Rodney Bennett has been named the first black president of a predominantly white university in Mississippi.
The College Board voted Thursday to appoint Bennett as the 10th president of the University of Southern Mississippi.
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 is telling 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.
Mississippi's three historically black public universities have had African-American leaders, but the state's five predominantly white public universities have not.
Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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