The University of Southern Mississippi has named University of Georgia official Rodney Bennett as the school’s first black president, according to The Associated Press.
The announcement was made Thursday as the vice president of student affairs at UGA was select to be the school’s 10th president. None of Mississippi’s five white universities had ever had black leaders.
“I don’t know what message it sends, other than don’t let any barrier that other people may place in front of you, and label that people place on you, stop you from pursuing your dream,” Bennett, told the AP. “Race wasn’t going to be an issue for me.”
Bennett was chosen to go to Hattiesburg out of a field of 3 candidates, but became a unanimous decision by the state college board due to his money management and experience with large organizations.
Southern Miss had been without a permanent president since former president Martha Saunders resigned in July.