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Provost Search

Position Profile

The University of Southern Mississippi invites inquiries, nominations and applications for the position of Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs. The new Provost is expected to begin work in June/July 2023.

The position is open until filled, but only applications submitted by February 13, 2023, can be assured full consideration. Applications, nominations, and inquiries must be submitted electronically, confidentially, to

Profile (PDF)

The President and community of The University of Southern Mississippi (USM, Southern Miss) invite inquiries, nominations and applications for the position of Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs. 

Founded in 1910 as a training school for teachers, The University of Southern Mississippi has evolved into a comprehensive public research institution with a robust research enterprise, vibrant arts community and diverse student body of nearly 14,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The University is fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award bachelor’s, master’s, specialist, and doctoral degrees and is classified as R1: Doctoral Universities – Very High Research Activity. The University offers a wide range of academic programs on the main campus in Hattiesburg, located 70 miles north of the Gulf of Mexico; the Gulf Park Campus, located in the coastal city of Long Beach; at additional teaching and research sites along the Mississippi Gulf Coast; and through fully online degree programs at the undergraduate and graduate level. The University also operates the state’s designated marine research laboratory and multiple research centers in Hattiesburg and along the Gulf Coast.

The institution seeks an entrepreneurial, energetic leader who will be creative, innovative, transparent and collaborative in advancing the mission and vision of USM while further strengthening the University’s legendary service to its students, many of whom are first-generation or from low-income families. The University’s culture is marked by passion and persistence, with a history of students from ordinary backgrounds becoming graduates who accomplish extraordinary achievements. The University’s motto, “Southern Miss To The Top!” represents a desire to tackle challenges head-on, with the expectation that once you reach the top, there are always opportunities to commit to new worthwhile pursuits while looking to the next peak.

The new Provost is expected to begin work in June/July 2023. 

For 112 years, The University of Southern Mississippi has been inspired by those who desire to push traditional higher education boundaries. The University community cares deeply about its students and has purposefully worked to increase academic and student success and to position its graduates to live ethical and meaningful lives, while building a better world for future generations. The University’s mission and vision guide these efforts:


The University of Southern Mississippi is a community of engaged citizens, operating as a public, student-centered, doctoral-granting research university serving Mississippi, the nation, and the world. The University is dedicated to scholarship and learning, integrating students at all levels in the creation and application of knowledge through excellence in teaching, research, creative activities, outreach, and service.

The University nurtures student success by providing distinctive and competitive educational programs embedded in a welcoming environment, preparing a diverse student population to embark on meaningful life endeavors.


The University of Southern Mississippi aspires to be a model student-centered public research university that prepares students to thrive in a global society by providing high quality programs and transformative experiences in a community distinguished by inclusiveness.

USM is among 4% of institutions in the nation to earn the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education’s “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very High Research Activity” designation. Its expanding research enterprise includes experts in polymer science and engineering, cybersecurity, digital humanities, ocean science and engineering, nursing, large event venue safety and security, psychology, business and economic development, and more. With nearly $120 million in external funding awarded during FY 2021, faculty have earned highly competitive funding from the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Department of Homeland Security, and National Endowment for the Arts. As an economic driver, USM generates an annual economic impact of more than $663 million across the state.

USM’s diverse student body represents more than 70 countries, all 50 states and every county in Mississippi. USM students have earned four Truman Scholarships and 37 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships, while also leading Mississippi with 27 Goldwater Scholarships, an honor that recognizes the next generation of great research scientists. In addition, the University is one of only 119 colleges and universities nationwide to receive the Carnegie Community Engagement classification, a designation that indicates a strong institutional commitment to community engagement and service.  

Recognized for excellence and value, USM is known for its extraordinary faculty, its welcoming atmosphere, its embrace of diversity, equity and inclusion as core values, and its reputation for producing loyal alumni. USM currently enrolls more than 10,000 undergraduates and nearly 3,500 graduate students and boasts a 16:1 student to faculty ratio. 80% of first-time freshmen reside on-campus, while 27% of all undergraduates live on campus. 

