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Jim Coll

Top Stories – October 2015

Here are a few of the most recent, best headlines from The University of Southern Mississippi. Each month, this post is a great reminder for me that we have a lot of awesome people completing a lot of awesome work at USM. SMTTT!

Demolition Begins at Gulf Park Campus to Pave Way for $7 Million Business and Health Building Project

Five modular units housing classrooms and offices for the colleges of Business and Health are being torn down to make way for a $7 million facility that will provide 25,000 square feet of space for students, faculty and staff. The Business and Health Building Project has an estimated completion date of May 2017.

The project is being funded from $3.5 million appropriated by the Mississippi Legislature and an additional $3.5 million appropriated by the legislature for general repairs to, and restoration of, Southern Miss facilities.

The building’s classrooms, breakout rooms and conference rooms will serve as a shared resource for all academic disciplines on the campus. The colleges of Business and Health will occupy separate spaces on the second floor. More than 30 faculty offices have been outlined in the building design.

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Favre Among Seven to be Inducted into USM’s Alumni Hall of Fame

The University of Southern Mississippi Alumni Association will induct seven of the University’s most dedicated and distinguished alumni into its Hall of Fame on Friday, Oct. 16, as one of the highlights of the 2015 Homecoming celebration.

The inductees include Three-time NFL MVP Brett Favre and Tom “Bones” Malone, who is best known for being a member of The Blues Brothers band, the Saturday Night Live Band, for which he served as leader from 1981-85, and the CBS Orchestra, the house band for the “Late Show with David Letterman.”

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USM Foundation Announces Scholarship to Honor Fallen Police Officers

The University of Southern Mississippi Foundation has announced the establishment of the endowed scholarship in honor of Hattiesburg Police Officers Benjamin Deen and Liquori Tate, who were killed in the line of duty on May 9 of this year. The first recipient is Bailee Alexander, a nursing student from Purvis whose father, Jason, is a lieutenant with the Lamar County Sheriff’s Office.

The scholarship will provide support to a Southern Miss student who is the child or grandchild of a police officer, firefighter or paramedic/EMT.

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Counseling Psychology Students Continue Graduate Program’s Success on National Exam

Recent graduates of the University’s master’s degree program in counseling psychology achieved a 100 percent passing rate on the National Counselor Examination (NCE).

Passage of the NCE is a qualifier for licensure as a professional counselor in many states and for National Certified Counselor (NCC) status. The exam assesses knowledge, skills and abilities considered important in providing effective counseling services.

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Social Work Earns $1.2 Million Health Insurance Grant to Expand Health Initiative Outreach Efforts

The School of Social Work at The University of Southern Mississippi has been awarded more than $1.2 million in Affordable Care Act funding from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The funds will help consumers sign up for affordable Health Insurance Marketplace coverage in 2016.

With Marketplace Open Enrollment beginning Nov. 1, the funding will support outreach efforts designed to connect people with local help as they seek to understand coverage options and financial assistance available at

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Jim Coll

The World Championships, Miss America and The Emmys: Big Days Approaching for USM Alumni

Several Southern Miss alumni will compete on the world’s biggest stages over the next 4-5 weeks.

This week, Tori Bowie, the United States champion in the 100-meter dash is among the favorites at the World Championships in Beijing, China. The finals of that event are scheduled for Sunday, August 23. Tori, who was a two-time NCAA long jump champion at Southern Miss, may also compete in the 4 x 100-meter relay.

On Sept. 13, Miss Mississippi Hannah Roberts will compete in the Miss America Pageant. Hannah was an Honors College student who graduated with a biochemistry degree in May, and has been accepted to UMC. Among Hannah’s many honors was a Goldwater Scholarship—a national award honoring the next generation of great research scientists. She was one of only three Mississippians to win the award in 2013.

Finally, a National Geographic documentary based on a book by Dr. Andrew Wiest has been nominated for an Emmy Award. Dr. Wiest is not only an alumnus but also a founding director of the University’s Dale Center for the Study of War of Society. His book “Boys of ‘67” that centers on a company in the Vietnam War, was the inspiration for the documentary “Brothers in War.” The Emmy for best documentary will be awarded on Sept. 28.

Of course, we also hope that in late September, Major League Baseball’s Minnesota Twins will be making a run for the postseason as well. Alumnus and MLB All-Star Brian Dozier leads the Twins and was a key member of the Southern Miss 2009 College World Series team.

Jim Coll

Top Stories – July 2015

It’s been a great month for several Southern Miss alumni; you’ll get a chance to see them on some big stages very soon. Below is some information about their accomplishments and more top University of Southern Mississippi stories from recent weeks.

