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Travis named dean of MSU's College of Arts and Sciences


Rick Travis

Rick Travis
Photo by: Photo by Russ Houston



MSU Office of Public Affairs



A longtime Mississippi State faculty member and administrator is the new dean for the university's largest academic unit. 


Rick Travis is being named dean of the College of Arts and Sciences after serving as interim in the position for the past year. 


MSU Provost and Executive Vice President Judy Bonner said Travis's record of service and leadership have positioned him well to move the college forward. 


"We have appreciated Dr. Travis's leadership during the interim period and have every confidence that he will continue his exemplary service to our university as our new dean," Bonner said. 


His appointment is pending formal approval by the Board of Trustees, Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning. 


Travis earned a 1993 doctoral degree and 1989 master's in political science at the University of Georgia. His undergraduate degree in international relations is from Memphis State University. Travis came to MSU in 1993 as an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration. He was promoted to associate professor and professor before serving terms as interim head of both his home department and the Department of Sociology, and associate dean for academic and student affairs for the College of Arts and Sciences. 


Travis said his various administrative, teaching and service roles gained throughout his university career have prepared him to be "organized and meticulous, while also being approachable and flexible." He said his decades of teaching, ranging from large undergraduate to doctoral level courses, have given him a very good understanding of the challenges faculty face in their teaching responsibilities. 


"I am very proud to have the opportunity to serve the university as dean and to help with the goals of members of the College of Arts and Sciences family, including faculty, staff and students. It will be my responsibility to find ways to help them be successful," Travis said. 


Travis's core research and teaching background includes social science research methods, foreign policy decision-making and U.S. foreign policy, democratization and political change, advanced quantitative methods, among others. He has garnered various awards including being named Outstanding Honors Professor, Professor of the Year for the political science department for three years, and Professor of the Year for Mississippi by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education. 


He also has received the MSU Alumni Association's Teaching Excellence Award and the university's John C. Grisham Teaching Excellence Award. 


Travis also has directed programs, including oversight for 15 years of the Mississippi Model Security Council, which has brought as many as 300 high school students to campus for leadership activities, with special guests including U.N. ambassadors and other high-ranking diplomats. He has chaired and co-chaired several university and departmental committees, and he has served as a member of MSU's Robert Holland Faculty Senate. 


The College of Arts and Sciences includes more than 5,000 students, 300 full-time faculty members, nine doctoral programs and 24 academic majors offered in 14 departments. It also is home to the most diverse units for research and scholarly activities, including natural and physical sciences, social and behavioral sciences, and the humanities. 


Natural and physical science research projects have been supported over the decades by the National Institute of Justice, U.S. Department of Defense, National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation. 


Research expenditures in the humanities also are an important part of Mississippi State's overall research portfolio. Additionally, the NSF has ranked MSU among the top 25 for research expenditures in the social sciences. For more information on MSU's College of Arts and Sciences, visit



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