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Campus News Notebook

January 12, 2011

Many options await students at study abroad fair

Opportunities abound for students interested in spending a semester studying in other parts of the world as Mississippi State hosts its second annual Study Abroad Fair Jan. 26 in Colvard Student Union.
From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the area adjacent to the Gaddis Hunt Commons, students will be able to meet with representatives of more than 20 programs about thousands of educational opportunities in approximately 60 countries around the world.
MSU Study Abroad coordinator Allison Noffsinger said spending a semester in a foreign country gives students a chance to broaden their horizons in unique and meaningful ways.
“Students who study abroad gain a new perspective on the world and develop skills that cannot be acquired while at home in their comfort zone,” Noffsinger said.
“Students learn more about themselves in this short time than in many years at home. While studying internationally and overseas, students find new strengths such as overcoming the challenges of living in a new culture and speaking a new language.”
She said more than 250 MSU students took advantage of this opportunity during the 2009-10 academic year.
Students in all majors and class years are encouraged to participate. Complete information is available at
The program is part of MSU’s Division of Academic Outreach and Continuing Education.

STEM students receive Robert Noyce Scholarships

Five undergraduates and one master’s student are recipients of the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarships in the College of Education at Mississippi State University.
The scholarship program encourages talented science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) majors to become K-12 teachers in the math and science disciplines.
Program completion includes a two-year teaching commitment in a high-need Mississippi school district for each year of support received, according to Linda Coats, associate professor in MSU’s department of leadership and foundations and scholarship administrator.
“Service must be completed within eight years after graduation from the degree program in which the scholarship was awarded,” Coats said.
She explained that availability is to undergraduate juniors and seniors pursuing double majors, with one in chemistry, biology, physics, mathematics, engineering and the other in mathematics education or science education in a STEM field. Those who already hold a bachelor’s degree in a STEM field are eligible for a professional stipend.
Qualifying undergraduates receive up to $10,000 each year for a maximum of three years, while qualifying STEM professionals with a degree receive $15,000 for one year toward an advanced degree.
This year’s recipients include:
• Cedar Bluff — Tishana Smith, a junior majoring in secondary education/mathematics;
• Macon — Jennie Mason, a junior majoring in secondary education/mathematics;
• McAdams — Michael Newsome, a STEM professional pursuing a master of teaching arts degree;
• Pelham, Ala. — Jennifer McCoy, a junior majoring in secondary education/mathematics;
• Starkville — Simeon Weatherby, a senior majoring in mathematics with teaching certification;
• West Point — Kayla Allen, a junior majoring in secondary education/mathematics.
For undergraduates to be considered, they must have a 3.0 grade-point average or higher, be a U.S. citizen interested in pursuing a double major, provide documentation of at least 40 hours working with children, and complete the application process.
To be considered for stipends, professionals must hold at least a bachelor’s degree in a STEM field from a regionally/nationally accredited institution, be a U.S. citizen, have a minimum 2.75 grade point average on a 4.0 scale, provide current GRE scores, meet minimum Praxis I and Praxis II examination requirements, provide documentation of at least 40 hours working with children, and complete the application process.
For more on this scholarship program, visit
For more information, contact Dr. Coats at 662-325-2416 or

Carnegie, CASE salute Travis as ‘Professor of the Year’

Mississippi State associate professor Rick Travis believes a good teacher doesn’t limit teaching to the classroom--it’s the starting point.
The faculty member in the department of political science and public administration often carries discussions into the hallways of Bowen Hall and other parts of campus about foreign policy, peacekeeping and nation-building.
He believes students should get to know professors outside of the classroom to experience the informal aspects of learning, asking questions during one-on-one discussions.
Conversations with him usually involve digging below surface explanations of political issues, challenging students to think beyond easy responses.
“I will not settle for simplistic or ideological-based answers,” he said. “But rather I expect students to explain issues from more than one theoretical perspective.”
For his passion in encouraging students to think for themselves, Travis recently was honored as 2010 Mississippi Professor of the Year.
The award is given annually by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.
Each year, the U.S. Professors of the Year program salutes the most outstanding undergraduate instructors in the country, faculty who excel in teaching and positively influence the lives and careers of students.
It is the only national program to recognize excellence in undergraduate instruction and mentoring.
All undergraduate teachers in the United States, of any academic rank at any type of undergraduate institution, are eligible for the award. Entries are judged by top U.S. educators and other active participants in education.
The Council for Advancement and Support of Education launched the awards program in 1981.
That same year, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching began hosting the final round of judging, and in 1982, became the primary sponsor.
K.C. Morrison, head of MSU’s department of political science and public administration, said Travis’ accomplishment reflects well on the department, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the entire university.
Along with Travis’ teaching in the classroom, Morrison also said the instructor’s role as a department undergraduate adviser shows how much he cares about students.
“As department head, I am astounded, as are his colleagues, at the prodigious effort he puts not only into classroom teaching, but also into advising undergraduate students,” Morrison said. “Dr. Travis is superior at it, bringing boundless energy and attentiveness.”
Travis has had a reputation for many years as one of the most engaging and student-friendly faculty members at MSU.
Recipient of many teaching honors, he has won each of the three undergraduate teaching awards at the university, and was one of the youngest-ever faculty named the Outstanding Honors Faculty Member of the Year and honored with the John C. Grisham Teaching Excellence Award.
When discussing his teaching philosophy, Travis said his courses involve discussions of complex politics, but also relate the serious consequences politics can have on many people throughout the world.
“I teach about war and peace, and ultimately life and death,” Travis said. “And when I do my job right, students know that it’s not just academic for me or them.”
For more information, contact Dr. Travis at 662-325-7866 or

