LONG BEACH — Dr. Frances Lucas, president of Millsaps College, has been named vice president and campus executive officer for the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast following a four-month national search.
Lucas will join the Southern Miss leadership team July 5. She succeeds Dr. Pat Joachim, associate provost, who is retiring after leading the university’s Gulf Coast operations since 2005.
The new vice president for Southern Miss Gulf Coast will have three primary responsibilities: lead in the development of innovative educational experiences; respond to the needs of the Gulf Coast; and, further the strategic goals of the university.
Lucas brings to Southern Miss 31 years of executive experience at five institutions, including Millsaps College, Emory University, Baldwin-Wallace College, Mississippi State University and the University of Alabama.
“I’m thrilled to be the new vice president. I believe that the Gulf Coast has some of the greatest potential for growth and entrepreneurial learning of anywhere in the nation. I’ve been a true Golden Eagle all my life. I can’t wait,” said Lucas, whose father Dr. Aubrey Lucas served as the Southern Miss president from 1975-96 and again as interim president from 2001-02.
A 1978 graduate of Mississippi State University with a degree in communications, Frances Lucas earned her master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Alabama in 1980 and 1986, respectively. Lucas also has teaching experience as an assistant professor at three of the institutions.
In addition, Lucas has served in leadership positions in numerous professional and civic organizations including the American College Educators’ Women’s Commission, the Associated Colleges of the South, the Mississippi Women’s Forum and the Jackson Medical Education District Board. Her honors include the National Ideal Delta Gamma Award (2008), Mississippi Women’s Network Association Woman of the Year (2008), the All American Football Association Outstanding College President Award (2005) and Mississippi Business Journal’s Business Woman of the Year (2003).
The search for a new Gulf Coast leader began in December with stakeholder listening sessions in Hattiesburg and on the Gulf Coast. A 19-member search committee composed of Southern Miss Gulf Coast faculty, staff, students and alumni and chaired by vice president Joe Paul, and began its work in January.