Paul has enjoyed public support in the listening sessions conducted by IHL.

The Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) will meet on Thursday, October 20 in Oxford.

After four listening sessions conducted for the University of Southern Mississippi, there is word among some IHL insiders that Interim USM President Joe Paul could be named the permanent placement without a further formal search.

Paul was named Interim President of Southern Miss in July of this year after Dr. Rodney Bennett stepped down.  Paul, a USM alum, has spent over 40 years in various capacities at the university, including as a beloved student affairs administrator.

Paul has enjoyed an outcry of public support expressed in the IHL listening sessions from high profile USM alumni such as Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker and Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes.

Hattiesburg Mayor Barker remarked that “Southern Miss needs a president with Southern Miss in their soul,” adding, “We’ve had that in the last two or three months with Dr. Paul.”

Mayor Hewes compared the Dr. Paul situation to the precedent with Glenn Boyce at Ole Miss, who was similarly an interim IHL selection that was made permanent without a formal subsequent search.

“For the first time in a decade, we’ve had a glimpse of what is possible,” stated Hewes, who said a great permanent selection had “a short first name and a short last name” who is proving himself in the current circumstance.

Rumors have circulated about other prospective candidates should a formal permanent search be conducted by IHL and if Paul is not named to the permanent position outright.

Speculation has included Commissioner of the Mississippi Department of Public Safety Sean Tindall and former Federal Energy Regulatory Chairman and Public Service Commissioner Curt Hebert, both also prominent and active USM alums.