Dr. Mark E. Keenum
Dr. Mark E. Keenum is president of Mississippi State University (MSU) and chairman of the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development (BIFAD). Keenum also chairs the board of directors of the Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research (FFAR) and the Presidents United to Solve Hunger (PUSH).
Since Keenum became MSU president in 2009, the university’s enrollment has reached record levels. Under his presidency, MSU was named a “very high research activity university” by the Carnegie Foundation. He also created the land-grant university’s International Institute, which partners with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization to manage food supply threats, among other programs.
From 2006 to 2008, Keenum served as undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services for the United States Department of Agriculture, designing several award-winning initiatives, such as the Stocks for Food Program. Keenum also strongly supported the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which helps African countries expand their economies by exporting agricultural products.
From 1996 to 2006, Keenum served U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (MS) as chief of staff, having direct oversight over the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry and the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations, where he was a strong advocate for increased funding for research and development.
Keenum began his career at MSU as a faculty member with the Extension Service and the Department of Agricultural Economics. He graduated from MSU with a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in agricultural economics.