Mississippi university takes bold step in “taking care of what matters”
Published 6:15 am Wednesday, April 12, 2023
Mississippi State University elevated its new branding campaign Tuesday while also introducing Transforming MSU, a blueprint that boldly re-envisions the university’s role and impact in solving some of the world’s most critical challenges, including those close to home.
MSU President Mark E. Keenum and Provost and Executive Vice President David R. Shaw detailed the new blueprint for campus leaders during a morning celebration that emphasized the university’s newest tagline, “Taking Care of What Matters.” Keenum said it’s imperative leaders in higher education adapt to an ever-changing landscape.
“We believe we must reimagine the role and impact of a national university in solving the world’s most critical challenges, starting in our own backyard,” Keenum said, citing the new brand position’s purpose.
A collaborative development over the last two years, the new blueprint continues the university’s emphasis on students, the MSU president said.
“Taking care of what matters to the many diverse people and communities we serve has always been Mississippi State University’s mission,” Keenum said. “Our students are at the heart of everything we do, and we are committed to preparing them and helping them as they grow into the future leaders our state and nation need.”
The blueprint highlights how MSU must transform to continue equipping students for the challenges they face as they begin their careers and for those they’ll encounter mid- and late-career.
“We must help our students thrive through innovative academic programs and memorable, hands-on experiences while ensuring a holistic focus on student well-being,” Keenum said. “We must prepare our students to compete successfully for the jobs of the future.”
More than two dozen initiatives, with more to be added, are part of the new blueprint, including: implementing new courses focused on students’ first-year experiences; emphasizing teaching excellence; increasing mentoring opportunities between alumni and students; increasing support of entrepreneurship and technology commercialization; and celebrating the real impact of MSU’s research and outreach efforts in Mississippi and across the globe.
“Staff and faculty representatives on 17 task forces logged countless hours of hard work over the past two years to get us to this point,” said Shaw, the MSU provost. He cited a “thriving” student success initiative and a “robust” first-year program for students as illustrations of the groups’ work.
MSU’s planned Master of Science in Nursing degree program, which obtained initial Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning approval in February, is a prime example of how the university is simultaneously making a difference in the lives of its students and serving societal needs to counter the national nursing shortage. The program, under development at MSU-Meridian, will prepare college graduates who hold non-nursing degrees for initial registered nurse licensure and is the first of its kind in the state.
MSU translates knowledge into impact, Keenum said, and its world-class faculty and staff focus on critical research to confront local and global challenges head-on.
“The connection between relevant, impactful university research and families in Mississippi, throughout the nation and the world is clear and undeniable,” Keenum said. “We are at the forefront of life-changing research and creative endeavors that are advancing our society.”
Keenum said five new approaches (serving students with a holistic focus; strengthening bonds with alumni, friends and partners; igniting innovation through research and creativity; elevating the community; and telling the MSU story) will ground the transformation.
The MSU president cited the importance of alumni, fans, friends and partners in all aspects of the university and said MSU is exploring “new and exciting ways to build upon these relationships.”
For example, fan amenities are continually reviewed to enhance the gameday experience across the athletic spectrum, and that includes a robust facilities modernization initiative. As progress continues on current projects, such as the significant renovation and expansion of Humphrey Coliseum, future projects in the planning phase will ensure MSU’s facilities are among the very best in the Southeastern Conference and the nation.
“We are excited about our new athletic leadership, and we remain fully committed to supporting all of our student athletes with the resources and support they need to compete at the highest levels, excel in the classroom and earn their degree.”
The blueprint addresses the need for MSU to elevate outside perceptions of the state and the university.
“We will define a distinctive, ownable and relevant brand that clarifies the value we bring to our audiences,” Keenum said. “As we build awareness of our accomplishments, our experiences and the opportunities we’re creating for our students, it will aid our efforts to attract incredible people and talent essential to our transformation.”
A new branding hub, an online portal enabling MSU communicators to efficiently share and discuss the production of external marketing materials, will aid in brand consistency, the MSU president said.
“We have enjoyed incredible success and strong momentum for more than a decade,” Keenum said. “But much work remains to ensure we maintain this momentum.”