Kiss Selected Head of Conference of Southern Graduate Schools

UM dean will lead organization focused on promoting programs, monitoring standards

John Z. Kiss.  Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

John Z. Kiss. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss – John Z. Kiss, dean of the University of Mississippi Graduate School, has been elected president of the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools for 2015. He is the 2014 vice president of the organization.

“CSGS is an excellent organization providing opportunity for graduate school deans to discuss common problems and solutions of their schools,” Kiss said. “I also hope my election will give a bit more prominence to the University of Mississippi.”

One of the main purposes of CSGS, which includes more than 200 graduate schools in 15 Southern states including Alabama, Florida and Mississippi, is to develop topics for the annual meeting that are relevant to graduate studies and research. CSGS was founded in 1971.

Kiss said his new role is important to him because it will complement his position as dean and add to his portfolio. He said he sees his new job and his deanship working in a synergistic manner.

Kiss assumed his deanship at UM on Sept. 1, 2012, and has been a member of CSGS for a year-and-a-half. The recent past-president of the conference, Edelma Huntley, dean of research and graduate studies at Appalachian State University, was optimistic about Kiss’ election.

“I believe that Dr. Kiss will be a good leader for CSGS when he takes the reins in February 2015,” Huntley said. “He was a good choice for the organization, and when he takes over, I know that he will continue the positive momentum into the future that has been started by his predecessors.”

Kiss is the second from UM to be president of the conference after Michael R. Dingerson, who served as UM associate vice chancellor for research and dean of the graduate school, in 1993-1994.

As a distinguished professor of biology and research professor in the UM Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Kiss has worked on national and international scientific research focusing on plant space biology. Kiss was a faculty member at Miami University for almost two decades. He has mentored 45 undergraduate research projects and served as major professor for 12 master’s students, seven doctoral students and five post-doctoral scholars.

Kiss will take over from Paul Gemperline, CSGS president and dean of research and graduate studies at East Carolina University, in 2015.

Kiss’ new job comes in three phases: vice president to the current president, president himself in 2015 and then past-president, where he will serve as chair of the organization’s nomination committee. Kiss’ major role in these three phases is to work with the elected executive committee to find locations for future meetings, and to work on regional and national levels to find topics for graduate studies and research.

The university benefits because Kiss’ new position will bring visibility to the school, he said.

“It can inform prospective students that University of Mississippi has a strong graduate school, and this can help to increase enrollment,” Kiss said.

At home, Kiss is working on increasing enrollment in the Graduate School. As part of these efforts, last year, he increased the number of research awards given to exceptional graduate students from 10 to 20.

Kiss will attend the CSGS executive meeting in June in New Orleans, where the conference’s annual program for 2015 will be drawn.

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