HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The founding director of the University of Southern Mississippi's public relations office died Friday in his Hattiesburg home at 82.
William E. "Bud" Kirkpatrick served the university as an employee for 45 years, making him the longest serving continuous employee of Southern Miss, according to a USM news release.
Kirkpatrick earned his bachelor's degree from Southern Miss in 1958 and his master's degree in 1964. As an undergrad, he worked for the R.C. Cook University Union and later became director of the Union and Student Activities, according to the university.
In 1972, Kirkpatrick was appointed Director of Public Relations, and he was named Assistant to the President for University Relations in 1997, which he held until his retirement in 2002.
"Bud Kirkpatrick was an exemplar public relations professional and leader for The University of Southern Mississippi. He always demonstrated honesty and integrity in his roles at USM, including as head of communications for more than three decades," USM Chief Communication Officer Jim Coll said in the release.
"Bud was also persistent and tireless in his work—and not surprisingly, the USM brand began to reflect those qualities that were so evident in him and many others associated with the University during his tenure," Coll said. "Those qualities also made "Mr. K" a perfect mentor to so many in communications-related fields, including me. I, and so many others, will miss his kindness, his encouragement, and his guidance."
A scholarship in his honor is awarded to USM Mass Communication and Journalism students, and he recently received a Forrest Health Spirit in Action Award for his commitment to the community, according to the release.
"Bud Kirkpatrick loved Southern Miss, and always worked for its benefit," USM President Emeritus Dr. Aubrey Lucas said in the news release. "With limited resources, he found a way to tell the world about our wonderful university. His loyalty to his alma mater and his delightful sense of humor will live on in our memories."
University President Dr. Rodney Bennett released this statement on Twitter: