MSU on the grow, president says

CORINTH – (AP) Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum says the university is undergoing massive infrastructure upgrades and expects record fall enrollment.

Keenum, a Corinth High School graduate, told the Daily Corinthian that the university set a record enrollment last fall with 20,400 students, and expects to top the total this fall.

The university has five campuses statewide, 12 research centers and an office in every county.

Keenum said main-campus construction under way includes two new residence halls and a $25 million football complex. A major renovation is under way at Lee Hall in the center of campus.

A basketball new pavilion recently was completed and officials are in final negotiations with bidders to expand Davis-Wade Stadium.

Mark Keenum

“As long as the Good Lord allows me to be the president, I don't want people to come and not see construction at Mississippi State,'' Keenum said. “Construction is a good sign for a university.''

One of the school's main struggles results from the state's refusal to issue bonds.

“2012 was the first time in memory when the legislature didn't pass a bond bill,'' he explained. “We rely on bonds for upkeep.''

The university must maintain more than 700 buildings, 15 miles of streets, 25 miles of water lines and 20 miles of sewer lines.

In the previous legislative session, the university was hit with a 3 percent budget decrease – the fourth consecutive cut. Over the last few years the cuts have amounted to a 19 percent total drop in funding. At the same time enrollment has grown 25 percent, Keenum said.