FACULTY HANDBOOK

I. General Information


A. History of the University

The University began as The Agricultural and Mechanical College of the State of Mississippi, one of the national land-grant colleges established after Congress had passed the Morrill Act in 1862. It was created by the Mississippi Legislature on February 28, 1878, to fulfill the mission of offering training in "agriculture, horticulture and the mechanical arts. . .without excluding other scientific and classical studies, including military tactics." The College received its first students in the fall of 1880, in the presidency of General Stephen D. Lee. Other federal legislation provided funds for extending the mission of the College: in 1914, the Smith-Lever Act called for "instruction in practical agriculture and home economics to persons not attendant or resident," thus creating the state-wide effort which led to Extension offices in every county in the State; and, in 1917, the Smith-Hughes Act provided for the training of teachers in vocational education.

By 1932, when the Legislature renamed the College as Mississippi State College, it consisted of the Agricultural Experiment Station (1887), the College of Engineering (1902), the College of Agriculture (1903), the School of Industrial Pedagogy (1909), the School of General Science (1911), the College of Business and Industry (1915), the Mississippi Cooperative Extension Service (1915), and the Division of Continuing Education (1919). Further, in 1926 the College had received its first accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

By 1958, when the Legislature again renamed the College as Mississippi State University, the Graduate School had been organized (1936), doctoral degree programs had begun (1951), the School of Forest Resources had been established (1954), and the College of Arts and Sciences had been created (1956).

The School of Architecture admitted its first students in 1973, the College of Veterinary Medicine admitted its first class in 1977, and the School of Accountancy was established in 1979, rounding out the present structure.

Additional information about Mississippi State University can be found in John K. Bettersworth's book, People's College: A History of Mississippi State, University Press of Mississippi, 1979.

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B. Vision and Mission Statements

VISION

The vision of Mississippi State University is to be the most respected land-grant institution in the region.

MISSION

The mission of Mississippi State University is to educate the workforce and leaders of the future, produce robust research for our state and nation, and provide expert services to our citizens, communities and businesses.

-- Approved by the Board of Trustees, State Institutions of Higher Learning, November 2007

OPERATING PRINCIPLES

Enhancing its historic strengths in agriculture, natural resources, science, and engineering, Mississippi State entered the twenty-first century with additional strengths in a comprehensive range of graduate and undergraduate programs. These include architecture, the arts, business, education, the humanities, the social and behavioral sciences, and veterinary medicine. The Meridian Campus focuses on meeting the needs of place-bound students and working adults through upper division and graduate programs in education, business, liberal arts, and social work.

The university's educational programs emphasize the exploration of ideas and the discovery, application, and dissemination of knowledge. The university embraces its role as a major contributor to the economic development of the state through targeted research and the transfer of ideas to the marketplace, aided by faculty-industry relationships and by interdisciplinary initiatives. Building on its land-grant tradition, MSU extends its resources and expertise throughout the entire state for the benefit of Mississippi's citizens. Through integration of its programs in learning, research, and service, through traditional scholarship, through statewide extension and outreach, and through engagement with business, industry, government, communities and organizations, the university is committed to maintaining its tradition as the People's University.

Access and Excellence
Mississippi State University will provide access and opportunity to students from all sectors of the state's diverse population. The university promotes citizenship and leadership in its students and fosters in them an understanding of their history and culture, an appreciation of the arts, a tolerance for opposing points of view, a facility with written and spoken language, an understanding of scientific principles and methods, a command of modern technologies, a competence in critical thinking and problem solving, a commitment to life-long learning, and a spirit of inquiry. MSU will provide mentoring and support to the students admitted to maximize their chances of success and to help Mississippi reach and surpass the national average in the percentage of our population that holds a college degree, and will provide access for working and place-bound adult learners, particularly through its Meridian Campus and distance learning programs. The university will develop competent and informed citizens and professionals who are equipped to lead in the world of work and in their communities through traditional academic programs, experiential learning, and opportunities for leadership development and community service.

