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News & Media

In Difficult Times, Celebrate Your University’s Successes!

January 5, 2021
By: Jim Martin, Associate Vice President for Corporate Engagement and Economic Development, Mississippi State University
 
Jim Martin Mississippi State
This article is included as part of APLU's Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities Designation and Awards Perspectives Blog. Read other articles around strategies, programs, and impact of APLU's IEP designees at www.APLU.org/IEPBlog. Earn APLU’s IEP designation. Learn more at www.APLU.org/SeekIEP

Throughout the year, all of our universities have, out of necessity, given a substantial amount of attention to the many logistical, financial, and personal challenges brought on by the pandemic. With so much uncertainty, it is easy to move from one crisis to the next without stopping to appreciate the things that are being accomplished. The celebrations that do take place are often substantially altered by necessary safety precautions.

That said, it is important that universities take time to celebrate successes during times such as these. In addition to boosting morale on campus, this also helps lift the spirits of the communities that we are inextricably linked to as economically engaged universities. The pandemic has underscored the tremendous value a connected university brings to our local and state communities as we have all seen our institutions step up to assist in the fight against COVID-19. We have also continued the everyday work that is needed to carry out our teaching, research and service missions.

Central to the APLU IEP designation is being able to measure and tell the story of our "holistic economic impact." The three categories of Talent, Innovation, and Place provide a great framework for capturing challenges and success stories that happened throughout the year.  Another added benefit of the IEP designation is sharing those stories and leveraging our network to help advance opportunities and impact across all our universities.

At Mississippi State, when we have had successes this year, we have done our best to tell those stories. Our Paul B. Jacobs High Voltage Laboratory converted 550 ventilators from battery to AC power for use in Mississippi hospitals. Researchers at the College of Veterinary Medicine are assisting the Mississippi Department of Health with COVID-19 diagnostic testing. CVM is also running diagnostic testing for MSU’s John C. Longest Student Health Center, ensuring a fast turnaround on test results for the campus community. Student researchers at the Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems designed a PPE disinfectant device using a toolbox and ultraviolet lights and built several units for use across the state. We worked closely with businesses and local governments across the state to help them weather the many challenges they are facing.

MSU continues to bring unique resources and expertise to Mississippi, such as the fifth-fastest academic supercomputer in the U.S. In October, MSU launched a major supercomputing partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, helping to keep MSU and Mississippi at the forefront of areas such as precision agriculture, biocomputing, geospatial technology and more.

In addition to serving as the lead university for the FAA’s Center of Excellence for UAS, MSU’s Raspet Flight Research Laboratory was in June designated as the Federal Aviation Administration’s UAS Safety Research Facility, placing the research center at the helm of studying and developing safety and certification standards as UAS become increasingly integrated in the U.S. airspace.

These are just a few examples of the stories we have been proud to tell this year. We have found that our stakeholders are often excited to hear of our successes and the unique ways we are contributing to the COVID-19 response. This goodwill will undoubtedly help us today and in the post-COVID world.

With the calendar getting ready to turn to a new year and COVID-19 vaccines being delivered, there is reason for long-term optimism as we navigate some difficult months in the near-term. While 2020 has been a year that in many ways we would like to forget, we hope you have the opportunity to mark the successes that have come in difficult times. In addition to serving as a much-needed morale boost, it provides one more way to positively engage with our communities.

This article is included as part of APLU's Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities Designation and Awards Perspectives Blog. Read other articles around strategies, programs, and impact of APLU's IEP designees at www.APLU.org/IEPBlog. Earn APLU’s IEP designation. Learn more at www.APLU.org/SeekIEP
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