An Academic Affairs UpdateDear Colleagues

July 2021

Background Image Alternative: Dr. Shaw speaks at graduation

It’s hard to believe that summer break is soon coming to an end, and that we’re only a few weeks away from the start of a new academic year. Like many of you, I’m closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation and encouraging everyone who hasn’t received a vaccination to do so. Vaccines are our best defense against the virus, and they’ve proven to be highly effective at countering the delta variant. You can find additional information about vaccinations and even schedule an appointment to get a vaccine at https://covidvaccine.msstate.edu

The university’s leadership team has been in ongoing communication with the Mississippi State Department of Health, IHL, and other officials as we work toward the start of classes on August 18. We are approaching the fall semester carefully watching the latest COVID-19 data, and will continually make adjustments to policies based on guidance from state and federal officials and agencies. Please pay attention to your email and the university’s website for additional information and updates in the coming days.

Task Force Updates
In other campus news, several of the task forces I initiated to assess our operations and develop recommendations for how we can be better at what we do have completed their work, and we’ve posted their reports on the provost’s office website. In addition, we have created three new task forces based on needs and opportunities identified. The first is on experiential learning, and is chaired by Brent Fountain. The second is focused on faculty development in teaching expertise, chaired by Wes Burger. The third is exploring how we can reconsider our general education program to enhance student success and impact. This task force is chaired by Angi Bourgeois. All three have excellent representation across the university, and will begin their work as the fall semester begins. I look forward to sharing their findings with you.

Searches Getting Underway
As I mentioned in last month’s letter, our searches for the next director of the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station and dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and for the new dean of the College of Forest Resources, who will also lead the university’s Forest and Wildlife Research Center, are underway. The respective chairs, Brent Fountain and Kent Hoblet, the committee members, and Vice President Keith Coble and I recently met for their charge meetings, and they are now actively recruiting candidates. Our goal would be to begin the down-select process after the start of the fall semester and to have both positions filled by the end of 2021. I’d like to again thank all who are leading and serving on these committees, and I invite you to review additional information about the positions and search process at https://www.mafes-calssearch.msstate.edu and https://www.cfr-fwrcsearch.msstate.edu

Register Today for New Faculty Orientation
The start of the fall semester is always an exciting and busy time of year, and that’s especially true for the new faculty members who are joining us. New Faculty Orientation will be held on August 17 for all new full-time instructors, clinical, tenured, and tenure-track faculty, and promises to provide new faculty with information, resources, and networking opportunities to get their year off to a great start. We will also be hosting multiple training sessions throughout the fall that I’d encourage all of our new faculty to take advantage of when they can. Read more at http://memo.msstate.edu/story.php?id=6233

WSJ Access Now Available to Students, Faculty, and Staff
By now, I hope you all have seen the news about access to The Wall Street Journal’s digital edition that’s available to faculty, staff, and students. My office, MSU Libraries, the Division of Finance and Administration, and the College of Business are excited about being able to provide this resource to our campus community. The university’s subscription includes access to WSJ.com, WSJ mobile apps, and personalized content. A guide to creating the account and other useful information is available on the MSU Libraries’ website at https://guides.library.msstate.edu/Wall_Street_Journal

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 Margaret Khaitsa, a professor in the Department of Pathobiology and Population Medicine, who has been named to serve on the One Health High-Level Expert Panel, which advises the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the World Health Organization (WHO). Read more at http://memo.msstate.edu/story.php?id=6191

* Congratulations to Ashli Brown, a professor in the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology and Plant Pathology, who has been named associate vice president for the Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine. Among her leadership roles, Dr. Brown has served as interim head of the Department of Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion and as state chemist and the director of the Mississippi State Chemical Laboratory. Read more at http://memo.msstate.edu/story.php?id=6216

* Kudos to Raja Reddy, a William L. Giles Distinguished Professor of Plant and Soil Sciences, who has been awarded the status of fellow by the Mississippi Academy of Sciences. Read more at http://memo.msstate.edu/story.php?id=6222

