December 17, 2014  

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Smith Named Chair of Department of Economic Development and Tourism

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Dr. Bill Smith

Dr. Bill Smith, a veteran member of the College of Business faculty at The University of Southern Mississippi, was recently appointed chairman of the college’s Department of Economic Development and Tourism. The appointment was announced by Dr. Faye Gilbert, dean of the college.

Dr. Smith combines industry experience with more than 30 years of teaching at Southern Miss.  He has taught professional selling, creative marketing, marketing research, and the capstone marketing management course during his tenure.  He has also taught economic development courses on leadership and led the sales and marketing portion of the True South course since its inception.

“Economic Development and Tourism are a wonderful combination and the College of Business is the best home,” Smith said. "Each plays a vital role in helping create sustainable jobs and improving the standard of living for our citizens."

The university’s Master’s Degree in Economic Development was the first master’s program in economic development offered in the U.S. by that name. The program has developed an international reputation with students and alumni drawn to its interdisciplinary and highly applied focus.

“We are especially proud of our alumni who have brought fame to our program and are still personally engaged with our faculty and students,” Smith said.

The program’s new course curriculum was launched for the fall 2013 semester, and based on an in-depth analysis from academic and industry experts is designed to bring theory, practice, and research together. The courses are taught executive style with limited on- campus requirements and extensive use of cases, exercises, projects, advanced software and internships to ensure students are learning about the latest tools and techniques for attracting, retaining, and growing businesses, as well as influencing public policy.

“With Mississippi being known as The Hospitality State, our degrees in tourism enable students to participate in a growth industry and learn true Southern hospitality,” Smith said. “As the Baby Boomer generation continues to retire and travel, the hospitality industry’s share of the national economy increases.

“Through our program, Southern Miss students develop an understanding of the stakeholders and industry practices necessary for success in entry-level managerial positions which lead to career paths and properties all over the world.”

Dr. Smith received his B.S. and M.B.A. degrees with honors from Florida State University and doctorate from Louisiana Tech University.  He has experience as a technical sales representative for the Linde Division of Union Carbide Corporation and materials manager for a multi-million dollar building materials exporter.

He received the University's Excellence in Teaching Award in his first year at Southern Miss.  Dr. Smith was also selected by senior student business organization leaders to receive the South Central Bell Outstanding Faculty Member Award twice. His work leading an effort to increase attendance at University athletics events won him the Distinguished Marketing Award from the Hattiesburg Sales & Marketing Executives organization. 

Dr. Smith has published articles in Industrial Marketing Management, the International Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Administration, the Economic Development Review, and the Journal of Economic Development.

For more information about the Department of Economic Development and Tourism and its programs, online visit http://www.usm.edu/business/economic-development-tourism.