In Fall 2021, 40% of the student body came from self-reported diverse backgrounds, 80% were Mississippi residents, 65% were female, 19% were aged 25 and older, and 25% were graduate students. Within the undergraduate population, 31% were first-generation students and more than 80% received financial assistance, most receiving Pell grants. The most recent first-year class was 47% students of color. Most recent first to second year retention rate was 70% and the six-year graduation rate was 52%.  

Undergraduate students have the opportunity to work closely with expert research faculty in labs, creative productions and other forms of scholarly activity; students have opportunities for such personalized involvement that is rare at an R1 institution. The benefits of active participation in faculty-mentored research are myriad both to the student experience and the University community at large.  

The University also offers a military-friendly education, providing support to military-affiliated students through its Center for Military Veterans, Service Members and Families. USM is ranked #3 nationally by the prestigious resource guide Military Times. It is also ranked #1 in the Southeast by Military Times in its “Best for Vets: Colleges 2021 Rankings.” 

USM has over 120,000 living alumni, of which over 13,000 (11%) are active members of the Alumni Association.

Home to the Golden Eagles, USM competes in 17 Division I sports sponsored by the NCAA. The Golden Eagles joined the Sun Belt Conference in 2022 after being members of Conference USA since its founding in 1995. The Sun Belt Conference has 14 member institutions across 10 contiguous southeastern states.   

Hattiesburg Campus

USM’s main campus is located on 300 acres in the heart of Hattiesburg. More than 180 buildings dot a landscape that has been transformed into a pedestrian-friendly environment for students, faculty, staff and visitors. The campus is home to the sixth-oldest acceptance-based Honors College in the nation, a vibrant arts community that produces hundreds of events each year and internationally recognized researchers whose expertise ranges from polymer science and engineering to sports safety and security. Brick plazas, promenades shaded by a canopy of oak trees and historic buildings complement a series of state-of-the-art academic and research facilities. Research centers housed in Hattiesburg include the Mississippi Polymer Institute, National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security, and Trent Lott National Center for Excellence in Economic Development and Entrepreneurship.

Gulf Park Campus

USM’s Gulf Park campus is located on a 52-acre beachfront property in Long Beach. The campus was founded in 1919 as Gulf Park College for Women and became part of USM in 1972. Today, the Gulf Park campus serves as a hub for USM Coastal Operations, and USM is the only four-year public institution located on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, offering bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. Mission-style architecture and panoramic views of the Mississippi Sound framed by moss-draped live oak trees provide a close-knit atmosphere and coastal environment amidst innovative academic, research and workforce development programs. USM’s Gulf Coast Geospatial Center is housed at the Gulf Park campus.

Gulf Coast Research Laboratory

USM’s Gulf Coast Research Laboratory (GCRL), located in Ocean Springs, is one of the largest marine laboratories in the southeastern United States. GCRL faculty, researchers, graduate students and support staff conduct applied research in a diverse array of facilities on 50-acre Halstead and 224-acre Cedar Point sites. Research centers housed at GCRL include the Center for Fisheries Research and Development, Marine Education Center and Thad Cochran Marine Aquaculture Center.

John C. Stennis Space Center

USM’s marine science and hydrographic science programs are based at the John C. Stennis Space Center located in Hancock County. Stennis Space Center houses the highest concentration of oceanographers and hydrographers anywhere in the world and fosters collaboration among state, federal and private-sector entities. USM’s Hydrographic Science Research Center is also located at Stennis.


The emerging Blue Economy Innovation District in Gulfport is home to the University’s:

  • Gulf Blue Navigator Program, housed in the historic Gulf & Ship Island Building in downtown Gulfport, providing a collaborative blue innovation workspace;
  • Marine Research Center and forthcoming Roger F. Wicker Center for Ocean Enterprise, both located at the Port of Gulfport, facilitating prototype testing, demonstrations, research and collaboration-driven innovation in emerging ocean technologies and uncrewed maritime systems, among federal and industry partners; and
  • The University’s vessel operations, also at the Port of Gulfport, which include the 135-foot Regional Class Research Vessel Point Sur and the forthcoming, $100-million National Science Foundation Regional Class Research Vessel Gilbert R. Mason.

USM’s 843 full-time and part-time instructional faculty members are committed to preparing students to make a meaningful difference in the world. Of the full-time faculty, 74% hold the highest degree in their field, and 51% are female. The Fall 2021 student-to-faculty ratio was 16:1. The University offers over 130 undergraduate majors and 70 minors.  At the graduate level, the University offers 81 doctoral, 2 specialist, 126 master’s and 20 certificate programs. USM faculty lead over 25 exchange and internship programs in more than 20 countries each year.  

The University is organized academically into four colleges, a Graduate School, an Honors College and University Libraries:

College of Arts and Sciences

Home to 14 schools and over 100 academic programs, the College of Arts and Sciences operates at the heart of the University’s mission to educate students, lead the state and nation in the creative arts, and produce knowledge in the humanities, social sciences, mathematical and natural sciences, and engineering. Its faculty integrate innovative research with exceptional teaching and outreach, thereby providing paths to understanding the past, solving the problems of the present and imagining the possibilities of tomorrow.

The College of Arts and Sciences offers more than 90 undergraduate and 40 graduate degrees covering diverse disciplines in the arts, humanities, social sciences, sciences and engineering in addition to interdisciplinary areas.

The arts have been a central part of the University’s identity and brand for decades. USM is an arts leader in the state and region, offering access to the arts to students, faculty, staff and community members who are able to see performances and creative work from exceptional artists spanning a wide range of genres. USM is one of only fourteen R1 and D1 institutions in the nation accredited in theatre, art and design, dance, and music.

College of Business and Economic Development

Home to 20 undergraduate and graduate academic programs, the College of Business and Economic Development prepares its students to adapt, think critically, solve problems, communicate effectively, utilize digital technology, and collaborate and lead across demographic and geographic boundaries.  

Students may pursue an undergraduate or graduate degree from any of five schools (Accountancy, Finance, Leadership, Management or Marketing), and experience engaged faculty and unique opportunities that will set them apart. The college offers 14 undergraduate programs, six graduate programs and six fully online programs.

College of Education and Human Sciences

Home to six schools and more than 25 undergraduate and graduate programs, the College of Education and Human Sciences provides transformative educational experiences through exceptional student support, online learning and pathways for working professionals at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Students experience strong support, exposure to diversity of people and ideas, quality University- and community-based practicum and internship experiences, and active engagement in research.

Exemplary faculty prepare educators, mental health, kinesiology, and nutrition professionals and researchers to offer solutions addressing the needs of an increasingly diversified and evolving society.

Offering seven undergraduate and 19 graduate highly ranked and nationally accredited programs, the college prepares both traditional and non-traditional students with innovative curricula and field experiences in face-to-face, hybrid and online formats.

College of Nursing and Health Professions

Home to four schools and over 15 undergraduate and graduate programs, the College of Nursing and Health Professions offers educational opportunities for students interested in careers in nursing and health care, as well as robust graduate programs for licensed professionals returning for a doctorate or master’s degree. Through the School of Health Professions, the School of Leadership and Advanced Nursing Practice, the School of Professional Nursing Practice and the School of Speech and Hearing Sciences, students will find programs in nursing, audiology, speech pathology, public health, athletic training, recreational therapy and kinesiotherapy that will prepare them for rewarding careers in healthcare. Graduates become health care professionals who are equipped to transform health care and improve the health and well-being of individual patients, families, communities and populations.

Honors College

The Honors College provides nearly 500 curious, imaginative, aspiring scholars with small classes, opportunities for active learning, attentive mentoring and research experiences alongside cutting-edge scholars and artists. Students are encouraged to seize opportunities and determine their own paths in a supportive and challenging intellectual community characterized by a culture of excellence and service, both on campus and in the community.

Graduate School

Through an extensive selection of outstanding degree and certificate programs and professional development opportunities, graduate students at The University of Southern Mississippi acquire the knowledge and skills for success. Graduates are prepared to impact the world in such diverse fields as ocean science, psychology, social work, nursing, business and the arts. Currently, more than 3,440 students from across the globe are pursuing degrees or certificates in a broad variety of programs across all academic colleges.

University Libraries

University Libraries consist of the Cook Library, Special Collections, the Gulf Coast Library and the Gunter Library. University Libraries supports the mission of USM by creating and providing access to an information-rich environment that fosters the intellectual development, diversity and creativity of the University community. University Libraries provides educational opportunities which support the success of Southern Miss students, faculty, staff and other researchers in their academic endeavors through collections, instructional services and emerging trends in scholarship. 

USM’s academic programs along the Gulf Coast are organized into three schools, in addition to two new healthcare programs:

School of Coastal Resilience, part of the College of Arts and Sciences 

The School of Coastal Resilience connects the human experience of living on the coastlines to the ideas, policies and disciplines that shape the experience. Through research and instruction, faculty and students explore the dynamics between communities, broadly understood, and the coastal environment.

School of Leadership, part of the College of Business and Economic Development

The School of Leadership develops and advances organizational leaders at the local, national, and international levels. It provides distinctive and innovative educational programs, delivered through experiential and responsive methods, to address emerging social, economic and environmental challenges. The school’s research focuses on the expansion of knowledge in business and technology.

School of Ocean Science and Engineering, part of the College of Arts and Sciences

The School of Ocean Science and Engineering harnesses elements from key areas of the University and the research programs along the Gulf Coast to create a regionally, nationally and internationally recognized leader in marine and coastal science.

College of Nursing and Health Professions

The College of Nursing and Health Professions is implementing innovative programs to address the shortage of healthcare professionals in the region. The first cohort for a new Accelerated BSN degree based on the Gulf Park campus will begin classes in January 2023. A new Physician Assistant program was also recently approved for Gulf Park, with the first cohort anticipated to start in 2025.

USM is proud to be the most diverse university in the state of Mississippi with a student body that reflects the larger community. USM is committed to the principles of shared communal engagement among people who represent diverse backgrounds, identities, beliefs, experiences and goals. Resources include information, services, student organizations and academic programs. The Office of Inclusion and Multicultural Engagement provides transformative experiences to foster the growth and development of historically underserved communities. The PRISM LGBTQIA+ Resource Center serves as a hub for LGBTQIA+ initiatives and provides a safe space for faculty, staff, appointed professionals, students, alumni, parents and guests of all gender identities/expression and sexual orientations. USM is home to multiple interdisciplinary centers, most with affiliated minors, that focus on issues related to diversity, inclusion and social justice, including the Center for American Indian Research and Studies, Center for Black Studies, Center for Human Rights and Civil Liberties, Women and Gender Studies, and Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage.

Mississippi’s Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL)

The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University, including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi, including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and The University of Southern Mississippi. Serving more than 95,000 students in an academic year, Mississippi’s public universities prepare students with the knowledge and skills to be the leaders, educators, entrepreneurs and problem-solvers of tomorrow. 

The Board of Trustees

The Board of Trustees is the constitutional governing body responsible for policy and financial oversight of the eight public institutions of higher learning. There are 12 board members, representing the three Supreme Court Districts. Appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Mississippi Senate, the members serve nine-year terms. The terms are staggered so that only four members roll on or off the Board at the same time.

The Commissioner of Higher Education

The Commissioner of Higher Education is appointed by the Board and is responsible for administering the Board's policies at the eight universities in the state of Mississippi. Dr. Alfred Rankins, Jr. was appointed commissioner of higher education beginning July 2018. As commissioner, Dr. Rankins advises the IHL Board on all matters pertaining to governing Mississippi's eight public universities and academic medical center. Dr. Rankins also supervises and evaluates the chancellor and presidents of the universities within the IHL system.

University Leadership and Governance

Dr. Joseph S. Paul was appointed USM’s 11th president in November 2022. Dr. Paul worked for USM for over 40 years, retiring as Vice President for Student Affairs in 2015, and returned to serve as IEO. He has provided leadership in a variety of other roles at the University and in the Hattiesburg community.

Reporting directly to the President are the Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, Vice President for Student Affairs, Vice President for Finance and Administration, Vice President for Research, Vice President for External Affairs, Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, General Counsel and Chief Communication Officer.  

The Faculty Senate provides a forum and a voice for the faculty to assert its distinctive viewpoint and principles for the general welfare of the University. As duly elected representatives of the faculty, the Faculty Senate acts on matters relating to due process, governance, resource allocation, and university planning. Together with the Staff Council and the Student Government Association, the Faculty Senate provides input to the University’s Senior Leadership Team through its President and through voted recommendations and resolutions.

University Standing Committees report through a senior administrator of the University and serve in an advisory capacity to that senior administrator or her/his designee.  

USM’s operating budget for FY2021 exceeded $278 million for the Hattiesburg and Gulf Park campuses and almost $11 million for the subsidiary research units for a total of nearly $290 million. The endowment is valued at over $136 million. 

In March 2022, USM launched its largest fundraising campaign in University history, “Give Wing: The Campaign for Southern Miss,” in support of academics, student scholarships, faculty support, athletics and facilities. The campaign has reached 85% of the $150 million goal with three years remaining in the campaign period.

The University and the USM Foundation invest significantly in student success. The USM Foundation disbursed over $8.6 million to the University in FY2021, including 2,558 donor funded scholarships, totaling over $4.9 million.   

In the past four years, USM’s endowment has grown by 36% ($100 million to over $136 million). $18 million was contributed through the Foundation in FY2021, including $14.9 million in outright gifts and pledges and $3.1 million in planned gift commitments. 26 new scholarship endowments were established this year. 

Known as the “Hub City” for its proximity to New Orleans, Mobile, Jackson and the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Hattiesburg is the county seat and the largest city in Forrest County, with a 2020 population of 48,730. The city is in the Pine Belt region of Mississippi and is about 75 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. 

Founded in 1882 by civil engineer William H. Hardy, Hattiesburg was named in honor of Hardy's wife Hattie and  first expanded as a center of the lumber and railroad industries. Today, the “Greater Hattiesburg” area attracts newcomers because of the diversity of its economy, quality education, thriving medical community, strong neighborhoods and central location.

As a medical hub, Hattiesburg is home to two major hospitals and the largest multi-specialty clinic in the state of Mississippi. Healthcare comprises 15% of the regional economy and services a broad 19-county region. South of Hattiesburg is Camp Shelby, the largest U.S. National Guard training base east of the Mississippi River, which hosts up to 100,000 National Guardsmen and Reservists annually. 

Hattiesburg is known as a premier residential college city and is home to two universities, two community colleges and eight primary and secondary education districts with top-performing k-12 schools. 

The University has strong partnerships with city leaders and the community, and the city provides a warm welcome to students, offering opportunities for part-time jobs and internships, venues for live music, a historic downtown area and a variety of local dining options.

The Hattiesburg Historic Neighborhood District was named one of the "Great Places in America" by the American Planning Association. Places are selected annually and represent the gold standard in terms of having a true sense of place, cultural and historical interest. The twenty-five-block neighborhood has one of the best collections of Victorian-era houses in Mississippi, with more than ninety percent of the houses substantially renovated and maintained. 

Hattiesburg is also home to the African American Military History Museum. The building opened as a USO club in 1942 to serve African Americans serving at Camp Shelby, as local facilities were racially segregated. This building is the only remaining USO club site in the United States. It has been adapted for use as a museum interpreting African American military history, including exhibits on the Revolutionary War, Buffalo Soldiers, World Wars I and II, Desegregation, the Korean War, Vietnam, Desert Storm, the Global War on Terrorism, and Hattiesburg's Hall of Honor.

The Mississippi Gulf Coast spans 80 miles between Louisiana and Alabama and is a melting pot with exceptional charm and hospitality across 13 coastal communities. The Coast is filled with rich cultural activities and attractions, unique local shopping and art galleries, and one-of-a-kind dining experiences.  

Originally dubbed “America’s Riviera,” the Mississippi Gulf Coast gained prominence in the early 1900’s as a gambling and tourist mecca, an alternative to Florida as a warm, actively fun area and home to the longest manmade beach in the world. After a brief disruption brought on by Hurricane Katrina, the Mississippi Gulf Coast bounced back quickly and better than ever. 

Today, the coastal region features several distinctive business, industrial and government entities that have helped drive the growth and vitality of the area, including:

  • NASA’s John C. Stennis Space Center – the largest rocket testing facility in the country.
  • Ingall’s Shipbuilding – largest ship builder in the world. 70% of U.S. Navy vessels were built here.
  • Keesler Air Force Base – home of Naval Technology training and the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, which host the world-famous Hurricane Hunters. It is the only operational unit in the world flying weather reconnaissance on a routine basis.
  • Chevron Pascagoula Refinery – one of the top ten largest oil refineries in the country.
  • Navel Construction Battalion Center – home of the Atlantic Fleet Seabees.

