Lamar County District 4 Supervisor Mitch Brent has been appointed to the University of Southern Mississippi Master Campus Facility Planning Committee, where he will represent the county in studying the future of the campus of Southern Miss and its buildings.
The appointment was made by unanimous 5-0 vote at a recent board meeting, held in the Pete Gamble Chancery Courthouse in Purvis.
“I feel good about it,” Brent said. “Any time Southern Miss is trying to move forward with something, it gets me excited because I’m alumni of Southern Miss.
“My wife is also, and my kids and my mom, so it’s an honor to be asked to help push it forward. I had no idea there was even a committee for that, so it happened kind of quick, really.”
The Campus Facility Planning Committee deals with property and the footprint of the campus, while another committee is in charge of design and space of the buildings. The committee’s 29 members review and coordinate land use, land density patterns and infrastructure needs.
“(Brent) is an addition to our committee, and that came up because we realized that there’s a representative from the Forrest County Board of Supervisors, because the campus is mostly in Forrest County,” said John Eye, who serves as chair of the committee. “But the university also has property in Lamar County … and Lamar County partners with various projects.
“So because of that, we thought it was appropriate to make sure that Lamar County had a representative as well, to make sure that we’re working hand-in-hand with them."
Brent has been an agent with Shelter Insurance for 31 years, and was elected to supervisor in 2019. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Southern Miss in 1984.
“I don’t know that there’s anything I’ve done to deserve (to be on the committee); it may be just that my position as supervisor is something they considered as a key cog to the wheel,” Brent said. “Maybe there’s some things at the county level that we might can help (Southern Miss) do down the road; I don’t know.
“But it’s certainly an honor for somebody to ask me to do that.
Although the first meeting of Brent’s term has not yet taken place, he is interested in what college officials have planned for new facilities coming to campus.
“Southern’s always been a little bit landlocked,” he said. “It has freed up a little bit with the acquisition of some houses that were for sale around campus; I have seen a lot of lots cleared.
“My first interest, quite frankly, has always been athletics, so if there’s anything in that field, I would be very interested to work on those projects. Certainly I know that academics are supposed to be the main focus, and that’s the way it should be, but as far as specific things, I don’t know yet. I haven’t been informed what their immediate plans are."