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4/5/2007 - Jackson, Miss.

In a unanimous decision, the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) announced in a press conference today that Mississippi native and Southern Miss alumna Dr. Martha Dunagin Saunders, chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, will serve as the 9th president of the University of Southern Mississippi. The announcement was made following day-long interviews with various campus and community constituency groups at the University’s Hattiesburg campus, during which those participants had the opportunity to evaluate Dr. Saunders.

“Dr. Saunders’ vision and experience is the perfect fit for the University of Southern Mississippi at this time in its history,” said Trustee Robin Robinson, chair of the Southern Miss Board Search Committee. “As a Hattiesburg native and Southern Miss alumna, I am confident Dr. Saunders will be a remarkable addition to Mississippi’s public university system.”

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 IHL website.

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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