Mississippi State University and Jones College: The Mississippi Digital Transformation Initiative

Contact: Dr. Finée Ruffin, Chief Marketing Officer, Jones College

The reality of a multi-year worldwide pandemic causes even the most robust businesses and industries to pause and consider the future of work. Jones College President, Dr. Jesse Smith, was no different. After facing numerous disruptions to business operations, he began to prepare his community college employees for the changing demands created by a new business environment. 

Portrait of Mimmo Parisi
Mimmo Parisi (Photo by Megan Bean)

At the same time, Dr. Mimmo Parisi, Senior Advisor for Data Science Development & Professor at Mississippi State University, was evaluating the greater need for a holistic digital transformation across the state of Mississippi. Dr. Parisi believes “that data is the center of our state, national, and world economics” and that “step one is establishing a baseline of data literacy across all levels of education and work.”  

The advent of Big Data, simply defined as the exponential increase and availability of data in our world, demands members of the labor force possess literacy and competency in data science. Big data analytics helps organizations harness their data and use it to identify new opportunities and make reasonable decisions that create value for the institution. 

Mississippi State University, Mississippi’s largest land grant institution, has made an educational investment in Mississippi’s digital literacy foundation by creating a twelve-hour Data Science Advanced Certification Program. This program was designed to catalyze digital transformation across the landscape of community college education in Mississippi. “Mississippi has one of the strongest community college systems in the nation, and the state will be uniquely positioned as a national leader in data science if this program is fully adopted across the entire Community College system,” shared Dr. David Shaw, Provost and Executive Vice President at Mississippi State University. 

In pursuit of equipping Jones College students with data science literacy, Dr. Smith concluded that the college’s faculty must first be equipped with the expertise to integrate data science literacy concepts into their curriculum, regardless of school or department. Smith reasoned that an essential change in the mindset of the college’s employees and faculty would spread and instill the same mindset in graduates across campus.

Jones College faculty and staff enrolled in the first Introduction to Data Science Literacy Instruction course.
Jones College faculty and staff enrolled in the first Introduction to Data Science Literacy Instruction course. (Photo submitted)

The Data Science Advanced Certification Program was created as a partnership opportunity between Mississippi State University and the Mississippi Association of Community Colleges (MACC). By establishing a partnership with Mississippi’s community colleges, Mississippi communities can be assisted at the ground level, shared Dr. Parisi.

Mississippi State University, in conjunction with Jones College, introduced its pilot course in the Spring of 2022. A combination of 16 Jones College faculty and staff enrolled in the Introduction to Data Science Literacy Instruction course. The course was designed to teach community college faculty and staff an introductory understanding of data science and how to use it in (1) curriculum writing and (2) college workforce development efforts. 

If you would like more information on the Data Science Advanced Certification Program, please contact Dr. Mimmo Parisi at m.parisi@msstate.edu or Dr. Jesse Smith at Jesse.smith@jcjc.edu