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3/27/2007 - Jackson, Miss.

The Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) announced in a press conference today that Dr. Martha Saunders, chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, is the preferred candidate for the position of President of the University of Southern Mississippi. The announcement was made following a meeting of the Board of Trustees, Commissioner of Higher Education Dr. Thomas C. Meredith, representatives of the Southern Miss Search Advisory Committee, and search consultant, Dr. Jan Greenwood.

“Dr. Saunders is a visionary, with the experience needed to lead the University of Southern Mississippi now and into the future,” said Trustee Robin Robinson, chair of the Southern Miss Board Search Committee. “The Board and Search Advisory Committee were blessed with a tremendous applicant pool, and we are confidant that the search process has led us to the best candidate for president of Southern Miss.”

Dr. Saunders is the first-ever woman to hold her current position of chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, just one of many accomplishments in her nearly 30-year career in higher education. Prior to her current position, she was vice president for academic affairs at Columbus State University in Columbus, Georgia, and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of West Florida in Pensacola, where she also worked as Director of the University Honors Program. Dr. Saunders has extensive training and experience in the field of communication, and her scholarship in the area has led to numerous publications and national awards. A native of Mississippi, Dr. Saunders earned her B.A. in French from the University of Southern Mississippi; her M.A. in journalism from the University of Georgia in Athens; and her Ph.D. in communication theory and research from Florida State University in Tallahassee. Dr. Saunders’ full biography and photo are available on the Mississippi.edu website.

On Thursday, April 5, Dr. Saunders will participate in open, day-long interviews at the University of Southern Mississippi’s Hattiesburg Campus with various university and community constituency groups (schedule forthcoming). Individuals attending the open interviews will be given the opportunity to provide feedback to the Board of Trustees regarding their impressions of Dr. Saunders. At the end of the day, the Board will announce either that Dr. Saunders will be the ninth president of the University of Southern Mississippi or that the search will continue.

Under the leadership of the Board of Trustees, IHL 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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