Southern Miss Alumni on Big Stages

Southern Miss alumni continue to have the opportunity to excel on some of the world’s biggest stages. On Tuesday, Minnesota Twins second baseman, Brian Dozier, will appear in the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in Cincinnati. Brian led the Southern Miss baseball team to the 2009 College World Series. On August 23, Tori Bowie will lead the U.S. team in the opening heats of the 100-meter dash at the Track and Field World Championships in China. Tori was a two-time NCAA long jump champion for Southern Miss and is currently the fastest woman in the United States. And on September 13, Hannah Roberts will represent Mississippi in the Miss America Pageant. Hannah is a May 2015 graduate, a national Goldwater Scholar and headed to medical school at UMMC next year.

School of Social Work Contributes to Hattiesburg Honor

Youth education initiatives–that included guidance from The University of Southern Mississippi’s School of Social Work–helped the City of Hattiesburg earn recognition as a “Most Livable” City in America by the 2015 City Livability Awards Program.

Mayor Johnny DuPree received the award on behalf of the city during the U.S. Conference of Mayor’s 83rd Annual Meeting in Dallas. The award recognizes mayoral leadership in developing and implementing programs that improve quality of life, focusing on leadership, creativity and innovation.

Former mayors selected Hattiesburg from more than 200 applicants. Hattiesburg was awarded first place for cities with populations less than 100,000 and Boston was selected among cities with populations greater than 100,000.

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College of Nursing Receives $1.6M Grant for Education, Training

The College of Nursing has received a $1.6 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to support advanced nursing education and practice.

Funded through the HRSA Bureau of Health Workforce Advanced Nursing Education program, the three-year award will provide support to educate and train nurse practitioners at the doctorate level through academic-practice partnerships.

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Southern Miss and EPA Sign New Memorandum of Understanding

The University of Southern Mississippi and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Gulf of Mexico Program (EPA Gulf Program) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will serve to increase cooperation between the two in areas of mutual interest.

This alliance will allow USM and the EPA Gulf Office to offer combined technical skills and research to work toward resolving environmental and natural resource problems within the ecological system of the Gulf of Mexico.

The agreement will also promote equal opportunity in higher education, contribute to the capacity of the EPA Gulf Program to provide high-quality education, encourage participation of USM students and faculty in the Gulf Program’s activities, and assist the EPA Gulf Program in expanding the conversation on environmentalism and working for environmental justice while stimulating an interest in STEM. Activities under the MOU will include guest lectures, a student shadowing program, research opportunities, and outreach and engagement programs.

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Athletics Launches New Eagle Logo

The Department of Athletics’ new Golden Eagle logo has officially gained trademark status by the United States Patent and Trademarking Office (USPTO). The logo process has taken over a year to complete and was spearheaded by Southern Miss alumnus Rodney Richardson, and his company Rare Design, which assisted with the creation and development of the new logo and brand identity.

Merchandise officially became available for purchase on Wednesday.

Rare Design is recognized for being an industry leader in logo and brand design and has worked with numerous different universities and professional teams including the New Orleans Pelicans, Florida State Seminoles, Charlotte Hornets and Memphis Grizzlies.

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Jim Coll

Top Stories – June 2015

Protecting American soldiers on the battlefield, innovating methods to assist children with language disorders, partnering with Boeing on next-generation polymer materials, and researching the manner the which dolphins communicate–it’s all in a month’s work at The University of Southern Mississippi.

Here are some of the top news stories from USM this month.

U.S. Army Awards $4.9 Million to Southern Miss for Helmet Liner Research

The United States Army has awarded a $4.9 million research contract to the University for development and evaluation of a helmet liner designed to provide enhanced head protection for warfighters.

The Southern Miss Pneumatic Cushioning helmet liner was developed in the laboratories of Dr. Jeff Wiggins, director of the School of Polymers and High Performance Materials, in collaboration with Dr. Trent Gould, associate dean in the College of Health and professor in the School of Kinesiology, and Dr. Scott Piland, assistant director and associate professor in the School of Kinesiology. The objective of this two-year program is to develop next-generation pneumatic cushioning systems which exceed the blunt impact performance standard of current helmets.

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DuBard School’s New Products Now Available for Teachers of Students with Dyslexia

Teachers, speech-language pathologists, dyslexia specialists and other professionals who work with individuals with dyslexia/specific learning disabilities in reading now have access to a new product to aid in the remediation of dyslexia.

The University’s DuBard School for Language Disorders has released the Language Enhancement and Achievement Program (LEAP), a program for students who struggle with reading, writing and spelling.

