Wcu President Retires; Burnett Selected As New President

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) — After six decades of service to William Carey University, including 14 years as the school's president, Dr. Tommy King, is retiring.

The university's Board of Trustees announced King's retirement on Tuesday and the selection of Dr. Ben Burnett as his replacement, WDAM-TV reported.

“The Board of Trustees is very thankful for Dr. King’s long and successful tenure, and we are extremely pleased that the Lord very clearly led to the selection of Dr. Ben Burnett as his successor,” said board Chairman Dr. Jimmy Stewart. “We look forward to working with Dr. Burnett – as always, expecting great things from God and attempting great things for God.”

William Carey University is a private Christian liberal arts college with three campuses — two in Mississippi and one in Louisiana. It is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention and the Mississippi Baptist Convention.

Burnett will serve as the university's 10th president when his tenure begins Aug. 16. Inauguration ceremonies for Burnett are being planned for later in the fall, the university said.

Burnett succeeds King, who became president in 2007 and is the first WCU graduate to lead the school. Before that, he served as a WCU trustee, adjunct professor, department chair and executive vice president. During his tenure as president, King oversaw unprecedented growth in enrollment. The number of students has more than doubled, from 2,500 to more than 5,200, according to official reports.

King also was instrumental in establishing the School of Pharmacy at the Tradition campus in Biloxi, a physical therapy doctoral program in Hattiesburg and a new nursing school in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He also led the way in the construction of a new 67,000-square-foot (6,224- square-meter) facility for the College of Health Sciences.

Burnett, who was elected twice as superintendent of the Lamar County School District, served as dean of WCU's School of Education in 2014 and in 2020 was named executive vice president.

A public reception honoring King will take place in the King Student Center on Thursday, July 28, from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.