click to viewSMART system continues to impact community
Angel Smith wants to set a good example for her 15-year-old son.
Smith is taking Adult Basic Education classes in Starkville in hopes of obtaining her GED. Since moving to Starkville in January, Smith has ridden the bus every weekday morning from her home on Lynn Lane to Emerson Family School for the classes she hopes will help her get a good job and encourage her son to keep working toward an education. Smith is one of the thousands of riders that use Starkville-MSU Area Rapid Transit (SMART) every day to do everything from buying her groceries to furthering her education and career.
“I want to finish my education,” Smith said. “It would look better if mama finished school. I can’t say ‘you have to finish school,’ when I didn’t.”
In 2012, city of Starkville and MSU leaders announced plans for the university’s shuttle system to expand into the community, creating SMART. Since January 2014, 2.16 million riders have used the free service on campus and in the community. Last year, approximately 750,000 riders used the system, according to MSU Director of Parking, Transit and Sustainability Jeremiah Dumas.
Smith uses SMART to travel to the Christian Women’s Jobs Corps in downtown Starkville, which provides free job and life skills training services to adult women in the area. In addition to fulfilling practical needs, Smith also enjoys getting to know SMART bus drivers and her fellow riders.
“Everybody’s friendly, you can laugh and have a conversation,” Smith said. “That’s what I like.”
Dumas said he is proud of SMART’s impact on the community and the way it has improved the quality of life for Starkville residents.
“We are very deliberate and thorough in maintaining ridership information because it proves to be a simple metric as we constantly evaluate our system for areas needing improvement,” Dumas said. “Despite the continual growth in numbers, we have come to appreciate the less tangible metrics of how important our system has become for those community members who use it as their only form of transportation.
He continued, “we do carry thousands of students each day, but what makes us most proud is carrying hundreds of people in the city each day and providing them their only access to employment, the grocery store, their doctor’s office, the hospital, a trip to the park with children or grandchildren, or to an educational facility.”
In 2016, SMART launched a shuttle route to Golden Triangle Regional Airport, providing a free and reliable way for members of the Starkville and MSU community to get to and from the airport. In its first year of operation, approximately 1,300 riders have taken advantage of the service, according to Dumas.
SMART launched a Paratransit service in 2015 that picks up disabled and elderly citizens and takes them to specific locations in the area. Earner Williams is among the many residents that use the Paratransit service to get to medical appointments. The service takes her from her home in the Rockhill community to her dialysis appointments on the other side of town. Having lived in the area since 1968, Williams said SMART’s presence and services improve the community.
“I wouldn’t trade anything in the world for it,” Williams said.
SMART is funded by a rural mass transit grant from the federal government which is administered by the Mississippi Department of Transportation. As part of its annual funding application, SMART solicits community feedback on how to improve the system and shares usage data. Letters of support for SMART included in the application highlight the wide range of benefits the transportation service provides, such as helping a legally blind resident travel independently and allowing parents without their own transportation more opportunities to be involved in their children’s school activities.
“It is very encouraging to know that we are proving a service that fundamentally improves the quality of life for hundreds of people in our community each and every day,” Dumas said.
For more on the SMART system, visit www.smart.msstate.edu or call 662-325-5204.
MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.
James Carskadon | Public Affairs
PHOTO: Russ Houston | Public Affairs
Photo: The SMART system includes a stop at Emerson Family School, which enhances access to Adult Basic Education classes offered at the facility.
click to viewArbor Day Tree Planting
Mississippi State University students plant one of three October Glory Red Maple trees as part of the university's Arbor Day celebration Feb. 10. Hosted by the Tree Campus USA Advisory Committee, the event celebrated MSU’s recent designation as a 2016 Tree Campus USA. Among students participating in the ceremony were recipients of the Waldorf Endowed Scholarship and members of MSU's chapter of the Society of American Foresters.
Photo by: Robert Lewis
February 13, 2017
click to viewOUR PEOPLE: MSU Custodial Choir
A special group at Mississippi State is making a joyful noise during the holiday season.
In the early 1990s, former MSU custodial supervisor Johnny Bush noticed a trend among the custodians working on campus – many of them were active in their respective church choirs in the local community.
