Joe Paul, vice president for student affairs at The University of Southern Mississippi, will step down after working 39 years on campus, effective June 30. Paul, 61, served 21 of those years as USM’s vice president.
“One never quite knows the right time for change, but I always wanted to leave the University at a time when things were going well,” Paul said in a USM press release. “I am excited about President (Rodney) Bennett’s leadership and impressed with his passionate concern for our students and their success.”
Paul said he talked to Bennett about the possibility of retirement at the end of the 2014 academic year. However, Bennett convinced him to continue serving his administrative position through the end of the current academic year.
“I have tremendous respect for Dr. Paul and the contributions he has made to the Southern Miss story as a student, an alumnus and an administrator, and I am grateful he agreed to my requests to serve an additional year as vice president,” Bennett said in a USM press release.
Bennett made the decision to appoint Tom Burke as interim vice president for student affairs, effective July 1. He is the current executive assistant to the President for Administration. Burke served more than 30 years in higher education and previously served as the vice president for student affairs at the University of Georgia.
According to the release, Paul said he plans to remain engaged with Southern Miss in many ways.
“The beauty of retiring from Southern Miss is that you don’t really have to leave it,” Paul said in the press release. “We (he and wife Meg) will continue to reside in Hattiesburg, and you will see me at most every Southern Miss event for many years to come. I will continue to serve my alma mater in any way possible.”
During Paul’s term, he left a legacy behind at Southern Miss by expanding key student services, creating the Luckyday Citizenship Scholars program and building relationships that spread across the world so USM alumni can research and explore. He also took part in more than $100 million student-dedicated facilities including Payne Center Recreation Center, McCarty Residence Hall, The Sorority Village, Student Activities Hub, Century Park North and South and Moffitt Student Health Center.