click to viewMSU celebrates Tree Campus USA designation with Arbor Day observance
STARKVILLE, Miss.--Mississippi State officials, along with members of the university's student chapter of the Society of American Foresters and the Campus Tree Advisory Committee, gathered today [Feb. 13] in the Junction to celebrate the land-grant institution's Tree Campus USA designation by the Arbor Day Foundation.
"I am so proud that we are a tree campus and we're being recognized as such," said MSU President Mark E. Keenum during his opening remarks. "Trees make places special. You can just look around this campus and realize how special trees are to Mississippi State University, where we have more than 10,000 trees of many different species and varieties."
Keenum said the university plants between 80 to 100 new trees on the Starkville campus every year.
"Trees are important, and we should recognize and appreciate their contributions to our lives. As human beings, we can't live without trees," he said.
This past year, the value of timber alone for the Magnolia State was about $1.2 billion, Keenum said.
"When you factor in all the products that we manufacture and produce here in Mississippi using wood products, that number balloons to more than $10 billion," he said, adding that the timber industry provides more than 60,000 jobs for Mississippians.
"We're blessed as Mississippians with an abundance of trees that we all can enjoy. Nearly two-thirds of all the land in our state is in forest land, which amounts to more than 20 million acres."
In thanking the university's campus landscape staff, Campus Tree Advisory Committee and College of Forest Resources students, faculty and staff for their contributions to university conservation efforts, Keenum highlighted a particularly meaningful use of campus trees.
"One thing that we do here at Mississippi State University that I think is really special is when a student passes away, we plant a tree to memorialize that student. We have more than 150 trees that are planted as memorials to students who have passed away. That's how much we value trees on our campus."
Todd Matthews, urban forestry coordinator with the Mississippi Forestry Commission, presented Keenum with a commemorative plaque from the Arbor Day Foundation noting the university's Tree Campus USA status.
The event concluded with the planting of a Nuttall oak tree in observance of Mississippi's Arbor Day, which is annually celebrated on the second Friday in February. National Arbor Day is April 24.
"The campus landscape is the first thing visitors and potential students see at Mississippi State," said Jason Gordon, assistant Extension professor in MSU's Forest and Wildlife Research Center.
Gordon, chair of the Campus Tree Advisory Committee, is one of ten members who study, plan and coordinate campus tree plantings and maintenance. The committee consists of three Extension personnel, two teaching faculty, two members of MSU's Campus Landscape and Facilities Management Departments and three forestry students, one of whom holds the vice-chair position.
Administered by the Arbor Day Foundation since 2009, the Tree Campus USA program annually honors two-year and four-year accredited colleges and universities that uphold five core standards, including evidence of a campus tree-care plan, dedicated funding for a campus tree program, an Arbor Day observance and sponsorship of student service-learning projects. For more, see www.arborday.org/programs/treecampususa/.
A total of 48 hard-working employees--32 full-time and 16 temporary--are responsible for conserving the more than 10,000 trees on the 1,500 maintained acres of the Starkville campus, according to the university's associate director of campus landscape.
"That includes turf and ornamental maintenance, tree maintenance, irrigation in beds and turf with over 100 systems campus-wide, pest and nuisance control, as well as maintenance and preparation of all MSU's athletic fields," said Bart Prather.
"We also plant more than 50,000 color plants in our beds each year, as well as maintain all of the turf in these areas. We have a great variety of native trees ranging from magnolias to oaks to cedars and numerous others that are either native to the area or are ornamental in nature and provide great landscaping benefits in our area," he added.
As part of the service-learning project component required by the Tree Campus USA program, student-volunteers are actively working each semester to develop a campus tree inventory and also plant trees to celebrate Arbor Day.
"Around 20 to 40 students typically contribute to these events," Gordon explained. "Most of them are forestry and landscape architecture students, but we also have ones who come from other areas of campus such as sociology, business and geosciences."
When selecting new trees, Prather said his team consults the Campus Master Planting Plan, which advises that "new tree, shrub and groundcover plantings should consist of species that are native and/or 'hardy adaptive' to Starkville and suited to the various habitat conditions found on the campus."
