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Provost chairs IHL Safe Start Task Force as MSU explores return to in-person classes, normal operations for fall semester

Contact: Sid Salter

Studio portrait of David R. Shaw
MSU Provost and Executive Vice President David R. Shaw (Photo by Megan Bean)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi Commissioner of Higher Education Alfred Rankins Jr. has announced that Mississippi State University Provost and Executive Vice President David R. Shaw will chair the 16-member Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning’s Safe Start Task Force as the state’s university system considers opening campuses in a safe and effective manner.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented disruption to all facets of our society and university operations are not excluded,” said Commissioner Rankins. “Regardless of the challenges, our universities are committed to providing the best and safest educational experience possible for their students and the most productive and safest work environment for their employees. To achieve this goal, key leaders from each of the eight universities will provide valuable input through the task force.”

Studio portrait of Regina Hyatt
MSU Vice President for Student Affairs Regina Hyatt (Photo by Russ Houston)

Joining Shaw on the IHL task force is MSU Vice President for Student Affairs Regina Hyatt. Rankins appointed two administrators from each of the state’s eight public universities to comprise the task force.

“I’m deeply encouraged to see the leadership of our university system taking concrete steps toward envisioning and defining what reopening our universities for the Fall 2020 semester would look like and formulating policies to facilitate that action,” said MSU President Mark E. Keenum. “I have witnessed Dr. Shaw and Dr. Hyatt’s distinguished leadership in action on our campus over the years and have tremendous confidence in how they will contribute to the critically important work of the IHL task force.”

Keenum said MSU’s institutional intention—within the confines of official federal and state government guidance and that of the leadership of recognized public health agencies—is to move efficiently and effectively toward a reopened and vibrant university delivering academic content in classrooms and laboratories.

“Clearly, we have a tremendous amount of work to do in assessing how we safely reach those goals, but I am hopeful we can attain them and still provide a safe and nurturing educational environment for our students, faculty, staff and the surrounding university community,” said Keenum. “Our efforts in that direction will, of course, be guided by and in concert with competent public authority and by our overriding commitment to safely and effectively combine a superior educational experience with a meaningful in-person college experience.”

Keenum said that in moving forward, MSU would rely on the findings and recommendations of the IHL task force, input from MSU stakeholders, and the shared governance model that already exists on the MSU campus with faculty, staff and students.

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