Jerry DeFatta, associate director for external affairs for the Southern Miss Alumni Association, has been promoted to the role of executive director.
DeFatta, who has been an employee of The University of Southern Mississippi for nearly five years, replaces Bob Pierce on July 1. Pierce, who has served as executive director of the association for 12 years, has been named the university’s vice president for Advancement. The position increases Pierce’s responsibilities to include oversight of the University Foundation as well as the Alumni Association.
“Jerry has certainly proven himself during these past five years of service with the Alumni Association,” Pierce said. “He has the support and respect of the volunteers and the staff, and this will be a logical and easy transition for him. I look forward to Jerry moving into the new capacity on July 1 and working with him for the betterment of Southern Miss for years to come.”
As executive director, DeFatta will lead the association’s 11-person staff, manage the overall administration of the organization and serve as secretary and treasurer of the association's board of directors.
“I am eagerly awaiting the opportunity to benefit my Alma Mater in this new role,” said DeFatta, a double graduate of the university who most recently earned his master’s degree in public relations in May 2010. “Under the leadership of an outstanding group of alumni volunteers and Bob Pierce, the Alumni Association has celebrated a lengthy list of accomplishments in recent years, and I look forward to adding to that list in the years to come.”
During his tenure as associate director, among other achievements, DeFatta guided the design and implementation of the 20,000 in 2010 Membership Campaign, an effort to increase membership in the organization by approximately 25 percent by the university’s Centennial Celebration in 2010. Through March, the association’s membership for the fiscal year that will end on June 30 stood at 20,459.
DeFatta was recommended for hire to university President Martha Saunders by a 17-person selection committee, led by incoming association president Randy Pope and comprised of alumni, faculty, staff, students and community leaders.
“The selection committee was very impressed with Jerry,” Pope said. “He has a proven track record of hard work and creativity working for the Alumni Association, and I have no doubt that under his leadership the association will continue the positive momentum we’ve enjoyed during Bob Pierce’s tenure as executive director. I’m really looking forward to working with Jerry in the years to come.”
Prior to joining the staff of the Alumni Association, DeFatta was employed with the Cintas Corporation, an Ohio-based uniform and facility service company, where he held various positions serving as a sales representative, service manager and plant manager.
He is a member of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education and the Hattiesburg Sertoma Club. DeFatta and his wife Bethanie currently reside in Petal with their daughters Eva Marie and Ella Katherine.
DeFatta’s promotion leaves vacancies in both associate director posts at the Alumni Association. Earlier this month, Brett Cassell, the association’s associate director for internal operations accepted a position at the University of New Orleans, where he will serve as bursar. The university will begin accepting applications for both positions next week, and position
announcements will be posted at the university’s Human Resources’ web page. For more information on either position, contact the Alumni Association at 601.266.5013.
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.