USM gives Long Beach campus a chance to flex its muscle

By Brad Kessie – bio | email

LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - USM Gulf Coast is getting a seat at the big boys table.

USM President Dr. Martha Saunders told WLOX News the new head of the Long Beach campus will have executive cabinet level authority.  That person will become one of six vice presidents in USM's administration.

Dr. Saunders decided to make this change after Associate Provost Dr. Pat Joachim announced that she was retiring.  Soon after that announcement, Saunders met with people on the coast and in Hattiesburg.  She listened to what they wanted from the next leader at USM's coast campus.  What became evident to her was that USM Gulf Coast needed a more prominent role in the university's administration.

USM Gulf Coast has had several different administrative structures the last 10 years.  Because of that fact, Dr. Saunders readily admits when she first became the university's president, she was reluctant to shake things up again.  So she kept the current administrative structure in place.  Under that formula, her associate provost reported to a provost, who reported to the cabinet.

The change announced by Dr. Saunders on Friday eliminates the middleman.  It gives the Long Beach campus a seat on USM's cabinet.

"I think it certainly does improve communication," Dr. Saunders told WLOX News.  "There is one champion for the coast sitting around the table.  That person will be tasked with making it happen."

In January, a committee will begin its search for USM's next vice president.  Dr. Saunders believes the new leader of USM Gulf Coast will be in place by July 1, 2010.  Dr. Joachim has agreed to stay with USM until the university finds her replacement.

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