Dr. Martha D. Saunders, president of The University of Southern Mississippi, has been named grand marshal for the 25th annual Southern Miss Coca-Cola Classic Rodeo.
The rodeo is slated for Friday and Saturday, Feb. 19-20 at the James Lynn Cartlidge Forrest County Multi Purpose Center on U.S. Highway 49 South in Hattiesburg. An event drawing hundreds of Pine Belt area spectators annually, the rodeo is part of the university’s slate of Centennial events during 2010.
Saunders became the ninth president of Southern Miss on May 21, 2007, continuing an illustrious career of higher-education leadership.
As the new president at Southern Miss, Dr. Saunders worked quickly to bring the campus together in a widely inclusive strategic planning process. Under her leadership, the university identified four overarching areas of strategic emphasis including (1) a climate for academic success, (2) an enhanced national image, (3) stronger connections with the community and (4) a culture of healthy minds, bodies and campuses.
Dr. Saunders came to Southern Mississippi from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, where she served as its first-ever female Chancellor. Prior to her appointment at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, she was vice president for academic affairs at Columbus State University in Columbus, Georgia.
She previously held the position of Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of West Florida (UWF), where she earned the rank of tenured professor of communication. At UWF, she also worked as director of the University Honors Program.
Throughout her 30-year career in higher education, Dr. Saunders has taught thousands of students. Her philosophy of education follows three simple guiding principles: know your students, connect them to bigger things and set a good example.
Dr. Saunders' training and experience in the field of communication led to numerous publications on crisis communication and public relations; widely anthologized published speeches; and the Public Relations Society of America's highest national award for the "Just 2 It!" public safety communication campaign.
A native of Mississippi, Dr. Saunders earned her B.A. in French from The University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg; 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. Martha Saunders
A highlight of this year’s rodeo is an appearance of the Budweiser Clydesdales as special entertainment. All tickets are $12 and will be available at TJ’s Western Ware on U.S. Highway 49 in Hattiesburg until Feb. 18 . Tickets will be available day of the shows, Feb. 19 and 20, beginning at 1 p.m. at the Forrest County Multi Purpose Center ticket office.
About The University of Southern MississippiThe University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities. In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world. Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; further information is found at www.usm.edu. -30-