Background Image Alternative Text: Mark Keenum, Eddie Peasant and Julie Kennedy speak in the atrium of the Partnership Middle School

MSU recognized nationally by APLU for commitment to improving Mississippi

Mark Keenum, Eddie Peasant and Julie Kennedy speak in the atrium of the Partnership Middle School
MSU President Mark E. Keenum, left, SOSD Superintendent Eddie Peasant, center, and Partnership Middle School Principal Julie Kennedy speak in the atrium of the school, located on the MSU campus, during a tour prior to the opening of the facility. As part of its nomination for the APLU’s Innovation and Economic Prosperity University Awards, MSU submitted case studies detailing the impacts of the Partnership Middle School, the Fred Carl Jr. Small Town Center, and the Thad Cochran Research, Technology and Economic Development Park. (Photo by Megan Bean)

Contact: James Carskadon

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State University is being recognized by the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities for its commitment to making Mississippi a better place to work and live.

The APLU today announced MSU is a national finalist in the 2020 APLU Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities Awards in the “Place” category, which recognizes exemplary initiatives resulting in social, cultural or community development. For the award nomination, MSU submitted case studies detailing the impacts of three initiatives—the Fred Carl Jr. Small Town Center, MSU-Starkville Oktibbeha School District Partnership Middle School, and Thad Cochran Research, Technology and Economic Development Park.

“This award is a reflection of the hard work carried out by hundreds of people across the state on behalf of MSU,” said MSU Interim Vice President for Research and Economic Development Julie Jordan. “We make it a priority to work with community stakeholders, economic development officials, as well as industry and government leaders to create new opportunities and improve lives in Mississippi. This outreach makes a tangible impact economically and socially throughout our state, and I am proud that MSU is among the distinguished universities being recognized by APLU this year.”

MSU achieved Innovation and Economic Prosperity University status from the APLU and its Commission on Innovation, Competitiveness and Economic Prosperity in 2015. The designation—attained after a rigorous review process—recognizes MSU for working to advance engagement and economic well-being in the state, region and nation.

“We applaud this year’s Innovation and Economic Prosperity University Awards finalists for their exceptional contributions to regional economic engagement,” said APLU President Peter McPherson. “As the country looks to recover from one of the steepest economic downturns on record, universities will have to play a central role in helping drive innovation, spark growth, and foster broadly shared prosperity. The IEP Award finalists are in a strong position to do exactly that.”

MSU is one of two finalists in the “Place” category. The winner will be announced during the APLU’s virtual annual meeting in November. The case studies MSU submitted for the award nomination can be found on the APLU website. Initiatives highlighted in the nomination include:

  • The Thad Cochran Research, Technology and Economic Development Park, a 272-acre park that is home to more than 1,700 employees and tenants that include private businesses, government offices and robust research centers and institutes. The park represents over $100 million in infrastructure investments and $104 million in private capital investment. Research and innovation thrive in the park thanks in large part to MSU’s High Performance Computing Collaboratory, the fourth-most powerful computing site in U.S. academia.
  • The Fred Carl Jr. Small Town Center, founded in 1979 and housed in MSU’s College of Architecture, Art and Design, serves as an advocate of meaningful planning and design services to small communities throughout Mississippi. Comprised of architects, planners and students, the research that is conducted provides solutions to problems faced by communities across the nation. The Small Town Center’s outreach efforts run a wide gamut from community engagement and visioning, grant writing, project feasibility studies, master planning, downtown revitalizations, small town research, design education seminars and workshops, to bike and pedestrian infrastructure planning and development.
  • The MSU-SOSD Partnership Middle School officially opened in August, marking the culmination of a years-long collaboration between MSU and the school district to build a new school on the MSU campus. The state-of-the-art facility will serve every sixth and seventh grade student in the school district and be utilized as a demonstration site for students in MSU’s College of Education as they prepare to become teachers.

For more on the APLU’s Innovation and Economic Prosperity awards, visit https://www.aplu.org/projects-and-initiatives/economic-development-and-community-engagement/innovation-and-economic-prosperity-universities-designation-and-awards-program/index.html.

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.