USM Presidential Candidate Visits Gulf Coast Campus - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

USM Presidential Candidate Visits Gulf Coast Campus

He has been called everything from a visionary to a tyrant. Dr. Shelby Thames is one of three finalists for the job of USM President. Wednesday, he spent his day at the USM Gulf Park campus.

During question and answer sessions, he said he will work for parity between the Hattiesburg and Coast campus, and he repeatedly pointed out that one of his top priorities as president would be to raise salaries.

Despite those comments, some in the audience were skeptical.

"During the questioning, there were some very abrupt answers about his style," Ron Schwake, a USM student, said. "I think his attitude was basically it's my way or the highway."

Thames insisted he is good at consensus building, and pointed out that former president Aubrey Lucas's asking Thames to become executive vice president, proves that.

Although Thames had his detractors, he also had some strong supporters. The Dean of the College of Marine Sciences, Dr. Jay Grimes liked what he heard.

''He has a vision and a passion for USM that I think would carry it to the next level and we were very pleased with what we heard."

As for former president Horace Fleming, Thames said he is a friend, but claimed Fleming alienated the IHL Board. Thames said he would make it a point to get along with the board.

Besides Dr. Thames, there are two other candidates for the job, but some think the decision has already been made.

"From everything I am hearing, it's a done deal, that politics played out and that it is kind of done, behind the scenes," psychology professor Dr. Thomas Arbaugh said.

Dr. Thames will hold a news conference Thursday morning. The other two candidates for the presidency of USM will also visit the Gulf Coast campus this week.

By Jeff Lawson

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