Keenum participates in launch of APLU Commission to align and guide public research universities’ role in ensuring global food security by 2050

Contact: Jeff Lieberson

MSU President Mark E. Keenum

“The Challenge of Change: Engaging Public Universities to Feed the World” Findings Expected in Early 2017; Will Help Guide Next Presidential Administration’s Policy in Support of Public University Efforts

Washington, DC – Drawing on the unique academic, research and leadership capabilities of public research universities, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) today convened a new commission, The Challenge of Change: Engaging Public Universities to Feed the World, to address growing domestic and global food security challenges and ensure universal food security by 2050.  Mississippi State University President Dr. Mark Keenum is among the land grant university chief executive officers in Washington to help kick off the initiative.

The commission is tasked with identifying the research, education and engagement efforts public universities should develop to ensure the three pillars of food security – access, availability and utilization – are met throughout the world. It is expected to issue a report in early 2017 with final recommendations for both public research universities on how to align their agenda to meet this challenge and for the new presidential administration on how it can provide federal support of such critical research efforts.

Dr. Keenum said, “I am proud of the role Mississippi State University is playing in addressing food security issues here and abroad, I am honored to be invited to participate in this APLU collaboration. I applaud the intensified attention and additional resources this new commission will focus on this most critical issue.”

Dr. Randy Woodson, Chancellor of North Carolina State University, is serving as chair of the commission, which is comprised of leading scholars in the agricultural, biological, physical and social sciences, as well as development experts, public university administrators and former senior government officials. The W.K. Kellogg Foundation provided financial support for the commission’s work.

"Public universities are uniquely positioned to bring together the brightest minds from across academia and industry to solve the world’s greatest challenges, and there are few if any issues that will be more challenging over the next several decades than worldwide food security,” Chancellor Woodson said. “The world’s population is expected to pass 9 billion by 2050 and food productivity is already running behind the need. This important commission will strive to help build a sustainable food security model that can benefit communities across the globe for generations to come.”

The commission will offer a comprehensive agenda through the work of interdisciplinary working groups focusing on the entire food system from production to consumption with the goal of identifying the key breakthroughs required in both domestic and global production and non-production issues to achieve future food security around the globe. These working groups cover:

  • Sustainable Production Systems
  • Plant and Animal Performance
  • Soil Health
  • Food Loss and Waste
  • Inclusive Economic Growth
  • Human Nutrition
  • Food Safety and Sanitation
  • Knowledge and Education

The working groups will address these areas with consideration of cross-cutting issues, including environmental effects of agriculture, climate change, policy and governance and institutional and system changes needed to address the key challenges identified.

“Eliminating hunger is a global challenge that will require global solutions. With their vast and unique capabilities, our nation’s public research universities can and must play an outsized role in achieving the all-important goal of eliminating hunger,” said APLU President Peter McPherson, who served as Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development during the Reagan administration. “Land-grant and all public universities have long played a central role in improving the quantity, quality and availability of food in the United States and world.  This commission will produce a blueprint for public universities’ role in addressing one of the truly great challenges of our time.”

APLU’s Office of International Programs, which is helping lead The Challenge of Change: Engaging Public Universities to Feed the World, plays a key role in supporting the global engagement of students and faculty as well as the enrichment education, research and outreach with experience and perspectives beyond our borders. The project is also supported by APLU’s Office of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Programs, which focuses on broad cross-cutting issues related to agriculture, food, fiber, human sciences, natural resources (ecology, fish and wildlife, forestry, mineral resources and water resources), oceans, atmosphere, climate and veterinary medicine in the functional areas of research, extension and teaching. 


The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) is a research, policy, and advocacy organization representing 235 public research universities, land-grant institutions, state university systems, and affiliated organizations.  Founded in 1887, APLU is North America's oldest higher education association with member institutions in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, four U.S. territories, Canada, and Mexico. Annually, member campuses enroll 4.7 million undergraduates and 1.3 million graduate students, award 1.2 million degrees, employ 1.2 million faculty and staff, and conduct $42.7 billion in university-based research.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life. The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Mich., and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally, are in Mexico and Haiti. For more information, visit

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