Messages from the Provost - 2011 Archive

  • December 2011
    Dear Faculty and Staff,

    As the fall semester draws to a close, let me join with others in wishing you a joyous holiday season. The year 2012 will bring progress on a number of fronts at MSU.

    The draft version of the MSU Strategic Plan rolled out in early December will be open for faculty and staff comments until January 13, 2012. I encourage you to view the plan and provide input at https://w.msstate.edu/strategicplan/index.php

    Activities for the reaffirmation of MSU's accreditation by SACS will begin to take on an additional dimension in 2012 as we begin discussion of a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) for the university. The QEP is required of all universities accredited by SACS and is intended to have a significant impact on undergraduate learning. Drs. Angi Bourgeois and Connie Forde will be leading the university's efforts to identify a QEP topic in early 2012.

    In January of 2012, the Division of Business at MSU-Meridian will move to a new location in the Newberry Building in downtown Meridian, adjacent to the Riley
    Center. MSU is expanding its presence in downtown Meridian and preparing for future growth.

    MSU's plans for participation in the 2012 Smithsonian Institute Folklife Festival celebration of the Morrill Act will take shape in early 2012 under Dr. Peter Ryan's leadership. The festival will be held in Washington, D.C. June 27 - July 8, 2012, and it will be a great opportunity to highlight the success of MSU as a land-grant university.

    Planning for space allocation in the new classroom building will continue in 2012 by a subcommittee of the Master Plan Development and Advisory Committee under the direction of Dr. Julia Hodges.

    Thank you for a great 2011 and best wishes for a wonderful new year.

    With warm regards,


    Jerry Gilbert
    Provost and Executive Vice President
  • December 2011
    Dear Faculty and Staff,

    As the fall semester draws to a close, let me join with others in wishing you a joyous holiday season. The year 2012 will bring progress on a number of fronts at MSU.

    The draft version of the MSU Strategic Plan rolled out in early December will be open for faculty and staff comments until January 13, 2012. I encourage you to view the plan and provide input at https://w.msstate.edu/strategicplan/index.php

    Activities for the reaffirmation of MSU's accreditation by SACS will begin to take on an additional dimension in 2012 as we begin discussion of a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) for the university. The QEP is required of all universities accredited by SACS and is intended to have a significant impact on undergraduate learning. Drs. Angi Bourgeois and Connie Forde will be leading the university's efforts to identify a QEP topic in early 2012.

    In January of 2012, the Division of Business at MSU-Meridian will move to a new location in the Newberry Building in downtown Meridian, adjacent to the Riley
    Center. MSU is expanding its presence in downtown Meridian and preparing for future growth.

    MSU's plans for participation in the 2012 Smithsonian Institute Folklife Festival celebration of the Morrill Act will take shape in early 2012 under Dr. Peter Ryan's leadership. The festival will be held in Washington, D.C. June 27 - July 8, 2012, and it will be a great opportunity to highlight the success of MSU as a land-grant university.

    Planning for space allocation in the new classroom building will continue in 2012 by a subcommittee of the Master Plan Development and Advisory Committee under the direction of Dr. Julia Hodges.

    Thank you for a great 2011 and best wishes for a wonderful new year.

    With warm regards,


    Jerry Gilbert
    Provost and Executive Vice President
  • November 2011
    Dear Faculty and Staff:

    With the holidays quickly approaching, I want to take this opportunity to
    reflect upon the upcoming Thanksgiving season. I am extremely proud of the
    faculty, staff, and students at MSU and thankful for them. On this Veteran's
    Day, I am grateful for the veterans on our campus and the service that they have
    given and continue to give. We have a great university. I am thankful for this
    and many other things.

    I thank all of the faculty members who participated in the vote on the proposal
    to create a new category of faculty. Particular thanks go to the Faculty Senate
    and ITS for managing the discussion sessions, the general faculty meeting, and
    the voting process. My position has not changed in that I think the category of
    Instructional Professors is a good idea even though it did not achieve the votes
    required for passage. I understand and respect the concerns that some expressed
    about possible unintended consequences that could have resulted had it passed.

