“During the Listening Sessions held on the campuses in Hattiesburg and Long Beach, the campus community spoke clearly and passionately about why Dr. Joe Paul is unquestionably the right person to fill the role on a permanent basis,” said Trustee Gee Ogletree, co-chair of the Board Search Committee. “I have known and witnessed Dr. Paul’s exceptional contributions to the University for over four decades. I recognize Dr. Paul’s energy, relationships, affection and years of service to Southern Miss have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is the right person to guide the University into its next chapter of leadership and excellence in teaching, service and research in the state and nation.”
A Southern Miss alumnus, Paul previously served the university as an administrator in student affairs for more than 40 years. Before becoming vice president for student affairs in February 1993, he held a variety of positions, including assistant director of student activities, assistant vice president and dean of student development. He also held faculty rank in USM’s College of Education and Psychology.
“I am honored and humbled to accept this appointment from the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning Board of Trustees to become the 11th president of our beloved University of Southern Mississippi,” said Paul. “The entire Board and Commissioner Rankins have shown great support for me and for Southern Miss. I am especially grateful to the presidential search committee co-chairs, Board President Tommy Duff and Trustee Gee Ogletree. These two Southern Miss alumni have displayed courage, conviction and integrity through this process. They love Southern Miss as I do, and they share a vision of the potential this institution has to positively impact our region, state and beyond.”
Between his retirement from the university in 2015 and being named Interim President earlier this year, Paul held part time positions with the University Foundation as a fund raiser (2015-2016), as Citizen Service Coordinator for the City of Hattiesburg (2017-2020), as an Executive Coach for the Horne Business Advisor Group (2016-2020), and as an executive coach and strategic advisor for the Blue Hen Consulting Agency.
A formal announcement will take place as part of on-campus activities related to the football game on Thursday, October 27, when the Golden Eagles take on the Ragin’ Cajuns of the University of Louisiana. The announcement will be held at 3:00 p.m. in the Ballroom at the Thad Cochran Center on the USM Campus in Hattiesburg.