Bush’s observation led to the creation of the MSU Custodial Choir, which custodian Ella Rice has been part of for about 25 years. The group showcases their talents two or three times a year, usually during the summer Staff Appreciation Day and at the annual Christmas party for Campus Operations staff members.
For Rice, the choir allows her to do something she loves–singing—and gives her a chance to meet some of her co-workers who share her passion.
“I’ve met a lot of people through the choir,” Rice said. “This makes you feel like you have a second family.” The choir is currently an all-female group of about a dozen members, but men also have participated in previous years.
Yovonka Chandler is director, and, like many in the choir, she has spent her entire life in or around church choirs.
Chandler, who has been the choir’s director for the last seven years, said she enjoys her time with the choir and seeing the positive response her group gets when they perform on campus.
“I’ve been at MSU for 10 years, and I’ve been singing ever since I’ve been here,” Chandler said.
Story by James Carskadon | Photo by Russ Houston
click to viewMSU again praised for campus landscape achievements
STARKVILLE, Miss.—For the second consecutive year, a longtime national professional organization is praising the continued upkeep and appearance of Mississippi State’s Starkville campus.
The 138-year-land grant institution again is being honored by the Maryland-based Professional Grounds Management Society with a Green Star Award for “exceptional grounds maintenance” among U.S. universities and colleges, one of nine judging categories.
Founded in 1911, the society is dedicated to advancing the grounds management profession. Sustainability, landscape enhancements, seasonal plantings, safety, signage and training are among criteria used for its award designations.
At MSU, landscape operations is part of the Campus Services division directed by Vice President Amy Tuck.
“This award represents the tremendous pride our university takes in keeping Mississippi State’s grounds beautiful. I congratulate the hard working staff members who are so dedicated to this effort and have earned this recognition through their constant attention to detail throughout the year,” Tuck said.
Bart Prather, MSU associate director of campus landscape, formally accepted the award at the society’s recent convention and exposition in Louisville, Kentucky. The complete winners list is found at http://pgms.org/2016-green-star-award-winners/.
For more on the society, visit www.pgms.org.
MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.
December 5, 2016
Contact: Addison Arledge
(Photo by Russ Houston)
MSU Associate Director of Campus Landscape Bart Prather presented the award to MSU President Mark E. Keenum while Vice President of Campus Services Amy Tuck (front left) and Executive Director of Campus Services George Davis (front right) look on. The campus landscape crew includes: Front row, from left to right: Brandon Hardin and Terrell Brantley; Second row: Alex Miller, Willie Neely, Jordan Gleim, John Rice, Dashun Blair, Sammy Vaughn and Jim Bo Hearnsberger; third row: James Blair, Johnnie Turnipseed, Melvin Turnipseed and Shawn Higgins; fourth row: Randolph Calmes, Jimmy Rice, Frank Fulton, Jarmairo Carter, Katzman Rogers and Jamarius Tallie; back row: Anthony Johnson, Zeb Rice, Will Lawrence, Ivan Harris and Richard Nurse. Not pictured: Joey Boutwell, Victor Fulton, Edwin Lindsey and Perry Sellars.
click to viewRe-vamped Roberts Building provides new home for post office, parking services
STARKVILLE, Miss. –Mississippi State University and U.S. Postal Service officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony today [Oct. 3] to celebrate a $3.1 million renovation that has revitalized the Roberts Building at MSU.
The renovated space on Lee Boulevard now houses the MSU Post Office, MSU Office of Parking and Transit Services and Burger King.
“I am thrilled with how the Roberts Building has evolved to support our parking services office and the U.S. Postal Service here at Mississippi State,” MSU President Mark E. Keenum said.
“This is something we have been working to achieve for quite some time, and it has turned out extremely well. This is a much better location, with easier access,” Keenum added.
Both the post office and parking and transit office moved into the space from the YMCA Building this spring. MSU Director of Parking, Transit and Sustainability Jeremiah Dumas said the renovated space is more functional for staff and for the regular influx of visitors into the building. Laurel-based Larry J. Sumrall Contractors was the contractor for the project.
“The laundry had been here since the early 1900s,” Dumas said. “All the old pipes were still in here. Everything was in here. We closed the laundry three or four years ago and slowly started removing items. When they came in and started ripping everything out, it really exposed how much space and character was in here.”
