August 28, 2011 12:08:00 AM
JACKSON -- The state College Board said Friday that is has approved four-year contract extensions for the president of Mississippi State University and the chancellor of the University of Mississippi.
Mark Keenum started working as president of Mississippi State in January 2009. He holds a bachelor''s degree, a master''s degree and a doctoral degree in agricultural economics from MSU. He is a former chief of staff for Republican U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi and was an undersecretary of agriculture when he was chosen to be president of his alma mater.
Dan Jones became chancellor of Ole Miss in July 2009, after serving as head of the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson. He holds an undergraduate degree from Mississippi College and a medical degree from UMMC. He had a private medical practice in Laurel before moving into university administration.
Keenum and Jones are paid the same salary of $429,000 a year. Each receives $220,500 from the state, supplemented with $208,500 from foundations at their respective schools.
Oxford-based University of Mississippi was founded in 1848, and Jones is the 16th chancellor. Starkville-based Mississippi State was founded in 1880, and Keenum is the 19th president.
Dr. Stacy Davidson of Cleveland, a College Board member, praised Jones'' work as chancellor. Ole Miss had record freshman enrollment last fall. The university has started the Ole Miss Opportunity program to provide help for students with financial needs. The College Board says the program provided $459,000 in scholarships to 102 Mississippi freshmen in its first year. This fall, nearly 190 new students will share more than $1 million in Ole Miss Opportunity scholarships.
"The growth on the University of Mississippi campus in Oxford and at the Medical Center in Jackson is a credit to his leadership," Davidson said in a news release. "It is not easy to grow during difficult economic times, but Dr. Jones has managed to do that by planning strategically, finding efficiencies where possible, involving all stakeholders and making good decisions."
Another College Board member, Ed Blakeslee of Gulfport, had similar praise for Keenum.
"Despite very challenging financial times, Dr. Keenum has guided the university with a steady hand and sound decision-making," Blakeslee said in a news release. "By engaging the campus community and forming a strong team, Dr. Keenum has met the challenges and put the university on a path to an even brighter future."
Mississippi State has had record enrollment the past two years. Under Keenum, the university has started the StatePride Faculty Awards and the StatePride annual scholarships. StatePride has attracted more than $65 million in gifts and pledges, with a goal of $100 million.