Dr. Ben Burnett began his tenure as the 10th President of William Carey University on August 16, 2022. Prior to his appointment, Dr. Burnett served William Carey as Executive Vice-President and Dean of Education. Dr. Burnett holds the rank of Professor of Education and actively teaches in the Educational Leadership Department. Under his leadership as Dean of Education, the William Carey School of Education grew to an enrollment of 1,800 undergraduate and graduate majors.
Before accepting a full-time position with William Carey in 2014, Dr. Burnett spent 28 years in the K-12 public school system of Mississippi. A 1982 graduate of Oak Grove High School, he began his career in education in 1986 as assistant high school band director for the Meridian High School. In 1988 he returned to his alma mater as director of the Oak Grove High School band which increased in size from 50 to over 220. During his career, Dr. Burnett served as President of the Mississippi Bandmasters, President of SEMBDA and state chair of the National Band Association. He served on the staff of the Mississippi Lions All-State Band in 1990 and 1996 and was the recipient of the A.E. McClain outstanding young band director award in 1988. In 2013, he was inducted to the Southeast Mississippi Band Director’s Association Hall of Fame.
In 1997, Dr. Burnett became Principal of Oak Grove Middle School. During his ten-year tenure as Principal, he served as President of the Mississippi Association of Middle Level Education and was Mississippi’s Middle School Principal of the year. In 2007, he was elected Superintendent of the Lamar County School District and was re-elected in 2011. During his tenure as Superintendent, the Lamar County Schools were rated an A school district under the Mississippi Department of Education’s accountability system and also received many state and federal grants in the areas of early childhood, school safety, dyslexia training and after school tutoring. He was named the Lamar Times Person of the Year in 2012.
Dr. Burnett holds Bachelor and Master’s degrees in Music Education from USM and a Ph.D. in Educational Administration from USM. He has been married to Denice Burnett, a retired special education director, for 32 years and they have one son, David Lane Burnett, who is a graduate of William Carey University.