The design features an open lobby shared by the post office and parking services. The USPS mailboxes remain available 24 hours a day, while the parking services and USPS service counter maintain regular business hours.
MSU Office of Planning Design and Construction Administration Director Tim Muzzi said Ocean Springs-based architecture firm Allred Architectural Group worked to incorporate the university’s vision for an open and welcoming building into the final product.
“They were able to take our vision and put it graphically and design-wise into that building,” Muzzi said. “I think we turned a sow’s ear into a silk purse.”
The Roberts Building provides easier customer access for the parking services offices and the post office. The building has 10 parking spaces for visitors, two of which are handicap spots. Those parking spots are designated as 10-minute parking, but there is additional metered parking on the Burger King side of the building.
“The new location is a lot more convenient for our trucks and especially for customers who are coming from off campus,” Postmaster Ken Oglesbee said. “People who live in east Starkville can get to us very easily.”
The MSU post office, which is run by the United States Postal Service, offers P.O. boxes for $20 per six months, the lowest rate available in the country. Because the post office does not deliver to on-campus residence hall rooms, Oglesbee recommends that residential students who regularly shop online or wish to receive mail on campus rent a P.O. box.
The new post office location also includes a feature that makes it easier for customers to receive their larger packages. The Roberts Building contains 20 parcel lockers that are accessible 24/7. If a package has been delivered that does not fit into a P.O. box, the package may be placed in a parcel locker. Customers can then pick up the key to the parcel locker from their P.O. box at their own convenience.
For more information on MSU Parking and Transit Services, visit www.parkingservices.msstate.edu.
To contact the MSU Post Office, call 662-323-5772.
MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.
October 3, 2016
Contact: James Carskadon
(Photo by Russ Houston)
University and USPS officials pose following a ribbon cutting for the newly renovated Roberts Building at MSU. Pictured, from left to right, are: Post Office Retail Manager Lupe Licudine, Retail Specialist Monica Tucker, North Central Post Office Operations Manager Jeff Harrell, MSU Postmaster Ken Oglesbee, MSU President Mark E. Keenum, MSU Director of Parking, Transit and Sustainability Jeremiah Dumas, Executive Director of Campus Services George Davis, Vice President for Campus Services Amy Tuck and Assistant Director of Parking and Transit Services Ronnie White.
click to viewThree Campus Services Staff Members Awarded Zacharias Distinguished Staff Awards
STARKVILLE, Miss.—Twelve Mississippi State employees are 2016 selections for Donald W. Zacharias Distinguished Staff Awards.
The honors are a memorial to the university’s 15th president in whose 1985-97 administration the annual Staff Appreciation Day and the accompanying awards program were established.
—Diane Alexander, director of academic fiscal affairs in the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President.
—Ra’Sheda Forbes, associate director of the Holmes Cultural Diversity Center.
—Meggan Franks, assistant director of the Office of Student Leadership and Community Engagement.
—Kim Kavalsky, mental health outreach coordinator for the health promotion and wellness department.
—Jesse Morrison, research associate in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ plant and soil sciences department.
—Adam Rohnke, senior extension associate for the Central Mississippi Research and Extension Center.
—Frank Fulton, campus landscape crew member for the Campus Services division.
—Madeline Golden, accounting assistant for the Office of Agricultural Communications.
—Trudy Jones, administrative assistant for facilities management administration.
—Terri Snead, population medicine technician for the College of Veterinary Medicine’s clinical sciences department.
—John Vowell, journey lineman for physical plant administration.
—Carol Young, office associate for the College of Business’ finance and economics department.
For more about MSU Staff Council, its awards program and other activities, visit www.staffcouncil.msstate.edu.
MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.
click to viewOur People Profile: Tim Simmons
Tim Simmons is part of an eight-member team in Parking and Transit Services that works tirelessly to help ensure traffic flows and parking operations go as smoothly as possible on the university’s more than 800-acre campus.
“We’re just out there to help,” said the Eupora native who began working at MSU in 2007. Beyond handling ticket distributions, he also now has supervisory and gate technician duties.
With more than 20,000 students around for most of the year, Mississippi State is a place of seemingly continuous events. Of course, vehicle and human traffic ramp up significantly on busy fall and spring weekends.
Simmons said he actually prefers a bustling campus because it adds to the institution’s upbeat atmosphere. “I like getting to see people that I don’t always see and meeting new people, especially those from out of state.”
