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11/5/2008 - Jackson, Miss.

Click for larger photo.The Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) announced in a press conference today that Dr. Mark Keenum, current Under Secretary of Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services, is the preferred candidate for the position of President at Mississippi State University (MSU). The announcement was made following a meeting of the Board of Trustees, representatives of the Mississippi State University Search Advisory Committee, and search consultant Jerry Baker.

"We are confident Dr. Keenum's background and expertise makes him the perfect choice to lead Mississippi State University," said MSU Board Search Committee Chair Trustee Scott Ross.

Dr. Mark Keenum was sworn-in as Under Secretary on December 20, 2006. In this role, Dr. Keenum provides leadership and oversight for the Farm Service Agency, the Risk Management Agency, and the Foreign Agricultural Service. In 1989, Dr. Keenum joined the Washington, D.C. staff of U.S. Senator Thad Cochran as Legislative Assistant for Agriculture and Natural Resources. From 1996 through 2006, he served as Chief of Staff for Senator Cochran. Dr. Keenum received his Bachelor's, Master's, and Ph.D. degrees in Agricultural Economics at Mississippi State University, where he joined the faculty in 1984. During his professional tenure at MSU, Dr. Keenum's primary research and extension work focused on the marketing and economics of aquaculture, specialty crops, and forestry. A biographical sketch and photo of preferred candidate Dr. Mark Keenum may be found here.

On Wednesday, November 12, Dr. Keenum will participate in open, day-long interviews on the Mississippi State University campus with various university and community constituency groups (schedule forthcoming). Individuals attending the open interviews will be given the opportunity to provide feedback to the Board of Trustees regarding their impressions of Dr. Keenum. At the end of the day, the Board will announce either that Dr. Keenum will be the next president of Mississippi State University, or that the search will continue.

Under the leadership of the Board of Trustees, IHL governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.


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