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Southern Miss Alum Earns Top Honor for Work in Human Resources

Tue, 06/27/2023 - 09:49am | By: Dena Temple

School of LeadershipThe School of Leadership at The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) salutes Human Capital Development alumnus, Gary Burrus, Ph.D., who recently earned prestigious human resources (HR) recognition.

Dr. Burrus serves as the Executive Officer of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma’s HR Department, which was recognized by HRM Director Magazine as one of the “Best HR Teams in the USA.”

The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, the country’s third largest sovereign Native American nation, boasts 220,275 worldwide tribal members and employs more than 12,000 workers on their 10,864-square-mile reservation.

In their announcement of the winners, HRM Director’s release noted, “The 2023 awardees of Human Resources Director US’s Innovative HR Teams are at the vanguard of [innovation], pushing boundaries earlier than others and taking risks to create people-first organizations that are prepared for the future.”

Dr. Burrus cites what he learned in the Human Capital Development program at Southern Miss as the basis for his team’s success. “Throughout my career, I continue to use the lessons I learned in the HCD program at scale to make the types of human capital investments needed for an organization to thrive,” he said.

Burris continued, “The big piece for us has been making sure that we connect people with meaningful work, meaningful relationships, and a visualized career path.”

One of his department’s accomplishments was establishing a concierge-type service to improve employees’ access to healthcare needs. Innovative programs such as this resulted in a 300+ increase in the workforce and a 13% reduction in employee turnover.

As a result of his team’s efforts, their HR department was also recognized by Forbes as one of their “Best Employers for New Graduates” and “Best Employers for Diversity;” by Gallagher as a “Best-In-Class Employer;” and by HRDUS as a “Best Place to Work in America” for 2022 and 2023.

Dr. Heather Annulis, Director of the School of Leadership, noted, “Dr. Burrus is a rock star. This award is a testament to his commitment to people and organizational development. Gary continues to make us proud as an alumnus and keeps close ties to his alma mater. He serves as an adjunct instructor, volunteer dissertation coach, and guest lecturer, sharing his real-world experiences with current students. He is a real difference-maker.”

The School of Leadership is housed within the College of Business and Economic Development at The University of Southern Mississippi and operates on the Coastal USM campus in Long Beach, Mississippi. Its undergraduate degree programs include Accounting, Applied Technology, Business Administration, Industrial Engineering Technology, Industrial Engineering Technology (Logistics), Management, and Marketing. Graduate programs include Human Capital Development, Human Capital Development (Instructional Technology and Design), Instructional Technology and Design, and Logistics, Trade and Transportation. To learn more about these degree programs, visit the website or contact through email.