Mark E. Keenum

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Mark E. Keenum
Mississippi State University President Mark E. Keenum.jpg
President of
Mississippi State University
Assumed office
January 5, 2009
Preceded byRoy Ruby
Personal details
BornStarkville, Mississippi
Spouse(s)Rhonda Keenum
ChildrenRett Keenum, Mary Phillips Keenum, Katie Keenum, Torie Keenum
Alma materMississippi State University
ProfessionUniversity President
WebsiteOffice of the President

Mark Everett Keenum is an agricultural economist in the United States. He is currently the 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 (MAFES) 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]

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.[5]

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.[6]

In 2018 Keenum was appointed as chair of the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development (BIFAD) by President Trump. BIFAD advises USAID on the topics of food and agricultural safety in the developing world. He will be succeeding past chair Brady Deaton.[7]

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)[8]
  • Congressional Awards Program Leadership Award (2010)[9]
  • Mississippi Press Association Distinguished Mississippian (2011)[10]
  • Seaman A. Knapp Lecturer (2014)[11]


  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. ^ "Keenum tapped for APLU organization's board | Mississippi State University". 2012-12-13. Retrieved 2017-01-21.
  6. ^ "MSU President Mark Keenum elected vice president of SEC". 2015-05-29. Retrieved 2017-01-21.
  7. ^ "President Donald J. Trump Announces Intent to Nominate and Appoint Personnel to Key Administration Posts". The White House. Retrieved 2018-05-24.
  8. ^ [2]
  9. ^ "Keenum wins Congressional award - Mississippi Business Journal". Retrieved 2017-01-21.
  10. ^ [3]
  11. ^ "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