The University of Southern Mississippi recently named five new department chairs in the College of Arts and Letters, including Dr. Kyle F. Zelner, History; Lt. Colonel Todd Berrier, Aerospace Studies; Dr. Christopher Miles, Philosophy and Religion; Dr. Ed Jackson, Anthropology and Sociology; and Professor Howard Paine, Art and Design.
Zelner joined the Southern Miss faculty in 2004 as an assistant professor of Early American History and War and Society. He has served as the department’s Director of Undergraduate Studies and the Director of Graduate Studies during his Southern Miss career. He became an associate professor in 2009.
Zelner received his B.A. in history and political science with high distinction at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. He received an M.A. in American History from Wayne State University, and earned his Ph.D. in American History from The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va.
“My hope is to continue the practice of excellence that the department has established in the areas of teaching, research, and service,” said Zelner. “I’m honored to be working with such an amazing group of historians who are also my friends.”
Prior to his position as chair of the Department of Aerospace Studies, Lt. Colonel Todd Berrier spent 19 years in the U.S. Air Force as an intelligence officer, served as Deputy Group Commander within the National Air and Space Intelligence Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, was the Commander of the 24th Intelligence Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and held numerous positions at various intelligence squadrons.
He received his commission as a Distinguished Graduate of Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps program, and a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice at Southern Miss. He earned his master’s of human relations from the University of Oklahoma, as well as a master of science in management from the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
Berrier said he hopes to continue a long tradition of recruiting highly competitive college students to be potential Air Force officer candidates.
“For me, this is truly a once-in-a-career opportunity to come back to my alma mater and lead the Air Force ROTC Detachment. I am very excited to be back on campus,” said Berrier.
Before being named chair of his department, Miles has been a member of the Southern Miss faculty for 10 years. He has served on numerous departmental, college, and university committees, in addition to his teaching and research responsibilities. Miles has also served as director and co-director for study abroad programs in Spain and Mexico.
Miles holds a master's degree from Bowling Green State University in Spanish and received his Ph.D. in Second Language Acquisition with a TESOL emphasis from the University of Cincinnati.
As a new chair, he hopes to promote long-term study abroad opportunities for students and increase departmental funds available to faculty to support their research endeavors. “It's always a pleasure to work with such a diverse faculty. I look forward to working with them all,” Miles said.
Dr. Ed Jackson, a Southern Miss anthropology instructor since 1987, previously served as department chair from 1996 to 2003. He received his B.A. from the American University and his M.A. from Tulane University. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of Michigan.
Jackson says he wants to continue to support the strong tradition of undergraduate and graduate education that the department is known for.
“The Department of Anthropology and Sociology faculty brings diverse research interests to the intellectual life of the university,” Jackson said. “The perspectives offered by a degree in sociology or anthropology prepares our students to successfully engage in the complex social environment in which we live, to examine issues in a critical and analytical way, and to make contributions that moves our society in a positive direction.”
Prior to his position as chair of the Department of Art and Design, Professor Howard Paine, held a number of positions at Memphis College of Art. Most recently, he served as Director of the MFA program, taught Digital Imaging, Digital Printmaking, and all levels of Traditional Printmaking.
Paine has a Master of Fine Arts in Printmaking from Washington University in St. Louis, and holds a double major in art and American Studies from Grinnell College. He said he hopes to lead the department through this complex transitional year of construction and moving post-tornado.
“I am honored to have been chosen to lead such a vibrant and diverse department, and excited to teach alongside dedicated professionals and outstanding teachers. Together we bring the Department of Art and Design to the top,” Paine said.