* Congratulations to Colleen Scott, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry, who has received her fourth National Science Foundation grant in five years for a total of more than $1.6 million in awards. Read more at http://memo.msstate.edu/story.php?id=6228

* Kudos to Ryan Folk, an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, who has been awarded a three-year, $432,781 NSF grant to automate the data collection process by using a combination of unique object identifiers, QR codes and citizen scientists, or non-biologists, recruited to help with data acquisition for large-scale research. Read more at http://memo.msstate.edu/story.php?id=6232

* Congratulations to Bin Liu, an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, who has been awarded a three-year $422,652 grant from the National Institutes of Health for her research to understand how calcium contributes to different forms of cardiac dysfunction and develop possible therapies. Read more at http://memo.msstate.edu/story.php?id=6227

* Kudos to Derris Devost-Burnett, an assistant professor in the Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences, who has been elected to serve as national secretary for Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences. MANRRS is a society that focuses on promoting academic and professional advancement by empowering minorities in the field. Read more at http://memo.msstate.edu/story.php?id=6230

* Congratulations Melanie Loehwing, an associate professor in the Department of Communication, and Kathy M. Sherman-Morris, a professor in the Department of Geosciences, who will be serving as interim assistant deans for academic affairs in the College of Arts and Sciences. Read more at http://memo.msstate.edu/story.php?id=6214

* Kudos to Amanda Stone, an assistant professor in the Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences, who has been elected vice president of the American Dairy Science Association’s Southern Branch. She was also one of four asked to deliver an invited presentation at the association’s annual meeting. Read more at http://memo.msstate.edu/story.php?id=6229

* Congratulations Nicole Ponder, a professor in the Department of Marketing, Quantitative Analysis and Business Law, who has been named an associate dean in the College of Business. She will oversee the college’s graduate programs and assessment efforts. Read more at http://memo.msstate.edu/story.php?id=6221

* Kudos to Vicky Montiel-Palma, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry, who has been awarded a three-year $411,200 grant from the NSF for her research that could lead to improved pharmaceuticals for disease-fighting drugs, medical and dental implants, and everyday materials such as specialty plastics. Read more at http://memo.msstate.edu/story.php?id=6200

* Congratulations to Vincent Young, who has been named an assistant dean in the College of Business. In this new role, he will oversee the college’s advising center. Read more at http://memo.msstate.edu/story.php?id=6203

* Kudos to Junbo Zhao, an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, who recently earned the Outstanding Engineer Award from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ Power & Energy Society. Read more at http://memo.msstate.edu/story.php?id=6205

Congratulations to Angela Savage, a longtime faculty member, who has been named director of the social work program at MSU-Meridian. Read more at http://memo.msstate.edu/story.php?id=6202

* Welcome to Karen Spence, who is joining us as director of the School of Architecture. A registered architect in Maryland and Missouri, she previously served as associate dean of the Hammons School of Architecture at Drury University, where she has taught since 2002. Read more at http://memo.msstate.edu/story.php?id=6215

* And thank you to Robert West, a professor in the Department of English, who is serving as interim head of the Department of Classical and Modern Languages and Literatures, and to Brian Shoup, an associate professor in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration, who is serving as interim head of PSPA. Read more at http://memo.msstate.edu/story.php?id=6234 and http://memo.msstate.edu/story.php?id=6231

Final Words
The biggest “Congratulations!” of the summer goes to our National Champion student-athletes, Coach Chris Lemonis and Athletic Director John Cohen, and their staffs for an outstanding season and incredibly memorable College World Series win. The experience is one I’ll never forget. It was remarkable to join thousands and thousands of our fans, alumni, and friends in Omaha to watch the Bulldogs win our university’s first national championship in a team sport.

Hail State!

David

Dr. David R. Shaw is Provost and Executive Vice President at Mississippi State University. His email address is david.shaw@msstate.edu.