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Released May 5, 2004

NEW PRESIDENT'S UNIVERSITY COUNCIL FORMED
TO ENHANCE COMMUNICATION EFFORTS

HATTIESBURG -- A President's University Council consisting of faculty, staff and students will be created at The University of Southern Mississippi before the end of the spring semester. The idea for the newly created council came from a meeting between President Shelby Thames and the deans of the five academic colleges.

"I asked them for their suggestions about how we could improve communication across every facet of our campus and gather new and innovative ideas that can be implemented to make our university stronger," Thames said.

The deans proposed a structure for the council, along with the purpose for its creation.

"Members of the council will be asked to share information and provide input to the president that will help move the university forward and foster communication across all groups," said Dr. Rex Gandy, dean of the College of Science and Technology.

The council will not be a governing body and will not replace the Faculty Senate, Student Government Association or the Staff Council.

"I think the proposed President's Council is a step in the right direction," said College of Business and Economic Development Dean Harold Doty. "Clearly, we are a campus that will benefit from better communication among faculty, staff, students and administrators. This council can play an important role in facilitating those communications."

Deans will solicit nominations from their faculty, staff and students. Representatives will also be chosen from the Gulf Park campus. From the pool of nominees, the deans will select one representative from each group, giving the council a total membership of 18 people. To ensure fair representation of both graduate and undergraduate students, the deans decided that the College of Arts and Letters, the College of Science and Technology and College of Business and Economic Development will be represented by undergraduate students while the College of Health, College of Education and Psychology and the Gulf Park Campus will be represented by graduate students.

Dr. Joan Exline, interim dean of the College of Health, said, "This is a time to heal and move forward. This council creates an opportunity for all constituencies (faculty, staff and students) to sit at one table and talk with the president about how to do that."

Dr. Elliott Pood, dean of the College of Arts and Letters, said that he felt it is important to begin taking steps, "even small steps," to begin rebuilding trust and communication between all elements of the university. "This is a good first step," Pood said.

"We think it's important to get this group rolling as soon as possible," said Dr. Willie Pierce, dean of the College of Education and Psychology. "I think the potential of this group of people is limitless and will be of great assistance to Dr. Thames and the entire institution." The first meeting of the council will take place at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, May 12.

"I really appreciate the time, thought and planning the deans took to create this idea," Thames said. "I wholeheartedly embrace the deans' proposal and look forward to working with this group of faculty, staff and students in advancing our university." I believe this is one of the first steps toward moving our university past the issues of the last few months.

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May 5, 2004 3:14 PM

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