USM Presidential Candidate Defends His Record

Dr. Shelby Thames is one of the three finalists for the job of USM President. His choice would certainly be a controversial one. He has held a number of contentious meetings the last few days with faculty, students and staff at both the Hattiesburg and Long Beach campuses.

On Thursday, he addressed those who have criticized him and called him a micro-manager and tyrant.

''Well, I am not angry about it, but I am disappointed about it," Thames told members of the media.

Thames also said he is a team player, but some don't agree. Retiring Gulf Park professor Dr. Theron Manly wrote a letter to the IHL board, the group that will chose the next president. In it, he says that while Thames oversaw the Coast campus more than 20 years ago, "95 percent of the faculty requested to be moved from under Thames control."

The letter also states the conditions imposed by Dr. Thames, "should never be allowed to exist again."

Dr. Thames was quick to respond to that.

"If I were such a bad administrator, and my decisions were so bad, why did Aubrey Lucas ask me to become the executive vice president thereafter, that is my response," Thames said.

On Wednesday, Dr. Thames met with staff, students and faculty. A professor who was at that meeting told WLOX News that she did not like what she saw. Dr. Daryls Alford says she did not like what she heard.

''I am particularly concerned that Dr. Thames lost his temper with the faculty yesterday, within 10 minutes he was raising his voice and showing a lot of hostility about even being questioned."

Dr. Thames says of course some people will be unhappy with him, but that is to be expected.

"We don't always make people happy. We don't always make half the people happy. We don't always make 5 percent of the people happy."

Thames says he will support whomever is chosen as president, although there has been speculation that his selection is already a done deal. When asked, he denied that.

"If it is the case, I sure don't know anything about it," Thames said.

Dr. Thames says he loves the university, and everyone agrees his credentials as a scientist are impressive. But, as for his critics who say he would not make a good president, Dr. Thames ended his news conference with these remarks.

"Hey, I am a big boy, let's get on with life, the future is important, yesterday is gone, fair enough?"