Rodney D. Bennett serves as the chief executive officer and principal educational
officer of The University of Southern Mississippi (USM), a comprehensive public research
institution delivering transformative programs to approximately 15,000 students on
campuses in South Mississippi and along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
As proven leaders in innovation, USM’s faculty and students have positioned the institution
as one of only 130 universities in the nation to earn the Carnegie Classification
of Institutions of Higher Education’s “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research
activity” designation. USM’s robust research enterprise includes experts in ocean
science and engineering, polymer science and engineering, and sport venue safety and
security, among others. USM is also one of only 40 institutions in the nation accredited
in theatre, art and design, dance and music.
Under President Bennett’s leadership, the University has invested in new faculty positions,
expanded coastal operations, and worked to increase access to quality education and
research programs to serve the needs of the state of Mississippi and beyond. As an
economic driver, USM generates an annual economic impact of more than $600 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.
President Bennett holds a Doctor of Education in Educational Administration from Tennessee
State University in Nashville and a Specialist in Education, a Master of Education
in Educational Administration, and a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication from
Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro.
Steven R. Moser
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
Steven R. Moser serves as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at
The University of Southern Mississippi (USM). As provost, he provides oversight for
all facets of academic program and enrollment management functions at all the University’s
campuses and teaching sites.
Moser has more than 30 years of experience in various teaching and administrative
positions at USM and at Texas Christian University. During his tenure at USM, he has
served as dean of the former College of Arts and Letters, a conductor and director
of the Pride of Mississippi, and is a professor in the School of Music.
Moser earned a Doctor of Philosophy from USM, a Master of Music Education from Texas
Christian University, and a Bachelor of Music from the University of Mississippi.
He is a 2007 fellow of the Management Development Program in the Graduate School of
Education at Harvard University and a 2013 Aspen Institute Wye Fellow.
Dee Dee M. Anderson
Vice President for Student Affairs
Dee Dee M. Anderson serves as vice president for student affairs at The University
of Southern Mississippi (USM). In this role, she leads the Division of Student Affairs
while maintaining supervisory responsibility for a wide range of activities, programs
and services that enhance the quality of life for the University community, including
all programs that support student welfare and development.
For more than 20 years, Anderson has worked in the field of higher education, holding
positions as associate vice chancellor of student affairs and dean of students. Prior
to being named vice president at USM, Anderson served as interim vice chancellor for
student development at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
Anderson earned a Doctor of Philosophy in education leadership, a Master of Arts in
industrial and organizational psychology, a Master of Arts in elementary education
and a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education, all from Louisiana Tech University.
She is a member of the National Association of Student Personal Administrators and
a recipient of the Women in Higher Education Tennessee Women of Achievement Award.
Gordon C. Cannon
Vice President for Research
Gordon C. Cannon serves as vice president for research at The University of Southern
Mississippi (USM). In this role, he serves as the University’s chief research officer
and is responsible for leading and overseeing the University’s research enterprise.
With more than 40 years of experience in the areas of microbiology and biochemistry,
Cannon began his career at USM within in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
after spending five years as a postdoctoral fellow at the Roche Institute of Molecular
Biology. As the leader of USM’s research initiatives, Cannon serves as the executive
director of the USM Research Foundation and supervises the University’s technology
incubator, The Accelerator as well as oversees the Trent Lott National Center for
Excellence in Economic Development and Entrepreneurship.
Cannon earned a Bachelor of Science and a Doctor of Philosophy from Clemson University.
He is a Thomas Waring Bennett Distinguished Professor in the Sciences at USM and is
the recipient of a Southern Miss Lifetime Achievement Award.
Vice President for External Affairs
Chad Driskell serves as vice president for external affairs at The University of Southern
Mississippi (USM). In this role, he oversees the University’s governmental and external
relations, which includes the USM Foundation and Southern Miss Alumni Association.
Driskell began his career in external affairs with the Mississippi Gaming Commission
and then with the Mississippi Bankers Association. He later returned to his alma mater,
USM, as an executive assistant to the president, in which he managed all outside political
and regulatory relationships.
Driskell earned a Bachelor of Science in political science from USM and a Master of
Public Policy and Administration from Mississippi State University.
Allyson G. Easterwood
Vice President for Finance and Administration
Allyson G. Easterwood serves as vice president for finance and administration at
The University of Southern Mississippi (USM). In this role, she oversees all institutional
financial operations and processes, procurement and contract services, auxiliary services,
human resources, business services, facilities management, and information technology.
With more than 25 years of experience in higher education finance, Easterwood has
held progressively responsible administrative positions at USM, which include associate
vice president for finance and controller. Prior to being named vice president, Easterwood
held the position in an interim capacity. She also worked for the Mississippi State
Department of Audit in the Higher Education Division.
Easterwood earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with an emphasis
in accounting from USM and is a Certified Public Accountant.