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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.

Read More: http://www.usm.edu/news/article/us-army-awards-49-million-southern-miss-helmet-liner-research

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).

Read More: http://www.usm.edu/news/article/new-products-now-available-teachers-students-dyslexia

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.

Read More: http://www.usm.edu/news/article/southern-miss-boeing-strengthen-partnership-new-master-agreement

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.

Read more: http://www.usm.edu/news/article/professor-dolphin-research-featured-national-geographic

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.

Read more: http://www.usm.edu/news/article/southern-miss-us-coast-guard-announce-coast-guard-auxiliary-university-program-gulf-park-cam

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.

Read more: http://www.usm.edu/news/article/southern-miss-chemistry-and-biochemistry-undergraduate-program-first-accredited-state

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.

Read more: http://www.usm.edu/news/article/southern-miss-graduate-nursing-program-ranked-state-s-best-us-news-world-report

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.

Read more: http://www.usm.edu/news/article/southern-miss-students-receive-national-science-foundation-fellowships

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.

Read more: http://www.usm.edu/news/article/gcrl-oil-spill-seminar-series-coincides-deepwater-horizon-5th-anniversary

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.

Read more: http://www.southernmiss.com/sports/m-basebl/smis-m-basebl-body.html

Jim Coll

Southern Miss Staff Members Win State Public Relations Awards

Here at Southern Miss, it is my pleasure to work with a number of outstanding public relations and marketing professionals–both within the Office of University Communications and across our campuses. So it was no surprise to me that several were honored for their work at the Public Relations Association of Mississippi Awards in April in Tupelo. The awards program recognizes outstanding work in the field of public relations by professionals within the state of Mississippi. In all, Southern Miss picked up six awards in the competition.

Hanna Knowles and the University’s College of Health won a PRism award for Knowles’ news release, “Finding Harmony: Connecting College to Community,” which highlighted the work of social workers with nursing home residents with dementia.

The Office of University Communications was honored with a pair of Awards of Excellence for its work on the choose.usm.edu website targeting prospective students and a series of YouTube videos featuring faculty and student research and scholarly activity. Catherine Lott and the DuBard School for Language Disorders also received an Award of Excellence for its fall fundraising event, the DuBard School Speakeasy.

Tara Burcham and the College of Science and Technology were recognized with an Award of Merit for Burcham’s entry, “I Hate Bacon,” while Jenny Boudreaux and the Southern Miss Alumni Association also received an Award of Merit for the alumni magazine, The Talon.

These honors are further affirmation of the high-quality work being produced by public relations professionals across the University. The range of awards in a number of categories demonstrates not only well-done professional work, but also points to the success of Southern Miss students, alumni, faculty and staff that create public relations opportunities.

Congratulations to all the winners.

Dr. Steven Moser

Guest Contributor Series: Ann Marie Kinnell on the Liberal Arts

Kinnell, Ann MarieBy Ann Marie Kinnell, Chair
Department of Anthropology and Sociology
College of Arts and Letters

If you read the news, either in the general press (NY Times, Washington Post, LA Times) or the academic press (Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed), there is a disconcerting feeling that all is not well with higher education. The cost – and value – of a college education are areas of increasing concern. As a parent of a daughter headed off to college in a little over a year, I understand the worries parents and students have. I admit that I am more than a little concerned about the cost of tuition, not to mention textbooks, art supplies (she’ll be an art major), and room and board. In addition to the general question of the value of college is the more narrow concern about the value of the liberal arts. If students are going to college, and spending a lot of money to do so, what should be their major? Will they be able to support themselves financially if they pursue a liberal arts major rather than a professional or technical major? This conversation is certainly not new. I, myself, when I announced to my parents in my second year of college that I had changed my major to sociology, was asked what are you going to do with that and wouldn’t it be a good idea to also take some business courses? I did, in fact, take some organizational management classes; but, I loved my sociology classes and I love that I can now share those classes with my own students. However, my experience was literally a lifetime ago for my students. Is a degree in anthropology or sociology, or any liberal arts major, still “worth it” in 2015?