Statewide Mission
Mississippi State University will serve the State of Mississippi and beyond through its broad range of instruction, research, and outreach functions. The university maintains four strategically located research and extension centers around the state and has staff in every county of Mississippi. The institution regularly enrolls students from each of the state's eighty-two counties and is actively engaged with business and industry, agriculture and natural resources, schools, communities and organizations in every part of the state.

Research and Economic Development
As a principal research university in the Southeast, MSU will continue to build on existing strengths in engineering and agricultural sciences and pursue emerging opportunities in other fields that match the university's areas of expertise and the needs of the state, including automotive research and development, computational sciences, biotechnology, early childhood learning, biological engineering, remote sensing, and alternative energy sources, among others. The university will contribute to the development and revitalization of communities throughout the state through programs such as those of the Carl Small Town Center and the Stennis Institute of Government and through projects such as the creation in downtown Meridian of the Riley Education and Performing Arts Center.

Outreach and Service
MSU will continue to build on its land-grant tradition and statewide presence through partnerships with business and industry and the agricultural sector, with communities and organizations, and with others. The university will strengthen its numerous partnerships with K 12 schools and community colleges, continue to play a major role in preparing the state's school teachers and other education professionals, reach out to the youth of the state through 4-H and other programs targeted toward youth development, and serve non-traditional students through non-traditional means.

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C. Principles for University Governance

As recommended by the Faculty Senate, Feb. 9, 1996;
As recommended by the Administrative Council, Feb. 12, 1996;
As recommended by Professional and Support Staff Advisory Council, Feb. 14, 1996;
As recommended by the Student Association;
Approved by the General Faculty, March 5, 1996 and
Amended by vote of the General Faculty, Fall 1999.

Preamble

The triad mission of learning, research, and service of Mississippi State University can best be achieved through cooperation, collaboration, and consultation among the membership of the entire university community. Achievement of that mission requires an understanding and commitment to the formal and informal decision processes by which the university conducts its work and maintains its standards. It also requires a recognition by the university community that the university must ultimately respond to legitimate external entities and forces that shape policy and render decisions.

Members of the university community need to understand the university's noble and extensive mission and the part each member plays in its achievement. They need to understand how formal authority is shared, the scope and form of their involvement in governance, and the need for those in authority to achieve balance between codification and discretion. This understanding enhances each member's ability to sustain and strengthen the essential nature of the university and facilitates effective university governance and responsiveness to the needs of the people of Mississippi.

Central to effective and efficient university governance is open consultation, communication, and participation in decisions and decision-making bodies, and understanding of the responsibilities and limitations of authority by all members of the university community. Success of the university depends on collegial relationships and mutual respect among the faculty, professional and support staff, students, administrative officers, and representatives of external entities.

All members of the university community must be accountable for their roles and responsibilities. Policies and procedures to measure performance in these roles and responsibilities are essential to achieving the mission and goals of the university.

Mississippi State recognizes the value of diverse opinions in decision making and pursues its mission in an atmosphere of shared governance and open communication. Faculty and staff are involved in policy formulation and in implementing the learning, research and service missions of the university. Faculty and staff also recognize their shared accountability for the performance of the university in carrying out its mission.

In the spirit of promoting effective governance of the university, the following statements of policy relative to members of the university community are adopted. The policies are designed to generate and promote understanding, candor, trust, accountability, and participation in the processes that accomplish the mission and goals of the university.

Principles

Authority. Ultimate authority for governance of the university is vested by the State of Mississippi in the Board of Trustees of the Institutions of Higher Learning and delegated by the board to the president. The president exercises that authority through the vice presidents, deans, directors, and other officials of the administration in consultation, as appropriate, with units of the university and with the faculty, professional and support staff, and students.

Consultation. To facilitate open communication and effective university governance, the president and other administrative officers of the university will exercise due diligence in consulting with the faculty, professional and support staff, students, and external constituents on issues affecting them. Consultation is characterized by early discussions with the affected constituencies, jointly formulated procedures for consultation, reasonable deadlines within the constraints of the academic calendar, access to appropriate information, adequate feedback, and timely communication of decisions to the affected constituencies.

