Following a months-long search process, The University of Southern Mississippi President Rodney Bennett selected interim Provost and Vice President of Student Affairs Steven Moser for the provost position Nov. 12. Pending approval from the Institutions of Higher Learning’s Board of Trustees, Moser will continue to serve as the chief academic officer in a permanent capacity.
In one of six open forums Moser held to faculty, students and staff during the search process, Moser said since accepting the interim position in May 2015, he has been working hard to address major issues facing the university, and he hoped to continue to do so.
“Those who know me well know I don’t keep seats warm very well, so I want to be actively moving things forward,” he said.
In his Oct. 11 forum with faculty at the Hattiesburg campus, Moser admitted to having an advantage over the other two finalists for the position, Wayne Raskind of Wayne State University and Glen Cope of the University of Missouri St. Louis.
Moser said the experience he had garnered in the interim position provided him with an intimate understanding of USM’s departmental structure, which he said he had and would continue to use to best address the university’s needs.
Among his accomplishments as interim provost, Moser cited his office’s success in mitigating a major inefficiency affecting the university’s budget: the digital systems used to manage, among other things, the accounts and courses of USM applicants, students and faculty known as consistent relations management.
Moser said when he took the interim position, the university employed four competing and non-coordinated CRM services and that internal discussions to change this system had been going on for years.
“Within three weeks we had managed to come to a place were we were ready to actually step forward and commit to a single source,” he said.
Moser said prior to changes in enrollment management made under his leadership, enrollment at the university was about 18 percent below target, and his changes have since had dramatic effect.
“I don’t think we would have moved from negative 18 percent to negative 1.44 percent had we not been decisive in making some critical and key changes in enrollment management,” he said.
In the week following the finalist forums, a committee organized to review the finalists’ bids submitted its official recommendation to Bennett on Oct. 27.
In addition to bearing the search committee’s recommendation, Bennett held open office hours to the university community for input while he considered the three finalists for the position.
Upon naming Moser, Bennett said he was confident Moser’s leadership will serve USM well.
“I am confident that Dr. Moser’s deep knowledge of and commitment to our university coupled with his strong academic background and ability to develop and maintain effective relationships across the institution will facilitate our success,” he said.