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USM Provost Nail Welcomes Experienced Leadership Team

Thu, 06/20/2024 - 11:42am | By: Van Arnold

University of Southern Mississippi (USM) Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Lance Nail has assembled a diverse and experienced leadership team that he believes will help catapult the University to a distinctively higher level of excellence.

The student-centered group has amassed nearly 175 years of service to USM and includes six new positions: Associate Provost for Gulf Coast and Lifelong Learning Success; Associate Provost for Student Success, Associate Provost for Faculty Success, Senior Associate Provost for Community and Belonging Success, Senior Associate Provost for Institutional Success, and part-time Strategic Adviser.

“I am thrilled to have the leadership team for academic affairs lined up and ready to lead our University to new levels of success,” said Nail. “We reorganized our office with two goals in mind - optimizing the success of those we serve while also optimizing efficiency. We reduced the number of administrators and reassigned duties in a way that we believe is clear and more focused on the success of specific stakeholders and functions.”

Nail, who joined USM as Provost last July, points out that the process began with recommendations from academic deans to move first-year academic advising back into the colleges, while providing a review of the responsibilities of all the administrative duties within the Office of the Provost.

“This process allowed us to find efficiencies in reducing the number of academic advisers, eliminating the position of Executive Vice Provost and reassigning the duties of that office across the Associate Provost roles, and consolidating two Gulf Coast leadership positions into a single Associate Provost position that is focused on the success of the Gulf Coast campus and lifelong learning initiatives,” said Nail. “We expect the deans’ plan for academic advising to further engage the colleges in promoting student success and improve all student success metrics.”

Consequently, the changes reduced annual salary expenses in Academic Affairs by more than $500,000.

Members of the Office of the Provost leadership team include:

  • Dr. Lance Nail

    Dr. Lance Nail

    Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
  • Dr. Kathryn Anthony

    Dr. Kathryn Anthony

    Dean of the Graduate School
  • Dr. Jeff Hinton

    Dr. Jeff Hinton

    Associate Provost for Gulf Coast and Lifelong Learning Success
  • Dr. Eddie Holloway

    Dr. Eddie Holloway

    Senior Associate Provost for Community and Belonging Success
  • Dr. Joyce Inman

    Dr. Joyce Inman

    Dean of the Honors College (pending IHL approval)
  • Dr. Kelly Lester

    Dr. Kelly Lester

    Associate Provost for Faculty Success
  • Dr. Doug Masterson

    Dr. Doug Masterson

    Senior Associate Provost for Institutional Success
  • Dr. Rich Mohn

    Dr. Rich Mohn

    Strategic Adviser (part-time)
  • Dr. Russ Willis

    Mr. Russ Willis

    Associate Provost for Student Success

Anthony, who joined the USM faculty in 2014, has been promoted to Dean of the Graduate School after serving as Interim Dean for the past year. In overseeing all aspects of the school, she will supervise a staff of 13 individuals; manage all components of the graduate degree process, including admissions, degree auditing, and final document submission and degree completion. Other responsibilities include promoting the Graduate School with internal and external university stakeholders through strategic communication initiatives; working directly with faculty representatives of the Graduate Council to advance curricular changes in graduate programs and creating professional development opportunities focused on career-readiness for graduate students in Hattiesburg, Gulf Coast, and online campuses.

“I am humbled and honored to be named the Dean of the USM Graduate School,” said Anthony. “Our Graduate School boasts nationally competitive programs, excellent graduates who impact their academic disciplines and industry, and exemplary graduate faculty mentors and scholars. I look forward to continuing to expand the rich legacy of graduate education at USM.” 

Hinton, who joined the USM faculty in 2000, becomes the first Associate Provost for Gulf Coast and Lifelong Learning Success. He will serve as the academic liaison for the colleges at USM’s Gulf Park campus in Long Beach and assume responsibility for growing a portfolio of academic programs that serve the needs of the Gulf Coast. This portfolio will include executive education programming and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI).

“I am excited to serve our coastal operations in this capacity,” said Hinton. I look forward to working with faculty, staff, and administrators across campuses to strategically grow coastal enrollment, improve student success, expand executive education programming, and increase operational efficiencies. I am committed to advancing academic programs that prepare coastal students for the coastal job market.”

Holloway has held numerous administrative and leadership positions in his 42 years with the University. He previously served as Dean of Students and more recently as Senior Associate Provost for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. In his new role as Senior Associate Provost for Community and Belonging Success, Holloway will become more actively involved with Student Affairs.

