USM's President Finishes First Official Day - WHLT 22 Connecting the Pine Belt

USM's President Finishes First Official Day

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HATTIESBURG, Miss. - It's official! the new University of Southern Mississippi president had his first real day at work Monday.

Rodney Bennett was appointed in February to the position. He said there's a lot of things he wants to implement at USM that he thinks would help move the university forward.

"There will be some things that need to be adjusted immediately," he said.

Bennett said one of the first things that needs to be evaluated is the student retention rate.

"I think we ought to look at how we're recruiting students and I think we ought to look at how students are progressing once they are enrolled at Southern Miss," he said.

Making sure USM has the best teachers for it's student body, is also one of Bennett's priorities.

"We've got to look at faculty salaries and how we are able to compete for the best and brightest faculty."

However, Bennett says he doesn't want to make any sudden changes without doing extensive evaluations.

"It would be reckless of me to come in the door and make sweeping changes without fully understanding the climate and the culture," said Bennett.

He said a combination of learning the culture and USM's background will help steer his decision making. Bennett also plans to meet with some of Mississippi's congressional leaders about higher education in Washington D.C.

"All across the board there's opportunities to go to work," he said.

Bennett said he knows that all of these tasks won't be easy. He came from the University of Georgia as the vice president of student affairs.

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