Students speak out at search sessions
Published: Thursday, September 20, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 20, 2012 00:09
On Wednesday, students, faculty, staff and community members came together to voice their opinions about the type of person they would like to see hired to lead the University of Southern Mississippi as the school’s tenth president.
The Institutions of Higher Learning Board Search Committee held five presidential search listening sessions on campus, open to anyone, to hear feedback about what qualities people want to see in the new president.
In addition to the sessions held in the Thad Cochran Center Wednesday morning, sessions were also held on the Gulf Coast campus.
MC Price, a senior interdisciplinary studies major, attended a session and told the board she wants to see a president focus mainly on the student body.
“I said I’d like to see our new president focus on quality of students over quantity,” Price said. “The majority of the meeting focused on students wanting transparency between the student body and the administration.”
Price added that the tone of the meeting remained “optimistic and very positive” as students detailed what problems they think the university has and how they would like to see a new president fix those issues.
Van Arnold of University Communications said the sessions had audiences of anywhere from 30 to 200 people, and he estimated that a total of 750 people attended throughout the morning.
Jazmyne Butler, a senior and Student Government Association president, said she was very pleased with the student turnout at the meeting.
“I’m so proud of the students and all the great feedback they had,” Butler said. “It really speaks to the type of students we have at Southern Miss.”
Butler said the feedback that stuck out to her from the sessions included servant leadership, diversity, retention and academics.
“We have a high rate of students coming into this school, but we need to focus on keeping those students here and seeing that they graduate,” Butler said. “I want what the students want; as SGA president it’s not about me, it’s about the students.”
Both Butler and Price said the board was impressed with the responses students came up with during the sessions and that everyone who attended had useful things to say.
“The students were very engaged,” Butler said. “I’m proud to represent a student body that was so engaged with what’s going on and excited about putting in their input for a new president.”
For Price, participating in the meetings was a positive experience.
“It was a great turnout,” Price said. “I’m proud to be a part of it, I’m proud of the students of Southern Miss.”
Interim President Aubrey K. Lucas said a new president will hopefully be named by the start of the spring semester.