The University of Southern Mississippi has selected Dr. Rodney Bennett to be its new president.
The College Board voted Thursday to appoint Bennett as the 10th president of USM, which has been without a permanent president since July 2012, when Martha Saunders resigned after 5 years.
The 46-year-old Bennett is the vice-president of student affairs at the University of Georgia. He was named the preferred candidate last week.
Bennett told campus groups his first priority will be to improve USM's finances.
A Tennessee native, Bennett worked earlier at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro. Bennett holds bachelors and master's degrees from Middle Tennessee State and an educational doctorate from Tennessee State University.
Bennett would be the first black president of any of Mississippi's five predominantly white universities.