Whether dealing with a Thursday small-group activity or multiple athletic events on a Saturday, Simmons seems to genuinely enjoy his work and fellow workers. As he explained, “Parking Services is one big family that takes up for one another.”
By maintaining a positive outlook on life, Simmons said he is able to begin every workday with a smile on his face and the desire to treat everyone he encounters with a sincere sense of respect. “We’re all adults here and I’m just trying to help,” he emphasized.
While not on the job, he enjoys taking Abigail Grace, his two-year-old daughter, to feed the fish at Eckie’s Pond, the scenic and historic greenspace on Morrill Drive near the President’s Home.
As the son of Michael Simmons, a former MSU football player now serving as a master officer with the MSU Police Department, Simmons is proud to tell everyone how “Mississippi State is in my blood.”
Also, as someone who grew up regularly attending football games, it goes without saying that fall is his favorite time of year.
Story by Georgia Clarke | Photo by Megan Bean
click to viewStarkville-MSU transit named ‘System of the Year’
STARKVILLE, Miss.—The Starkville-MSU Area Rapid Transit –also known as S.M.A.R.T. – is being recognized as Transportation System of the Year by the Mississippi Public Transit Association.
The state award cites the S.M.A.R.T. system for excellence and “for your efforts in working with local officials in removing isolation barriers to education, employment, medical and recreational services by providing safe, affordable and accessible mobility options for residents in your service area.”
S.M.A.R.T. is a free community bus transit system connecting the Mississippi State campus with Starkville’s residential and commercial hubs. A Mississippi Department of Transportation grant enabled the university to partner with the local community and expand the traditional campus shuttle system to include new campus-community routes.
Vice President for Campus Services Amy Tuck said since the system launched in January 2014, officials have made adjustments and expansions to best serve the university and local community.
“This recognition is very gratifying to all who have been a part of taking a very good system and continuously looking for ways to improve our services,” Tuck said.
Jeremiah Dumas, MSU director of parking, transit and sustainability, said the S.M.A.R.T. system had its one-millionth rider in July 2015. He said 25 percent of those who utilize the system are based in the community, with the most riders on campus utilizing the Greek route. The central route is the second busiest.
Beginning Jan. 4, 2016, a new route from Starkville to the Golden Triangle Regional Airport will be added.
Dumas emphasized that the S.M.A.R.T. buses operate year-round and are only closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Many MSU students and local residents rely on the transportation to get to critical destinations, like work, grocery stores and health care, he said.
“When you see the reliance on the S.M.A.R.T. system and know that we’re impacting people’s quality of life in the community, that’s when you know you’re making a difference,” Dumas said.
For more information, visit www.smart.msstate.edu or contact Dumas at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 662-315-5204.
Contact: Allison Matthews
December 17, 2015
(Photo by Russ Houston)
A trolley-style bus is part of the transportation fleet that makes up the Starkville-MSU Area Rapid Transit, also known as S.M.A.R.T. system. S.M.A.R.T. is being recognized as Transportation System of the Year by the Mississippi Public Transit Association.
click to viewScott Field wins national turf award
STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State’s achievements on the football field have once again risen to a top national ranking – with the latest honor recognizing the grounds crew that has bolstered the quality of Scott Field at Davis Wade Stadium to perennial national prominence.
The Sports Turf Managers Association is recognizing Scott Field as the Football Field of the Year for colleges and universities with natural playing surfaces. A panel of 15 judges independently scored entries based on playability, surface appearance, utilization of innovative solutions, effective use of budget and implementation of a comprehensive agronomic program.
For winning, MSU’s Sports Turf Facilities Management team will be honored at the STMA annual awards banquet Jan. 22 in San Diego, California, and Scott Field will be featured in SportsTurf Magazine.
“It is an honor to be recognized nationally by this organization, and it is a credit to those who work diligently to keep Scott Field in such impeccable quality,” said Vice President for Campus Services Amy Tuck. “Their work and attention to detail means so much to the entire university family and everyone who enjoys seeing the Bulldogs play.”
Scott Field, which also won the award in 2003, is one of two university fields to earn the honor twice, along with the field at Iowa State.
