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Forbes Ranks USM as State’s Sixth-Best Workplace; First in Education

Fri, 10/01/2021 - 17:31pm | By: Van Arnold

Aubrey K. Lucas Administration BuildingThe University of Southern Mississippi (USM) has been rated as the sixth-best employer in Mississippi and No. 1 statewide in the education industry in recent rankings released by Forbes magazine.

In its annual “America’s Best Employers By State,” Forbes seeks to demonstrate how perceptions of companies differ from state-to-state based on local leadership and economies.

Krystyna Varnado, Senior Associate Vice President, Human Resources at USM, notes that the esteemed recognition validates the efforts made by all who contribute to the University’s success.

“It confirms that USM and the people who work here are special and perform in a way that distinguishes us from others,” she said. “It also further supports the realization that a great place to work is not just pay and benefits, but what we all give each other in the form of respect, collaboration, and community as well as the important role that culture plays.”

The Forbes list was created through a survey of 80,000 U.S. employees across 25 industry sectors. Direct recommendations were collected from employees as well as indirect recommendations from workers in each industry segment. The survey considered every aspect of an employee’s experience such as working conditions, salary, potential for growth, and diversity. Of the thousands of companies eligible for the recognition, only a select few were awarded in each state.

In all, 1,328 employers with at least 500 employees were ranked, including 20 in Mississippi. Rankings were determined by responses to a survey of 80,000 Americans, which responded to questions related to:

  • Safety of work environment
  • Competitiveness of compensation
  • Opportunity for advancement
  • Openness to telecommuting

USM currently has approximately 2,200 full-time employees. More than 5,000 are employed at any given time counting adjunct faculty, graduate assistants and student workers.

Varnado explains that many attributes make USM a rewarding workplace, including a dynamic leadership team that seeks to create a fair and equitable environment; one that truly values individuality and diversity.

“We foster a collaborative environment that appreciates input and involvement,” she said. “We respect people as human beings with life circumstances as well as dreams and aspirations, and we seek ways to provide the needed support, such as with the employees assistance program, flexible scheduling, tuition assistance, and most recently our new performance planning program.”

She goes on to emphasize that ultimately what makes USM special is the student population, which transforms the University from simply a workplace to a mission-based community.

“The students bring a certain energy to the campus and provide such purpose for what we do. At any given time, there is an athletic event or a lecture series or a theater production or a student mentoring opportunity,” said Varnado. “USM loves its students and recognizes they are our purpose, which gives us all motivation to go above and beyond, day in and day out.”

To see the entire list visit