BOONEVILLE – Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum made the most of a nostalgic visit to Northeast Mississippi on Tuesday, with talks at his community college alma mater, Booneville High School and the Prentiss County Development Association.
During a reception in his honor at Northeast Mississippi Community College, which the Corinth native attended before going on to complete his bachelor’s at Mississippi State, Keenum spoke of how pivotal the community college experience was in his life.
“Coming into this union building brought back lots of fond memories,” he said. “Friends I made here have been lifelong friends. I met my wife Rhonda when we were both students here, and this year we celebrated our 25th anniversary.”
Community college is a place where other students like him, who might not be ready for a senior college experience directly out of high school, can be prepared for their next educational level, he said.
“The move from Northeast to Mississippi State was seamless for me, and that’s what I want for students here today,” Keenum said.
In the months since he assumed the presidency, Keenum said he has traveled the state talking with alumni and supporters and telling them the wonderful things that are happening at the university.
Fall enrollment was up 4.4 percent, he said, bringing student enrollment to more than 18,600, the largest university in Mississippi, and more expansion efforts are under way.
“We have the best retention rate and the best graduation rate of any college in Mississippi, and we work very hard to help our students be successful,” he said. “We have a lot of challenges in our state, but education is the key to overcoming the numerous challenges that we face. I like to remind our leaders in Jackson that for every dollar they spend in higher education, their return is three dollars.”
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Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal