STARKVILLE, Miss.— P. Edward “Eddie” French has been named executive director of the Mississippi State University’s John C. Stennis Institute of Government and Community Development after a year as interim leader.
Professor French, a Virginia native who also teaches in MSU’s political science and public administration department, said in his year at the Stennis Institute many state and local government officials have become more familiar with his presence at the institute, one of several campus memorials to Sen. Stennis, an MSU alumnus and Kemper County native who served for decades in the Senate.
French took over as head of the non-partisan research entity after the retirement of Dr. Marty Wiseman, who served the institute for 30 years.
Stennis Institute seeks to enhance local governments through research, service, training and technical assistance. The institute reports to both MSU’s Office of the VP for Research and Economic Development and the College of Arts and Sciences.
French’s research and teaching focuses on human resource management and the roles and responsibilities of elected officials and administrators.
David R. Shaw, VP of research and economic development, called French the perfect selection.
“He has a unique combination of knowledge of government at all levels in Mississippi, a rapport with constituents in the state and the respect within and external to the university,” Shaw said.
R. Gregory Dunaway, dean of the college agreed and said French’s years of public-service leadership and research will be invaluable to him in leading the institute.
“Professor French’s intellect, commitment and character will be of enormous value to enhancing the Stennis Institute’s legacy of excellence in public service to the state of Mississippi,” Dunaway said.
He introduced French as the new director of the Stennis Institute to alumni and friends at a March reception in Washington D.C., and a similar event will be scheduled in Jackson at a later date. K.C. Morrison, director of the political science and public administration department, joined in praising French’s background and experience.
“He is a gifted scholar, with the right combination of administrative and practitioner skills to take the Stennis Institute to the next stage of its development,” Morrison said. “French’s work as a city manager gives him unique advantages in working with legislators and executives at the state, local and national government levels.”
French is an MSU doctoral graduate in public policy and administration. His research has been published in numerous peer-reviewed journals and books. He also serves as editor-in-chief for Public Personnel Management, a SAGE Publications quarterly journal covering the latest research trends in human resources, and is a member of the editorial board of Review of Public Personnel Administration, among other roles.
French, who grew up on a cattle farm near Bristol, Va., holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Tennessee, a master’s in city management from East Tennessee State University and a master’s in higher education administration from The University of Virginia.
Before his work in education, he served as a local government manager in his home state, supervised day-to-day operations and developed community budgets, among other duties.
“Combining my local government background with my academic focus and publications on state and local government, plus my experiences as a Stennis Scholar and interim director, I consider myself a state and local government person,” French said. “The Stennis Institute is a place where we look at issues from a policy perspective with a nonpartisan point of view and pass that expertise on to the public.”