HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning voted recently to extend the contract of University of Southern Mississippi President Dr. Rodney D. Bennett, according to a news release from Mississippi Public Universities.
"Dr. Bennett's leadership has been a tremendous advantage for Southern Miss," said Trustee Aubrey Patterson, President of the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning. "From leading the recovery effort after the tornado to numerous other building and beautification projects on both the Hattiesburg and Gulf Park Campuses, he has provided students with an excellent environment in which to live and learn. His focus on the students is evident in the progress made during his tenure."
Bennett was named the 10th president of the college on February 7, 2013 and began serving in April of 2013. He was sworn in May 2, 2014.
"I remain grateful to the IHL Board of Trustees for granting me the opportunity to serve as President of The University of Southern Mississippi two years ago, and I am proud of the outstanding work we have been able to accomplish during that time," Bennett said. "I am excited to have been offered this 2-year contract extension, which will allow us to continue providing high-quality education and research programs while strengthening our trajectory of recruiting, enrolling, and graduating high achieving students as we meet the needs of the state of Mississippi and beyond."
Bennett was dedicated to the campus recovery effort after the February 2013 tornado.
During his tenure, Dr. Bennett has formed a Strategic Planning Council to engage stakeholders in strategic institutional conversations about the potential components of a long-term strategic plan; provide recommendations for updating the University's current Vision, Mission, Values, and Plan; and develop recommendations for institutional Strategic Priorities and Strategic Initiatives moving forward, according to the release.
Bennett holds a Doctor of Education Degree in Educational Administration from Tennessee State University in Nashville, a Specialist in Education Degree and a Master of Education Degree in Educational Administration from Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mass Communication from Middle Tennessee State.