University President Position Description

The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning invites applications and nominations for the position of President of The University of Southern Mississippi.

Founded in 1910, The University of Southern Mississippi is a comprehensive doctoral and research-driven university with a proud history and a promising future.  In just 100 years, Southern Miss has grown from a small teachers’ college into a premier research university. The values of Southern Miss are to lead with academic excellence by conducting innovative research, providing cultural enrichment, creating economic development opportunities, building healthier communities, and contributing to an understanding of global networking. 

Southern Miss has a diverse student body of more than 17,000 students from all 50 states and 70 foreign countries participating in undergraduate and graduate degree programs in six degree-granting colleges with more than 180 degree programs. As a dual-campus university, Southern Miss serves students on campuses in Hattiesburg and Long Beach.

Characterized by history and tradition, the Hattiesburg campus sits on 300 acres in the heart of the Pine Belt. More than 180 buildings dot a landscape that has been transformed into a pedestrian-friendly environment for students, employees and visitors. It has six degree granting colleges, Arts and Letters, Business, Education and Psychology, Health, Nursing, and Science and Technology.

The Southern Miss Gulf Coast campus is comprised of the Gulf Park campus and five teaching sites, bringing higher education to the three coastal counties of Mississippi. Southern Miss also operates the largest marine research facility on the Gulf coast, and has one of the nation’s top research programs in coastal and marine sciences.

Our Vision

The University of Southern Mississippi will emerge as the premier research university of the Gulf South -- engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities.

Our Mission

Our primary mission is to cultivate intellectual development and creativity through the generation, dissemination, application and preservation of knowledge.

Our Values

Our mission is supported by the values that have been formed through the history and traditions of our institution. These values are widely and deeply held beliefs of our faculty, staff, students, administrators and alumni.

  • Education provides opportunities to improve the quality of intellectual, social, economic, and personal well-being. These opportunities should be available to all who are willing and able to meet our standards of excellence.
  • Our success is reflected by the degree to which our students become well-read, articulate, and creative and critical thinkers. It is measured by their display of specialized knowledge and abilities suitable to the pursuit of a career and life in our complex, ever-changing world.
  • We cherish innovation in the creation and application of basic and applied research findings, creative and artistic expression, meaningful learning experiences, the scope of services provided to our students and the broader community that we sustain, and the evolution of degree continuing education and educational outreach programs that both respond to and anticipate the evolving demands of our society, employers, and the labor market.
  • Education encourages and advances the ideals of a pluralistic democratic society: civic responsibility, integrity, diversity, and ethical behavior.
  • Academic freedom and shared governance are long-established and living principles at the university. We cherish the free exchange of ideas, diversity of thought, joint decision making, and individuals’ assumption of responsibility.
  • We make efficient and effective use of our resources, for we are accountable to our university communities, the Board of Trustees, and taxpayers.


As the University’s chief executive officer, the President reports to the Commissioner of Higher Education and is responsible for implementing System policies and effectively managing the institution; sustaining and enhancing the institution’s mission and overall operations, while fostering and building upon the existing traditions, distinctiveness, and strengths of the University.

Desired Characteristics include:

  • A strategic thinker who can craft a long-range plan for the university and develop strategies to make that plan a reality.
  • The ability to generate resources for the University including both public funding and private fundraising and to connect these resources to the mission of the institution.
  • Strong leadership skills that inspire, motivate and support the needs of both faculty and staff.
  • Excellent academic credentials and a record of scholarship or equivalent experience and accomplishments that support an understanding of shared governance and commands the respect of the University community.
  • An understanding of the functioning of a multi campus university.
  • The ability to lead with financial integrity in the preparation and implementation of a comprehensive and fiscally responsible University budget.
  • Senior-level experience managing a large and complex organization and the ability to work with both internal and external constituencies including faculty, staff, students, the local community, alumni, government, the media and the general public.
  • Interpersonal and communication skills which enable them to work effectively at the federal, state and local levels.
  • The ability to work within a state-wide system of higher education, successfully representing one of the largest universities within the State.
  • Commitment to a diverse student body, faculty, staff and administration, promoting issues of multiculturalism.
  • A passion for educational outreach and commitment to excellence in undergraduate, graduate and life-long learning education at a Carnegie research university.
  • An appreciation for the importance of sustainability to the future of the University and community.
  • An appreciation for the value of a strong Division I intercollegiate athletic program.

The Board of Trustees invites letters of nomination, applications (letter of interest, complete CV, and references) or expressions of interest to be submitted to the search firm assisting the Board.  Confidential review of materials will begin immediately and continue until the appointment is made. It is preferred, however, that all nominations and applications be submitted prior to December 14, 2012 to:


Laurie C. Wilder, Senior Vice President and Managing Director

Porsha L. Williams, Principal

Parker Executive Search

Five Concourse Parkway, Suite 2900

Atlanta, GA 30328

770-804-1996 ext: 109


USM is an AA/EOE Employer