Dr. James Williams says he can't believe he's been Vice President of USM-Gulf Coast for 10 years. He says a lot has happened during that time to offer opportunities for people who want to broaden their education. Under his leadership, student enrollment has increased 24 percent.
"I was of course pleased that we were finally able to admit freshmen students and that took awhile and I think that has opened up some new avenues and roads to development that would not have been there had we not done that," Williams says.
A new library and classroom building are providing space for more students. Williams says the buildings were the first new ones to go up since USM took over the campus in 1972.
Dr. Williams is also pleased with the overall change in attitude about this school. He says for years so many people looked at this college as a satellite campus, somewhere to do graduate work. Today he says Gulf Park has a new direction.
"I think now people on the campus and in the community believe that it's goin' to truly be a substantial university campus with lots of opportunity for students and for the university as well."
Dr. Williams steps down at the end of this month but full time retirement isn't in his future.
"I suspect I may do a little part time teaching, maybe some other part time work. I may even take a course or two which I haven't done in a long time but there's still some areas where I'd like to learn a little bit more."
Dr. Williams says he will miss USM and its employees but he and his wife will still call the Coast home long after he leaves campus.
For the first time, a provost is overseeing the USM-Gulf Coast campus. That position, and a similar position at the main campus in Hattiesburg, was created last year when Dr. Shelby Thames was chosen USM's president.