Staff changes occur at USM

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Staff changes and appointments dominated the second half of the summer at The University of Southern Mississippi.

University President Rodney Bennett announced Bill McGillis as the university’s sixth athletic director at a press conference July 18. He will succeed Jeff Hammond whose one-year contract expired on June 30.

“I have no doubt that Bill is the right person to best build on our tradition of athletics excellence and position us for future success,” Bennett said.

McGillis comes to Southern Miss after a five-year stint as executive associate athletic director at The University of South Florida. While there he served as the sports administrator for the football, baseball and softball programs.

His long-term plans for Southern Miss include building event attendance, overseeing facility improvements and focusing on student athletes.

“Initially I want to come in and learn the people, the place and get a better understanding of what Southern Miss is about,” McGillis said. “For a university and community of this size, there is tremendous support and there’s nothing more important than reaching out to them.”

Former AD Jeff Hammond accepted a position with the university as special assistant to the president for military and veterans affairs.

In his new role, he will help raise money for veterans and their families, serve as USM liaison to Camp Shelby and Keesler Air Force Base and assist with the development of a veterans student service center on campus.

“As a former service member, I’m very passionate about our soldiers, their families and Southern Miss,” Hammond said. “We have a great opportunity to enhance conditions for veterans and accommodate their unique interests as students.”

He will also assist approximately 1,000 students on campus who currently receive military benefits to obtain their degrees from Southern Miss.

“I look forward to continuing to work with Gen. Hammond in this capacity,” Bennett said in a press statement. “We anticipate that this work will create additional pathways to completion for students who serve in the military, their dependent family members and veterans.”

Two university departments will also begin the search for new faculty members.

Kim LeDuff, former associate director of the School of Mass Communication and Journalism, recently accepted a position at the as chief diversity officer at The University of West Florida in Pensacola, Fla. The department isn’t expecting to fill the position until January.

The search for a permanent dean for the College of Science and Technology will commence at the beginning of the fall semester. Joe Whitehead, former dean, departed USM to start his work as the new provost of North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, N.C.

Patricia Biesiot will serve as interim dean of the college with Chris Winstead as interim associate dean. The search process will involve university students, faculty and administrators.