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Released June 20, 2003

By David Tisdale

HATTIESBURG - The University of Southern Mississippi has named a veteran faculty member as interim dean of the Southern Miss College of Education and Psychology, with the search for a permanent replacement to resume in the fall.

Dr. Willie Lee Pierce, an Indianola native who joined the Southern Miss faculty in the fall of 1975, will assume his duties July 1. He received his undergraduate and master's degrees from Delta State University and his doctorate from North Carolina State University, and began his career at Southern Miss as an assistant professor of adult education. Since then he has served as chair of the Southern Miss Department of Adult Education and coordinator of graduate programs in adult education. In addition, Pierce has served on the executive committee and as membership chairman of the Commission of Professors of Adult Education.

Pierce will oversee the reconfiguration of the College of Education and Psychology, which will undergo changes next month as part of the recent realignment of the university's colleges. Programs in the college will include the departments of curriculum, instruction and special education; educational leadership and research; technology education; and psychology, along with newly added degree programs that include child and family studies; family and consumer sciences education; family and consumer studies, early intervention; and marriage and family therapy.

Also included will be the school of library and information sciences.

"I look forward to the opportunity," Pierce said. "My fundamental goal is to help us develop a cohesive college with these new units that works together to help us move forward."

Pierce said he will work to familiarize himself with the college's new units and prepare to help the university secure a permanent replacement for the dean's position. "The thing is to find the right fit for the job, and I look forward to helping with that process."

Dr. Tim Hudson, Provost of Southern Miss' Hattiesburg campus, praised the work of the search committee interviewing candidates for a new dean for the college, but said it was determined that more time was needed in order to find the best leader to fill this critical position.

"The search committee did a great job, but there are times when you don't find the right person, the right fit, in the first attempt," he said. "We must have the very best leadership for this important college. We are fortunate to have someone of Dr. Pierce's background and familiarity with the programs in education and psychology to serve as interim dean. He has the support of his colleagues, and he will do a terrific job."


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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM