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Whitehead Named Dean of Southern Miss College of Science and Technology PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, March 04, 2010
Contact David Tisdale, 601.266.4499   

A University of Southern Mississippi physics professor with two decades of experience in the classroom, research and administration at the university has been chosen to lead its College of Science and Technology.

Dr. Joe B. Whitehead Jr., who has served as interim dean of the college since August 2009, has been named dean of the college at the recommendation of a campus search committee. He replaces Dr. Rex Gandy, who last summer accepted the position of provost and vice president of academic affairs at Texas A&M University at Kingsville.

“I’m honored to be selected as dean and ready to build upon the solid foundation of the college,” Whitehead said. “We have outstanding faculty, staff and students working to address educational and economic challenges through research, teaching, service, and economic development and I’m proud to be involved in leading those efforts.”

Whitehead’s goals as dean include increasing multi-disciplinary research opportunities for students and faculty through targeted research initiatives that have global impact; providing professional development opportunities for faculty and staff; increasing student participation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics; and enhancing student retention and graduation rates.

“Dr. Whitehead has everything we are looking for to succeed in this position – scholarly achievement, a strong record of service to the university and community and a passion for student success,” said Southern Miss Provost Dr. Robert Lyman. “I believe the search committee made an outstanding choice.”

A native of Picayune, Whitehead joined the Southern Miss faculty as an assistant professor in its Department of Physics and Astronomy in 1990 after working for a year as a research scientist at Georgia Tech Research Institute. In 1994, he received a joint appointment in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and was chairman of the Department of Physics and Astronomy from 1998-2003. He was associate dean for the college from January 2004 through July 2009. 

He earned a bachelor of science degree in physics from Delta State University in 1983 and master’s and doctoral degrees from Kent State University in 1985 and 1989, respectively, where he performed research at the university’s Liquid Crystal Institute. He has mentored more than 45 high school, undergraduate, master, and doctoral students while conducting liquid crystal and materials research at Southern Miss.

Whitehead has received multiple honors for his scholarly achievements and service, including being named to the Academic Hall of Fame for the Picayune School District in 2000; the New Millennium Award from Kent State in 2001; Faculty/Staff of the Year award from the Southern Miss Afro-American Student Organization; the Southern Miss Outstanding Faculty Service Award for the College of Science and Technology in 2007; and the Aubrey K. and Ella Ginn Lucas Award for Excellence in Service for the College of Science and Technology in 2008.

He is co-principal investigator for the Alliance for Graduate Education in Mississippi and Mississippi Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, and has worked with industry and faculty to increase scholarship opportunities for students such as the partnership between Northrop Grumman and Southern Miss.

Whitehead also has numerous scholarly publications and presentations to his credit, including most recently “Probing the supra-nano-scale and micron scale structure of liquid-crystal and polymer dispersions using laser light scattering,” Warren, G.T.; Whitehead, Jr., J.B. Journal of the Society for Information Display, 13(9), 793-798, 2005; “Matrix physical structure effect on the electro-optic characteristics of thiol-ene based H-PDLC films.” Senyurt, A.F.; Warren, G.; Whitehead, Jr., J.B.; Hoyle, C.E. Polymer, 47(8), 2741-2749, 2006; “Humidity-responsive polymeric films based on AOT-water reverse microemulsions.” Marszalek, Jolanta E.; Pojman, John A.; Aultman, Kayce Leard; Hoyle, Charles E.; Whitehead, Joe B. Journal of Applied Polymer Science, 106(3),  1957-1963, 2007.

For information about the College of Science and Technology and its programs, online visit

Dr. Joe Whitehead

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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