They understand and have demonstrated the importance of the state's leading universities finding ways to collaborate, combining their resources and research to be a catalyst for developing the economy and improving the quality of life in Mississippi.
It's appropriate, then, that both have received a strong vote of confidence from the state Board of Trustees of Institutions of Higher Learning.
The College Board last week voted unanimously to extend for four additional years the contracts of Keenum and Jones. That's the maximum allowed by state law.
It wasn't a surprise. Both men have won the plaudits of board members, university constituencies and state business and political leaders. But stability is always desirable when good leaders are in place, and the College Board's action ensured it.
Keenum, who became MSU president in January 2009, was a favorite son candidate of many of the university's alumni as an alumnus himself. He has settled in for what many hope will be a long tenure with accomplishments similar to the University of Mississippi's former home-grown Chancellor Robert Khayat, who used his strengths and credibility as a long-time member of the Ole Miss community to strengthen that institution.
Jones, who succeeded Khayat in mid-2009, had difficult shoes to fill but has proven up to the task. He had previously served as vice chancellor over the University of Mississippi Medical Center campus in Jackson.
Both Keenum and Jones have presided over record enrollments at their institutions and are focused on improving academic programs and institutional standing nationwide. As impressive as anything, however, has been their commitment to work together to solve problems and create opportunities in Northeast Mississippi and the rest of the state.
Competition in athletics is one thing, but Mississippi State and Ole Miss need to be collaborating - not competing - when it comes to the pressing state challenges that universities are in a unique position to address.
The entire state stands to benefit if these two leaders remain in their current roles for many years to come.