"From the floral side, we are trying to go with as much maroon and white color in our annual beds to help show our school colors on our campus in a natural way," he said.
Gordon added that the university campus also boasts a broad distribution of tree age classes, which ranges "from very old trees near Bost Extension Center and the Drill Field to a number of young trees planted near new construction."
"The number of trees being planted has increased during the last several years in coordination with the Campus Master Plan," he added.
Prather said his team is currently working with a grower to produce offspring of the 'Moon Sycamore' tree located at the very far west end of Junction.
"It was grown from a seed that was taken to the moon during the Apollo 14 mission in 1971, and we would like to incorporate more of the offspring back here on campus."
For additional information about the university's campus landscape efforts, contact Prather at 662-325-2499 or BPrather@campuslandscape.msstate.edu.
click to viewArbor Day tree planting Friday in the Junction
February 12, 2015
The student chapter of the Society of American Foresters and the Campus Tree Advisory Committee at Mississippi State will host the 2015 MSU Arbor Day celebration on Friday [Feb. 13] at 10:30 a.m. in the Junction, near the Lloyd-Ricks-Watson Building.
President Mark E. Keenum will be receiving a plaque in recognition of the university's designation by the National Arbor Day Foundation as a Tree Campus USA. The event will last about 30 minutes and conclude with the planting of an oak tree to celebrate Arbor Day.
Students, faculty and staff, as well as the local community, are invited to attend this celebration.
Parking Operations relocating to YMCA Building
December 10, 2014
Parking Operations at Mississippi State is moving from its current location at the Roberts Building to the second floor of the YMCA Building above the Post Office on Monday [Dec. 15] and Tuesday [Dec. 16].
The new office location will be open for business on Wednesday [Dec. 17].
Currently, the YMCA Building does not have an elevator, but a call box is located at the bottom of the stairs for patrons to contact Parking Operations staff for assistance.
Please call 662-325-3526 with any questions.
click to viewEvans Hall Demolition Construction Site
On Monday August 18, 2014, parking areas South and North of Evans Hall will be closed by a construction fence, in preparation for the upcoming demolition project. This closure is expected to remain in place until August 2016. Please review the image for the exact location of the closure.
Thank you for your patience and cooperation. If you have any questions regarding this announcement, please contact Facilities Management at 662-325-5830.
click to viewWORKING TOGETHER
Mississippi State landscape architecture students are working with MSU Facilities Management to build a courtyard adjacent to the Landscape Architecture Building on the south side of campus. Cory Gallo, assistant professor, and Brian Templeton, Extension associate, are working together to teach the design/build landscape architecture course. Students presented their plans to university officials, including George Davis, executive director of Campus Services; Roger Baker, campus master planner; and Tim Muzzi, associate director of architectural planning and construction. The courtyard, to be completed in about two years, will feature a stormwater planter that looks like a garden and provides seating.
May 05, 2014 | Photo by: Beth Wynn
click to viewSMART TRANSPORTATION
University officials, along with city and state leaders, celebrated a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Starkville-Mississippi State University Area Rapid Transit (SMART) system on Monday. The free campus-community routes already attract more than 5,000 riders each day. From left are Director of Parking, Transit and Sustainability Jeremiah Dumas; Northern District Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert; MSU President Mark E. Keenum; Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman; and Manager of Shuttle Operations Jeanette Bailey.
click to viewNational org names MSU a Tree Campus USA
Mississippi State University and its leaders earned national recognition recently for promoting and maintaining healthy trees and inspiring faculty, staff, students and community members to conserve.
The Arbor Day Foundation named the university a Tree Campus USA. The program honors campuses that implement proper urban forestry management principles and promote environmental stewardship.
"We are a land-grant university, and this honor is really representative of our purpose to educate the people of our state about good stewardship of our natural resources," said Jason Gordon, assistant Extension professor in MSU's Forest and Wildlife Research Center and chair of the Campus Tree Advisory Committee.