    It is great to be at a university where we can openly express and debate ideas.
    I will continue to look for creative ways to enhance and improve our academic
    programs. President Keenum and I both are committed to upholding the highest
    standards of integrity at MSU and to protecting the institution of tenure.

    I am excited to begin the planning process for a new 90,000 square-foot
    classroom building. This is just one step in addressing the expanding resource
    needs of the university as we grow in student numbers. Even though the
    immediate outlook for the budget is still unknown, President Keenum, the other
    vice presidents, and I are all committed to finding ways to add to our faculty
    and staff numbers as well identifying the means to continue to reward
    excellence.

    The review of Academic Outreach and Continuing Education is continuing and
    should be completed soon. As I have stated earlier, I am committed to improving
    and expanding distance education on the campus. We will be implementing
    consistent and gradual changes over time that will improve things for everyone.
    I ask you to be patient with us as we plan for the future.

    Best wishes to each of you for a great Thanksgiving season.

    Hail State,

    Jerry Gilbert
    Provost and Executive Vice President
  • October 2011
    Dear Faculty and Staff:

    "With Praise Our Voices Ring" is a line from our alma mater, "Maroon and White,"
    and also the theme of the official Homecoming Poster painted by senior Art major
    Anna Katherine Phipps (http://www.msstate.edu/web/media/detail.php?id=5382). I
    not only congratulate Ms. Phipps for being selected as the winner of the poster
    competition but also commend her for invoking the alma mater which always stirs
    fond memories when I hear it played or sing it at commencement. I look forward
    to the excitement of Homecoming (to be held November 5) and all the associated
    activities.

    Last week I participated in an Open Forum sponsored by the Faculty Senate to
    discuss topics related to the proposed creation of a new category of non-tenure
    track faculty, instructional professors. It was a great discussion, and I
    encourage interested persons to attend the second Open Forum on Monday, October
    24 at 3:00 p.m. in Room 329 of the Colvard Student Union. I will be in Meridian
    the next day, October 25, at 2:00 p.m. for an Open Forum with the Meridian
    faculty. I firmly believe that, if approved by the general faculty, this new
    category of faculty can be formed in a manner which will support and complement
    all current categories of faculty and enhance classroom instruction.

    At the October 20th meeting of the IHL Board of Trustees, there were a number of
    items which MSU had on the agenda. We were granted permission to begin the new
    classroom building project that will place a new classroom building with parking
    just north of the YMCA Building. There will be 90,000 square feet of classroom
    and instruction-related space on three levels and parking on two levels.
    Approximately 1,900 total classroom seats are planned to be placed in 38
    classrooms of various sizes. I will be forming a committee, to be headed by Dr.
    Julia Hodges, to make recommendations as to the final classroom mix of the
    building. Also approved at the meeting was a land exchange with the Mississippi
    Baptist Convention for MSU to obtain the current BSU building and associated 2.5
    acres of land on Lee Boulevard in exchange for 3 acres of MSU property across
    from Building 3 where a new Baptist Student Union is to be built by the
    Mississippi Baptist Convention. Another approved item was the project
    initiation of a new housing complex for upperclassmen, graduate students, and
    international students and families. This project will begin early next year
    and will be built on the current Aiken Village site to replace, in part, the
    current units which will be demolished. Construction of the classroom building
    and the new housing units are hoped to be completed by the fall of 2013.

    An internal review is continuing in Academic Outreach and Continuing Education
    (AOCE), and the unit is now functioning with acting leadership: Drs. Allison
    Pearson and Julia Hodges are Acting Co-Executive Directors. I will be making
    future announcements as we proceed through a transition period. I am committed
    to enhancing the functioning and services of the unit in the future. We will
    continue to deliver quality distance programs and quality non-credit programs.