“I am happy to be a part of the staff of Provost Nail, and I look forward to working in the Office of Community Engagement and Belonging Success,” said Holloway. “It inspires me to work with our students, staff members, and special populations for development and quality outcomes. My employment and scope of life experiences broaden my understanding and appreciation of these circumstances and life challenges. The ultimate aim of the office is to enhance the total college experience for our students by ways of best practices and processes in higher education.”

Inman, who came to USM in 2012, has served for the past year as Interim Dean of the Honors College. She previously served for two years as Associate Dean of the college. She will become the permanent Dean pending IHL Board approval. Inman notes that as the University approaches the 50th anniversary of University Forum (1974) and the Honors College (1976), she considers herself fortunate to work with a team that always places students first.

“I am delighted to step into the role of Honors College Dean and to collaborate with Provost Nail, University leadership, faculty, staff, and students to provide Southern Miss students with opportunities to take their educations to the next level,” said Inman. “The Honors College is the home for our Honors College scholars, but we also administer University Forum, Nationally Competitive Programs and Awards, and the Drapeau Center for Undergraduate Research - programs available to all Southern Miss students.”

Lester has been a member of the Southern Miss faculty for the past 16 years. A Professor of Dance, she served as the inaugural Director of the Center for Faculty Development. Since 2022, she has served as Associate Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning.

In her new role as Associate Provost for Faculty Success, Lester will focus on all matters related to faculty affairs including faculty development, faculty appointment, promotion and tenure, Provost Faculty Fellows program, faculty awards, and more. She will continue to support New Faculty Orientation and oversee Fall First Week - the annual in-house conference that kicks off each academic year. Units reporting to Lester include the Center for Faculty Development, the Center for Community Engagement, Academic Integrity Director, and Web Designer for Academic Affairs. 

"I look forward to collaborating with Dr. Masterson, Dr. Holloway, and the new members of our Office of the Provost's team,” said Lester. “With the new structure, each role has the opportunity to provide vision for their direct areas and to further enhance our connections across all areas of Academic Affairs. The in-progress strategic plan will guide our work and lead to student, faculty, and staff success at Southern Miss."

Masterson, who joined the USM faculty in 2004, has previously served as Associate Chair of Chemistry and Biochemistry and as Associate Dean in the College of Science and Technology (now the College of Arts and Sciences). He also served as acting Provost during the transition period from Dr. Gordon Cannon’s retirement until Nail came aboard last summer.

Masterson’s primary duties are centered on University and program level accreditation. He works with University stakeholders to ensure that the institution remains in good standing with SACSCOC standards, while reviewing all reports that are submitted for other programmatic specific accreditations. He also oversees components of the faculty hiring process such as review of offer letters and faculty qualifications and credentials.

“I am honored to hold the role of Senior Associate Provost for Institutional Success, which allows me to help foster a culture of continuous improvement with a diverse range of stakeholders - including faculty, staff, directors, and deans - to develop and implement strategies that enhance academic quality for both faculty and students,” said Masterson.

Mohn joined the University 17 years ago, serving as faculty for 14 years and three as Associate Dean of the Graduate School. In his new role as Strategic Adviser, Mohn will provide analyses and assessments of initiatives, programs, and services that enhance student success in academic performance, educational planning, and professional preparation. He will also collaborate with academic colleges and other University constituents to identify risks and opportunities toward the continued success of USM’s strategic goals and objectives.

“I am honored to now be a part of the Provost’s Leadership Team supporting initiatives toward student success and look forward to the opportunity to serve USM,” said Mohn.

In his 33 years with USM, Willis has served in a variety of administrative roles, including Vice-President of Administration, Director of Human Resources, Associate Director of Human Resources, Associate Director of Admissions and Admissions counselor/recruiter. In his new role, Willis will oversee Career Services, the Center for Student Success, International Admissions, the Study Abroad Program, the Writing Center, the Speaking Center, TRIO Student Support Services, and the Student Athlete Academic Services.

“I am excited to be named the new Associate Provost for Student Success. I am passionate about seeing our students succeed in the classroom, persist to degree, and be ready for successful professions, and this position will give me the chance to work on these very initiatives,” said Willis. “Both President (Joe) Paul and Dr. Nail have put students at the center of everything they do, and I am committed to do the very same thing. It is a privilege to be able to advance the success of Southern Miss students.”