USM's Bennett talks tornado recovery on Day 1

By The Associated Press

HATTIESBURG — The University of Southern Mississippi’s new president marks his first official day with talk of tornado recovery and celebrates the 103rd anniversary of the university’s founding.

Dr. Rodney Bennett officially became the school’s 10th president Monday, replacing interim president, Dr. Aubrey Lucas.

The Clarion-Ledger reports Bennett and university officials have been working with the federal and state emergency officials and insurance adjusters to assess damage left in the wake of a Feb. 10 tornado that ripped through the Hattiesburg campus.

The storm hit three days after Bennett was named president. A university spokesman says Bennett helped lead the university during the early stages of recovery. State lawmakers approved $1.65 million for renovation and repairs and another $1.1 million to buy musical instruments and equipment damaged by the tornado.