June 16, 2008 Rotogram

THE MSU DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATION

Rotarian John Rush, MSU vice president for development and alumni, is today’s speaker. He’ll discuss the role of Mississippi State’s Development  Foundation in providing for the University’s future growth and development.

STARKVILLE’S MISS HOSPITALITY

Tori Ferguson, Starkville’s new Miss Hospitality, will be our guest next Monday. Tori was our Rotary Youth Exchange student to   Quito, Ecuador. Although her exchange year was unexpectedly shortened, she had an excellent exchange experience, which she will share with us.

LAST WEEK AT ROTARY

Attendance: There were 113 members (74 active, 38 exempt, and 1 honorary) present and 60 active, 18 exempt, 7 honorary members missing. Membership is currently 198.

Invocation and Pledge: Mo Netadj.

Guests: Guests of members were Mike McGrevey (MSU VP for Finance) of Chip Templeton; Scott Dodd, (Express Personnel) of Stu Vance;  Robbie Leach of his Dad Rob Leach; and Tammy Tyndall of George Sherman. Club guests were Jerry King (United Way) Paul Sims (Starkville Daily News); Negrita Caicedo and Maryna Melnik (RYE students), and Victoria Follett (Maryna’s host sister).

Makeups: Jeff Donald in West Point; Brent Fountain in Kosciusko.

Dollars for United Way: President Ned Browning presented Rotary’s  check for $500 to Jerry King, Executive Director of the United Way of North Central  Mississippi. King thanked the Club and individual Rotarians for their support of this year’s campaign that resulted in $305,000, second highest ever. “Our goal is to achieve $400,000 next year,” King said.

Meeting Notes: President Ned congratulated Rotarian Jimmy McPherson and his wife, Jennifer, on the recent birth of their son, Wesley Owen McPherson.

He also congratulated Rotarian Marshall Molen, adviser for MSU’s Challenge X Team that was recently named national winner, topping 16 other competing universities.

Ned announced that the Mississippi Horse Park will celebrate a “grand reopening” of its renovated racing track at 11a.m. Friday, June 20.

He reminded Rotarians of the Saturday opening of Starkville’s Community Market on Lafayette street between Main and Lampkin. All are invited.

MARYNA SAYS THANKS – AND GOODBYE

Maryna Melnik, who has graced our meetings ever since her arrival last July, thanked Rotarians and her host families for “a wonderful year” as an exchange student. “It has been an amazing and awesome experience. I am so sad to leave. I feel like we are one big family. I have learned so much, and  my English has improved. Thank you so much – I will miss y’all!”

Roy Ruby’s ensuing comment: “Maryna, your English is better than two-thirds of those in this room!”

Maryna left Saturday to return to her home and family in Oktyabrsky, Belarus.

MSU RANKS HIGH IN RESEARCH

“It’s a challenge to describe the University’s research efforts because there is so much going on,” admitted Kirk Schulz in his opening remarks last Monday. Research programs are usually measured in funding and last year Mississippi State topped $186 million in grants and contracts, almost double Southern Miss that ranked second among the state’s four research universities (MSU, USM, UM, and JSU).

The Vice President for Research and Economic Development attributes the university’s success to four characteristics: (1) a strong interdisciplinary approach; (2) the proportion of research in the traditional land-grant strengths in agriculture and engineering; (3) the relevance of the research to the state; and (4) strong partnerships with other universities, state and federal agencies, and private industry.

Examples of current interdisiplinary research cited were biofuels, biotechnology and computer science, and remote sensing and applications. Emphasis by the Sustainable Energy Research Center is in developing renewable energy from agricultural crops (other than corn), wood and wood waste, and animal and human waste.

The Institute for Digital Biology is a partnership of Agriculture, Veterinary Medicine and a number of agencies and organizations such as National Science Foundation, National Institute of Health, Department of Energy, Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Fastest growing research is in remote sensing. MSU’s GeoResources Institute had $28 million in grants and contracts in FY 2007 for 70 projects involving 70 faculty and 100 students from 20 departments in 6 colleges.

There is significant research going on in other areas, such as the Social Science Research Center and the College of Arts and Sciences.

One little known effort is work in the Department of Philosophy and Religion to develop archeological and artifact conservation software.

The payoff in research is economic development in the state. Everyone is well aware of the vital role of MSU’s Bagley College of Engineering in attracting new major industries to the state and region and continuing work with them. These include the automotive industry (Nissan, Toyota, PACCAR) and aerospace (American Eurocopter, Aurora Fllight Sciences, et al).

The University contributes to economic development through the Thad Cochran Research Technology and Economic Development Park; through the University’s Extension network (“MSU’s crown jewel”) working directly with communities across the state; and using technology to create new small high technology companies. He said there are currently 11 high-tech companies in Starkville and 4 more expected  to come on-line July 1. He cited Semi-South as an example of this success. “These may be small, but Google and Microsoft started in garages!”.

Looking to the future, Schulz said construction will soon start on a 42,000-square-foot three-story building in the Research Park. The $8 million facility is being built on the lot formerly assigned to Viking. The multi-tenant facility will have 160 offices and Schulz expects it to be all leased by its completion date in July-August 2009. Further expansion of the Research Park is also in future plans.

MSU is one of the top ten universities in the South driving economic development, according to Schulz. And Starkville has been named one of the top 10 communities in the South for future expansion.

Looking ahead, Schulz said MSU’s goal is to move into the top 100 research universities nationally in all research categories. The quality and quantity of PhD students will continue to increase, and he wants to see research funding top the $200 million mark. Schulz, a former member of the Club, was introduced by Joe Thompson.

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