Representation. Effective university governance generally requires that the faculty, professional and support staff, students, and external constituents be represented on budgetary and decision-, policy-, and procedure-making entities. Appropriate representation of these groups is normally obtained through the university's council and committee structure. Elected and appointed representatives should, as far as possible, be selected specifically for the roles in which they will serve. When temporary special committees, study groups, or task forces are established by the president to address matters affecting the mission of the university, a majority of the membership should be composed of elected representatives drawn from the general faculty. Professional and support staff, students, and external constituencies should be included as appropriate. The chairs of these bodies may be appointed by the president.

Faculty Representation. By the Charter of Organization of the Faculty of Mississippi State University, the Robert Holland Faculty Senate is the official representative of the faculty on all matters not delegated by the general faculty to other elected faculty bodies.

University-level curriculum, promotion and tenure, and grievance committees should be composed of elected representatives from the general faculty. These bodies elect their own chairs.

Professional and Support Staff Representation. The Professional and Support Staff Advisory Council is the official representative body for the professional and support staff. The staff should have appropriate representation on matters affecting them. Consultation with the staff should be conducted through their elected representatives and/or the staff council, as well as through normal administrative channels.

Student Representation. The Student Association is the official representative of undergraduate and graduate students of the university. Undergraduate and graduate students should be represented on appropriate university councils, committees, and task forces as well as committees of external entities related to the university. Consultation with students should be conducted through their elected representatives and/or the student association.

Administrative Representation. Administrative officers of the university represent entities for which they have administrative responsibilities on councils, committees, and task forces of the university. Officers who are members of the general faculty may also be represented through the faculty senate, and other officers may be represented through the staff council.

External Entities Representation. To advance the mission of the university, the officers of the administration may appoint members of external entities to serve on councils, committees, and task forces.

Roles and Responsibilities.

Administration. The president has been delegated authority to administer the university, to lead the university so that its mission and goals are achieved, and to coordinate university relations with officers of the Board of Trustees. The president recommends the appointment of appropriate administrative officers for the university to the Board of Trustees. The president exercises primary authority through members of the administration in:

  1. Control and allocation of the budgeted appropriation and other funds;
  2. Establishment of the administrative organization;
  3. Approval of personnel appointments;
  4. Administration of university programs and policies;
  5. Administration of student affairs and services;
  6. Administration of physical plant and fiscal affairs;
  7. Administration of athletics;
  8. Administration of resource development and fund-raising; and
  9. Accomplishment of all other assignments to the university by the Board of Trustees.

The president is required by the Board of Trustees to articulate long-range university goals and to see that high standards are maintained in all university programs. The president exerts a major influence on the specific direction of change, not only through basic judgments on budgets and staff, but also in the continuous evaluation of existing university programs and in the planning of overall program direction. Such evaluation and planning necessitates the participation of faculty, staff, students, representatives of external entities, and administrative groups and is accomplished through the offices of the vice-presidents.

The president is also responsible for maintaining fair employment practices, promotion procedures, and wage and salary distribution, as well as good working conditions for the benefit and safety of all personnel employed by the university.

Faculty. The principal responsibilities of the faculty are teaching, research, and service. Because an important additional responsibility of the faculty is to ensure that the university fulfills its educational mission, the faculty must be involved in the generation and implementation of policies that impact the university's mission. On matters primarily affecting the academic mission of the university (curriculum, subject matter and methods of instruction, advising, degree requirements, faculty scholarship, faculty status, faculty service), the principal responsibility for formulating and evaluating ideas lies with the faculty. The faculty advises the administration through appropriate channels on these matters. The administration customarily follows this advice. On those extraordinary occasions when this advice is not followed, the administration will identify the reasons that render the proffered advice unwise or impracticable and so inform the faculty. A less direct but no less important role of the faculty is to advise the officers of the university about certain administrative matters that are intrinsically related to the health of the university. Among these matters are:

  1. Assessment of faculty performance;
  2. Selection of university officers;
  3. Determination of university priorities; and
  4. Establishment of principles for determining salaries.

