Our Staff

Robert D. Gholson
General Counsel

Mr. Gholson joined the University as General Counsel in March, 2016.  Prior to joining the University, he was a shareholder with the firm of Gholson Burson Entrekin & Orr, P.A. where he practiced in the areas of insurance defense, personal injury, workers compensation, medical malpractice defense, federal litigation, products liability, consumer finance litigation, and pharmaceutical and medical device litigation.

Mr. Gholson received his Bachelor’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Mississippi in 1978.  He graduated with a Juris Doctorate in 1981 from the University of Mississippi School of Law.  From 1988 to 1996, he served in the Judge Advocate General's Corps (JAGC) in the Mississippi Army National Guard, achieving the rank of major.  Mr. Gholson later served a term as a Judge with the Mississippi Court of Military Appeals. From 2002 to 2016, Mr. Gholson served as Special Master to hear specialized claims and resolve pretrial disputes in several large dockets of asbestos claims.  He is a member of the Mississippi Bar, Jones County Bar Association, the Mississippi Bar Foundation, the Defense Research and Trial Lawyers' Association, International Association of Defense Counsel, Mississippi Defense Lawyers Association (including having served as a past member of the Board of Directors), and the American Board of Trial Advocates. Mr. Gholson is a member of the bar in Mississippi and Tennessee, and is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court. 

Phone: 601.266.4466

Email: Bob.Gholson@usm.edu


Truett Roberts
Associate General Counsel

Truett Roberts has served as Associate General Counsel for the University of Southern Mississippi since April 2009. Prior to joining the University, Truett spent most of his legal career in corporate law focusing on the areas of contracts and real estate and development. Truett graduated with a B.S. degree in Business from Mississippi State University in 1974 and received his Juris Doctorate in May 1978 from Mississippi College School of Law.

Truett is a member of the Mississippi State Bar Association and the South Central Mississippi Bar Association. Truett is also a member of the National Association of College and University Attorneys.

Phone: 601.266.4466
Email:  truett.roberts@usm.edu


Subrina L. Cooper
Associate General Counsel

Subrina L. Cooper is an Associate General Counsel for The University of Southern Mississippi.  Ms. Cooper first joined the University in 2004 as a faculty member in the position of the Director of Paralegal Studies.  However, in 2011, Ms. Cooper began working in the Office of General Counsel in addition to her duties as Director/Associate Professor of Paralegal Studies.  Ms. Cooper left the faculty ranks in 2013 to become full-time Associate General Counsel.  Prior to joining the University, Ms. Cooper was in private practice. 

Ms. Cooper received her B.S. degree in Paralegal Studies from The University of Southern Mississippi in 1990 and her Juris Doctorate, cum laude, from the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1993.  She is a member of the Mississippi Bar Association, South Central Mississippi Bar Association and the National Association of College and University Attorneys.  Ms. Cooper is also the author of several published articles on various legal issues.

Phone:  601.266.4466
Email:  subrina.cooper@usm.edu


Paul Walters
Director of Compliance and Ethics 

Paul Walters joined The University of Southern Mississippi as its first Director of Compliance and Ethics in August 2012.  He also serves as Associate General Counsel for the University.  Prior to joining the University, Paul was in private law practice for seven years and with the United States District Court, Southern District of Mississippi and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit for a combined total of twenty-two years.

Paul received a B.B.A. degree in Banking, Finance and Economics from the University of Mississippi in 1980 and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1983.  He is a member of the Mississippi Bar Association, the National Association of College and University Attorneys, the Society of Compliance and Ethics Professionals and the National Clery Compliance Officers and Professionals.

Phone:  601.266.4466
Email:  paul.walters@usm.edu


Rebecca Woodrick Malley
Title IX Coordinator

Rebecca serves as the first ever Title IX Coordinator and has been functioning in that capacity since February, 2015. She joined the University in 2000 as USM's first full-time Affirmative Action/EEO Officer.  Prior to joining USM, Rebecca worked in higher education administration for over 25 years with positions in student life and institutional equity at each of the following institutions:  Oregon State, University of Northern Iowa, Illinois College and Oberlin College.