“This is a driving force that we shoot for every year,” said Brandon Hardin, superintendent for Sports Turf Facilities Management at MSU. “It’s a fantastic honor, and it’s been a goal of mine since I started here to win this again. The athletics and campus landscape departments have shown a commitment to giving us what we need to produce these kinds of awards.”
Hardin joined the Sports Turf Facilities Management staff as a student intern in 2003 and returned as assistant superintendent in 2008. Last year, he was promoted to superintendent, leading a staff of one assistant and six student workers to manage all the university’s natural athletic playing surfaces. He will accept the award next month on behalf of MSU.
All the university’s athletes play on Bermuda-based surfaces, Hardin said, with his crew over-seeding with rye grass in the fall. That keeps the fields green during cold weather when Bermuda grass is dormant, and it saves hundreds of thousands of dollars per year compared to annually ripping out the old grass and re-sodding.
Hardin said his crew mows Scott Field every day during the summer and about three times per week during football season. It uses an average of more than 300 gallons of paint per week for field striping, which is virtually a year-round project, he added.
Since 1992, STMA’s Field of the Year award has honored members who manage a variety of sporting grounds at the professional, collegiate, schools (K-12), and parks and recreation levels.
“Each year, we look forward to hand-picking the best natural grass athletic surfaces in the country through the Field of the Year award,” Kim Heck, CEO of STMA, said on the organization’s website. “With a record number of applicants in 2015, the selection process has become more vigorous, which serves as a testament to the high-quality fields our 2,600-plus members produce across the U.S.”
MSU recently received another national award for excellence in general groundskeeping from the Professional Grounds Management Society.
MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.
December 9, 2015
Contact: Zack Plair
Photo by Hunter Hart
click to viewMSU receives national recognition for grounds maintenance
STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State is celebrating a national award for outstanding groundskeeping.
The Professional Grounds Management Society, a Baltimore, Maryland-based organization, recently selected the land-grant institution for an Honor Award in the university and college grounds category of its 2015 Green Star Awards competition.
MSU is among 19 U.S. institutions of higher learning being praised for exceptional grounds maintenance. The complete list is found at www.pgms.org/2015-green-star-award-winners.
Speaking for the university administration, Vice President for Campus Services Amy Tuck expressed pride in the campus landscape team’s achievement.
“They work diligently to keep MSU beautiful,” she said. “It is an honor for Mississippi State University to be recognized nationally for excellence in grounds maintenance,” Tuck added.
Bart Prather accepted Mississippi State’s award during the society’s annual meeting in Louisville, Kentucky. Associate director of campus landscape, he is an agronomy graduate of the university.
“This award goes to those who work for MSU Campus Landscape, and the Campus Services division as a whole,” Prather said. “It is through their hard work and dedication that this award was even possible.”
Each year, MSU plants 80-100 new trees and more than 50,000 daffodils and other color plants. The Campus Landscape staff maintains nearly 1,500 acres of the Starkville campus.
MSU Campus Landscape staff are pictured with administrators congratulating them for national recognition by the Professional Grounds Management Society. MSU President Keenum (front left) receives a plaque from Bart Prather, associate director of campus landscape. Also pictured are (second row) Amy Tuck, vice president for campus services and George Davis, executive director for campus services; (third row) Victor Fulton, Randolph Calmes, Jimmy Colvin, Melvin Turnipseed, Dashun Blair, Alex Miller; (fourth row) John Rice, James Blair, Willie Neely, Shawn Higgins, Sammy Vaughn, Brandon Hardin; (fifth row) Johnnie Turnipseed, Jimmy Rice, Ivan Harris, Will Lawrence, John Copeland, Dan Whatley; (sixth row) Robert Sawyer, Zeb Rice, Edwin Lindsey, Anthony Johnson, Frank Fulton, Jerry Outlaw and Joey Boutwell. Not pictured are Scott Bolton and Perry Sellars. (Photo by Russ Houston)
click to viewCampus inaugurates tree trail at Friday event
During a Friday [Oct. 23] public program near the Moon Sycamore at the Junction, MSU will announce its Campus Tree Trail to showcase and increase knowledge of campus landscape efforts. (Photo by Russ Houston)
As part of the 2015 National NeighborWoods® Month observation, Mississippi State is establishing a Campus Tree Trail to help showcase its vast campus landscaping efforts.