The University has strong partnerships with coastal community, business and industry leaders, supporting blue technology innovation, workforce development and aquaculture that plays a key role in the Mississippi Gulf Coast’s thriving seafood industry, which encompasses commercial harvesting, processing, wholesaling, fish markets and restaurants.

The Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs provides leadership to the University’s academic programs to foster excellence in teaching, research and service. The position is responsible for all aspects of the University’s academic mission and leads its efforts in the pursuit of academic excellence at all campuses and teaching sites. In addition, the position must lead the development of academic programs in the context of effective enrollment management at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

  1. Serves as the chief academic officer of the University and, after the President, as the University’s ranking administrative officer with responsibility for all academic programs. Acts as the primary advisor to the President on matters relating to academic affairs.
  2. Facilitates planning for the academic programs of the University and works with the Vice Presidents and Deans in accomplishing the University’s educational objectives.
  3. Supervises academic programs, assessment and accreditation, international programs, and related support services including faculty development, promotion and tenure, sabbatical leaves and personnel issues in academic affairs.
  4. Provides primary leadership for the development of academic programs in accordance with the University’s strategic enrollment management goals.
  5. Oversees budget development by the colleges and academic support units and monitors those budgets throughout the academic year.
  6. Represents the University in national professional academic organizations and to external agencies and constituencies; engages in fundraising initiatives.

The Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs will bring leadership and vision to an academic enterprise that has enjoyed stability, robust planning and implementation of an ambitious agenda. The next Provost will act boldly and creatively to address the challenges of leading an institution of higher education today. The Provost will build upon and further strengthen the institution’s ability to serve students long into the future, while simultaneously respecting the principles and values inherent in the vision and mission of the institution. The Provost will focus on the following: 

  • Enrollment Growth: Develop and implement ambitious short-term and long-term plans for academic programs designed to grow undergraduate and graduate enrollment, with a particular emphasis on enrollment along the Gulf Coast sites;
  • Research Enterprise: Preserve and build upon the R1 designation of the University by prioritizing and growing research initiatives, supporting further development of current research programs and research support/infrastructure, and enhancing the unique value of undergraduate and graduate student research;
  • Regional Development: Recognizing that the Gulf Coast is the fastest growing region of the state, prioritize the untapped educational, research, outreach and workforce development potential of the Gulf Park campus and the Coastal Operations of the University;  
  • Shared Governance: Hold shared governance to the highest standard to promote accountability to its principles, using best practices and good faith, through active listening and transparency on the part of all stakeholders to build a shared vision for the future;
  • Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging: Demonstrate a lived commitment to the University’s diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging goals, to social justice, and to serving the under-resourced; including an unwavering commitment to further diversifying the faculty, staff and student body.
  • Resource Development: Provides strong leadership for fundraising and other extramural funding and entrepreneurial activities. Engage external constituents including alumni, friends, community partners, foundations, industry and government agencies, to support program initiatives, faculty scholarship and student success;
  • Partnerships: Further USM’s already excellent reputation throughout the entire state, nationally and globally by deepening and broadening partnerships with corporations, nonprofits, government partners and educational institutions. Align academic offerings with regional employer needs by working outside the boundaries of the campuses, including growth in 2+2 programs, experiential learning and service to industry and regional employers; and
  • Student Experience: Encourage a high-quality student experience across all campuses by leading efforts to provide excellent academic support services and the resources needed to further enhance student success.  

The University of Southern Mississippi seeks a visionary leader who will passionately “tell the Southern Miss story” and bring a combination of sharp intelligence, exceptional communication skills, business acumen, heart and a winsome passion to the role. As a diverse community of learners, USM welcomes and encourages candidates of all racial and ethnic backgrounds to apply. The new Provost will: 

