Holiday greetings from President Mark E. Keenum at Mississippi State University.
Mark Keenum: Welcome. This holiday message marks my first time to utilize the new state of the art set at our MSU television center. As I'll discuss in more detail later, this modern TV set is just one of a host of initiatives we've adopted at MSU to enhance our abilities to share the good news about Mississippi State with a much wider audience.
Make no mistake, as I complete my seventh year as MSU's president, there's much good news to share.
First and foremost, let's celebrate our continued enrollment growth. This fall we welcomed a record number of students to MSU including an unprecedented 17% increase in first time freshmen. MSU's overall enrollment stands at 20,873, an increase of 735 students over last year. First time minority numbers are up as well, with newly enrolled African American freshmen totalling 834. A 26% increase over the fall of 2014.
Mississippi State continues our consistent long standing role as the state's leading research university. More than half of all university research conducted in the state of Mississippi is done at Mississippi State.
Our research prowess gains national renown as well. Mississippi State is one of only a handful of universities to earn both the very high Research Activity Designation and the coveted Community Engagement Classification from the prestigious Carnegie Foundation.
The latest National Science Foundation report list MSU as number 8 in the nation for research and development expenditures in Agricultural Sciences among our public and private institutions. MSU has ranked in the top ten in this category for 17 consecutive years, spending nearly 100 million dollars in agricultural related research in FY 2014.
In addition Mississippi State maintains the top 50 stats in aerospace and mechanical engineering, and in the social sciences. Although frequently recognized for research in science, engineering and agriculture, MSU was also ranked as a top 50 institution for the humanities.
But those are just numbers. Consider for a moment that Mississippi State serves as the national lead university for the FAA Center of Excellence of unmanned aircraft systems, putting MSU on the cutting edge of this new era of research, development and integration into the nations airspace.
MSU Space Cowboys Rocket Team is also among the worlds best in outperforming more than 70 university teams from seven countries, to win the coveted 2015 Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition, and the national award for Overall Technical Excellence.
But our commitment to our our land grant mission never waivers. As a member of the Global Aquaculture Advancement Partnership, MSU is recognized as a center for knowledge for aquatic health, by the World Food Program and of the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization.
Finding solutions to world hunger and poverty drive us at Mississippi State where globally diversified teams are combining forces with the United Nations to help eliminate starvation in developing countries.
At this special time of year when giving is at the center of these blessed days, we have much to be thankful for at Mississippi State. For the second consecutive year, Mississippi State has topped the 100 million dollar mark in fundraising, with fiscal year 2015 resulting in the highest single year in the giving total in our universities history.
Nearly 110 million dollars was contributed, an increase of over 3 million from last years record. And MSU's capital campaign, which is known as Infinite Impact, continues at a rapid pace, reaching nearly 586 million dollars towards our 600 million dollar goal.
In MSU's current endowment, there's nearly a half billion dollars. But as anyone walking or driving on campus can see these days, there's a lot of progress underway at Mississippi State.
Construction continues on a new innovative classroom facility just behind the YMCA building. The significant renovation and addition at Mitchell Memorial Library is also underway, as is construction of two new residence halls, and the Center for Americas Veterans.
And the Cotton Mill at MSU is now a reality, providing unprecedented facilities for conferences and other events, and providing an even stronger link between MSU and the Starkville community.
And private sector construction surrounds MSU that is directly related to our growth and success, which contributes to an ever improving quality of life for town and gown.
And as I mentioned earlier, when describing this new modern TV set you see behind me, Mississippi State has this year committed to an expansive new marketing and branding campaign.
You've seen and heard a lot about the "We Ring True" campaign. We have adopted new and improved visual identity standards for the university, we have launched a comprehensive branding initiative that reinforces MSU's standing as a premier research institution where students are driven to make a difference.
Better branding begins with better storytelling, that helps MSU define what makes our culture unique, and shares the many ways we're making a positive impact on local, national and global stages. It's time to let the rest of the world know about the great things happening at Mississippi State.
Again, as I did at the brand launch, I ask each of you to become an ambassador for Mississippi State, and to help us share the many, many, many ways that we ring true. Certainly, there's much to look forward to in the new year.
Between now and then, the Bulldogs are bowling again for the sixth straight season. And on a personal note, on behalf of my wife Rhonda and our four children, please allow me to offer our sincere thanks to our faculty, staff and students, for your commitment to MSU.
And from all of us, best wishes for a meaningful holiday season to everyone in the Bulldog family.