"I do have firm ideas, and my colleagues expect me to be a strong advocate for the University of Southern Mississippi. If that has been one of my failings with the board, so be it. I would not change my approach, I would not change the positions we have taken."
This is just some of what Dr. Horace Fleming told the media assembled in the Administrative Building for his final press conference talking about his step down as USM president. There is no denying that Dr. Fleming is a passionate man when it comes to improving USM. Another of his passions was to see the expansion of USM's Gulf Park Campus into a four year college, a goal that may have been his undoing.
"I have been very strong, perhaps even too strong in my support for the expansion of our program on the Gulf Coast; it's one thing to be for that, but it's another thing to be passionately for it and to be planning for it and moving aggressively."
He refuses to believe that the college board's decision had anything to do with his ability to manage and says that if it was his performance as president that was at question, the State College Board should have told him immediately.
"If I had challenges or problems or was in any way displeasing to this board, if they indeed did talk about this for months before my review, they were seriously remiss in not talking with me about it; this board has a responsibility to see that presidents succeed, not standby and let them fail if indeed that's what happened."
As Dr. Fleming leaves the office of President at the University of Southern Mississippi, it will be with a positive attitude, pointing to a record of accomplishments and always remembering his time in Hattiesburg.
"We take away fond memories from the University, from Hattiesburg, from the Gulf Coast wonderful places and we expect to be back and as I've said before we'll be Golden Eagles for life wherever we are."