University of Southern Mississippi President Martha Saunders announced today that Dr. Cecil Burge is retiring as vice president for research and economic development after leading the university’s research enterprise for the past five-and-one-half years.
His retirement is effective Dec. 31. A national search for a successor will begin later this fall.
“Under his leadership, the university’s external research funding increased dramatically,” Dr. Saunders said. “His ability to identify fund sources and to mentor faculty throughout the grant process are invaluable assets that will be truly missed.”
A Southern Miss computer science professor since 1970, Burge has had experience in virtually every position and role associated with the research enterprise. This includes serving in various administrative positions such as technology transfer officer, director of the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, and as associate vice president for research.
The university reached the century mark in external funding for the first time with a high of $102 million in 2006, up from just $40 million in 2000. At any given time, Southern Miss has as many as 1,000 or more active grant projects.
Burge is quick to champion the university’s efforts in fostering the research environment. “In one generation Southern Miss has done what no one gave it permission to do: become a comprehensive research university with faculty and programs that are demonstrably world class,” Burge said.
Individual faculty members have also experienced success, something Burge finds personally gratifying. “A lot of this job is like being a cheerleader for the faculty,” said Burge. “Nothing makes me happier than to see someone get external funds for his or her project.”
While providing an avenue for much needed operating funds, the research enterprise also serves as a catalyst for economic development in South Mississippi. A cornerstone of that philosophy will be realized later this fall with the opening of the first buildings in The Garden, the university’s innovation and commercialization park.
“With the opening of The Garden, we have put a significant piece of research and commercialization infrastructure in place that will benefit this region for years to come,” Burge said.
During his time at Southern Miss, Burge has conducted numerous externally sponsored projects in the areas of rural health care delivery, applications of mobile communications technology, software engineering and technology-based economic development. Projects in his portfolio have included organizationally challenging efforts crossing multiple agencies, states, disciplines, and universities. Many of these projects have involved university consortia and academic-industrial-government partnerships.
Burge also led the effort to obtain Southern Miss' first accreditation in computer science and later served on the national accrediting agency, the Computer Sciences Accreditation Board. In this capacity, he also served as director of the Software Engineering Laboratory, a technology transfer and product development group.
A native of Pearl River County, Burge is a registered professional engineer with bachelor’s and doctoral degrees from Mississippi State University.
Dr. Cecil Burge
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 www.usm.edu .