Rodney Bennett, president of the University of Southern Mississippi. Credit: usm.edu

Rodney Bennett, who made history as the first black president of the University of Southern Mississippi, announced his intention to step down in June 2023.

“Now is the time for me to stand down for another person to pave the way for the next chapter of our Southern Miss Story,” Bennett wrote in a campus-wide email Friday afternoon.

Bennett, 55, wrote that he plans to explore new professional opportunities this spring. He said he would work closely with the governing body of higher education institutions to “develop a solid transition plan”.

“I’m excited for what lies ahead for me and my family, but this transition is sure to be bittersweet,” he wrote.

The Board of Trustees of Institutions of Higher Education chose Bennett to lead USM, a predominantly white institution, in 2013 when the university was struggling financially. Bennett played down the importance of his selection, according to a report from Gulf Life.

“I don’t know what message that sends, other than not letting any barriers that other people put in front of you and labeling that people put on you, stop you from chasing your dream,” Bennett said at the time. . “Racing was not going to be a problem for me.”

Bennett began his resignation email by listing USM’s accomplishments under his administration, ranging from “facilitating enormous growth throughout the Mississippi Gulf Coast” to “stabilizing the University’s overall financial position. “.

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USM President Rodney Bennett resigns

Rodney Bennett, president of the University of Southern Mississippi.

Rodney Bennett, who made history as the first black president of the University of Southern Mississippi, announced his intention to step down in June 2023.

“Now is the time for me to stand down for another person to pave the way for the next chapter in our Southern Miss Story,” Bennett wrote in a campus-wide email Friday afternoon.

Bennett, 55, wrote that he plans to explore new professional opportunities this spring. He said he would work closely with the governing body of higher education institutions to “develop a solid transition plan”.

“I am excited for what lies ahead for me and my family, but the transition will certainly be bittersweet,” he wrote.

The Board of Trustees of Institutions of Higher Education chose Bennett to lead USM, a predominantly white institution, in 2013 when the university was struggling financially. Bennett downplayed his selection, according to a Gulf Life report.

“I don’t know what message that sends, other than don’t let any barriers that other people put in front of you, and the label that people place on you, that keep you from pursuing your dream,” Bennett told L. ‘era. “Racing was not going to be a problem for me.”

Bennett began his resignation email by listing USM’s accomplishments under his administration, from “facilitating tremendous growth throughout the Mississippi Gulf Coast” to “stabilizing the university’s overall financial condition. .”

This item first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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