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Released March 27, 2003


HATTIESBURG - University of Southern Mississippi President Dr. Shelby Thames will discuss his rise as a pioneering faculty member to the university's top post as part of the 2003 Lecture Series in the Sciences April 2.

In a presentation titled "From Polymer Scientist to President," Thames will detail the challenges he faced transitioning from distinguished university research professor and founder of the internationally renowned Polymer Science Department to Southern Miss' eighth president.

Thames' presentation begins at 7 p.m. in Reuben Auditorium in Walker Science Building, with a reception to follow.

"Moving from my area of expertise, polymers, to become president of Southern Miss has been challenging, but similar in several ways," Thames said. "Long hours are a must in both, but my love for this university keeps me motivated and working hard for our students."

Continuing a 38-year career at Southern Miss, Thames assumed the office of the president May 1, 2002. At the time of selection, Thames was leading a research team of 50 people in the polymer science program he founded in the 1970s.

Thames was also instrumental in securing funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the university's three-story, 86,000-square-foot polymer research center that bears his name. In November 1996, the state College Board unanimously approved naming the center in honor of Thames.

Southern Miss's ultra-modern polymer science center officially opened in April 1991. It houses state-of-the-art instrumentation for the department and the independently funded Mississippi Polymer Institute, which directly helps fill industry and training and consulting needs.

Besides teaching, research and now presiding over the state's only dual-campus institution, Thames has also served Southern Miss as dean of the College of Science and Technology, vice president for administration and regional campuses and executive vice president.

Thames came to Southern Miss as a faculty member in 1964. He earned bachelor's and master's degrees in chemistry from Southern Miss in 1959 and 1961, and received his doctorate in organic chemistry from the University of Tennessee in 1964.

As president of Southern Miss, Thames leads Mississippi's second largest university and the only comprehensive institution in the southern half of the state.

The final presentation in the 2002-03 Lecture Series in the Sciences will be held April 16, with Dr. Adel Ali discussing "Supercomputing and High Performance Visualization." For more information call (601) 266-4887.



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July 16, 2003 9:46 AM