USM alum to ascend to College Board presidency

Tom Duff to officially lead Mississippi’s IHL Board of Trustees starting May 8
Dr. Walt Starr (right) of Columbus, outgoing president of the Board of Trustees of State...
Dr. Walt Starr (right) of Columbus, outgoing president of the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning, passes the gavel to incoming president, Tom Duff of Hattiesburg.(Institutions of Higher Learning Communications)
Published: Apr. 24, 2022 at 10:42 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WDAM) - Tom Duff recently received the initial accruement needed in his upcoming role as the head of the state’s Institutions of Higher Learning’s Board of Trustees.

Last week, current College Board President Dr. Walt Starr passed along the ceremonial gavel that brings each monthly meeting to order.

Duff, a University of Southern Mississippi officially will assume his new duties May 8.

“Mississippi’s public university system provides an excellent return on investment to our students and the state,” Duff said. “Our universities forge Mississippi’s future through outstanding academic programs, pioneering research and service to communities across the state.

“I have enjoyed my service on the board and look forward to taking a new role as president.”

Duff served as vice president of the board during Starr’s term. Trustee Alfred E. McNair Jr. will serve as vice president during Duff’s term.

“The university leaders, faculty, staff, and students have faced tremendous challenges over the past two years due to the global pandemic,” Starr said. “I am very proud of the way they have continued to adapt and persevere, while maintaining the quality of the academic programs, research efforts and the service they provide. Despite many hurdles, thousands of students will graduate this spring with the degrees necessary to achieve their career and life goals.

“This is a testament to hard work of the students and university faculty and staff.”

Mississippi public universities served approximately 89,000 students and awarded 19,681 degrees in Academic Year 2021. Over the past five years, there has been a 10.8 percent increase in the number of degrees awarded and a 25.9 percent increase in the number of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduates.

Duff was appointed to the Board by then-Gov. Phil Bryant in May 2015 for a term to expire May 7, 2024.

Duff is a resident of Hattiesburg and is co-owner, along with his brother Jim, of Duff Capital Investors, the largest private business in Mississippi.

In 1980, Duff received his bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Southern Mississippi.

In 2012, in recognition of Jim and Tom Duff’s significant contributions, the University of Southern Mississippi named its athletic center “The Jim and Tom Duff Athletic Center.”

The center is located on the north end of Roberts Stadium and houses the football players locker room, weight training area, and coaches’ offices.

Duff serves on the advisory board of Trustmark National Bank and is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He is the father of two children and four grandchildren.

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