Gordon is one of 10 committee members who study, plan and coordinate campus tree planting and maintenance. The committee consists of three Extension personnel, two teaching faculty, two members of MSU's Campus Landscape and Facilities Management Departments and three forestry students, one of whom holds the vice-chair position.
"A lot of time, money and effort goes into the campus landscape, and it is really great to be recognized for the hard work that it takes to maintain our beautiful campus," Gordon said. "Our trees and other landscape features help make people proud to work and study here and be members of the university community. We also want visitors to be wowed when they come to campus."
Universities and colleges apply for recognition through the Arbor Day Foundation. They must meet five core standards to qualify for the designation, including evidence of a campus tree-care plan, dedicated funding for a campus tree program, an Arbor Day observance and sponsorship of student service-learning projects.
MSU will receive official recognition from the Arbor Day Foundation during the Mississippi Urban Forest Council conference in October. Gordon said the committee plans to hold a small ceremony in April to recognize the efforts of the three student committee members who will graduate in May.
Delta State University, the University of Southern Mississippi and Jackson State University are also Tree Campus USA universities.
For more information about Tree Campus USA, visit www.arborday.org/programs/treecampususa.
Susan Collins-Smith | MSU Ag Communications
click to viewMississippi State named top recycling institution
Officials from the Mississippi Recycling Coalition were at Mississippi State Tuesday [Jan. 14] to present the university with the "Educational Institution Recycler of the Year" award.
The organization recently named its 2013 Environmental Award winners, honoring cities, institutions and organizations statewide for outstanding recycling projects.
Jeremiah Dumas, MSU associate director of the Office of Sustainability, said recycling and sustainability efforts on campus are the product of extensive research and trials over the past three years. Upon discovering that more than 90 percent of waste in offices on campus was comprised of recyclable materials, initiatives were set in motion to establish the campus-wide program.
Led by the Office of Sustainability and the Campus Sustainability Committee, the program collects paper, cardboard, plastics, metals and aluminum in buildings throughout campus. Drives to recycle toner cartridges, used oil, batteries and electronics also are in place.
Dumas said offices produce the biggest bulk of recycling materials, so trash cans in offices throughout campus were converted to single-stream recycling receptacles.
Mark Williams, who works with solid waste policy planning and grants with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and also serves as an advisor to the board of directors for the Mississippi Recycling Coalition, said that every community throughout the state must have a waste reduction strategy, and every state agency and college campus is required to have a recycling program.
"Mississippi State's program is the kind of model we want to replicate throughout the state," Williams said, adding that not only does the recycling program divert reusable materials from landfills, but also creates jobs.
Sarah Kountouris, executive director for Keep Mississippi Beautiful and president of the board of directors for the Mississippi Recycling Coalition, said MSU has set a standard for other universities and community colleges to follow. She thanked custodial and landscape staff on hand for their work in bringing the program to life.
"They're the ones who make this program work," Kountouris said.
The university collected 306,628 pounds of recyclables over a nine-month period in the 2011 fiscal year. In the following fiscal year, the collection grew to 613,672 pounds, nearly 51,139 pounds per month. Additionally, Dumas said researchers are continually evaluating the effectiveness of the programs and waste reduction practices on campus.
For more information on sustainability efforts at MSU, visit http://www.sustainability.msstate.edu/.
click to viewClosure of Barr Avenue and George Perry Street
On Friday, December 20, 2013, portions of Barr Avenue and George Perry Street will be closed for construction activities related to the New Classroom Building project. The closure on Barr Avenue will extend from the intersection with George Perry Street to the entrance of the Critz Hall parking lot. On George Perry Street, the closure will extend from the intersection with Barr Avenue to the entrance of the YMCA / Post Office loading dock. These closures will remain in effect until construction has been completed, which is scheduled for Fall 2015. Please review the image below for the exact location of the closures, and plan commuting routes accordingly.
Thank you for your patience and cooperation. If you have any questions regarding this announcement, please contact Facilities Management at 662-325-5830.
click to viewUniversity implements lighting control project
Mississippi State University is adding another component to its sustainable campus initiative.
MSU has partnered with SmartWatt Energy to implement a large-scale energy efficient lighting and lighting control project, commonly referred to as SmartLighting.
The project will remove more than 14,000 outdated T-12 and HID lamps throughout the campus and replace them with high-efficiency lighting and lighting controls technologies, which will allow the lighting to be automatically turned off when not in use.
MSU's goals are to improve interior lighting quality, while reducing energy consumption across facilities. The project will decrease air pollution and environmental damage, and will have the same effect on the environment as planting 866 acres of trees or removing 558 cars from the road each year.
SmartWatt provided an investment-grade lighting audit of campus facilities to prioritize the project rollout. The campus will upgrade up to eight total buildings, which account for approximately one million square feet of space.
Average annual energy savings are anticipated to be nearly $400,000, with annual maintenance savings projected to be more than $80,000. The entire $3.5-million phase one project is self-funded and financed by the university through costs savings achieved from the improvements.
For more information about SmartWatt, visit www.smartwattinc.com.
Sid Salter | Public Affairs
click to viewFIXIT STATION
Heith Fox and Douglas Dumas of Facilities Management put the finishing touches on the Fixit bicycle station outside of Oak Hall. The Fixit includes all the tools needed to perform basic bicycle repairs and maintenance, including changing a flat tire and adjusting brakes. A second Fixit station is located near Ruby Hall.
Sep 05, 2013 | Photo by: Russ Houston
click to viewMSU receives national recognition for improved energy efficiency
STARKVILLE, Miss.--Mississippi State is being honored by a national publication for its facility maintenance decisions resulting in more than $20 million in savings over seven years from decreased energy consumption.
In the just-published August edition, Facility Maintenance Decisions magazine announced winners of its annual Facility Maintenance Decisions Achievement Awards. The university is among eight public and private organizations receiving top honors in the 2013 competition.
In the competition's renovations and retrofit category, MSU shares honors with the Florida-based Orlando Health hospital network.
This year's award winners will be recognized officially Sept. 18 during the National Facilities Management and Technology Conference and Expo in Las Vegas, Nev.
J.D. Hardy, associate director of utilities in MSU's campus services organization, said the land-grant institution is being recognized for its major sustainability and energy efficiency efforts.
"Our department has been focused on energy efficiency for a number of years," he said. "In 2006, the university administration responded to spiking energy bills by commissioning an energy committee with the task of more efficient resource utilization."
Hardy said Campus Services staff members "led the way by identifying a broad array of facility upgrades and retrofits aimed at improving energy efficiency, performance and reliability, while at the same time lowering ongoing operational costs."
"This reduction in energy intensity accounts for more than $23 million in avoided utility expenses," he noted, adding that the focus on efficiency has resulted in a 48 percent drop in energy consumption per student, even as enrollment has grown by thousands.
Putting it another way, Hardy said the MSU Energy Management Program has yielded "a 37 percent drop in energy consumption per square foot" on the Starkville campus over the past seven years.
In keeping with Mississippi State President Mark E. Keenum's 2009 Climate Commitment, Campus Services additionally developed a climate action plan that has been adopted as part of the university's overall strategic plan.
"The climate action plan establishes a road map that will lead MSU to carbon neutrality by 2042," Hardy said. "This road will not be easy, but the upcoming campus lighting and control upgrade, campus sustainability programs and central ice storage plant installation are just the next steps in a long-term goal to be the model of ultra-efficiency."
Formally known as Maintenance Solutions, the Wisconsin-based magazine that presents the achievement awards is the only U.S. publication written exclusively for professional engineering and maintenance managers at commercial and institutional facilities.
Other 2013 winners among institutions of higher learning are Stony Brook (N.Y.) University, University of Michigan and University of Pittsburg (Pa.) Medical Center. A complete list of winners may be viewed via the "Awards" icon at www.facebook.com/FMDmag.
"We had a record number of votes this year," said David Lubach, the magazine's associate editor. "This signals the fact that recognition is valued and important for maintenance and engineering departments."
News Bureau (662) 325-3442
Contact: Sammy McDavid
August 22, 2013
click to viewMSU sends personnel, equipment to aid USM
Mississippi State University Campus Operations and MSU Extension Service personnel prepare to depart Monday for the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg to assist in clean-up of the campus. USM's campus took a direct hit during a series of tornadoes across south Mississippi on Sunday, February 10.
Responding to a request for assistance from the University of Southern Mississippi, Mississippi State University sent MSU personnel and equipment to help in the clean-up of the USM campus after the Hattiesburg school took a direct hit from tornadoes that ravaged South Mississippi on Sunday [Feb. 10] afternoon. MSU Extension Service personnel have also been deployed.
After discussions with USM interim president Aubrey Lucas and Higher Education Commissioner Hank Bounds, MSU President Mark E. Keenum said 11 MSU Campus Operations personnel and two MSU staffers skilled in damage assessment departed the MSU Starkville campus shortly before 3 p.m. Keenum said the MSU personnel were equipped with chain saws, generators, a portable light tower, a truck and trailer, and fuel and maintenance supplies necessary to be “self-sufficient.”
After the widespread storms of April 27, 2011 leveled the town of Smithville and caused extensive damage in Chickasaw and Webster counties, MSU Extension personnel responded. MSU also provided assistance on the campus of the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa in the wake of that same series of storms.
click to viewMSU surpasses sustainability goals early, continues green initiatives
STARKVILLE, Miss.--Upgrading infrastructure and making operations more efficient are two key changes that have allowed Mississippi State University to reduce its energy consumption by 37 percent.
MSU's Sustainability Committee remains committed to continuing and growing that trend across campus, said J.D. Hardy, MSU energy and mechanical engineer for the committee.
Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning created the Energy Task Force in 2006 and set a goal, by 2016, for Mississippi universities to reduce their energy consumption by 30 percent per square foot. Hardy said MSU is already years ahead of schedule, thanks to the university-wide focus on incorporating infrastructure upgrades and encouraging more efficient building operation.
"For example, if you take a building that didn't have a very good means of controlling the energy consuming equipment -- like air conditioning systems or boiler systems -- and then install modern controls that allow an operator to 'program' a schedule for the operation of that equipment, it quickly reduces the energy consumption of the facility," Hardy said.
Continued renovations across campus also have played a big role in lowering campus energy consumption at MSU, he said. By replacing older water boilers and chillers with more efficient ones, the university is developing effective strategies for long-term savings. Additionally, new facilities at MSU are designed and constructed with the most efficient building systems available.
"We have very talented folks on campus who know how to add the right controls equipment and then operate buildings on a very efficient schedule," Hardy said.
In fiscal year 2006, campus electric and natural gas consumption totaled 162,000 British thermal units per square foot, he said, but the sustainability committee and its resource-efficiency plan has decreased MSU's Energy Usage Index to its current level: 102,000 Btu in 2012.
"If we had continued to use energy at the fiscal year 2006 levels from 2007 to 2012, we would have spent over $21 million more on electricity and natural gas, due to the higher rate of consumption," Hardy said. "Considering that campus grows in square footage every year and energy rates go up every year, it is increasingly important that we lower our Energy Usage Index as much as possible every year."
As university leaders look to future sustainability initiatives, consumption-reduction efforts will focus more on education through ECO PAW, a campus wide energy education and assessment program, said Jeremiah Dumas, director of the Office of Sustainability and vice president of the sustainability committee.
"With 5,000 faculty and staff and over 20,000 students, it is imperative that we educate all the people of this campus so that they can help us reach our goals with every decision that they make," he said. "This includes operations and daily decisions in their offices, their procurement guidelines and standards, as well as their travel and transit behaviors."
Hardy agreed and said the real challenge lies in changing people's habits, and correspondingly, that kind of change could make the greatest impact on reducing consumption across campus.
"The savings that can come from encouraging people to make the best energy decisions can easily have more impact at a much lower price tag than any type of equipment upgrade," he said. "If everyone turned their office equipment and lights off when they weren't using them, and if everyone raised the cooling set-point or lowered the heating set-point a couple of degrees, I imagine I would be getting a call from the power company wondering what was going on at MSU."
Along with continuing system upgrades, other continuing energy consumption-reduction initiatives include upgrading obsolete and inefficient lighting systems with longer lasting and more energy efficient systems and developing an "Ice Storage Plant" to produce ice at night during summer months to use to meet the campus's chilled water needs during the day, Hardy said.
"The administration has allowed facilities to spend money on upgrades with the understanding that it is a business decision with a very attractive return-on-investment," he said. "By funding these upgrades and by letting our MSU folks execute energy upgrade projects, we have leveraged our in-house resources to improve our facilities at the best possible value."
Hardy said, administrative support, as well as continued promotion of sustainability initiatives across campus, will allow MSU to continue its mission of reducing energy consumption.
click to viewOur People Profile: George Davis
After spending 30 years of his career working for Mississippi State's physical plant, George Davis said he grew up at the Cooley Building. Now Davis is widely considered one of the most dependable and knowledgeable behind-the-scenes experts in keeping campus rolling.
Davis, associate director of facilities management, oversees custodial services, the auto shop, building maintenance, carpentry construction, work management, locksmithing, faculty housing and heavy equipment on campus. Facilities on a 4,100 acre campus with more than 106 buildings maintained through education and general funds require 24/7 attention, but Davis said a large team of dedicated and skilled staff members get the job done.
Custodial staff members begin shifts at 4 a.m. to ensure offices and classrooms are tidy every day. Still other shifts work late, and the whole team pitches in for additional needs, such as during football weekends.
"These are things that just happen and nobody realizes who does it," Davis said. He explained that his department is responsible for everything from clean restrooms to grading gravel parking lots to sidewalk and parking lot construction. They routinely test every generator on campus to make sure the university is well prepared for unexpected situations that can impact campus operations.
Davis said he and his staff also are responsible for building maintenance of all kinds, including management of construction and renovation projects. "We maintain 21 miles of paved streets, 68 parking lots and 15 miles of sidewalks," Davis said. They also change approximately 13,000 light bulbs each year.
Davis said all of these duties are important because the facilities management services help students, faculty and staff have an environment that is conducive to working in support of MSU's mission. Something as simple as changing out lights also helps the university become more energy efficient, thereby saving money as well, he noted.
"It's not a glamorous job, but it's a job I've always enjoyed," Davis said. "Some days it seems like everyone calls for everything," he joked.
"It's never the same. Every day I come to work, it's something different, and I like that. I like fast-paced work, and I like working with a lot of people," he said. Davis added that for someone who dislikes heights, painting the MSU logo on the west side of Davis-Wade Stadium was one of his most memorable jobs.
At the end of the day — which is usually a good bit more than 8 hours for Davis — he enjoys a personal passion for woodworking. He built his first project at age 14 and hasn't stopped since. He recently built a house for himself and his wife of 27 years, Becki Davis. The couple is proud to have seen their first child, Kirby, graduate from MSU last year. Their second daughter, Morgan, is a sophomore at MSU now, and their son James is a junior in high school.
Writer: Allison Matthews | Photo: Megan Bean
click to viewGREEN FUND
MSU is excited to offer a new opportunity for students, faculty, and staff to help Mississippi State University (MSU) become a more sustainable campus. The MSU Green Fund is an optional contribution that will be used to fund sustainability efforts on campus. Together, we are investing in MSU’s future and reducing our campus’s carbon footprint. Help MSU go green! Opt-In to the Green Fund today! For more information, please visit www.sustainability.msstate.edu/greenfund/ .
click to viewSafety Record Outstanding for Campus Landscape
Mississippi State University's Office of Regulatory Compliance and Safety recognized the Campus Landscape team for its commitment to safety and training with a barbecue luncheon. Despite having some of the riskier jobs on campus, the crew's accident record is among the lowest, according to MSU safety officer Alicia Musselwhite PHOTO: Russ Houston | University Relations
NOTICE OF CHANGES TO CAMPUS WIDE RECYCLING
The Mississippi State University single-stream recycling program has now been in place for over a year. This program fundamentally changed the way that we collect recycling and waste on the campus and we are still evaluating and reviewing our procedures in order to see how effective this program is and how we can make it more efficient at reducing our waste stream into our local landfill. In addition to monitoring the current system, a few changes have happened related to the contractor and their ability to collect material.
