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12/17/2015 - Jackson, Miss.

The Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning has set the salaries of University of Mississippi Chancellor-elect Dr. Jeffrey S. Vitter and Mississippi State University President Dr. Mark Keenum at $600,000, with half provided by funds appropriated by the state and half provided by the respective universities' foundations.

Named as chancellor of the University of Mississippi by the Board of Trustees in October, Dr. Vitter will begin serving as chancellor of the university on Friday, January 1, 2016. A renowned computer scientist and academic leader, Dr. Vitter most recently served as provost and executive vice chancellor at the University of Kansas. Dr. Vitter will also hold a tenured professorship in the School of Engineering's Department of Computer and Information Science.

"Welcoming a new leader is an exciting time for any university," said Dr. Glenn Boyce, Commissioner of Higher Education. "I look forward to the university's continued growth under Dr. Vitter's leadership and know the University of Mississippi community is eager to welcome Dr. and Mrs. Vitter to campus."

Dr. Mark Keenum has served as President of Mississippi State University since January 2009. He has guided Mississippi State to unprecedented heights during his seven-year tenure, with exceptional growth in enrollment, research and fundraising. With both major renovations and new construction projects completed, the campuses in both Starkville and Meridian have been expanded and enhanced during his tenure.

"Dr. Keenum has provided tremendous leadership to Mississippi State University," said Dr. Boyce. "Not only is he highly respected within the state of Mississippi, but also throughout the region and nation, as evidenced by his selection to serve in leadership roles on a number of prominent boards."

The Board of Trustees understands that competitive salaries are important to attracting the best talent at all levels of the university. Earlier this year, the Board directed new appropriated funds to faculty and staff salary increases and began discussing executive compensation.

"Investment in the leadership of an institution is an investment in the future success of the university and its students," said President Alan Perry of the Board of Trustees. "It is critical to provide appropriate and competitive compensation to attract and retain leaders of this caliber. We will continue to evaluate the salaries of all presidents in the system with the goal of providing competitive and appropriate compensation for the level of responsibility and expertise required by these positions."

Mr. Perry also noted: "It should be noted that, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, compensation for presidents of institutions similar to the University of Mississippi and Mississippi State has increased very substantially in recent years. For example, the average executive compensation at other public universities in the Southeastern Conference is $730,865. It should also be observed that The University of Arkansas recently hired a new chancellor and increased the salary from $339,000 to $700,000."

Previously, the chancellor's salary was $429,000, with $220,500 from state funds and $208,500 from private funds. The new salary reflects an increase of $79,500 in state funds and a larger increase in private funds of $91,500.

Dr. Keenum's previous salary was $454,740, with $227,370 provided from state funds and $227,370 from private funds. The new salary reflects an increase of $72,630 from each source.

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The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.

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