Alabama graduate to lead University of Southern Mississippi

Published 6:11 pm Monday, October 24, 2022

University of Southern Mississippi alumnus and longtime administrator Joe Paul has been chosen as the school’s new president.

The board that governs Mississippi’s eight public universities announced its selection of Paul in a news release Monday. He has been interim president since July, when Rodney Bennett left the top job at the university.

USM has campuses in Hattiesburg and on the Gulf Coast.

Paul retired in 2015 after serving 40 years as a USM student affairs administrator. Before becoming vice president for student affairs in February 1993, he was 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.

Gee Ogletree, co-chairman of the presidential search committee, said in the news release that he has known Paul’s “exceptional contributions” to the university for more than 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,” Ogletree said.

Paul held part-time positions with the University Foundation as a fundraiser in 2015-16, as citizen service coordinator for the city of Hattiesburg (2017-20), as an executive coach for the Horne Business Advisor Group (2016-20) and as an executive coach and strategic advisor for the Blue Hen Consulting Agency.

Paul was a senior consultant with The Atlanta Consulting Group, a Fortune Top 50 management consulting firm. He worked with clients including UPS, RJR Nabisco and the U.S. Navy.

Paul is a native of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. He earned a bachelor’s degree in communication and political science from USM in 1975, a master’s degree in communication and management from the university in 1978 and a doctorate in higher education administration from the University of Alabama in 1985.

He was inducted into the University of Southern Mississippi Alumni Hall of Fame in 2000.