more at

Interim administrative restructuring for DAFVM

We also announced an interim restructuring for the Division of Agriculture, Forestry, and Veterinary Medicine this week. DAFVM’s colleges and specialized units are essential to who we are as a major research and land-grant university, and they are just as essential to our state’s agriculture and forestry industries — the largest sector of Mississippi’s economy — and communities in all 82 counties. These organizational changes will ensure that DAFVM’s vital mission continues at a time when our institution, state, and nation are facing unprecedented changes and challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more at

Annual faculty and staff academic award recipients

We were unable to hold our traditional ceremony this year, and so I want to recognize our outstanding faculty and staff for their teaching and advising awards: Sarah Lee, John Grisham Master Teacher Award; < b>James Fowler and Daniel Peterson, William L. Giles Distinguished Professors; Beth Baker, Graduate School Advisor of the Year; Reuben Burch, MSU Alumni Association Graduate Teaching Excellence Award; Donna Gordon, Alumni Association Outstanding Graduate Student Mentor Award; Carly Morrison, Wesley A. Ammon Outstanding New Academic Advisor Award; Ginger Pizer, Irvin Atly Jefcoat Excellence in Advising Award; Holli Seitz, Alumni Association Early Career Undergraduate Teaching Excellence Award; and Emily Shaw, Irvin Atly Jefcoat Excellence in Advising Award. Well done! Read more at

Celebrating research success: May honored with Powe Award

The COVID-19 pandemic also forced the cancellation of the university’s annual celebration of our research award winners, but that certainly does not diminish the remarkable achievements of these students, faculty, and staff. A special word of congratulations to David May, a professor in the Department of Sociology, who is the winner of the 2020 Ralph E. Powe Research Excellence Award – MSU’s top research honor. Read about all of this year’s winners at


Bagley honors faculty and staff with year-end awards

The Bagley College of Engineering has also honored several members of its faculty and staff with annual awards: Career Award: Pedro Mago, Mechanical Engineering; Service Award: Andy Perkins, Computer Science and Engineering; Professional Administrative Staff Award: Machaunda Bush, Aerospace Engineering; Non-Exempt Administrative Staff Award: Tammy Carroll, Industrial and Systems Engineering; Teaching Award for Distance Learning: Reuben Burch, Industrial and Systems Engineering; and Academy of Distinguished Teachers: Linkan Bian, Industrial and Systems Engineering, and Adrian Sescu, Aerospace Engineering. Read more at

Kudos and congratulations

While COVID-19 remains top of mind, I think it’s important for all of us to remember that our colleagues are reaching milestones and garnering recognition for their achievements, and we should celebrate them. Here are a few that have come to my attention recently:

  • Welcome to Reed Mosher, who is the new director of the Institute for Systems Engineering Research in Vicksburg. ISER is a collaborative initiative between the university and the Army’s Engineer Research and Development Center. Read more at
  • Kudos to Lesley Strawderman, a professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, who has received the 2020 Outstanding Mid-Career Teaching Award from the Southeastern Section of the American Society for Engineering Education. Read more at
  • Congratulations to Linkan Bian, an associate professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, for being elected president-elect of the Quality Control and Reliability Engineering division of the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers for 2020-2021. Read more at
  • Kudos to Melissa Anne Currie, an assistant professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture, and her co-author who have been recognized with the 2020 Best Article Award in the Journal of Urban Affairs for “Repackaged ‘Urban Renewal’: Issues of Spatial Equity and Environmental Justice in New Construction, Suburban Neighborhoods, and Urban Islands of Infill.” Read more at
  • Congratulations to Brian Pieralisi, an assistant professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, who is the new cotton specialist for the MSU Extension Service. Read more at
  • Kudos to Anna Harrison, a lecturer in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, who has been awarded the 2019 ISLA Americas Information Security Practitioner Award by (ISC)2, an international cybersecurity professional organization. Read more at
  • Congratulations to Jamie Mixon, a professor in the Department of Art, who was recognized with a Poster of the Year Award at the 31st annual Pollstar LIVE! National Concert Industry Awards and Convention this spring. Read more at
  • Kudos to Stephanie Hyche, who has been named director of the newly revamped Office of Proposal Development. Read more at
  • Congratulations to Chief Vance Rice, who has been elected to the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators Board of Directors. Read more at
  • Kudos to Bracky Brett, executive senior associate athletic director, who has been awarded the 2020 Frank Kara Leadership Award. Read more at
  • Welcome to Saunders Ramsey, who has been named executive director of Campus Services. Read more at

Final words


Thank you for the role you play in our MSU family. In my 35 years here, I have never been more proud of our faculty, staff, and students for their perseverance, can-do spirit, and compassionate approach in dealing with all of the adversities we have faced. 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. His email address is