Dr. David Davies serves as dean of the Honors College at The University of Southern Mississippi. An Arkansas native, Davies came to Southern Miss in 1991 as an adviser to the Student Printz. He took a few moments recently to reflect on his current responsibilities and outside interests in a question-and-answer format.
Q: What is your hometown and educational background?
A: I grew up in Malvern, Arkansas and attended the University of Arkansas as an undergraduate. After working as a reporter for 10 years in Arkansas, I attended graduate school first at Ohio State and then at the University of Alabama.
Q: How did you end up working at Southern Miss?
A: A good friend at Ohio State got a job at Southern Miss and told me of an opening in the Journalism Department. I began work here in 1991 as adviser to the Student Printz.
Q: How did you become dean of the Honors College?
A: I had served as chair of the Journalism Department, interim director of the School of Mass Communication & Journalism and then as associate dean in the College of Arts and Letters. I was serving as director of the University Forum (the Honors College speaker series) in 2007 when the Honors College dean’s job became open. I was interested in the position because of the prospect of continuing to work with bright Honors students.
Q: What are your primary duties as dean of the Honors College?
A: Working closely with my colleagues within the College. I oversee day-to-day operations of the College. Much of my time is spent recruiting bright students to the College.
Q: How many students are enrolled in the Honors College currently? How does one qualify for that distinction?
A: We have 580 students in the College at present, the most we’ve ever had. Entering freshmen must have a minimum 27 on the ACT and a high school grade-point average of 3.50 or higher. As the College has grown, admission has become very competitive. Rising juniors may also enter the Senior Honors program, in which students complete a senior thesis.
Q: What are the benefits of being an Honors College student at Southern Miss?
A: Honors students get the benefit of smaller classes as well as considerable personal attention from their professors and the Honors College staff. The quality of education that the students get is absolutely terrific. About half of our classes travel as part of the coursework, and we find that this helps students learn. Honors College students have a strong sense of community that comes from living together in Honors residence halls and from taking classes together. All Honors students conduct hands-on research in completing a senior thesis and this prepares them for success in graduate and professional school.
Q: When you’re not working at Southern Miss, how do you like to spend your free time?
A: I enjoy reading, travel and running. And spending time with my family and friends.
Q: What animal best describes your personality and why?
A: Probably a dog. I like to think of myself as an enthusiastic and positive person. That seems sort of dog-like, don’t you think?
Q: Were you always an honors student yourself as a youngster?
A: I was an enthusiastic and committed student, but frankly my own undergraduate experience pales in comparison to that of the typical Honors College student I see every day. Our best students push themselves in college and enjoy an incredibly diverse array of experiences. Their hard work puts the undergrads of my era to shame.
Q: What is the best advice you ever received?
A: “Put students first.”