Mississippi State President Mark E. Keenum announced Friday [June 18] plans to combine administrative functions of two research units and the colleges of Forest Resources and Agriculture and Life Sciences.
Consolidation of administrative units for two colleges will provide significant savings for the university while maintaining the separate identities of the colleges, he said.
"The university faces unprecedented budget reductions in the next two years as the state undergoes challenging economic times," Keenum noted. "Combining administrative resources will reduce costs while ensuring the quality of the two programs remains intact."
The land-grant institution has been proactive in dealing with current and future budget challenges. Last fall, the president developed a faculty-led Select Committee on Efficiencies and Innovations.
"The committee recommended merging the two colleges to save administrative costs," Keenum said. "After visiting with friends and supporters of the two colleges, as well as faculty and staff, it was apparent the best way to accomplish the needed savings is to merge the administrative roles of each unit."
The merger could save up to $1 million annually. The university must cut approximately $47 million over the next two years.
MSU alumnus George M. Hopper will remain dean of the College of Forest Resources and director of the Forest and Wildlife Research Center. He also will assume duties as interim dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and interim director of the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, a position currently held by associate vice president Melissa Mixon.
A Vicksburg native, Hopper joined the forestry faculty in 2005 after serving 11 years as head of the department of forestry, wildlife and fisheries at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. He is a Society of American Foresters Fellow and past-president of the National Association of University Forest Resources Program.
Founded in 1903, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences consists of the School of Human Sciences and nine departments: agricultural economics; agricultural and biological engineering; animal and dairy sciences; biochemistry and molecular biology; entomology and plant pathology; food science, nutrition and health promotion; landscape architecture; plant and soil sciences; and poultry science. Faculty researchers in the college have a joint appointment with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station.
The College of Forest Resources was formed in 1954 and consists of three departments: forestry; forest products; and wildlife, fisheries, and aquaculture. The separately-funded Forest and Wildlife Research Center was formed in 1994 as the college’s research arm.
Both colleges have faculty with appointments in the MSU Extension Service.
Established in 1888, the experiment station operates a statewide laboratory based on the MSU campus, with research facilities at four research and extension centers and 16 branch locations.
"Forestry and agriculture are the largest and most important industries in our state’s economy, accounting for 28.8 percent of all jobs in the state and 23.5 percent of all income," said Vice President Greg Bohach of the Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine. "MSU is ranked seventh among all U.S. institutions in research expenditures for the agricultural sciences and forestry."
"The efficiencies gained by combining administrative functions will allow us to maintain our nationally prominent programs and faculty," Bohach added.
Hopper will serve as dean of the College of Forest Resources, director of the Forest and Wildlife Resource Center, interim dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and interim director of the experiment station until a search can be completed, according to procedures defined by Mississippi State’s faculty governance policies.
The search will be accomplished during the upcoming academic year.