Images audio

Saunders Stepping Down As USM President, Will Be Co-Director of Women’s Institute

By Rhonda Miller | Published 27 Apr 2012 11:51pm | comments
University of Southern Mississippi President Martha Saunders

The University of Southern Mississippi will soon begin a search for its 10th president. Martha Saunders is stepping down to return to teaching. MPB’s Rhonda Miller reports Saunders will also help launch a new a leadership institute for women.

During her five years as president of the University of Southern Mississippi, Martha Saunders said she believes she's accomplished several major goals, including team-building and recovering from Hurricane Katrina. Saunders, who was the university’s first female president, announced Friday in Hattiesburg she will leave the post June 30.

"It’s been an honor to serve with you as we’ve moved our beloved university forward to great heights, record enrollment, increased fundraising, amazing building projects. And I believe I’m leaving Southern Miss better than I found it."

Southern Miss Vice President Frances Lucas, who is executive officer for the Gulf Coast campus, said Saunders will be a professor there, as well as a leader in a new venture.

"She will also be one of the founding directors of the Evelyn Gandy Women’s Leadership Institute, that will serve the whole university, but  we will be founding that down  here and that’s a project she and I will work on together."

Evelyn Gandy was the first woman elected to statewide office in Mississippi and was elected Lieutenant Governor in 1975. The College Board approved the leadership institute on April 19. It will begin with funding from an anonymous donor within the year.  

Meanwhile, the College Board will begin a process that’s become all too familiar across the state’s eight public universities. Ed Blakeslee is president of the board.

"I’ve been on the IHL Board, this is ending my eighth year, and this will be the 10th presidential search. I don’t think anybody understands that you’re never off the clock, I mean, it’s 24/7."

The College board will discuss the timeline for the presidential search at its May meeting.





University of Southern Mississippi President Martha Saunders



MPB will not tolerate obscenities, threats/personal attacks, hate speech, material that is ethnically or racially offensive, abusive comments, comments off topic and spam, to name a few. You can see a complete list of the MPB guidelines by viewing our terms of service. If you spot a comment you think violates these guidelines, report it to the moderators by clicking "x" next to the comment, then "report”. MPB reserves the right to adjust these guidelines. If you have a suggestion, please contact us.