  • Demonstrate a record of innovation, entrepreneurialism, strategic thinking, collaboration and the ability to set and achieve audacious goals in prior leadership roles; 
  • Illustrate deep understanding of the rapid changes in higher education today and evidence the skill to lead the institution to greater success within this environment; 
  • Understand the need to provide a presence, attentiveness and honest voice to all campuses as well as a need to bring USM’s messages to the outside world and to bring in external resources to benefit the University; 
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the needs of a research-based institution and provide a vision for the continued prioritization and support for maintaining this distinction;
  • Have distinguished leadership success during a career with progressively broadened operational and leadership responsibilities in higher education; 
  • Demonstrate the drive, grit and fortitude to secure a thriving financial future for the University, along with a demonstrated record of success in obtaining financial support through success with securing federal funding, fundraising, etc.; 
  • Honor and embrace USM’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion of those who have been historically marginalized; 
  • Exhibit servant leadership that puts students first; and
  • Derive joy through participating in campus life, directly engaging with internal constituents to provide transparent information as well as solicit honest feedback, and serving as an ambassador for the University to alumni, in the region, and with a variety of external stakeholders. 

Required Qualifications

  • Earned doctoral degree (Ph.D. or equivalent) from an accredited institution.
  • A record of teaching and scholarship to merit appointment at USM at the level of full professor with tenure.
  • Substantial and progressive academic management experience with demonstrated success.
  • Experience facilitating successful research endeavors.
  • Demonstrated experience of leading successful activities to ensure diversity, equity and inclusive environments for students, faculty members and/or staff members.


Preferred Qualifications

The preferred candidate will have demonstrated experience in an academic administrative role such as Dean, Associate Dean or Department Head at a research university.

    • Priority will be given to candidates who have ten years of increasingly progressive leadership experience within a research-intensive university.
  • Experience working in an academic environment spanning multiple sites and geographic locations.
  • Demonstrated ability to forge partnerships, build productive relationships and garner support from university constituencies, including other administrators, faculty, staff, students and alumni; Board of Trustees; and representatives of federal and state agencies, foundations, companies, professional organizations and other academic institutions.
  • Direct knowledge of research practices and the support required to make these endeavors sustainable and successful.
  • Demonstrated evidence of effective academic budgeting and revenue generation at the university or large college level, and experience leading in an environment of limited resources.
  • Experience and demonstrated success leading efforts that connect academic program development and enrollment growth.
  • Evidence of a strong commitment to shared governance and a respectful, consultative and accessible leadership style, coupled with the willingness to lead decisively and to energize and inspire stakeholders, even when consensus is elusive.
  • Effective interpersonal and communication skills, with a commitment to engage, actively listen, learn and implement solutions.
  • Successful experience in strategic planning, program development, academic student services and accreditation, including knowledge of outcomes assessment and an understanding of specialized accreditation requirements for professional licensure programs.
  • Knowledge of current and emerging best practices related to digital learning and technology.
  • Demonstrated personal qualities of integrity, creative problem-solving, honesty, open mindedness, forthrightness and resiliency.

The search for the next Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs of The University of Southern Mississippi is being assisted by Academic Search. The next Provost is expected to begin in June/July 2023.  

The position is open until filled, but only applications submitted electronically to Academic Search by February 13, 2023, can be assured full consideration.

Prospective candidates may arrange a confidential conversation about this exciting opportunity with one of two Senior Consultants: 

• Cynthia M. Patterson 

• Maria Thompson 

Applications, nominations, and inquiries must be submitted electronically, confidentially, to

Confidential nominations should provide the name, title, institution and contact information (email address and phone) of a person whom Academic Search should contact.


  • a substantive cover letter that addresses the candidate’s experiences and qualifications for this particular position
  • a current curriculum vitae (CV)
  • a list of five professional references with full contact information (title, organization/institution, email address, phone number) and a brief description explaining the working relationship of each to the applicant. No references will be contacted without the explicit permission of the candidate.

The University of Southern Mississippi is an affirmative action and equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, veteran status, or genetic information. The University is committed to providing access, equal opportunity and reasonable accommodation for individuals with disabilities in employment, its services, programs, and activities.

Academic Search is assisting the University of Southern Mississippi in this search.  For more than four decades, Academic Search has offered executive search services to higher education institutions, associations, and related organizations. Academic Search was founded by higher education leaders on the principle that it provides the most value to partner institutions by combining best practices with deep knowledge and experience. Its mission today is to enhance institutional capacity by providing outstanding executive recruitment services, executive coaching, and transition support, in partnership with its parent organization, the American Academic Leadership Institute. For more information visit