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MSU announces department merger
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Mississippi State University is merging the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology to promote cost savings and further strengthen research efforts.
The faculty-led Select Committee on Efficiencies and Innovations made the department merger recommendation after consulting with departmental faculty from both units.
Formed in fall 2009, the Select Committee on Efficiencies and Innovations was appointed by MSU President Mark Keenum to address financial challenges.
“Each department has a strong research program,” said George Hopper, interim dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “The merger will create a unique opportunity to further those research programs while also providing savings for the university.”
The biochemistry undergraduate program will remain the same, as will the graduate program in biochemistry, entomology and plant pathology, and molecular biology.
“The merger will allow faculty to collaborate on research projects, graduate education and outreach efforts,” Hopper said.
The merger was approved by the Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning. Biochemistry and molecular biology department head Scott Willard will lead the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology and Plant Pathology.
Willard has led the MSU Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology since 2007 and previously worked as a professor in the Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences. He will also lead Extension programming for the department.
“We are confident in Dr. Willard’s ability to lead,” said interim Extension director Joe Street. “He has done a tremendous job as an administrator and a faculty member.”
Willard earned a bachelor’s degree in animal, veterinary and fisheries science at the University of Rhode Island, Kingston. He earned a master’s and doctoral degrees in physiology of reproduction at Texas A&M University. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in cell biology and anatomy at the Medical University of South Carolina before coming to MSU.