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 and renovation of historic Lee Hall and bids were accepted this summer to expand Davis Wade Stadium, a project expected to be completed by August 2014.
Since 2009, fundraising has reached all-time record levels. Giving by alumni and friends has surpassed $290 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.
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.