An Academic Affairs UpdateDear Colleagues

August 2021

Background Image Alternative: Dr. Shaw speaks at graduation

We had a busy first week of classes to kick off the semester, and I hope your week went well. President Keenum and I had the opportunity to meet with Faculty Senate last Friday, sharing information, listening to concerns, and answering questions. We will be working to keep information related to the pandemic flowing to you on a timely basis this semester, and as always, I want to hear your ideas and concerns — that’s a vital part of our university functioning as a Bulldog Family. I welcome your questions and comments at
As we shared with Faculty Senate, we continue to closely monitor the surge in COVID-19 cases in the state. The delta variant is much more transmissible than previous iterations of the virus, and it continues to spread rapidly, especially among those who haven’t been vaccinated. I would strongly encourage you to consider getting a COVID vaccination if you haven’t done so. You can schedule an appointment at the Longest Student Health Center at 662-325-7535 or at
In addition to vaccines, masks are an important tool we can use to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on campus, and that’s why we’re requiring that face coverings be worn indoors. Additional information and resources, including campus testing data, are online at
I would also note that based on advice from health experts, we have installed a number of UV filters in many of our classroom buildings, and substantially increased ventilation and air flow in all buildings. We will continue to evaluate how to best mitigate the impact of COVID-19 as we move forward. In addition to sharing this COVID-related information, I’d like to take a few minutes of your time for a brief update from the Division of Academic Affairs.
New Website for Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President
After a needed overhaul and redesign, the new website for the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President launched last week — just in time for the fall semester. My thanks to the Web Development team in ITS Enterprise Information Systems for their hard work, including Sean Galey and Kevin Anderson, and to Jess Northcutt for coordinating the update in my office. The new site provides a range of information, directories, and resources for students, faculty, and staff. It’s online at
Mohammadi-Aragh Awarded NSF CAREER Award
Congratulations to Jean Mohammadi-Aragh, an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, who has been awarded the prestigious Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award from the National Science Foundation. Her project — CAREER: Creating a Model of Programming Skill Development to Improve Undergraduate Computing Education — is focused on developing better ways of teaching programming and other computing skills to undergraduate students and reducing barriers to entering the computing workforce. Read more at
New Interim Director of Physician Assistant Program
Please join me in welcoming Rick Kilgore as the new interim director of our physician assistant program at MSU-Meridian. Dr. Kilgore has an extensive experience as a practicing PA and in primary care, clinical research, and academic administration. He is also active in the American Academy of Physician Assistants and is an AAPA Distinguished Fellow. Read more at
HRM Announces 2021-2022 Leadership Development Program Participants
Led by Human Resources Management, the university’s Leadership Development Program is an important way for us to develop our most valuable resource — our people. Congratulations to these staff members who have been selected to participate in this year’s Leadership Development Program: Ashley Glenn, Marian Chancellor, Pamela Redwine, Tyrel Jernigan, Heather Woodall, Nicole Boyett, Alicia Musselwhite, Yan Campbell, Ashley Patterson, Kara Herman, Eddie Rangel, Natalie Guyton, Joseph Fearn, and Annika Campbell. 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 Associate Professor Jimmy Hardin, who has been named director of the Cobb Institute of Archaeology. A veteran archaeologist specializing in the Bronze and Iron Age cultures of ancient Syria-Palestine, Dr. Hardin had been serving as interim director of the Cobb Institute since 2019. A longtime member of our faculty, he has more than two decades of experience here at MSU. Read more at
* Kudos to Steve Demarais, a professor in the College of Forest Resources who holds the Taylor Chair in Applied Big Game Research and Instruction, for being honored by The Wildlife Society with the Caesar Kleberg Award for Excellence in Applied Wildlife Research. Read more at
* Congratulations to Patricia Knight, a research professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences and director of coastal horticulture research at the South Mississippi Branch Experiment Station, who has been named a fellow of the American Society for Horticulture Science. Read more at
* Kudos to Christopher Johnson, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry, who is receiving more than $2 million in funding from the American Heart Association and the National Institutes of Health for his research. Read more at
* Congratulations to Mark Woodrey, an assistant research professor and Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station scientist at the Coastal Research and Extension Center, who has been selected for a US Fish and Wildlife Service Regional Director’s Honor Award for his work with the Gulf of Mexico Avian Monitoring Network. Read more at
* Kudos to the School of Human Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the MSU Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach, or E-Center, in the College of Business, for the MSU Idea Shop’s recent recognition. The makerspace in downtown Starkville was recognized for its role in Mississippi State being named to the inaugural list of Best Maker Schools in Higher Education by Make Magazine and the Newsweek media organization. Read more at
* Congratulations to Tonya McCall, the new director of the Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems Extension in Canton, and to former director Glenn Dennis on the occasion of his well-deserved retirement. Read more at
* Welcome to Dominique Quarles, who has been named assistant vice president for access, diversity and inclusion. Read more at
* And a thank you to Darrell Sparks, an associate professor in the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology and Plant Pathology and associate state chemist since 2017, who is serving as interim state chemist and interim director of the Mississippi State Chemical Laboratory, pending confirmation by the Mississippi Senate. Read more at
Final Words
Thank you for reading this month’s letter. I look forward to seeing you at the fall general faculty meeting that’s coming up August 31 at 2 p.m. in Bettersworth Auditorium. For anyone unable to attend, the MSU Television Center will provide a livestream at

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