Dr. Frances Lucas, vice president for the Gulf Park campus at The University of Southern Mississippi, was named 2014 Woman of the Year in the Education category by the Mississippi Commission on the Status of Women at the organization’s annual spring luncheon, held May 6 in Jackson.
Receiving the honor at this year’s luncheon, which featured the theme “Harder in Heels,” Lucas was selected for the honor because her contributions to the state of Mississippi make her an outstanding woman in the state. Lucas has more than 30 years of executive experience in the field of education.
“It was nice to be recognized by a commission of women representing the state of Mississippi for my work in higher education, specifically my work to restore the Gulf Park campus and our Gulf Coast teaching and research sites,” said Lucas.
Recognizing finalists and presenting awards was Emmy-winning actress Sela Ward, who named nine finalists as Woman of the Year in various categories. These categories included arts and entertainment, community service, and legal/judicial, among others.
Prior to joining Southern Miss, Lucas served as president for 10 years at Millsaps College in Jackson and was the first female president in its history. While there, Lucas was named Mississippi’s Most Outstanding Business Woman during her presidency. In October 2013, Lucas was named Woman of the Year by the Lighthouse Business and Professional Women during their Women of Achievement Awards Ceremony.
In addition to Millsaps, her experience includes serving as senior vice president for campus life at Emory University, where she served as the first woman to hold a vice presidential role in that university's 160-year history, and as vice president for student affairs at Baldwin-Wallace College in Ohio, where, at the age of 29, she served as the youngest vice president for student affairs in the country.
For more information about Southern Miss Gulf Coast, visit www.usm.edu/gulfcoast.