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Biology professor named interim provost at USM


Longtime biology professor Bobby L. Middlebrooks will become interim provost of the University of Southern Mississippi on Aug. 1, USM President Martha D. Saunders announced Wednesday.

The provost is USM’s chief academic officer and the senior university officer next to the president. Middlebrooks will succeed Jay Grimes, who is resigning July 31 after having served as provost since 2002.

Saunders said she solicited advice from her executive staff, deans and faculty representatives before filling the interim job. She said Middlebrooks’ name was mentioned frequently.

“His experience at Southern Miss will enable him to get up to speed quickly,” Saunders said.

Middlebrooks, a 33-year veteran of the USM faculty, has served in several administrative positions. He was associate provost from 1998-2000; assistant vice president for academic affairs from 1997-98; chair of biological sciences from 1991-97; and interim dean of the Graduate School from 1990-91.

Middlebrooks said: “Among my highest priorities will be promotion of a spirit of mutual trust, respect and openness within the entire academic community and the encouragement of frank discussions of the academic issues and challenges facing the university.”

Middlebrooks’ areas of research include comparative immunology of marine mammals and immune system contributions to viral pathogenesis. He is a Greenville, Texas, native and holds master’s and doctoral degrees in microbiology from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School and a bachelor’s degree from Rice University.

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