An Academic Affairs UpdateDear Colleagues

September 2020

Amid all of the unique challenges we continue to face this fall, I hope your semester is going well. I continue to be so proud of the Mississippi State University family, and I thank you for your hard work, thoughts and prayers, and constructive criticism as we move forward together. Please let me take a few minutes of your time for an update from the Division of Academic Affairs.

Task force final reports

I am pleased to report that some of the task forces that have been working the past year to assess and enhance academic operations are wrapping up their work and writing their final reports. I very much appreciate the meaningful contributions from everyone who is serving on a task force. The first two reports – one from the Bachelor of Applied Science Implementation Task Force, chaired by Peter Ryan, and the other from the Clinical/Instructional Faculty Task Force, chaired by Mary Ann Jones – are available here and I will update you as additional reports are posted.

Program milestone: First Bachelor of Applied Science graduate

And speaking of the BAS program, it was exciting to see that we have our first graduate of this innovative program that launched about a year ago. Congratulations to new BAS graduate Kyle Pierce and to our faculty and staff who helped him earn a Mississippi State University diploma. Read more

Deadline to complete Census form

As I mentioned last month, the Census Bureau has cut the deadline to participate by one month — moving it back from October 31 to September 30. Typically, Mississippi’s response rate for the Census is low, and our state loses much needed funding because of this failure to fully participate. If you haven’t done so, let me encourage you to complete a Census form and to encourage your friends and neighbors to do the same. More information

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 Carlen Heningtoni, a professor of educational and school psychology at MSU-Meridian, who is being honored by Division 16 of the American Psychological Association with the Contribution to Practice Award. Division 16 annually presents the Contributions to Practice Award at the APA Convention to school psychologists who have demonstrated exceptional contributions to the field of school psychology through innovations in practice. Read more
  • Kudos to Ying Wang, as assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, who is the principal investigator on a three-year $410,855 grant from the National Institutes of Health to explore virus amplification and replication in plants, studying a specific group of organisms called viroids. Read more
  • Congratulations to Like Li, an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, who is part of a nationwide team that was awarded a $2.5 million grant from the US Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy through the Solar Energy Technologies Office Fiscal Year 2019 funding program. Read more
  • Kudos to all of our students and professionals whose work was recognized by the Public Relations Association of Mississippi during a virtual awards ceremony in late July, including spring graduate Marisa Laudadio, the 2020 Student of the Year. Read more
  • Congratulations to the Office of Agricultural Communications, led by Elizabeth Gregory North, and the Office of Public Affairs, led by Sid Salter, whose extraordinary work was recently recognized by the College Public Relations Association of Mississippi – including two Grand Awards. Read more
  • Kudos to Don Buffum, executive director of the Department of Procurement and Contracts, who is among the inaugural class of leaders earning the distinguished Certified Procurement Professional credential from the National Institute of Governmental Purchasing: The Institute for Public Procurement. Read more
  • Congratulations to Bridget Willeford, who has been named university veterinarian and director of the Office of Laboratory Animal Resources, and to Laura Marler, who is the new head of the Department of Management and Information Systems in the College of Business. Read more, respectively, at and

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

Final Word

Thank you for reading this month’s letter. A reminder that the fall meeting of the General Faculty will be held September 22 at 3 p.m. in the Hunter Henry Center’s Parker Ballroom. And for those of you who are unable to attend in person, a livestream of President Mark Keenum’s update will be available. Read more

Hail State!


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