Rebecca received a B.A. from Millsaps College, a Masters from Oregon State University and a PhD (in Communications Studies) from USM during which she conducted research focused on organizational crisis communication.

Phone: 601.266.4466

Email:  rebecca.malley@usm.edu


Lenore Schaffer, Deputy Title IX Coordinator

Lenore Schaffer serves as the University's first Deputy Title IX Coordinator and has been functioning in that capacity since July, 2017. Prior to holding this position, she served as an intern and graduate assistant for the Title IX Office from 2015-2017. Lenore received a B.S. in Psychology from East Stroudsburg University, and a M.Ed. in Counseling and Human Services from Lehigh University. Lenore recently received her Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration (Student Affairs minor) from The University of Southern Mississippi in May 2017. Lenore's dissertation, "Understanding Noncompliance: A Qualitative Content Analysis of Title IX Sexual Misconduct Violations Using the Office for Civil Rights' Investigative Findings" examined the Office for Civil Rights construction of Title IX noncompliance concerning how colleges and universities addressed sexual misconduct complaints after the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter.

Phone: 601.266.4671



Jennifer S. Lewis
Compliance Coordinator

Jennifer has served as USM's first Compliance Coordinator since mid-September, 2015.  She joined the University in 2014 as a Business Analyst in iTech and in that capacity worked with the Office of Compliance and Ethics to implement the Online Compliance program. 

Prior to joining USM, Jennifer served as the Senior Business Analyst and Learning Administrator for Novant Health in Charlotte, NC for almost five years as well as subsequently serving as a technology analyst contracted out to TIAA-CREF. 

Jennifer received a B.A. in English from the University of North Carolina in Charlotte, a paralegal certificate from Midlands Community College in Columbia, South Carolina, attended a year and a half of law school at the University of Tulsa (during which she served as a member of the Older American's Law Project as well as serving as a research assistant), obtained her  Masters in Adult Education from the University of Phoenix and received her Masters in Healthcare Administration from Pfeiffer University.  Ms. Lewis completed her Business Administration Certificate at USM in 2016.  Currently, Ms. Lewis has begun her PhD in Higher Education Administration with an emphasis on Student Affairs at USM.  During her time at Pfeiffer, Ms. Lewis conducted research that was ultimately published in the Disability Journal and presented at the international Unite for Site Conference held at Yale.  Ms. Lewis recently authored a chapter in the book Epigenetics, the Environment, and Children's Health Across Lifespans.

Campus Involvement:  Staff Council, USM Association of Office Professionals (President-Elect 2016-2017)

Phone:  601.266.4469

Email:  jennifer.lewis@usm.edu


Cathy Connell
Administrative Assistant to the General Counsel

Cathy joined the staff of the Office of General Counsel in November, 2015.  She provides support services for the attorneys, including preparation of documents, receptionist duties, and general office management.  A native of the Greenwood, MS  area, Cathy relocated to the Hattiesburg, MS area in 2010 with her husband of 30 years and her two children who are both USM graduates.  Prior to working in the General Counsel office, Cathy worked in the HR department at USM for a number of years.

Email:  cathy.connell@usm.edu

Phone:  601.266.4466


Tonisa Kennedy
Paralegal/Chief Legal Assistant

Tonisa Kennedy joined the Office of University Counsel in October of 2016 providing paralegal support to the attorneys with litigation and responding to public records requests as well as managing document retention.  Before joining The University of Southern Mississippi, Tonisa was employed by the law offices of Montague, Pittman & Varnado for seventeen years, working primarily in litigation.

Tonisa received her Associates degree in Paralegal Studies from Jones County Junior College in 1999 and received her Bachelor's degree from the University of Southern Mississippi in Paralegal Studies in 2014.

Email: tonisa.kennedy@usm.edu

Phone:  601.266.6204


General Inquiries:  To contact the Office of General Counsel, please email generalcounsel@usm.edu

Public Records Requests:  To submit a request under the Freedom of Information Act, email your request to publicrecords@usm.edu