The single stream program was developed around the capabilities of the contractor who was awarded the contract. Blubox was the selected contractor because of their ability to collect and sort all cardboards, papers, plastics, metals, and glass. During the course of the last year, Blubox was purchased by Mississippi Industrial Waste Management (MIWD) and just a few months ago, MIWD was purchased by Waste Pro. Waste Pro is now the recycling and waste contractor for the campus and the only change resulting from this change is that Waste Pro does not collect glass; therefore we cannot collect that as part of our recycling stream.
The materials that we can now collect as part of our single-stream recycling program are as follows:
Metals and Aluminum
Thanks for your effort and support with this program and if you have specific questions, please email Jeremiah Dumas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
click to viewOur People: Effie Hopkins
Passengers on the blue route of Mississippi State University's shuttle system have more than a driver at the wheel--they have an angel in disguise.
For years, that's how students have described "Miss Annie," a woman who remembers the names of nearly all of her regular passengers and cares for them like her own family.
A self-described "granny for those away from home," Effie Hopkins' selfless actions and caring nature have become legendary for the more than seven years she has driven a shuttle at the university.
Students send her flowers and cards thanking her for being so kind to them, often years after they have graduated. Miss Annie keeps a thick folder of them, reminding her of how much her "family" loves her.
"I'm having a great day; what about you?" Hopkins says as she greets students getting on her shuttle.
Students gush about how much better she has made them feel on bad days, how she helps them put problems in perspective and find a better attitude.
Ravi "Raj" Sadasivuni, a graduate student in geosciences, said during the years he has known Hopkins, she has inspired him when he's stressed.
"She helps everyone," said Sadasivuni, who works at the High Performance Computing Collaboratory. "She knows how to inspire everyone."
Ask nearly anyone riding her shuttle route and they respond with glowing praise for her. Some students intentionally park so they can visit with her during the shuttle experience.
"I could drive straight to class," said Tiffany Bridges, a senior marketing major from Yazoo City. "But I chose to ride with her because she makes my day better."
Hopkins remembers the names of regular riders and asks about things they discussed during previous rides. She even helped a group of German graduate students visiting campus find a laundry and particular shops to buy gifts.
"You want to be a welcoming committee to them because you have to remember they've left their family behind in this new environment," she said.
But Hopkins doesn't stop helping students when her shift ends each day. She regularly uses her personal vehicle, an old Chevy Blazer, to take them to the grocery store and other places when they can't find other means of transportation.
"She could be at home, but she gives rides to people who need to go and buy basic necessities," Sadasivuni said.
When Hopkins' church learned about her giving rides to students in need, the congregation began helping pay for gasoline. She even carries business cards with her contact information that say "Being a helper of one another."
"I said I wanted to be out here to make a difference in the students' lives," she said. "So far, I think I've held up my end of the bargain."
"I've always found people interesting," she said. "I'm a people watcher."
click to viewOur People: Bart Prather
When MSU athletes take to the field on game day, whether it is baseball, football, soccer, or softball, it would be nearly impossible without the diligent work of Bart Prather and his staff. He's not a coach, trainer or manager, but his contributions, arguably, are of near-equal importance.
As superintendent of sports turf, Prather is responsible for ensuring that playing surfaces are safe for student-athletes to practice and play on and that they meet NCAA guidelines for all striping, painting and dimensions. He and his staff are diligent in making sure the playing surfaces are free of low spots, high spots, holes, and trip hazards that could easily turn a first-round draft pick into a former student-athlete.
Prather returned to State 10 years ago and says a love of athletics makes what he does seem less like a job and more like an endless sports season.
"I couldn't do this if I didn't love athletics," Prather said. "Being able to do it for the university I grew up coming to as a kid makes it that much more rewarding."