    MSU was recently selected to take part in the Smithsonian Folklife Festival
    celebrations of the 150th Anniversary of the Morrill Land Grant Act, to take
    place June 27 - July 8, 2012, in Washington, D.C. We will be sending three
    teams to represent the university in this event sponsored by the Association of
    Public and Land-grant Universities. Participation in the celebration is quite
    an honor in that we are one of only 18 universities participating. Dr. Peter
    Ryan is coordinating our involvement.

    Best wishes for a great second half of the fall semester.

    Hail State,


    Jerry Gilbert
    Provost and Executive Vice President
  • September 2011
    Dear Faculty and Staff:

    I want to express my appreciation for the cooperation that was exhibited in
    managing the logistics of the Thursday night football game earlier this month.
    In recognition of the associated challenges faced by campus, Dr. Keenum and
    Scott Stricklin generously agreed to share a portion of the Thursday night game
    revenue with the colleges and divisions. A total of $200,000 in extra revenue
    will be distributed.

    The faculty at MSU will have a chance to vote on the addition of a new category
    of professors, instructional professors. This is an optional category that, if
    approved, would allow the university to have non-tenure track faculty members
    with responsibilities related only to instructional programs. These faculty
    would have terminal degrees and would have the possibility to advance in rank.
    There will be a number of sessions scheduled for me to answer questions and talk
    to the faculty about the proposal. A general faculty meeting will be called by
    the Faculty Senate, probably in early November, for the purpose of the vote.

    We are beginning to see momentum build for international activities due in large
    part to the leadership coming from the International Institute under the
    direction of Dr. Benjy Mikel. I encourage all faculty and staff who are
    interested in international research, scholarship, or study abroad to contact
    the new Institute. The Institute reports to the Division of Academic Affairs;
    the Division of Agriculture, Forestry, and Veterinary Medicine; and the Office
    of Research and Economic Development.

    I hope that each of you will continue to support the Maroon Edition and the
    activities remaining for the rest of the semester, including "Why I Live at the
    PO" on October 6th in McComas Auditorium at 7:00 p.m. and the Cemetery Tour on
    October 25th, starting at the Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum at 4:30 p.m.
    Other Maroon Edition activities can be found at
    http://www.maroonedition.msstate.edu/events/

    In closing, I encourage you to consider attending the lecture given by Ann
    Jaffe, a survivor of the Holocaust, who will speak of her experiences during
    this tragedy. Hosted by Mississippi State University, this inspiring,
    educational lecture is free, open to the public, and will be held October 10th
    at 4:00 p.m. in McCool Hall's Taylor Auditorium.

    Warm regards,


    Jerry Gilbert
    Provost and Executive Vice President

  • August 2011
    Dear Faculty and Staff:

    MSU has reached a historic landmark with its enrollment exceeding 20,000 for the
    first time in the history of the institution. This fall's enrollment represents
    over 750 more students this year than last. Thanks go out to all of the faculty
    and staff who are so effectively meeting the challenge to deliver first-class
    academic and student services to our student body.

    I am pleased to announce that I am taking steps to implement all of the
    recommendations of the Information Technology Task Force. Mr. Mike Rackley will
    assume the new title of Chief Information Officer (CIO) on September 1 and will
    continue to lead Information Technology Services. I have asked the CIO to form
    a new information technology (IT) council to coordinate all of the various
    functions related to IT and to recommend efficiencies that can be implemented.
    I also asked him to prepare a proposal for taking the university to a single
    email system.

    As a first step in responding to the recommendations of the Distance Education
    Task Force, I have asked for a review of the organization and funding structure
    of Academic Outreach and Continuing Education (AOCE) by Human Resources
    Management and the Office of Internal Audit. After the review, I will begin
    exploring ways to gradually improve the funding model of AOCE and the management
    of distance education. All changes that may be phased-in would be to improve
    the quality of distance education, increase efficiencies, and promote further
    expansion of distance education.

    As you know, our football season begins Thursday, September 1 with an opener at
    the University of Memphis. Our home opener will be September 15 against
    Louisiana State University, another Thursday game. I want to take this
    opportunity to remind you that we have adjusted our academic schedule so that we
    can meet our contact minute requirement while not holding class on Thursday,
    September 15. Classes will resume on Friday, September 16.