Professional and Support Staff. The staff council is an advisory organization with the primary goals of facilitating communication between the staff and the administration and providing input to the administration on university policies and procedures. The primary role of the staff is to support the faculty and the administration in fulfilling the university's mission. The staff conducts the day-to-day affairs of the university, provides essential input to the faculty and administration in planning and decision-making processes, and reports on the operations of the university for internal (management) and external (accountability) purposes. On matters of university governance affecting the academic mission of the university, the staff's role is advisory only.

Students. The purpose of the Student Association is to stimulate university-wide student involvement in all areas of university life that lead to achievement of the university's mission. The voice of students is important in all aspects of the university, and students should provide input, when appropriate, through university committees, councils, and task forces.

Administrative Councils and Committees. Administrative councils and committees play important roles in the governance of the university. These councils and committees may be composed of faculty, staff, students, administrators, and representatives of external entities. The members are elected by the appropriate bodies or are appointed by the president or appropriate vice-president to advise the administration in the development of institutional policy, procedure, and practice. A listing of the university's councils and committees with the membership of each is published annually by the Committee on Committees.

Participation

Evaluation. Evaluation of Administrators and Faculty. The performance of faculty, staff, and administrative officers should be evaluated periodically. Students should participate in periodic evaluation of the instructional faculty, and those evaluations should be considered important sources of guidance to improve course content and overall learning and teaching effectiveness. The faculty, staff, administrative officers, and students should participate in periodic evaluations of those responsible for the units affecting their roles in the university community. The role of the various groups in such evaluations should be in accordance with their legitimate interest in the performance of the person being evaluated and the group's competence to make evaluative judgments. Evaluations should conform to commonly accepted procedures of evaluation established in consultation with those being evaluated and those evaluating.

Financial Decisions. Representatives chosen by the faculty, staff, and students should be included in university level discussions of resource allocation and budgetary policy and procedures. The administration may choose additional faculty, students, and staff to participate in discussions of these issues. Participation in these issues may also occur in colleges, schools, departments, and other units.

Administrative, Faculty, and Professional Staff Appointments. All professional positions will be filled in consultation with the affected faculty, staff, and students, and with the appropriate external constituencies. On those extraordinary occasions when the advice of a search committee is not followed, the administrator making the appointment will inform the committee of the reasons that render the proffered advice unwise or impracticable.

For the Provost and the Vice Presidents for Agriculture and Research, for deans, directors, chairs, and heads of academic, research, or service units, and for permanent faculty and staff positions, search committees will contain a majority of elected representatives of the faculty and staff, as appropriate, drawn from the affected on- and off-campus units.

For the Vice Presidents of Business Affairs, External Affairs, and Student Affairs, search committees will be appointed by the President in consultation with the Holland Faculty Senate Chair. The administrator making the appointment will publicize the membership of the search committee and the process of selection.

Administrators who serve primarily as advisors or assistants to executives and who do not regularly exercise independent executive and budgetary authority (for example, presidential or vice presidential assistants and some associate and assistant vice presidents, deans, or directors) may be appointed without a search committee.

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D. On-Campus Enrollment
1950 - 3,415 1980 - 11,409
1960 - 4,983 1990 - 13,514
1970 - 9,605 1996 - 16,561

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E. The Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine

For more than a century, MSU's commitment to agriculture has benefited the state's major industry and provided service to its people. The Division is composed of seven major units, including the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the College of Veterinary Medicine, the College of Forest Resources, the Forest and Wildlife Research Center, the Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, the Cooperative Extension Service, and the Office of International Programs. The separately funded units are the College of Veterinary Medicine, the Forest and Wildlife Research Center, the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, and the Mississippi Cooperative Extension Service.

The College of Veterinary Medicine

The College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) was established by an act of the Mississippi Legislature in March, 1974. It operates as a separately budgeted unit within the Division of Agriculture, Forestry, and Veterinary Medicine at MSU. As part of a comprehensive land-grant university, the College provides veterinary medical support to the agribusiness community and animal owners of the state and region.

