Search Continues At U.S.M.

Supporters of the University of Southern Mississippi are submitting names to the state College Board for consideration as the Hattiesburg-based school's new president. Current members of the university staff whose names have surfaced include:

• Don Cotten, USM vice president for research and planning, who looks for funding for research programs. He is a former head of the Public Education Forum of Mississippi.

• Tim Hudson, USM dean of international student affairs.

• Shelby Thames, a longtime leader of USM's nationally recognized polymer science research program.

Criminal justice professor Don Cabana, incoming president of the USM Faculty Senate, said he hopes all three apply for the job. ``I would be more than pleased with any one of them, and the university community as a whole would,'' Cabana said. `They are familiar with the university and have strong loyalties and are familiar with the system.'' The College Board hopes to have a new president named at USM and two other universities by next spring. The search also is underway for new presidents at Mississippi State and Mississippi University for Women.

Aubrey Lucas, a former USM president, is serving as the school's interim president. College Board President Bill Crawford of Meridian said the board hopes the prospect list will be trimmed to a dozen or less by early February. Candidates will face an initial round of closed-door interviews with board members in Jackson. Following the first round of talks, the list will again be reduced, with the board inviting four finalists to the Hattiesburg campus in the spring for interviews with USM faculty, staff, students, alumni and community leaders. Former USM President Horace Fleming Jr. resigned in July after the College Board offered him a one year contract.