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School of Media and Communication

Martha D. Saunders

During her 30-year career in higher education, Dr. Martha D. Saunders has taught thousands of students. Her philosophy on education follows three simple guiding principles: know your students, connect them to bigger things and set a good example. At the time of her induction into the MCJ Hall of Fame in 2012, Dr. Saunders was serving as a distinguished professor of public relations in the School of Mass Communication and Journalism. Dr. Saunders' training and experience in the field of communication led to numerous publications on crisis communication and public relations, widely anthologized published speeches and – twice – the Public Relations Society of America's highest national award, the Silver Anvil. Dr. Saunders was the ninth president of The University of Southern Mississippi, serving from 2007 to 2012. As president, she championed the move of the School of Mass Communication and Journalism to a fully renovated College Hall. Dr. Saunders came to Southern Miss from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, where she served as its first-ever female chancellor. Prior to her appointment at Wisconsin-Whitewater, she was vice president for academic affairs at Columbus State University in Columbus, Ga. A native of Mississippi, Dr. Saunders earned her bachelor’s degree in French from The University of Southern Mississippi, her master’s in journalism from the University of Georgia and her Ph.D. in communication theory and research from Florida State University.