MSU receives Carnegie Community Engagement Classification

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching announced today that Mississippi State University is receiving the 2010 Community Engagement Classification.
Carnegie Foundation President Anthony Bryk cited MSU’s excellent alignment among mission, culture, leadership, resources, and practices in support of “dynamic and noteworthy community engagement.”
He said, “You were able to give examples of exemplary institutionalized practices of community engagement, and you also documented evidence of this in a coherent and compelling response to our classification framework.”
Among projects submitted by the university for the Carnegie application were:
• Body Walk, an MSU Extension partnership with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi, which takes elementary students through a mobile display of making healthy food choices and developing a healthy lifestyle;
• Camp Jabber Jaw, an alliance between MSU’s T.K. Martin Center for Technology and Disability and the Mississippi Department of Rehabiliation Services, which helps individuals with augmentative and alternative communication skills; and the
• Harrison County Beach Project, an effort of the MSU Department of Landscape Architecture’s Center for Sustainable Design and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Harrison County, which provides landscape design and vegetation assistance in restoring the hurricane-damaged coastal beachfront.
MSU President Mark Keenum said that the Carnegie Classification process has been an excellent way for the university to showcase its commitment to local communities and identify more ways for students to be involved in service learning.
“In addition to our focus on students’ academic success, service is one of the university’s core mssions. This designation reflects the work that has gone into providing service opportunities where students can be prepared in a world that is becoming more interconnected each day,” he said.
For more than three decades the Carnegie Classification has been the leading instrument used by researchers for defining institutional diversity in U.S. higher education.
Until 2006, the distinction was derived entirely from existing empirical data before the addition of the “elective” Community Engagement Classification, which allows voluntary participation.
Tim Chamblee, director of MSU’s Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness, said that while the Carnegie application process highlighted the outstanding community partnerships that currently exist, it also provides a catalyst to improve and sustain partnerships and to build additional ones.
“These partnerships will allow our students, graduates, faculty, and staff to reach out to communities around the state, nation and world,” he explained.
Supporting MSU’s application, along with Chamblee, were committee members Lisa Harris, associate vice president for Student Affairs; April Heiselt, assistant professor, counseling and educational psychology; Gary Jackson, director, MSU Extension; and Cade Smith, director, Office of Student Leadership and Community Engagement.
The university received the honor along with three other higher education institutions in the state, including Jackson State University, Millsaps College, and the University of Southern Mississippi. Mississippi State is one of 115 institutions being added to Carnegie’s Community Engagement Classification completed in 2006 and 2008, bringing the total to 311 nationwide.
Founded by Andrew Carnegie in 1905 and chartered in 1906 by an act of Congress, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching is an independent policy and research center.
Its current mission is to support needed transformations in American education through tighter connections between teaching practice, evidence of student learning, the communication and use of this evidence, and structured opportunities to build knowledge.
For more information on the Carnegie Foundation, visit
For details on MSU’s Carnegie Foundation Community Engagement Classification, contact Dr. Chamblee at 662-325-3920 or

Lifelong activist, author to keynote MLK breakfast

Racial reconciliation activist and author Dolphus Weary will be the keynote speaker at Mississippi State as the community celebrates the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. with the 17th annual MLK Day Unity Breakfast on Jan. 17.
Sponsored jointly by Mississippi State, the MSU Office of Diversity and Equity Programs, and the President’s Commission on the Status of Minorities, the free-to-the-public program begins with breakfast at 7 a.m. in the Colvard Student Union’s Bill Foster Ballroom.
Through a sponsorship from the Greater Starkville Development Partnership, the event will include a 6:30-10:30 a.m. shuttle service from the parking lot between Humphrey Coliseum and the Sanderson Center to Colvard Union.
The local development agency also is making possible a Web broadcast of the program.
Weary is the president of Rural Education and Leadership (R.E.A.L.) Christian Foundation and works parttime with the racial reconciliation ministry Mission Mississippi. A lifelong activist, in 1967 Weary became the first African-American to receive a scholarship from Los Angeles Baptist College, where he played basketball and later became the school’s first African-American graduate.
In his book “I Ain’t Comin’ Back,” the Mississippi native chronicles his journey out of the state amid turbulent times and the spiritual discoveries that brought him home.
In addition to a bachelor’s degree, Weary went on to earn two master’s degrees, one in religious education from Los Angeles Baptist Seminary and another in educational administration from the University of Southern Mississippi. In 1997, he received his doctorate from Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson.
For more information, contact Latoya Bishop at 662-325-2493 or by e-mail at

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