Returning to familiar territory, Dr. Aubrey K. Lucas has been selected to serve as the interim president for the University of Southern Mississippi, the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning announced on Tuesday, May 1.
“Dr. Aubrey Lucas is the epitome of an educator and a scholar,” said Ed Blakeslee of Gulfport, President of the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning. “His vast knowledge of higher education, and particularly the University of Southern Mississippi, will serve the university well during this transition period.”
Lucas will fill the void that was created when Southern Miss President Martha Saunders announced last week that she would be stepping down from her position, effective June 30.
Lucas is President Emeritus and Professor of Higher Education at the University of Southern Mississippi, where he served for 22 years as President. He had previously served as President of Delta State University for four years. He also served as Interim Commissioner of Higher Education from October 2008 until July 2009.
Dr. Lucas earned his B.S. and M.A. degrees from Southern Miss and received his Ph.D. degree from Florida State University. Mississippi College awarded him an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.
“We are very pleased that Dr. Lucas has agreed, once again, to take on the role of leading the University of Southern Mississippi,” said Dr. Hank M. Bounds, Commissioner of Higher Education. “His love for the university is without question and his thoughtful leadership style will be an asset to the university and the system as a whole.”
Prior to becoming a university president, Lucas served as an instructor at Hinds Community College; Director of Admissions, Registrar, Professor of Higher Education, and Dean of the Graduate School at Southern Miss.
Lucas has served as a consultant to other colleges and universities and as president of state, regional, and national organizations. Several years ago he was selected by college and university presidents of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities to be chairman of that organization. He has been inducted into many honor societies and fraternities. He is a tree farmer and is retired from the Board of Directors of Mississippi Power Company.
Lucas is active in civic and charitable organizations as well as the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the Lay Leader for the Mississippi Conference and has served on the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, the General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church, and on the Board of Directors of Africa University in Zimbabwe. He has served as Chair of the Center for Ministry at Millsaps College.
Lucas served as Chair of the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art Board of Trustees, Chair of the Hattiesburg Salvation Army Advisory Board, Chair of the Mississippi Arts Commission; Chair of the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters; Chair of the Board of Directors of the Hattiesburg Area Community Foundation, and has served on the Mississippi Humanities Council. He is a member of the Hattiesburg Convention Center Commission.
A native of State Line, Mississippi, Dr. Lucas and his wife, Ella, have four adult children and eight grandchildren.
Lucas will begin his service to the university on Wednesday, May 2 to begin transitioning into the role of Interim President. His term as Interim President begins on July 1.