Skip navigation

Office of the President

President Rodney D. Bennett

President Rodney D. Bennett

Dr. Rodney D. Bennett is in his tenth year of service as the institutional executive officer and principal educational officer for The University of Southern Mississippi (USM), a comprehensive public research institution delivering transformative programs to more than 14,000 students on campuses in South Mississippi and along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. His appointment made history, as he became the first African-American president of a predominantly white higher education institution in Mississippi.

USM's Carnegie R1 research enterprise includes experts in ocean science and engineering, polymer science and engineering, and large event venue safety and security, among others. USM is also one of only 39 institutions in the nation accredited in all four major areas of the Arts: theatre, art and design, dance and music. As an economic driver, USM generates an annual economic impact of more than $663 million across the state.

President Bennett’s vision is for The University of Southern Mississippi to become the model for public higher education across the country. His key institutional priorities include ensuring student success; expanding enrollment strategies; enhancing academic instruction; fostering greater focus on research; bolstering economic and community partnerships; and maximizing human potential. Under his leadership, USM has invested in new faculty positions, expanded operations along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and worked to increase access to quality education and research programs to serve the needs of the state of Mississippi and beyond.

Prior to his current appointment, President Bennett, 55, served more than a decade in senior level positions at the University of Georgia in Athens. A native of Knoxville, Tennessee, he holds a Doctor of Education in Educational Administration from Tennessee State University in Nashville and specialist, master’s, and bachelor’s degrees from Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro.

@USMDrB     Photo Gallery

The Bennett Family

President and Mrs. BennettPresident Bennett's wife, Temple (at left), is a member of The Links, Inc., an international women’s social and public service organization founded on the principles of friendship and service, and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

She earned a Bachelor of Business Administration from Middle Tennessee State University in 1991 and a Master of Business Education from the same institution in 1994.

The couple has two adult daughters, Colby and Logan.

Contact Us

Office of the President
Lucas Administration Building
118 College Dr. #5001
Hattiesburg, MS 39406

Campus Map