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Released March 31, 2004

By David Tisdale

HATTIESBURG -- A search committee at The University of Southern Mississippi has made its choice for a new dean of the university's College of Education and Psychology.

Dr. Willie Pierce, who is currently serving as interim dean of the college, was chosen after the committee conducted an extensive national search over the last several months.

"We conducted an exhaustive search, and we believe the best candidate for the position is already on the job," said Southern Miss President Dr. Shelby Thames. "Dr. Pierce brings a wealth of experience to this position. He's proven his devotion to the students in the College of Education and Psychology."

A native of Indianola, Pierce is a longtime professor of educational leadership and research at the university and is director of the Southern Miss Center for Adult Learning and Education. He will take over the position on a permanent basis July 1.

"I'm just real excited," Piece said. "I have a great faculty that I have really enjoyed working with (as interim dean). Everybody has been so positive and remained focused on providing the best education we possibly can for our students. I'm looking forward to it -there's nothing I've ever done in my professional career that I've enjoyed more than this."

Pierce received his bachelor's and master's degrees in education from Delta State University and his doctorate in education from North Carolina State University in 1975. He is a member of the American Association for Adult and Continuing Education, an executive committee member and membership chair for the Commission of Professors, and served as the past board president of the Hattiesburg Education Literacy Project.

"Dr. Pierce is an able administrator and an experienced scholar," said Dr. Tim Hudson, Southern Miss provost. "I have always admired the commitment he makes to his students; directing dissertations involves a tremendous amount of dedication, patience and wisdom on the part of the professor and Dr. Pierce has long been one of Southern Miss' leaders in this important work. He will make a very good dean for a college that is at the very heart of our university's mission."

Another committee is also continuing its search for a new dean for the Southern Miss College of Health. A selection for this position is expected in the coming weeks.



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April 2, 2004 5:07 PM