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MSU names new provost

Mississippi State University is getting a new provost. David Shaw, a longtime faculty member and senior administrator at MSU was just named the new provost and executive vice president of the university by MSU President Mark Keenum. Shaw previously led MSU’s research enterprise and economic development initiatives and through the course of his leadership, MSU now boasts conducting well over half of all funded university research in the state of Mississippi, with research expenditures exceeding $240 million.

His appointment is pending formal approval by the Board of Trustees, State Institutions of Higher Learning. He is expected to begin his new role at MSU on July 1.

Shaw will succeed Judith A. “Judy” Bonner as MSU’s provost. Bonner, a former president of the University of Alabama, announced in January her intention to retire after a long and distinguished career in higher education.

Keenum said Shaw was chosen after a national search that produced “three extremely well-qualified, visionary finalists” and he expressed appreciation to members of the Provost Search Committee. Comprised of a majority of elected faculty, as well as appointed student, staff and administrative representatives, the committee was led by MSU Vice President for Finance and CFO Don Zant.

“I was impressed not only with Dr. Shaw’s exemplary record of leadership and accomplishment over the last three-plus decades at MSU, but also with his passionate vision and enthusiasm for academic excellence, student success, and expanding opportunity and access,” said Keenum. “I’m confident that Dr. Shaw will make an immediate impact on our university in this new and demanding role. David understands our land-grant mission and the diverse constituencies we serve. I have great personal confidence in his commitment to MSU.”

Growing up on a family farm in rural Oklahoma, Shaw holds a bachelor’s degree in agriculture from Cameron University in Oklahoma and a master’s and doctorate from Oklahoma State University.

Shaw joined the Mississippi State faculty as an assistant professor in 1985, with a joint teaching and research appointment in the Department of Plant Pathology and Weed Science. He has taught undergraduate and graduate courses, including weed biology and ecology, herbicide physiology, fate of pesticides, and a remote sensing seminar.

Shaw is a fellow of the Weed Science Society and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 2017, the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program selected him for its prestigious U.S.-France International Education Administrators Program.

During the application and interview process, Shaw offered a more detailed blueprint for recognizing faculty members for their achievements and seeking more private funding to endow professors and chairs. He created a faculty leadership development program in his current office and proposed to expand such opportunities for faculty campus-wide. He also stressed the need to ensure the university’s academic offerings provide all students with an opportunity to achieve success in an evolving and increasingly competitive workplace.

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