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BOARD OF TRUSTEES NAMES VETERAN HIGHER ED EDUCATOR AS PRESIDENT OF DELTA STATE UNIVERSITY

3/28/2023 - Jackson, Miss.

Following a nationwide search, the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning appointed South Carolina educator Dr. Daniel J. Ennis as the ninth President of Delta State University at its meeting held this week in Jackson.

Dr. Daniel J. Ennis
Dr. Daniel J. Ennis

Currently serving as Provost and Executive Vice President of Coastal Carolina University in Conway, S.C., Dr. Ennis has served in several administrative roles at the university over the past 20 years, including Provost, Dean of Humanities and Fine Arts, Vice President for Academic Outreach, Chair of the Department of English, and Co-Director of the University Honors Program. A tenured professor of English, Dr. Ennis has been an assistant professor, associate professor, and full professor at Coastal Carolina.

"The positions Dr. Ennis has held at Coastal Carolina have prepared him extremely well to serve as president of Delta State University," said Trustee Teresa Hubbard, Chair of the Board Search Committee for the Delta State University President Search. "His long tenure there demonstrates how beloved he is by the campus community. His academic credentials, administrative skills, student-centered focus, and ability to connect students, faculty, alumni and the community make him a great fit for the university."

As Provost, Dr. Ennis’ efforts have helped increase the retention rate, moving the university’s first-year retention rate from 67 percent to 73 percent in his first year as Provost. As retention improved, overall enrollment also increased. Today, enrollment has surpassed pre-pandemic levels, driven in part by record freshmen classes in both the fall of 2021 and the fall of 2022.

"I am honored to serve Delta State University. As I have learned more about the university, the Delta region, and the state of Mississippi, I have been inspired by the history, culture, and resilience of the people with whom I will soon work and live. I am committed to helping Delta State University continue to thrive, and my wife and I look forward to becoming members of the community."

Dr. Ennis is also experienced and accomplished in friend- and fund-raising. He connects donors, faculty, and the community and helps them to see the potential in the institution by articulating how their resources can transform lives.

As a leader drawn from the faculty ranks, and who served as President of his local chapter of the American Association of University Professors, Dr. Ennis understands how shared governance strengthens the university and helps a wide variety of campus community voices to be heard.

"Dr. Ennis brings a wealth of experience at a public university in the Southeast to Delta State University," said Trustee Tom Duff, President of the Board of Trustees. "His experience will serve Delta State well as it seeks to navigate similar challenges and opportunities, particularly in the areas of recruitment, retention, and fundraising. I look forward to seeing the university flourish under his leadership."

Dr. Ennis understands the power of higher education to transform the lives of its students and the communities in which it resides. In 2013, he assembled talented students, creative faculty and emerging technologies to create The Athenaeum Press at Coastal Carolina University. With the motto Local Stories Matter, the press team invites the community to campus to preserve and publish their words and images. Since its founding, the Athenaeum Press has produced award-winning books, digital installations, short films, museum exhibits, and sound recordings, all of which tell the story of northeastern South Carolina.

His leadership at Coastal Carolina has also helped create a healthier northeastern South Carolina. He led the reorganization of the academic structure of the university to create the Conway Medical Center College of Health and Human Performance. Founded in 2021, the college has developed two much-needed majors, nursing and health science, and provides wellness outreach to the community.

As an academic leader, Dr. Ennis was instrumental the convening the first Sun Belt Conference Assembly of Provosts, and he has assisted the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education as a member of the Advisory Committee on Academic Programs and on the SC Transfer Taskforce.

Dr. Ennis holds a bachelor’s degree in English from The College of Charleston, a master’s degree in English from Appalachian State University, and a doctorate in English from Auburn University. As a scholar, he has received the Annibel Jenkins Prize in Performance & Theatre Studies from the South East American Society for Eighteenth Century Studies, has published books and articles on British literature and culture, and was a Fulbright-Hayes awardee in 2011.

Dr. Ennis will be on campus to meet with campus constituency groups in the near future and a full schedule of events will be announced soon. Dr. Ennis will begin serving as President of Delta State University on June 1, 2023. A livestream webcast of the meetings will be available online.

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The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning 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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