Finalists named for MSU-Meridian administrative director, head of campus

Terry D.Cruse

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Three finalists for the position of administrative director and head of campus at Mississippi State University-Meridian have been announced by the search committee.

            MSU Provost and Executive Vice President Jerome A. “Jerry” Gilbert charged the committee of faculty, staff and community members to conduct a recent search to fill the position last held by Steven Brown, who left for the University of West Florida in 2014.

Three veteran MSU faculty members and administrators have held the position during the interim, including co-deans Julia Hodges and Allison Pearson who served from September 2014 to June 2015. Hodges serves MSU as associate vice president for academic affairs, and Pearson works as special assistant to the provost and executive vice president, and is a William L. Giles Distinguished Professor of Management. Meghan Millea, MSU professor of economics and former Holland Faculty Senate president, has filled the role for the past six months.

Donald F. Hayes

            The finalists, in alphabetical order, include Terry D. Cruse, vice president for enrollment services at LeTourneau University in Longview, Texas; Donald F. Hayes, chair of civil and environmental engineering and construction at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas; and Deborah Heslep, dean of enrollment management and director of admissions marketing at Delta State University in Cleveland.

            “We are pleased to announce these three candidates who we will host for on-campus interviews in the next few weeks. These candidates were chosen from a strong pool of applicants following careful, thoughtful and thorough consideration by the search committee,” said Hodges, who along with Pearson, serves as committee co-chair. 

            When the candidates visit both MSU-Meridian and the Starkville Campus in the coming weeks, they will meet with Gilbert and MSU President Mark E. Keenum. Information about each candidate may be found at

Deborah Heslep

            Finalists also will participate in forums for faculty, staff and students that will include a brief presentation by each candidate on his or her vision for MSU-Meridian, followed by a question-and-answer session.

The administrative director and head of campus is the chief administrative officer for MSU-Meridian, including the College Park and Riley campuses, and the Riley Center for Education and Performing Arts. Managing more than 500 students, with more than 100 enrolled in graduate studies, the position also supervises approximately 90 faculty and staff members.

The successful candidate will be responsible for all budgetary, personnel and physical plant matters on the campus, while also serving as a liaison with feeder community colleges, the community and the region. Moreover, this administrator will be charged with oversight of recruitment and retention of students and faculty at MSU-Meridian.

Questions concerning the search and visits by the finalists should be directed to

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at           


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