Even with a myriad of duties and issues demanding her attention as president of The University of Southern Mississippi, Dr. Martha Saunders remains engaged in the day to day life of its students.
This semester Saunders is teaching a graduate public relations seminar for the School of Mass Communication and Journalism. The goal of the course is for students to gain a real-world understanding of the communication challenges faced by American industries.
Saunders holds a doctorate in communication theory and research and has expertise in the areas of crisis communication and public communication campaigns.
“Teaching is the best way for an administrator to touch the pulse of the campus and understand, firsthand, current opportunities and challenges,” Saunders said. “I can think of no better use of my time than by connecting with our students and our academic programs.”
Saunders has written and published extensively about public relations practices and has multiple professional credentials, and is a winner of the Silver Anvil, the highest award of the Public Relations Society of America.
“We're fortunate to have her bringing her wealth of experience and knowledge to the classroom,” said Dr. Chris Campbell, director of the School of Mass Communication and Journalism. “And it's not often that students have the chance to take a course from their university president.”
For Thomas Broadus of Jackson, a graduate student in mass communication at Southern Miss, studying under Saunders is an opportunity he couldn’t pass up. “I knew it would be a great learning experience, especially with her background in public relations,” he said.
Southern Miss Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Joe Paul also teaches graduate courses for the university on current issues and trends in higher education, and agrees it’s a great way to stay connected with students. “I cherish teaching,” Paul said. “It’s a challenge to do it and manage the rest of your schedule as an administrator, but it is well worth it.”
Saunders, an alumna of the university, also sees teaching as another way to give back to her alma mater. “Southern Miss made all the difference to me as a student, in preparation for life and a career. Now as president and as a classroom instructor, I hope I can in some small way, return the favor.”