Martha Dunagin Saunders

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Martha Dunagin Saunders

Martha Dunagin Saunders is an American professor and academic official. A native of Mississippi, she earned her B.A. in French from The University of Southern Mississippi; her M.A. in journalism from the University of Georgia; and her Ph.D. in communication theory and research from The Florida State University. Saunders has served as the Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and the ninth president of The University of Southern Mississippi where she replaced embattled president Shelby F. Thames. She was the first woman ever elected to the presidential post at USM.


Biography[edit]

During her tenure at USM, a research university with six teaching/research campuses, the University enjoyed record enrollment, all-time high fundraising and increased national recognition. She oversaw $255 million in building projects in five years. Saunders distinguished herself as a fierce advocate for USM's rightful position as a premier research university in the state of Mississippi. She resigned her presidency in 2012 with the intention of returning to faculty.

In 2013, she agreed to serve as Provost at the University of West Florida, where she began her academic career.

Her training and experience in the field of communication led to numerous publications on crisis communication and public relations; widely anthologized published speeches; and two Silver Anvil awards, the Public Relations Society of America’s highest national honor. She is a 2011 national winner of the Stevie Award for Women in Business. She has served for many years on the Board of Trustees of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Dr. Saunders is married to Joseph Bailey, who retired from the telecommunications industry in 2005.


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