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Hendon Retires After 23 Years of Service to USM’s Coastal Operations

Wed, 05/11/2022 - 04:06pm | By: Margaret Ann Macloud

Dr. Joseph R. (Read) HendonDr. Joseph R. (Read) Hendon, longtime marine researcher at The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) and Director of the University’s renowned Gulf Coast Research Laboratory (GCRL), retired at the end of the Spring 2022 semester.

Hendon has been a research scientist at USM since September 1998, serving most of that time in a variety of roles with the Center for Fisheries Research and Development, including as its director, as well as GCRL Associate Director. Before that, he got his start as a graduate assistant (GA) at the GRCL while working toward his master’s degree.

“As I reflect on my time at USM, I’m most proud of working through the ranks—from GA to research biologist to Center director to GCRL Director—and being able to work with a wide range of professionals to make positive changes during my time at GCRL,” Hendon said. “The growth of USM on the Coast, and in marine research in particular, above and beyond what has historically been accomplished at GCRL, is really due to President Rodney Bennett’s leadership and recognition that the Mississippi Gulf Coast and our marine programs are truly what set USM apart from other universities in Mississippi. The foundation has always been there, but he was the one who recognized the opportunity and built a sound vision on that.”

Dr. Jim Franks, Senior Research Scientist in USM’s Center for Fisheries Research and Development, initially hired Hendon for his first full time position at USM, noting that his diligence and creativity have long benefited the University.

“I’ve known Read since he was a student at GCRL. He was always a great student and a great person to work with, and I saw his potential when I hired him on after he completed his master’s degree,” Franks recalled. “Read was always very detailed in how he approached his work. I’ve seen him grow and mature not only into a top-notch scientist but the Director of the GCRL, one of the most prominent marine research institutions in the country, and he excelled in all the stages of his professional development. We will miss his leadership for certain.”

Dr. Joe Griffitt, Professor in the School of Ocean Science and Engineering, agreed.

“Read Hendon is an outstanding scientist, and he was an excellent Director for both the Center for Fisheries Research and Development and the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in his time at USM,” Griffit said. “I worked with him in a number of different capacities over the years, and in every interaction he was highly effective.  I wish him luck in his new position, and hope that I have more opportunities to work with him in the future.”

“I would like to congratulate Read on his stellar career at the University of Southern Mississippi, said Allyson Easterwood, Vice President for Finance & Administration at USM. “Under his leadership and guidance, he put the administrative and fiscal operations of the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory on solid ground, positioning Southern Miss as a national leader in marine education and research. Read was a pleasure to work with through the years. His open communication and collaborative style made him an important part of the Southern Miss leadership team. His rise from student at Southern Miss to respected scholar and then ultimately to Director of the Gulf Research Laboratory is impressive. I wish him the very best in his future endeavors.”

A native of Jackson, Hendon earned his undergraduate degree (1996), master’s degree (1998), and doctorate (2013) from USM.

Hendon’s work is not done, however. He is now working for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s National Marine Fisheries Service as Branch Chief of the Ocean and Coastal Pelagics branch based in Pascagoula.