Dr. Mark E. Keenum
Dr. Mark Everett Keenum became Mississippi State's 19th president Jan. 5, 2009, following a distinguished public service career.
Despite difficult economic times, Dr. Keenum guided Mississippi State to new heights during his first five years in office. His quick action to address budget shortfalls following the recession that began in 2008 put the university in position to meet those challenges and maintain the highest level of academic excellence. Since then, the university has experienced record enrollment growth to more than 20,000 students. The freshman class of fall 2013 was not only the largest in university history, but also reported the highest average ACT scores in university history. During 2011-12, Mississippi State awarded more than 4,000 degrees at all levels for the first time in its history, and followed that with more than 4,200 degrees in 2012-13.
The campus has expanded and improved since 2009 with the addition of three new residence halls, the Mize Pavilion, a state-of-the-art basketball practice facility, and the Leo W. Seal Jr. Football Complex. A major renovation of historic Lee Hall is to be complete in spring 2014 and a major expansion of Davis Wade Stadium will be completed by August 2014. Construction of a new classroom building with built-in parking got under way in January 2014.
Since 2009, fundraising has reached all-time record levels, with private giving exceeding $80 million a year in fiscal years 2011, 2012, and 2013. In fall 2013, the university formally announced Infinite Impact: the Campaign for Mississippi State, which had been in its quiet phase for three years, with a goal of $600 million by 2018. By January 2014, the campaign total had surpassed $380 million. Dr. Keenum has also been instrumental in expanding the MSU Promise Program, which provides need-based scholarship assistance to Mississippi students whose families have limited financial means. Through the Sonny Montgomery Center for America's Veterans, he has also led initiatives to make Mississippi State one of the most veteran-friendly universities in the nation.
Mississippi State has strengthened its role as the flagship research university in the state. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching classified MSU as a university with "very high research activity," the only such designation in Mississippi. Dr. Keenum travels frequently to Washington, D.C., meeting with Congressional leaders and federal agency heads to pursue research opportunities and broaden the university's influence on the national level. He has also worked closely with state leaders in support of higher education in Mississippi.
Keenum serves as vice-chairman of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools' Commission on Colleges' Executive Council. SACS-COC is the recognized regional accrediting body in the 11 U.S. Southern states (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia) and in Latin America for those institutions of higher education that award associate, baccalaureate, master's or doctoral degrees.
He also is a member of the American Public Land-Grant Universities Board of Directors. Based in Washington, D.C., the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) is a research and advocacy organization of public research universities, land-grant institutions, and state university systems with member campuses in all 50 states, U.S. territories and the District of Columbia.
A graduate of Mississippi State University with degrees in agricultural economics, Dr. Keenum began his career at MSU as a faculty member with the Extension Service and the Department of Agricultural Economics. He went on to serve as chief of staff to U.S. Senator Thad Cochran in Washington, DC and was Under Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture prior to returning home to Mississippi State.
He graduated from Corinth (MS) High School and earned an associate of arts degree from Northeast Mississippi Community College in Booneville and was a member of the Northeast Tigers football team.
Dr. Keenum is married to the former Rhonda Newman of Booneville, also an MSU graduate. They have four children: Rett, Mary Phillips, Katie and Torie.
Birthplace: Starkville, Miss.
Hometown: Corinth, Miss.