Mark E. Keenum

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Mark E. Keenum
Mississippi State University President Mark E. Keenum.jpg
President of
Mississippi State University
Assumed office
January 5, 2009
Preceded by Roy Ruby
Personal details
Born Starkville, Mississippi
Spouse(s) Rhonda Keenum
Children Rett Keenum, Mary Phillips Keenum, Katie Keenum, Torie Keenum
Alma mater Mississippi State University
Profession University President
Website Office of the President

Mark Everett Keenum is the 19th and current president of Mississippi State University.


Born in Starkville, Mississippi, Keenum graduated from Corinth High School in Corinth, MS. Keenum earned an Associate of Arts degree from Northeast Mississippi Community College in Booneville and was a member of the Northeast Tigers football team. Keenum holds a bachelor's degree in agricultural economics (1983), a Master of Science in Agricultural Economics (1984), and a Ph.D in Agricultural Economics from Mississippi State University (1988)[1]


After completing his bachelor's and master's degrees, Keenum joined the MSU faculty as a marketing specialist with the Mississippi Cooperative Extension Service at MSU in 1984. Two years later, he accepted a position as a Research Associate with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station at MSU. After receiving his Ph.D in agricultural economics in 1988, Keenum joined the faculty as an assistant professor/economist in Mississippi State's Department of Agricultural Economics[2] Keenum served on the staff of U.S. Senator Thad Cochran in Washington, DC from 1989-2006, first as a legislative assistant for agriculture and natural resources and then as chief of staff.

From 1997-2006 Keenum served Mississippi State as an adjunct professor in agricultural economics.

In 2006 Keenum was named the Under Secretary of Agriculture for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services for the United States Department of Agriculture.[3] In this role Keenum provided leadership and oversight for the Farm Service Agency, the Risk Management Agency, and the Foreign Agricultural Service.

Keenum was named as the 19th president of Mississippi State University in November 2008 and began his term in January 2009.[4]

During Keenum's tenure the university has experienced record enrollment growth to more than 20,000 students. The freshman class of fall 2015 was the largest in university history with 3,471 new freshmen.[5] Keenum has also overseen the addition of five new residence halls; the Mize Pavilion, a state-of-the-art basketball practice facility; the Leo W. Seal Jr. Football Complex; a major renovation of historic Lee Hall; construction of a new classroom building with built-in parking, a new dining facility,[6] an expanded center for veteran's, and a major expansion of Davis Wade Stadium.

Under Keenum's leadership fundraising has reached record levels. 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.[7] In November 2015 the university had nearly reached the fundraising goal three years early, having raised over $580 million.[8] 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 Gillespie V. 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.[9]

Keenum has also worked to raise Mississippi State's role internationally, creating partnerships with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization to tackle the issues of world hunger and food security.[10]. He was appointed vice chairman of the Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research by United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. He also signed the Presidents' Commitment to Food and Nutrition Security at the United Nations.

Keenum serves as 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 formerly served as a member of the Association of Public and 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.[10]

Keenum was elected vice-president of the Southeastern Conference Executive Committee in 2015 and serves on the SEC’s Content Committee that oversees the SEC Network. He also represents the SEC as a member of the College Football Playoff's (CFP) Board of Managers.[11]

Personal life[edit]

Keenum was born in Starkville, Mississippi and grew up in Corinth, Mississippi. Keenum is married to the former Rhonda Newman of Booneville, Mississippi, also an MSU graduate. They have four children: Rett, Mary Phillips, Katie and Torie.


  • Mississippi Delta Council Farm Policy Commendation (1996)
  • Second Harvest Distinguished Public Service Award (2008)[12]
  • Congressional Awards Program Leadership Award (2010)[13]
  • Mississippi Press Association Distinguished Mississippian (2011)[14]
  • Seaman A. Knapp Lecturer (2014)[15]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ "Dr. Mark Keenum : Dr. Mark Everett Keenum was sworn in as Under Secretary on December 20, 2006" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on March 4, 2016. Retrieved 2017-01-21. 
  3. ^ "President nominates Mark Keenum to be undersecretary of agriculture". 2006-11-14. Retrieved 2017-01-21. 
  4. ^ "Mississippi Public Universities - BOARD NAMES DR. MARK KEENUM 19th PRESIDENT OF MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY". 2006-12-20. Archived from the original on 2017-02-02. Retrieved 2017-01-21. 
  5. ^ "MSU records historic number of students, first-time freshmen | Mississippi State University". 2015-09-10. Retrieved 2017-01-21. 
  6. ^ "University celebrates opening of The Fresh Food Co. | Mississippi State University". 2015-08-04. Retrieved 2017-01-21. 
  7. ^ "MSU sets $600M campaign goal with Infinite Impact - The Dispatch". 2013-10-11. Retrieved 2017-01-21. 
  8. ^ "WTVA News". Retrieved 2017-01-21. 
  9. ^ "Headlines | Mississippi State University". 2017-01-16. Retrieved 2017-01-21. 
  10. ^ "Keenum tapped for APLU organization's board | Mississippi State University". 2012-12-13. Retrieved 2017-01-21. 
  11. ^ "MSU President Mark Keenum elected vice president of SEC". 2015-05-29. Retrieved 2017-01-21. 
  12. ^ [2]
  13. ^ "Keenum wins Congressional award - Mississippi Business Journal". Retrieved 2017-01-21. 
  14. ^ [3]
  15. ^ "Mississippi State University President To Give Knapp Memorial Lecture Marking the 100th Anniversary of USDA's Cooperative Extension Service | National Institute of Food and Agriculture". Retrieved 2017-01-21. 

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
General Robert H. Foglesong
President of Mississippi State University
Succeeded by