Breen assumes permanent Stennis Institute leadership

Contact: Sarah Nicholas

Joseph "Dallas" Breen (Photo by Megan Bean)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State alumnus Joseph J. “Dallas” Breen is the new director of the university’s John C. Stennis Institute of Government and Community Development.

Reared in Plano, Texas, he was an institute staff member who became interim head after P. Edward “Eddie” French became head of the Department of Political Science and Public Administration.

Both the institute and department are units of MSU’s College of Arts and Sciences.

Breen holds three degrees from the land-grant institution: a 2001 bachelor’s in business administration, followed by a master’s and doctorate in public policy and administration awarded in 2008 and 2014, respectively. His dissertation research focused on public safety employee motivation and disaster management response and recovery efforts in rural areas of the U.S.

“It is an honor to have the opportunity to lead an institute with an enduring reputation of being a leader in policy, governance and training,” Breen said. The position should provide “the perfect opportunity to utilize my research and education experience to aid the people of Mississippi and increase the capacities of MSU through public service and leadership,” he added.

Established in 1976, the institute is among several permanent MSU memorials to the prominent alumnus and long-serving U.S. senator from DeKalb. Stennis (1901-95) graduated in 1923 from what then was Mississippi A&M College.

Breen said the institute will continue to “provide training on essential government functions to underserved populations in Mississippi and collaborate with national and international communities to address multidimensional and complex challenges.”

In announcing the appointment, Dean Rick Travis praised Breen’s “commitment to public service, his character and experience,” noting also how he “is well-regarded as an expert in public employee compensation issues, transportation policy and a host of other challenges that local and state government officials face.”

Over his time on campus, Breen has been honored with a Donald J. Zacharias Distinguished Staff Award and selection as an Honorary Research Fellow of the nationally recognized Social Science Research Center.

In addition to external responsibilities, the Stennis Institute is sponsor for student-centered programs that include the Stennis-Montgomery Association. Created to encourage members of every academic major to participate actively at all levels of American politics and public service, SMA is another memorial to Stennis and his fellow alumnus, former congressman G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery (1920-2006).

Information on the Stennis Institute is found at

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