    I encourage you to take part in the activities associated with Eudora Welty's
    "The Optimist's Daughter," our 2011 book for the Maroon Edition first-year
    reading experience. September has a number of events and activities which are
    listed on the following webpage: http://www.maroonedition.msstate.edu/events/
    Check out the evening events on September 14 and 29.

    With best wishes for a great semester,


    Jerry Gilbert
    Provost and Executive Vice President
  • July 2011
    Dear MSU Faculty and Staff,

    July marked the beginning of the new fiscal year and some new beginnings in
    leadership and in university growth. Congratulations to Dr. Meghan Millea, the
    new President of the Faculty Senate, and Ms. Amanda Bell, the new chair of Staff
    Council, and thanks to Dr. Hart Bailey and Ms. Mary Vaughn for their previous
    service in these respective roles.

    In August, we will know the size of this year's freshman class and we are
    excited for their arrival. In preparation for future growth, construction began
    on July 1 of two new residence halls south of Rice Hall in the Arbor Acres area.
    The two new residence halls will be completed for the fall 2012 semester. Plans
    are also being made for a new classroom building and new housing for graduate
    students and upperclassmen. Expansion of Perry Cafeteria is also underway with
    completion in the fall of this year.

    I am pleased to report that we have filled all of the dean positions in the MSU
    system. As of August, the new deans will include Dr. Chris Snyder of the
    Shackouls Honors College, Dr. Sharon Oswald of the College of Business, Dr.
    George Hopper of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of
    Forest Resources, and Dr. Steve Brown of MSU Meridian. Dr. Hopper begins duties
    as dean on August 19 and Dr. Brown begins his role on October 1, both pending
    IHL Board approval. A news release on Dr. Brown's new leadership role in
    Meridian will be forthcoming.

    I recently received final reports from two task force groups: one to look at
    distance education and the other to look at information technology on the
    campus. As we review these reports, we will be looking at ways to continue to
    improve and expand distance education and information technology, while
    implementing efficiencies in these operations. I appreciate the hard work of
    Dr. Allison Pearson and Dr. Keith Coble, respectively, in leading these efforts
    and the individuals who served on these task force groups.

    August will be a month of new beginnings as we begin the 2011-2012 academic
    year. I hope that all of you get off to a great new start.

    Sincerely,

    Jerry Gilbert
    Provost and Executive Vice President
  • June 2011
    Dear Faculty and Staff,

    The month of June has flown by. Orientation sessions are complete and the first term of summer school is nearly over. Enrollment is up in summer school, and we
    anticipate a record enrollment in the fall. I greatly appreciate all of the faculty and staff members who have helped us get through this busy month.

    I hope that everyone will enjoy the rest of summer as we slow down a bit before gearing up for the fall.

    Best wishes for a safe and happy Fourth of July,

    Jerry Gilbert
    Provost and Executive Vice President
  • May 2011
    Dear Faculty and Staff:

    In May, the university held its Staff Appreciation Day in recognition of the exemplary service provided by the staff of Mississippi State University. Additionally, the Division of Academic Affairs held a service recognition ceremony to acknowledge the years of service of its employees. These events and others highlight the importance of the faculty and staff to the operation of the university. Your service to MSU is greatly appreciated ‑ thank you.

    I am thrilled that President Keenum has received approval to give merit raises for fiscal year 2011‑2012. It is my hope that we will be able to recognize the
    excellence of our employees more often in the future.

    Best wishes for a great summer.

    Sincerely,

    Jerry Gilbert
    Provost and Executive Vice President
  • April 2011
    Dear Faculty and Staff:

    I am proud of the way that many of you have stepped up to help us through the challenges that we have faced with the weather this month and this semester. The tragedies in Mississippi, Alabama, and other places in the South have been weighing heavily in my thoughts, as I know they have in yours. I am grateful that we were able to manage our inconveniences and continue on. I appreciate your assistance and your support.

    The month of April has brought a number of new appointments and recognitions. New appointments that have taken effect or will take effect in the near future
    include: Ms. Lesia Bryant, Director of Internal Audit; Dr. Julia Hodges, Associate Vice President (in Academic Affairs); Mr. Brandon Jolly, Associate General Counsel; Ms. Joan Lucas, General Counsel; Dr. Benjy Mikel, Associate Vice President for International Programs and Director of the International Institute; Dr. Peter Ryan, Associate Provost; and Dr. Tommy Stevenson, Director of the Office of Diversity and Equity Programs.

    Recent faculty and staff recognitions include: Dr. Mark Horstemeyer, Giles Distinguished Professor; Mr. Michael Seymour, Grisham Master Teacher; Dr. Sylvia Byrd, Alumni Association Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching; Dr. Karen Coats, Alumni Association Outstanding Graduate Student Mentor; Ms. Rita Burrell, Jefcoat Excellence in Advising (Staff); and Dr. Carolyn Huntington, Jefcoat Excellence in Advising (Faculty). Congratulations to all.

    As we begin the budget cycle, I want to point out that President Keenum has approved the return of a small amount of operating funds to every unit with employees on the E&G budget. I also hope in the process that we will be able to recognize faculty and staff for their hard work and dedication.

    As the semester draws to a close, I want to express my appreciation to all of the faculty, staff, and students who make Mississippi State University an excellent place to learn, live, and work.

    Sincerely,

    Jerry Gilbert
    Provost and Executive Vice President
  • March 2011
    Dear MSU Faculty and Staff:

    This month marked the one‑year point in my term as Provost and Executive Vice President. It has been a very rewarding and gratifying experience for me. I look forward to working with President Keenum and the Vice Presidents in the future years as we continue to advance the university.

    On Saturday, March 26, we will be making up lost class meeting time due to the snow day of January 10. I have worked with the Registrar to adjust future calendars so that we will have more flexibility when dealing with days missed due to severe weather or emergencies. I am also working with the other provosts and the staff of the IHL Board of Trustees to see if we can build into Board Policy more flexibility to the contact minute requirement for classes.

    I am pleased that we now have a permanent director for Human Resources Management (HRM), Ms. Judy Spencer. She is going to do an excellent job of leading this critical unit in the university. In addition, we have a commitment from Dr. Sharon Oswald, head of the Department of Management at Auburn University, to be our next Dean of the College of Business, pending IHL Board of Trustees approval. We hope to begin wrapping up in the near future many of the top‑level searches currently underway.

    As we move toward the end of the semester, I will be continuing the discussion of the merits of the proposed Instructional Professors with the faculty and their elected representatives. I have placed a copy of a revised proposal on the Provost's website (http://www.provost.msstate.edu/) so that you can look at what is being proposed. This new category of professors would allow us to have them focus exclusively on teaching and instruction‑related activities. Among other advantages, this would lend support to our tenure‑track faculty by giving them more time for research. Although there could be some possible disadvantages, I think that by carefully defining the boundary conditions associated with Instructional Professors, they can significantly enhance the instructional programs at MSU.

    The Faculty Senate Roundtable scheduled for April 1 will focus on academic planning associated with the expansion of the student population of MSU. I think that we can come up with other creative approaches, like the proposal for Instructional Professors, to help us maintain quality while addressing increasing teaching demand. Certainly I am appreciative of President Keenum's commitment to the creation of new faculty positions to address our growing student numbers. I look forward to discussing with faculty leaders and administrators our options for expansion.

    We have just begun a new professional development program for staff through HRM, Learning Experience for Aspiring Professionals (LEAP). Working with HRM, I hope
    to develop more opportunities for the development and recognition of our staff, a group that is critical for the success of MSU.

    I hope everyone had a chance to enjoy some of Spring Break and is energized to tackle the rest of the semester.

    Sincerely,

    Jerry Gilbert
    Provost and Executive Vice President