The University of Southern Mississippi Foundation has announced Dr. Shannon Fleming as its next Executive Director, effective June 3. In this role, Fleming will serve as the chief staff executive for the USM Foundation, in addition to serving as the director of development for the University, and will be responsible for the Foundation’s strategic leadership, attainment of goals and objectives, coordination of fundraising activities and board management.
The Executive Director’s position was recently re-created as a stand-alone role as part of the Foundation’s five-year strategic plan. Bob Pierce, who has served as both the Executive Director of the Foundation and the Vice President for University Advancement since 2010 will continue in the Vice President’s role with administrative responsibilities in the areas of the Foundation, the Southern Miss Alumni Association and the Office of University Communications.
The Foundation’s strategic plan, A Focus for the Future, which was adopted by the Foundation Board of Directors in 2012, is a comprehensive and detailed blueprint created to continue the growth and development of the Foundation and to generate additional financial resources for Southern Miss.
The strategic plan includes priorities such as maximizing fundraising by strengthening the organization’s infrastructure, enhancing communications and stewardship opportunities, growing the Foundation’s endowment to $100 million, and investing in the growth and development of the staff and board to reach the organization’s full potential.
“We are excited about our strategic plan and are glad to welcome Dr. Shannon Fleming to our leadership team,” said Pierce. “He is a well-seasoned fundraising professional, and we have no doubt he will enhance our Foundation staff while continuing the progress we have made on the plan. I am appreciative of the Foundation board’s and the University administration’s vision for the strategic improvement of both organizations by re-establishing a separate Executive Director position that can focus on the administration of the Foundation and the advancement of our fundraising efforts.”
Fleming has more than 20 years experience in higher education fundraising. In his most recent position, Fleming served for seven years as the Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Ark. where he was responsible for all fundraising activities including planned, major and annual gifts. In this role, Fleming also supervised development, marketing, public relations and alumni services. Under his leadership at Philander Smith, the alumni giving rate increased from four percent to 15.5 percent and the number of donors of $1,000 and more increased by almost 40 percent.
Prior to his employment at Philander Smith College, Fleming worked in development at the University of Central Arkansas, Henderson State University and the University of Arkansas-Monticello.
“I’m incredibility grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the Southern Miss family and look forward to working diligently with Vice President Bob Pierce, the Advancement team, the Foundation Board of Directors and President Rodney Bennett to meet the mission of the University and its Foundation,” said Fleming. “President Bennett’s vision of creating ‘pathways for completion’ for our students will be embedded into all that I hope to accomplish.”
Fleming earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Arkansas-Monticello, a master’s degree in business administration from Louisiana Tech University and a doctorate in higher education administration from the University of Arkansas-Little Rock.