Shelby Freland Thames (2002-2007)
On May 1, 2002, Dr. Shelby Freland Thames became The University of Southern Mississippi’s eighth president.
Thames' appointment followed a tenure as interim president by Dr. Aubrey Keith Lucas from July 2001 to April 2002.
Dr. Thames had been with the University for nearly four decades, serving as professor, department chair, dean and vice president. Under Dr. Thames’ leadership, the University received a record number of research dollars, topping $100 million in a single year for the first time.
Additionally, the number of presidential scholars tripled, and other scholarship programs were created. During the Thames administration, the University demonstrated consistent growth in its doctoral programs and was the only Class I university in the state as designated by the Southern Regional Education Board.
The Thad Cochran Center, The Innovation and Commercialization Park, The Village residence halls, athletic facilities expansion and recovery from Hurricane Katrina are also hallmarks of his administration.
Dr. Thames’ tenure as president ended in May 2007, and he returned to faculty ranks as a noted polymer scientist.