The president of The University of Southern Mississippi says he is giving a recent pay raise he received to a new scholarship fund.
In an email to Southern Miss faculty and staff, Dr. Rodney Bennett wrote he learned of two new developments after the Board of Trustees of the State Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) meeting in June.
According to the email, the board increased Dr. Bennett's base salary, providing him with a $72,630 raise, to "be consistent with the base salaries of the institutional executive officers at the other research universities in the system."
In the email, Dr. Bennett wrote:
"While I am grateful that USM will keep pace with other research universities in this regard, I am sensitive to the fact that this increase comes at a time when so many employees have not received pay increases, has had positions eliminated or have positions in their units remain unfilled."
Dr. Bennett said he will use the salary increase to endow a second scholarship through the USM Foundation.
"The scholarship will assist students in attending and completing their education at USM, something for which I feel a strong conviction."
The college board also extended Dr. Bennett's employment by adding two years to his existing contract, which will go through June 30, 2021.
"I will continue to do all that I can to move The University of Southern Mississippi and each of us forward," wrote Dr. Bennett.