LEAP’s highly specialized multisensory curriculum allows the student to quickly progress through sound-symbol associations and key skills. LEAP was piloted and has been used at the DuBard School for six years, and internal research shows the program’s effectiveness. On average, students diagnosed with a reading disability improved their ability to read unfamiliar words by 64 percent after 48 hours of instruction (one semester).

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Southern Miss, Boeing Strengthen Partnership with New Master Agreement

As a technology incubator for Boeing, Southern Miss has entered into a new master agreement with the aviation giant to accelerate research and development of next-generation materials, including polymers and polymer matrix composites. The new agreement builds on a decade-long working relationship between USM and Boeing, which currently has a research contract to utilize the assets of the Accelerator – the University’s business incubator.

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Professor, Dolphin Research Featured in National Geographic Cover Story

Dr. Stan Kuczaj’s expertise on the popular marine mammal has earned him international recognition for his study of the species’ cognitive and communicative abilities, including in a recent edition of National Geographic.

In the May 2015 issue’s cover article titled “Thinking Like a Dolphin: Understanding One of the Smartest Creatures on Earth,” Kuczaj research examines dolphin use of sounds and other signals as a mode of communication. Kuczaj heads the Department of Psychology’s Marine Mammal Behavior and Cognition Laboratory. The laboratory’s projects have received grant support from the Office of Naval Research and the U.S. Department of Commerce, among others. His work has been featured on Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) and Japanese Public Television.

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Jim Coll

Top Stories – May 2015

Here is what I shared for May 2015. SMTTT!

The University’s “military-friendly” commitment is continuing with the establishment of a Coast Guard Auxiliary Program at the Gulf Park Campus.

The University, in collaboration with the United States Coast Guard, recently announced the establishment of a Coast Guard Auxiliary University Program located on the University’s Gulf Park Campus in Long Beach.

As the official college-level program of the U.S. Coast Guard, the program is specifically designed to provide a quality education to undergraduate and graduate students in developing their leadership and technical talents for service to the U.S. Coast Guard, Department of Homeland Security, emergency response, maritime and public service communities.

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The academy continues to produce top scholars and programs.

The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry has earned accreditation through the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) – indicating that it meets or exceeds professional standards, giving students an advantage with prospective employers and graduate schools.

The department is the first in Mississippi to receive accreditation by ASBMB for its Bachelor of Science in Chemistry with emphases in Biochemistry and American Chemical Society-certified Biochemistry.

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Southern Miss Graduate Nursing Programs Ranked as State’s Best by U.S. News & World Report

The graduate nursing programs at The University of Southern Mississippi have been ranked as the state’s best and also included among the top programs nationwide in a recent assessment by U.S. News & World Report.

A total of 503 nursing schools with master’s or doctoral programs accredited by either the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing were surveyed. The newly expanded rankings mark the first time U.S. News has rated graduate nursing programs. Of the programs surveyed, 246 were eligible for inclusion in the publication’s rankings of master’s programs. Of the six graduate nursing programs in Mississippi, Southern Miss ranked the highest nationwide at No. 102.

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Southern Miss Students Receive National Science Foundation Fellowships

Four University of Southern Mississippi students have been awarded prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships, marking the first time the University has produced this many winners in a single year.

Laken Kendrick, of Hattiesburg, Miss.; Abagail Williams, of Independence, Mo.; Dexter Dean of Clinton, Ala.; and Cassandra Reese, of San Diego, Calif., were granted the fellowships from a pool of 16,500 applicants. No other Mississippi college or university matched Southern Miss in NSF Fellowship winners for 2015. Southern Miss student Lisa Lauderdale received honorable mention recognition, while two alumni – Michael Sims and Travis Thornell – also earned fellowships at the University of Florida and Purdue University, respectively.

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GCRL Oil Spill Seminar Series coincides with Deepwater Horizon Fifth Anniversary

The University‘s Gulf Coast Research Laboratory is hosting a seminar series, Deepwater Horizon: A Scientist’s Perspective,” throughout the summer.

The seminar series offers a retrospective exploration of the spill through presentations by research staff and discussions among speakers, education staff and attendees to answer pressing questions.

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Southern Miss baseball enters the Conference USA Tournament on an unprecedented run. Our Golden Eagles take a school record-tying, 13-game winning streak into the Conference USA Tournament, which is being played at Pete Taylor Park.

The Golden Eagles (35-16-1) equaled the best consecutive game win streak mark originally accomplished in 1995 as that squad won the first 13 games to start the season. The Golden Eagle hosts the eight-team Conference USA Tournament beginning Wednesday, May 20, at Pete Taylor Park.

On Monday, pitcher James McMahon won the C-Spire Ferriss Award, which is presented to the top baseball player in the state. James has a record of 11-1 this year and is also a top candidate for conference pitcher of the year award.

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