Dr. Mark E. Keenum
Dr. Mark Everett Keenum became Mississippi State's 19th president Jan. 5, 2009, following a distinguished public service career.
Despite difficult economic times, Dr. Keenum has guided Mississippi State to new heights. His quick action to address budget shortfalls put the university in position to meet those challenges and maintain the highest level of academic excellence. The university has experienced record enrollment growth, which includes students with the highest ACT average of any university in our state. Increased enrollment has also spurred new construction on campus, with two new residence halls completed and opened this August. The Mize Pavilion, a state-of-the-art basketball practice facility, was dedicated in 2011. The Leo W. Seal Jr. Football Complex was occupied in January 2013. Plans in the immediate future include construction of another new residence hall, a new classroom building,, a new dining facility, and renovation of historic Lee Hall. The ongoing expansion and improvements at Davis Wade Stadium should be completed by August 2014.
Since 2009, fundraising has reached all-time record levels. Giving by alumni and friends has surpassed $300 million over that period, including the highly successful StatePride initiative that is providing scholarships for students and support for MSU faculty.
Dr. Keenum has also been instrumental in expanding the MSU Promise Program, which provides need-based scholarship assistance to Mississippi students whose families have limited financial means. Through the Sonny Montgomery Center for America's Veterans, he has also led initiatives to make Mississippi State one of the most veteran-friendly universities in the nation.
Mississippi State has strengthened its role as the flagship research university in the state. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching classified MSU as a university with "very high research activity," the only such designation in Mississippi. Dr. Keenum travels frequently to Washington, D.C., meeting with Congressional leaders and federal agency heads to pursue research opportunities and broaden the university's influence on the national level. He has also worked closely with the governor, lieutenant governor and Mississippi Legislature in support of higher education in our state.
Keenum recently was elected to a term on the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools' Commission on Colleges' Executive Council. SACS is the recognized regional accrediting body in the 11 U.S. Southern states (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia) and in Latin America for those institutions of higher education that award associate, baccalaureate, master's or doctoral degrees.
He was also recently elected to a term on the American Public Land-Grant Universities Board of Directors. Based in Washington, D.C., the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) is a research and advocacy organization of public research universities, land-grant institutions, and state university systems with member campuses in all 50 states, U.S. territories and the District of Columbia.
A graduate of Mississippi State University with degrees in agricultural economics, Dr. Keenum began his career at MSU as a faculty member with the Extension Service and the Department of Agricultural Economics. He went on to serve as chief of staff to U.S. Senator Thad Cochran in Washington, DC and was Under Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture prior to returning home to Mississippi State.
He graduated from Corinth (MS) High School and earned an associate of arts degree from Northeast Mississippi Community College in Booneville and was a member of the Northeast Tigers football team.
Dr. Keenum is married to the former Rhonda Newman of Booneville, also an MSU graduate. They have four children: Rett, Mary Phillips, Katie and Torie.
Birthplace: Starkville, Miss.
Hometown: Corinth, Miss.