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Released January 9, 2003

By David Tisdale

HATTIESBURG -- The University of Southern Mississippi continued a recent trend of promoting from within Thursday by naming Southern Miss's assistant director of British Studies, Dr. Ken Panton, as new dean of the Southern Miss Honors College.

Panton, a native of Edinburgh, Scotland, and member of the Southern Miss Geography Department faculty since 1997, will take over the post vacated by Dr. Maureen Ryan, who was promoted to associate provost last fall. Dr. Tom Richardson, coordinator of senior honors in the Honors College, has been serving as interim dean.

"It's a privilege to be working at Southern Miss and to be named dean of the Honors College," said Panton. "I'm looking forward to working with some of the brightest students on campus. It's an intellectual stimulus for me and a pleasure to work with these students."

Panton said he wants to make the Honors College one of the best in the country and a point of pride for students associated with its programs.

"I want it to be a place that people want to come and where it is a privilege to be a member," he said. "I'm also looking forward to working with faculty who enjoy teaching these bright students and getting their input about development of the Honors College."

Panton received a master of arts in geography and subsidiary politics and social anthropology from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland in 1970. He earned a doctorate from King's College, University of London, in 1972.

Before coming to Southern Miss, Panton served as a senior lecturer in geography at London Guildhall University, and at City of London Polytechnic, and was an assistant professor of geography at Kansas State University from 1982-1983.

Panton's research specialty areas include geography of education, religion, language and, more recently, study-abroad education. He is the author of three books – a two-volume Historical Dictionary of the United Kingdom and a single-volume Historical Dictionary of London. His other published works include "Literacy in London: Study of Patterns of Reading Ability of Eight-Year-Old School Pupils in the Inner City," a journal article based on his doctoral dissertation.

"The London book (released in 2002) was designed as a reference text for American libraries, but has been picked up by a British publisher and is being adapted for publication to a more general market in the United Kingdom," the dean noted.

Ryan said she has known Panton for 15 years through their association as colleagues and their mutual participation in the British Studies program, adding, "More recently, he's taught frequently in the Honors College. I have no doubt he'll be an excellent Honors College dean."

The Southern Miss Honors College provides students with a broadly-based liberal education often found in a smaller college environment within the context of a large, comprehensive university. Its origins trace back to 1965 with the university's honors program, which grew into a separate college in 1976, making it the sixth oldest honors college in the nation.

The college has an approximate enrollment of 300 student and is divided into two sections – including General Honors for freshmen and sophomores, and Senior Honors for juniors and seniors. The Honors College works with any degree program offered by the university and offers scholarship opportunities based on academic and leadership abilities. For more information about the college and its programs, call (601) 266-4533


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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM