Skip navigation

Conference of Southern Graduate Schools Picks Coats as President-Elect

Mon, 04/20/2020 - 09:21am | By: David Tisdale

Dr. Karen CoatsDr. Karen Coats, dean of The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) Graduate School, was recently chosen by members of the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools (CSGS) as its president-elect during the organization’s recent annual meeting in Birmingham, Alabama.

Dr. Coats was elected to the CSGS executive committee in 2019, and in that role served on the program planning committee and student awards committee. She will continue in the role of President-Elect through February 2021, when she assumes the role of CSGS president.

Her primary responsibility as president-elect will be planning the program for the 2021 CSGS annual meeting, to be held at North Carolina State University in Raleigh next February.

“I was so honored to be elected to this position by my peers from across CSGS. I appreciate their confidence in me, and I am excited to have the opportunity to help shape the focus and initiatives of the organization over the next three years in the roles of president-elect, president, and then past-president,” Dr. Coats said. “Through my interactions with graduate students and leaders across the CSGS membership, I also hope to bring focus on graduate education at The University of Southern Mississippi by bragging on our students and faculty, and informing all about the opportunities our institution offers.”

The CSGS includes 85 colleges and universities from across the southern U.S., ranging from west Texas to Maryland. Its purpose is to serve as a resource for graduate school leaders, including administrators and staff, by examining topics of mutual concern in graduate education, and sharing ideas and solutions.

“I’m very proud of the attention CSGS has paid to graduate student development over the last several years,’ said Dr. Coats, noting the organization’s hosting of a Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition, which features 3MT winners from member institutions in a competition prominently showcased during the annual meeting.

The 2020 meeting included the inaugural graduate student program track, for which Dr. Coats served as a member of its organizing committee. The program included a full day of professional development activities for students. “I was very proud of the quality and impact of the program,” she said.

The CSGS also promotes the professional development of deans, associate deans, directors, and staff through workshops and training opportunities addressing contemporary issues, as well as networking opportunities with colleagues across the southern region. The CSGS liaisons with the Council of Graduate Schools, the national-level organization of graduate school professionals.

Dr. Coats was named dean of the USM Graduate School in 2014. She first became involved with the CSGS when she served as associate dean of the graduate school at Mississippi State University.

“I attended my first CSGS meeting in Jacksonville, Florida in spring of 2012, and I haven’t missed a conference since,” she said. “Those meetings have provided great opportunities for my professional growth, and have broadened my professional network.”

For information about the USM Graduate School and graduate education at the University, visit