Southern Miss welcomes John Bret Becton, Ph.D., as the new dean of the College of Business and Economic Development.
Becton graduated from Southern Miss in 1991, receiving a Bachelors of Science in psychology with a minor in management and previously served the university as associate dean for operations and accreditation under Faye W. Gilbert, Ph.D., at Southern Miss’s former college of business from 2014 to 2017.
Becton returns to his alma mater after serving as dean of the College of Business Administration at the University of Louisiana Lafayette. Becton said after being gone for two years when he was given the potential opportunity to come back to Southern Miss, it was something he simply couldn’t pass up.
“I am honored to be the next dean of the College of Business and Economic Development, and I’m excited about the opportunity to work with the dedicated faculty, staff, alumni and supporters as the college becomes a national leader in business education,” Becton said.
Becton said he relates his time at Southern Miss to a lot of personal change and betterment, and he wants to provide the same experience for students.
“There’s no better place to be than Southern Miss,” Becton said. “I came to school here as a naive country boy from Silas, Alabama, and when I left here I was a completely different person, and it’s because of the experiences I had here that I want to be part of those kinds of transformations for our students here and now.”
Southern Miss Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Steven R. Moser, Ph.D., said he is convinced Becton would make for an exceptional leader after demonstrating all of the attributes of a great dean over the last two years at UL Lafayette.
“I look forward to working with Dr. Becton as we leverage the many opportunities,” Moser said. “We at Southern Miss have for expanding our profile and adding value for our stakeholders in South Mississippi and across the region.”
Becton anticipates nurturing the college’s engagement with the regional business community by expanding Southern Miss’s entrepreneurship and economic development activities.
Becton says he aims to enhance the university’s national reputation through high-impact scholarly activity and innovative academic programs that provide students with real-world experiences and credentials.
“I feel like there’s a lot of opportunity for development in terms of corporate sponsorships,” Becton said. “Donors want to give back to their college university and I’m excited to lead those efforts.”
College of Business and Economic Development Marketing Coordinator and graduate student Bailey Harris believes that Becton could be the missing link to increasing development for both students and faculty in the college of business. Harris is a graduate student en route for her MBA at the College of Business and she believes that Dr. Becton’s high energy, approachability and passion for what he does could open much-needed communication channels throughout the college.
“Something that the college has struggled with in the past is communication with students and keeping students in the loop about different opportunities, internships and scholarships,” Harris said. “I can tell he is excited to invest in these communication channels between faculty and students and invest in personal and professional development programs.”
Becton said he anticipates nurturing the college’s engagement with the regional business community by expanding Southern Miss’s entrepreneurship and economic development activities. Becton also said his ultimate goal is to make the College of Business and Economic Development renowned in the area of the Gulf South.
“We have around 2,300 students enrolled in the College of Business, and enrollment has been growing over the past couple of years and we hope to continue that trend,” Becton said “I think that we have a good reputation, but whenever anybody from that general area is considering business education or considering recruiting students in this area, I want this to be the number one college that they would turn to.”