STARKVILLE — Several key political figures from around the state will descend on Starkville as Mississippi State University celebrates the investiture of 19th President Mark E. Keenum this week.
Keenum has been Mississippi State”s chief executive since January, but he will be installed formally on Friday.
Gov. Haley Barbour is set to lead a state delegation which includes Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant, Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, Attorney General Jim Hood, Auditor Stacey Pickering, Treasurer Tate Reeves, and Agriculture and Commerce Commissioner Lester Spell. A congressional delegation including Republican state Sens. Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker and U.S. Reps. Gregg Harper, R-Pearl, and Travis Childers, D-Booneville, also are scheduled to appear, according to a MSU press release. College board officials, representatives of other Mississippi institutions of higher learning, and Starkville and Oktibbeha County representatives also will participate.
Still, university officials say the event has been “scaled back” due to tough economic times.
“At Dr. Keenum”s request, we have scaled back investiture events in recognition of the economic realities our university and state face,” said Amy Tuck, investiture committee chair. Events all will take place during a half-day period; there will be no formal dinner or related social activities, she added.
The public ceremony, which will be broadcast to overflow campus locations, begins at noon in the Bettersworth Auditorium of Lee Hall. It will be preceded by two other public programs — a 7:30 a.m. worship service in the Chapel of Memories and a 9-11 a.m. reception in the Foster Ballroom of the Colvard Student Union.
Investiture speakers will include the Rev. Dr. Neddie Winters, president of Mission Mississippi; MSU student, staff and faculty leaders; then Barbour, Cochran and Keenum. Music will be performed by the MSU Wind Ensemble, and brass and concert choirs.
Hank Bounds, state commissioner of higher education, and Scott Ross, president of the State Board of Trustees of Institutions of Higher Learning, will invest Keenum with the presidential medal of office.
Because of smaller-than-normal venues compared to previous MSU investitures, overflow seating is being provided next door in the Colvard Student Union and on the western edge of campus at the Hunter Henry Center.
All events will be simultaneously broadcast throughout the morning by the University Television Center to monitors in the union, as well as local cable channel 98 and webcast on www.msstate.edu. The events also will be broadcast to MSU-Meridian, where officials are hosting a reception and viewing of the televised ceremony.
During the investiture, Keenum will make a major announcement regarding the launch of new student scholarships and faculty support, according to a MSU press release.
“Dr. Keenum has indicated that he wants the focus of the events to be on Mississippi State and on our core mission,” explained Tuck, who also is serving as mistress of ceremonies. “Our students and faculty will be heavily involved in making the events a success, and they will be the centerpiece of his investiture announcement.”
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.
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