The College is the only state agency in Mississippi with a primary focus on food animal diseases and their implications to production and public health. The college addresses food safety issues in red meat animals, poultry, and fish, and has just developed a center for Environmental Health Sciences. Instructional program courses lead to the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, a four-year curriculum, and graduate degrees in veterinary medical science. Hospital residency training programs prepare eligible veterinarians for certification in specialty areas such as internal medicine.

Forest and Wildlife Research Center

The Forest and Wildlife Research Center (FWRC) was authorized by the Mississippi Legislature with passage of the Renewable Natural Resources Act of 1994. This Act consolidated within a single administrative unit at Mississippi State University programs of research which focus on the forest, wildlife and fisheries resources of Mississippi. To this end FWRC was assigned the mission to conduct research and technical assistance programs relevant to the efficient management and utilization of the forest, wildlife and fisheries resources of the state and region and the protection and enhancement of the natural environment associated with these resources. Within the scope of this mission, FWRC has responsibilities for developing through research: (1) natural resource management systems which ensure the optimal production of goods and services while protecting and enhancing the forest and aquatic environments; (2) harvesting and manufacturing technologies that promote the efficient utilization of the state’s timber resource; (3) biological and economic data bases which address specific problems and opportunities related to the state’s forest and wildlife resources, including environmental issues related to those resources; and (4) policy analyses which provide options for renewable resources management and use in Mississippi.

The research center is composed of the Department of Forestry, the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and the Forest Products Laboratory. The agency’s base research program involves approximately 100 separate research activities and covers project work in 14 research areas in forestry, forest products, wildlife, and fisheries. This research program serves a diverse list of clients which includes forest landowners, forest-based industries, other state agencies, and various forest resources user groups. Faculty in the Forest and Wildlife Research Center hold joint appointments for teaching purposes in the College of Forest Resources.

The Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station

Mississippi State University meets its responsibility for agricultural research through the work of the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station (MAFES). Experiment station staff conduct basic and applied research in the field, in laboratories at the MAFES headquarters at MSU, and at 17 sites located strategically throughout the state. Sites include four regional Research and Extension Centers and the Main Station in Starkville. These Centers coordinate research at locations throughout the State. Studies also are conducted on privately owned land of farmer cooperators.

While the primary mission of the Experiment Station is performing agricultural and forestry research for the state, its presence on the campus adds strength to the teaching program. Most Division department heads and staff members are joint teaching and research employees. The U.S. Department of Agriculture provides some full-time staff members.

The Experiment Station operates on state and federally appropriated funds supplemented by income from sales of products from the research projects. Grants from private industry and other sources, including federal and state agencies, provide additional funds.

The Mississippi Cooperative Extension Service

The Cooperative Extension Service, created by the Federal Smith-Lever Act of 1914 and by the Mississippi Legislature, is to provide informal (out of classroom) education for Mississippians - to contribute to economic development and a higher quality of life.

Extension is a unique agency responsible for disseminating research-based information and technology that are primarily useful to commercial agriculture, but also are useful to economic development, youth, and farm families. The Extension Service has been described as Mississippi State University's "classroom in the field," with offices located in all 82 counties, and is the only agency with a statewide educational delivery system. Professional state and county staffs provide leadership and information to improve agriculture, related sectors of the economy, and families and youth. Research and Extension Centers in Verona, Raymond, Biloxi, and Stoneville are also part of this statewide network to provide up-to-date information to Mississippians.

Educational programs and assistance are provided in four broad areas: Agriculture and Natural Resources, Family & Consumer Education, 4-H Youth Development, and Enterprise and Community Resource Development. Programs are based on state and local needs identified by local advisory groups, and centered around major areas of programming such as sustainable agriculture systems; forestry, wildlife, and other natural resources; water quality and conservation; communities in economic transition; nutrition, diet, and health; family and economic well-being; waste management; youth-at-risk; and financial management.