The First Bancshares in Hattiesburg, Miss., has named the president of the University of Southern Mississippi to its board.

The First Bancshares, a $1.1 billion-asset holding company for The First, a National Banking Association, named Rodney Bennett to its board on Wednesday.

Bennett has been president since 2013 of the University of Southern Mississippi, which is also in Hattiesburg. He was previously vice president of student affairs at the University of Georgia.

Bennett has also served on the NCAA's college football playoff board of managers and was the chairman of the St. Mary's Health Care System in Athens, Ga.

The First chose Bennett for his expertise in academics, college athletics and other areas, as well as in the Gulf South region, Chief Executive Ray "Hoppy" Cole said in a Wednesday news release.

"Dr. Bennett has a wealth of experience across many different industry segments and organizational structures," Cole said.

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