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Elected and Appointed Government Officials 2019

Mississippi's Top 50 Most Influential

2 of 21

Dr. Rodney Bennett, University of Southern Mississippi

Rodney D. Bennett serves as the chief executive officer and principle educational officer of The University of Southern Mississippi (USM), a comprehensive public research institution delivering transformative programs to approximately 15,000 students on campuses in South Mississippi and along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

As proven leaders in innovation, USM’s faculty and students have positioned the institution as one of only 130 universities in the nation to earn the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education’s “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity” designation. USM’s robust research enterprise includes experts in ocean science and engineering, polymer science and engineering, and sport venue safety and security, among others. USM is also one of only 40 institutions in the nation accredited in theatre, art and design, dance and music.

Under President Bennett’s leadership, the University has invested in new faculty positions, expanded coastal operations, and worked to increase access to quality education and research programs to serve the needs of the state of Mississippi and beyond. As an economic driver, USM generates an annual economic impact of more than $600 million across the state.

President Bennett’s vision is for The University of Southern Mississippi to become the model for public higher education across the country. His key institutional priorities include ensuring student success; expanding enrollment strategies; enhancing academic instruction; fostering greater focus on research; bolstering economic and community partnerships; and maximizing human potential.

President Bennett holds a Doctor of Education in Educational Administration from Tennessee State University in Nashville and a Specialist in Education, a Master of Education in Educational Administration, and a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication from Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro.