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Lucas Named Southern Miss Gulf Coast Vice President PDF Print E-mail
Friday, April 30, 2010
Contact Jana Bryant, 601.266.4497,   

Dr. Frances Lucas, president of Millsaps College, has been named Vice President and Campus Executive Officer for The University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast following a four-month national search, President Martha Saunders announced today.


Lucas will join the Southern Miss leadership team July 5. She succeeds Dr. Pat Joachim, associate provost, who is retiring after leading the university’s Gulf Coast operations since 2005.


“Frances Lucas brings a wealth of professional experience and ability to us. She is a seasoned executive, fundraiser and campus/community developer.  She will be an asset to the Southern Miss team,” said Dr. Saunders.


The new vice president for Southern Miss Gulf Coast will have three primary responsibilities: (1) lead in the development of innovative educational experiences, (2) respond to the needs of the Gulf Coast, and (3) further the strategic goals of the university.


Lucas brings to Southern Miss 31 years of executive experience at five institutions, including Millsaps College, Emory University, Baldwin-Wallace College, Mississippi State University and the University of Alabama.


During her 10 years at Millsaps College she raised $132 million, added 115 new scholarships, increased planned gifts by 64 percent and increased alumni giving from 31 percent to as high as 42 percent. She was instrumental in developing both human and financial resources to help advance the college’s visibility and standing in numerous national rankings. 


“I’m thrilled to be the new vice president. I believe that the Gulf Coast has some of the greatest potential for growth and entrepreneurial learning of anywhere in the nation. I’ve been a true Golden Eagle all my life. I can’t wait,” said Lucas, whose father Dr. Aubrey Lucas served as the Southern Miss president from 1975-96 and again as interim president from 2001-02.


A 1978 graduate of Mississippi State University with a degree in communications, Frances Lucas earned her master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Alabama in 1980 and 1986, respectively. Lucas also has teaching experience as an assistant professor at three of the institutions. 


While at Emory from 1992-2000, she served as Senior Vice President for Campus Life and was responsible for overseeing the design of a new $72 million residential village and renovation of existing residence halls in preparation for the 1996 Olympics. At Baldwin-Wallace College, Lucas served as vice president for Student Affairs for six years.


I believe I can make significant contributions to The University of Southern Mississippi-Gulf Coast by using my years of executive experience in higher education,” said Lucas. “One of the most appealing aspects of this job is the opportunity to work for Dr. Martha Saunders. She is an outstanding university president, and I look forward to learning from her.” 


In addition, Lucas has served in leadership positions in numerous professional and civic organizations including the American College Educators’ Women’s Commission, the Associated Colleges of the South, the Mississippi Women’s Forum and the Jackson Medical Education District Board. Her honors include the National Ideal Delta Gamma Award (2008), Mississippi Women’s Network Association Woman of the Year (2008), the All American Football Association Outstanding College President Award (2005), and Mississippi Business Journal’s Business Woman of the Year (2003). 


The search for a new Gulf Coast leader began in December with stakeholder listening sessions in Hattiesburg and on the Gulf Coast. A 19-member search committee composed of Southern Miss Gulf Coast faculty, staff, students and alumni and chaired by Vice President Joe Paul, and began its work in January. 


“I commend the search committee for their dedication and hard work in presenting the president with excellent finalists,” said Paul. “We welcome Dr. Frances Lucas to the leadership team at Southern Miss. Her dynamic leadership will serve as a tremendous catalyst to achieving even greater things at Southern Miss Gulf Coast.”


A member of the committee and chair of the Gulf Coast Faculty Council and Associate Professor Heather Annulis said, “We are thrilled on the Coast to have an administrator on the president’s cabinet. There were three very strong candidates. Dr. Lucas is a great communicator, and her previous years as a university president uniquely position her to lead Southern Miss in growth and development of the Gulf Coast.”  


Southern Miss Gulf Coast has a rapidly growing enrollment of more than 3,000 students on the Gulf Park Campus in Long Beach and other teaching and research sites including the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in Ocean Springs, Stennis Space Center in Hancock County, and the Gulf Coast Student Service Center in Gulfport.


Dr. Frances Lucas


About The University of Southern Mississippi

The 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


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