University of Southern Mississippi (USM) Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Steven R. Moser has announced the appointment of Dr. Chris Winstead as the founding dean of the University’s College of Arts and Sciences. The appointment is effective July 1, pending approval from the Board of Trustees of the Institutions of Higher Learning.
Winstead, who currently serves as interim dean of USM’s College of Science and Technology, emerged from a national search of candidates that included visits to the University’s Hattiesburg and Gulf Park campuses from three finalists.
“As the founding Dean of the new College of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Winstead will lead remarkable faculty and staff in charting the course of the new college,” Moser said. “Over the last year he has proven himself to possess strong abilities to lead a complex academic organization with great insight.”
The College of Arts and Sciences is being formed as part of a University-wide academic reorganization that aims to enhance the distinctiveness of the University’s academic programs and to create a sustainable model for academic programming. Among other efficiencies, the reorganization reduces the number of academic colleges from six to four, including the College of Arts and Sciences.
“I am deeply appreciative of the opportunity to serve as founding dean for the College of Arts and Sciences at The University of Southern Mississippi,” Winstead said. “This new college will foster our efforts to work across disciplines to provide unique and transformative experiences for our students. I look forward to working with the faculty and staff of our new college to facilitate an environment that prepares our students for their future and puts them on track to meet their goals and aspirations. I appreciate the support of the university community, the search committee, Provost Moser, and President (Rodney D.) Bennett in allowing me this once in a lifetime opportunity.”
A native of Hattiesburg, Winstead earned bachelor’s degrees in physics and mathematics from USM in 1988 and a Ph.D. in physics from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1995. He then served as a postdoctoral researcher, assistant research professor, and associate research professor at the Diagnostic Instrumentation and Analysis Laboratory at Mississippi State University.
In 2002, Winstead joined the Department of Physics and Astronomy at The University of Southern Mississippi as an associate professor and was promoted to professor in 2009. At Southern Miss, he has served as principal investigator and director of the Signal Research Center, interim associate dean of the College of Science and Technology, and chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy.
Winstead’s research focuses on the application of optical, laser, and computational physics to improve radiation detection and investigate the effects of radiation on the atmosphere. His work has been supported by agencies such as the Department of Defense, NASA, and the Department of Energy.
“I believe that the best days for our academic enterprise are ahead of us,” said University President Rodney D. Bennett. “I am delighted to welcome Dr. Winstead to this new role, and I am confident his demonstrated ability to be effective as a senior academic leader will not only position him well to lead and inspire growth through our new College of Arts and Sciences, but will also help move The University of Southern Mississippi into our bright future.”