STARKVILLE, Miss.--An $11 million grant from The Riley Foundation of Meridian is providing a new kinesiology program in Mississippi State University's Kress Building, an MSU-Meridian Downtown Campus facility that also will see major renovations under the funding.
The official announcement of the donation was made today [Nov. 20], at 10 a.m., at the Foundation office, 4518 Poplar Springs Drive, Meridian. On hand for the ceremony were MSU President Mark E. Keenum; MSU Provost and Executive Vice President Jerry Gilbert; Riley Foundation Board Chairman Robert B. Deen, Jr.; Riley Foundation Executive Director Becky Farley; and MSU-Meridian Dean and Associate Vice President Steven F. Brown.
"With the excellent health care opportunities in the city of Meridian, bringing a program such as kinesiology to the area is ideal for the missions of not only Mississippi State, but the Meridian Campus and The Riley Foundation as well," said Keenum. "We're very grateful to The Riley Foundation for helping us increase educational options for our traditional students and adult learners in east central Mississippi."
Deen said, "This partnership with Mississippi State University, which began in 2000 with a $10 million grant for the creation of The Riley Center, has continued through the years as a productive catalyst for the revitalization of downtown Meridian and has provided higher education opportunities for our community."
The grant will enable the new Division of Education program, with an emphasis in clinical exercise and physiology, to admit students by spring of 2015 and "possibly as early as fall of 2014," Gilbert said.
Graduates are expected to have numerous career options in such categories as occupational and physical therapy and their assistant programs, exercise and wellness, rehabilitation, athletics and research.
Additionally, the funding will finance building renovations, equipment, furnishings and technology infrastructure in the facility. A state-of-the-art laboratory for the new kinesiology program will make it one of the most prestigious in the state.
The Riley Foundation's gift is presented under MSU's current $600 million fundraising initiative, Infinite Impact: The Mississippi State University Campaign. To date, giving totals $375 million toward that goal.
For many years, The Riley Foundation has been a major Mississippi State supporter. The MSU Riley Center for Education and the Performing Arts opened its doors in 2006 and restored two Meridian landmarks, the Grand Opera House and the Marks Rothenberg building. Also, the MSU-Meridian Downtown Campus, which houses the business school, is located in the historic Newberry Building donated in 2009 by the Foundation. This grant included $6 million for the structure's renovation and provided furniture, equipment and technology.