Dr. Mark E. Keenum
Dr. Mark E. Keenum became president of Mississippi State University (MSU) in 2009. Since then, 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.
Keenum also serves on the board of directors of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities and is the vice chair of the Executive Council of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
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 degrees in agricultural economics.