During a 3:30 p.m. Friday [Oct. 23] program open to all at the Junction’s far west end, university officials formally will announce the new tree identification trail, including a virtual trail to be published on the MSU website. The location is the site of the Moon Sycamore grown from a seed taken to the moon during the Apollo 14 mission in 1971.
MSU is home to more than 10,000 tree species and varieties. Each year, the 137-year-old land-grant institution plants 80-100 new ones—along with more than 50,000 daffodils and other color plants—on the nearly 1,500 maintained acres of its Starkville campus.
Over the years, more than 150 of these trees have been placed as memorials to deceased students.
To create the trail, MSU students and staff will use global positioning system equipment to record each tree along the trail. Informational plaques will be displayed at each site.
The project is made possible through a grant from the Arbor Day Foundation that recognized MSU in February as a Tree Campus USA. For more, visit www.arborday.org/programs/treecampususa/index-about.cfm.
Celebrated each October, National NeighborWoods® Month is a campaign involving tens of thousands of volunteers that plant and care for community trees to help make their communities greener and healthier. For more, see www.neighborwoodsmonth.org.
For more on Campus Tree Trail or the dedication event, contact Jason Gordon, MSU Extension assistant professor at the Forest and Wildlife Research Center. Gordon, also chair of the Campus Tree Advisory Committee, may be reached at 662-325-8851 or Jg966@msstate.edu.
Bart Prather, associate director of campus landscape, may be contacted at 662-325-2499 or BPrather@campuslandscape.msstate.edu.
MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.
October 20, 2015
Contact: Sasha Steinberg
click to viewHardy Rd. traffic re-route now in place
Hardy Rd. from Etheredge Hall south to Morrill Rd. on Mississippi State's campus will be rerouted through December 2016 while an addition to Mitchell Memorial Library is under construction. During this time, all traffic will be rerouted around Herbert St. and re-enter Hardy Rd. as shown in the accompanying map.
As part of the long-term reroute, two parking lots will be separated by a gated barrier in order to move traffic along the rerouted Hardy Rd. from the lot beside Herbert Hall. This change will facilitate a more consistent traffic flow during construction. The lower lot behind McKee Hall will be directed back onto Lee Blvd. by the Roberts Building. No through traffic will be allowed. (See more at www.msstate.edu/web/media/announcement.php?id=2574.)
Students, faculty, staff and visitors are advised to plan their daily commutes accordingly, as drivers may experience a few additional minutes of driving time during those commutes.
Please exercise caution when driving around all construction projects. Thank you for your cooperation.
click to viewTuck named MCSW Ambassador of the Year
Mississippi State's vice president for campus services has been named the Mississippi Commission on the Status of Women's 2015 Ambassador of the Year.
Amy Tuck, along with nominees from other state institutions, was formally honored May 7 at the Jackson-based organization's annual Woman of the Year luncheon.
The annual celebration recognizes Magnolia State women leaders for their contributions in a broad range of categories, including art/entertainment/performing arts, business/industry, community service, education, legal/judicial, medical/healthcare, military/law enforcement, and political/state or local government service.
Established by the Mississippi Legislature in 2001, the commission seeks to "improve the overall quality of life of women, specifically in the areas of education, health, economics, political participation, and race relations."
"Assessing and influencing policies and practices that affect women through an inclusive, collaborative process" is its primary mission.
Vice president of campus services since 2012, Tuck is responsible for providing vision and strategic leadership in overseeing campus landscape, facilities maintenance and repair, utilities production and distributions, faculty and staff housing, sustainability, as well as campus planning, design and construction.
In addition to serving as chairman of the Special Events and Game Day Operations committee and as a member of the Community Engagement committee, Tuck is president and director of the university's Educational Building Corporation and member of the MSU Athletic Council. She also serves as the university's incident commander for the Crisis Action Team.
An Oktibbeha County native who began working at MSU in January 2008, she was a member of the Greater Starkville Development Partnership, for which she previously served as chairman.
Tuck also has served as a member of the President's Commission on the Status of Women at MSU, where she received a 1985 bachelor's in political science and 1994 master's in public policy and administration. She also graduated with a 1989 law degree from Mississippi College.
As Mississippi's lieutenant governor, Tuck was a strong advocate for K-12 and higher education, economic development, healthcare, protection for senior citizens, public safety and civil justice reforms.
Only the second woman to hold the second-highest elected office in the state's 198-year history, she also served as a state senator from 1990-1995 and was elected by the senators to serve as the secretary of the Mississippi State Senate from 1996-99.
In 2009, the Mississippi Business Journal recognized Tuck as one of Mississippi's 50 leading business women, and in 2008, she was appointed by then-U.S. President George W. Bush to the President's Commission on White House Fellowships.
"I am very honored and humbled to have been chosen as the 2015 Ambassador of the Year for the Mississippi Commission on the Status of Women. There are so many outstanding women leaders in our state, and it is extra special to be lifted up by your peers," Tuck said in expressing appreciation for the award and commission itself.
Learn more about the Mississippi Commission on the Status of Women at www.msstatusofwomen.org.
Discover more about Mississippi's flagship research university at www.msstate.edu or www.meridian.msstate.edu, facebook.com/msstate, pinterest.com/msstate, instagram.com/msstate and twitter.com/msstate using the hashtag #WeRingTrue.
Sasha Steinberg | Public Affairs
click to viewOur People Profile: Tim Muzzi
He wasn't even thinking about leaving his job as a principal at one of Mississippi's largest architectural firms when he got a call encouraging him to apply for the position of construction administrator at Mississippi State University.
"I thought, 'what a great opportunity, but do I really want to do this?' I was missing family activities; I was always dealing with a lawsuit or in an attorney's office; I was on the road constantly, so I discussed the possibility with my family and decided that I would apply for the position," remembers University Architect Michael T. "Tim" Muzzi, AIA, AU. "Several weeks after my interview, I was hunting—sitting in a tree stand—and Mississippi State called to make me an offer.
"I've loved being here ever since."
The Shaw native graduated with Mississippi State's second class of School of Architecture majors. Following completion of the school's required fifth year of academic study in Jackson, he began a professional career in 1979 that would continue in the state's capital city for 25 years. He returned to Starkville in February 2004.
"I'm happy; Mississippi State is a wonderful place to be," he says. "I've got three grandchildren, and there's always something for my wife, Janice, and me to do here. I get to work at a place where most people want to retire."
In addition to responsibilities as the university architect, Muzzi is the interim director of MSU Campus Services' planning, design and construction administration. In other words, he leads the department responsible for every campus design and construction project, from the replacement of doors to the renovation of existing buildings, as well as the construction of new facilities at both the Starkville and Meridian campuses.
Muzzi's been involved with some of the largest projects at MSU in recent history. Along with the renovation of historic Lee Hall, he led renewal and modernization efforts at Colvard Student Union, Davis Wade Stadium, the Riley Center in Meridian, and Harned, McCool and Middleton halls.
Managing design and construction of new facilities is another of his responsibilities. At present, Muzzi's team is supervising the development of the Fresh Food Company dining facility, the new residence halls and the massive new classroom-parking facility filling in the valley—formerly a sledding hot-spot on snow days—behind the YMCA Building.
His team is also managing the design for the renovation of the YMCA, the Robert's Building and the addition to Mitchell Memorial Library.
Muzzi was instrumental in coming up with the concept of creating the Junction, MSU's popular tailgating area outside Davis Wade Stadium. Before it was a green space enjoyed by thousands of football fans, five major streets intersected in that same space, and traffic flow was so frustrating that students, faculty and athletic fans called it "Malfunction Junction."
He recalls how he and Ray Hayes, then vice president for finance and administration, were having lunch in the old Union before its 2006-08 renovation.
"Ray asked me how we can get rid of Malfunction Junction. So we literally took several napkins and drew in the streets with relation to Davis Wade stadium, Lloyd-Ricks-Watson Building and Dorman Hall. By closing off several of the streets and rerouting others we were able to create a large green space on the south side of Davis Wade Stadium."
The green space became The Junction, and the rest, so to speak, is history.
Muzzi credits the strong leadership of university administrators, especially current MSU President Mark E. Keenum, for the vision and determination to ensure campus buildings meet the highest standards.
"In everything we do, my team's No. 1 priority is the health, safety and welfare of the students," Muzzi says. "Being here and doing what I get to do—I love it."
Writer: Leah Barbour | Photo: Beth Wynn
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 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 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