An Academic Affairs UpdateDear Colleagues

November 2021

Background Image Alternative: Dr. Shaw speaks at graduation

As we begin to wrap up another successful semester, I want to thank you for all you have done for our students this fall. I think it’s clear that we are making progress in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s equally clear that we aren’t back to what most of us would consider normal quite yet. Thank you for taking extra time with students who have needed it, for answering their questions and addressing their concerns, and for offering them extra support, patience, and understanding. You are making a difference, and I appreciate your efforts to support them and your colleagues. Before we enjoy a short break for Thanksgiving, please let me take a few minutes of your time for a brief update from the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President.

Enrollment grows — again!

At a time when enrollment is falling on campuses across the country, it was encouraging to see our enrollment grow for the seventh consecutive year. We’re the only public university in the state who has experienced this steady growth, and I think it speaks volumes about the strength of our academic programs, the quality of our faculty and staff, the depth of our student success and support resources, and the diversity of our student life opportunities. In looking at a few numbers, our first-time freshmen climbed from 3,223 in 2020 to 3,388 — a five percent increase. Graduate student enrollment also grew from 3,803 last year to 4,104 — an eight percent increase. You can read more at

Burger named CFR dean and FWRC director

I was pleased to join with DAFVM Vice President Keith Coble earlier this week to announce that Wes Burger is our new dean of the College of Forest Resources and director of the Forest and Wildlife Research Center after a nationwide search chaired by College of Veterinary Medicine Dean Kent Hoblet. Dr. Burger has been an exceptional member of our faculty, an effective administrator, and a leader on our campus, and I am excited about his vision for the future of the college and center that he brings to this new role. I appreciate the members who served on the search committee, and thank Dr. Hoblet for leading this successful effort. 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 Reuben Burch, an associate professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, who has been recognized with the 2021 New Faculty Researcher Award from the American Society for Engineering Education’s Southeast Section. Read more at

* Kudos to Amy Knight, an instructor in the Department of Communication, who has been recognized with an Outstanding Advisor Award from Lambda Sigma Honor Society, the national service honor society for sophomores. Read more at

* Congratulations to Andy Kouba, professor and head of the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture, and Chad Dacus, Extension instructor and director of the Wildlife Services National Training Academy, who were recently honored with the Patriot Award, a U.S. Department of Defense program that recognizes supervisors for their support of National Guardsmen. Read more at

* Kudos to Raja Reddy, a William L. Giles Distinguished Professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences and MAFES scientist, who has been elected to serve a consecutive second term as president of the Mississippi Academy of Sciences — a first in the history of the organization. Read more at

* Congratulations to Lara Dodds, a professor in the Department of English, who has received the 2021 Best Article Award from the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women and Gender for her paper highlighting the lack of women’s inclusion in early literary history. Read more at

Final Words

I feel incredibly thankful and blessed to be a part of the Mississippi State Family this time of year, and I hope that each one of you enjoys a very happy Thanksgiving. Hail State!


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