In the abstract, the answer is definitely yes. If you look at employer surveys, the skills that employers want are the skills students learn in liberal arts majors. In recent studies[1], a majority of employers have identified the abilities to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems as very important. They also want students who understand and can work with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. And, they want students who have the ability to apply the knowledge they learn in real world settings. Anthropology and sociology majors learn these skills in spades. Starting with the introductory classes, they are asked what it means to be a part of a group, a culture, a society. They are confronted with complex social problems and asked how they can be addressed. They write and apply what they learn in class to the world around them. They learn specific research skills, conduct their own research, and present that research to their peers and at conferences. They complete internships with local organizations and field schools where they literally get to dig things up.

But in the concrete, as a faculty, we still want to know that we send our students out into the world and that they do well. They find jobs that they love, or at least really like, and they are able to support themselves financially. As a department, we have implemented an alumni survey to find out how our students fare once they graduate. I would like to share a few of their responses:

From an anthropology major (BA 2014) who is now an ESL teacher: “Anthropology helped me to become more aware of the people, cultures, and situations around me. As an ESL teacher I have a classroom filled with diversity and all of the complexities that stem from various cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. The sensitivity and understanding granted to me by the professors within the Anthropology and Sociology department… helps me to maintain an inclusive and compassionate style of teaching.”

From a sociology major (BA 2010) who is working for a nonprofit that coordinates services for the homeless: “I wouldn’t say my degree in sociology has impacted me in such a way others might think. I’m certainly not a sociologist by traditional definitions. But, through my undergraduate studies I found my passion for social justice and gained the tools needed to succeed. Sociology has gifted me a foundation for understanding complex social issues and a curiosity to view the world with a nuanced sociological lens.”

From an anthropology major (BA 2010) who is a trainer for an information technology company: “This degree gave the opportunity to learn about so many different cultures and interact with a larger variety of people than I ever would have on my own. This has made adjusting to a professional position within a worldwide company much easier.”

From a sociology major (BA 2011) who is working as a college enrollment specialist: “I’ve bounced around in a few different jobs until I landed my current one. I love my current job. I work in education helping troubled students figure out what path they want to take for their lives. I work with a very diverse student population, and I think that the different sociology classes I took definitely help me to be more empathetic towards my students despite the fact that I’ve never experienced a lot of things they often go through.”

Our students graduate with both general and technical skills and end up in a variety of different careers. In the liberal arts, there are many paths and many destinations. I would like to conclude with one last quote from a student (Sociology BA 2004) who wrote on her survey, “if you enjoy the classes and are passionate about the subject matter, then go for it. You never know where your degree or your life will lead.” Well said!

 

[1] For more information and links to these studies, go to the AACU website: http://www.aacu.org/leap/public-opinion-research

Jim Coll

Top Stories – March 2015

Each month I share a brief summary of some of the top Southern Miss stories with University leaders for their use as they interact with various stakeholders. The compilation of that short list is always a good reminder for me of all the amazing people and activities taking place on our campuses.

Here is what I shared for March. SMTTT!

Our commitment to student success and well-being continues…

On March 16, the new Moffitt Health Center opened on the Hattiesburg campus. The Moffitt Health Center replaces the Beedie Smith Health Clinic, a freestanding building that opened on the Hattiesburg campus in 1962. The new center increases the square footage dedicated to Student Health Services by 30 percent, providing much-needed space for more efficient laboratory and X-ray activity, larger health care provider work areas, a more accessible pharmacy and a dental care area.

The clinic was in part funded by $1 million in private donations, including the lead gift from the family of Dr. Virginia Moffitt Crawford, director of Student Health Services.

For more: http://www.usm.edu/news/article/new-moffitt-health-center-southern-miss-opens-monday-march-16

On March 17, we cut ribbons on three facilities on our Gulf Park campus, including a new health center, a fitness center and a new building for our School of Social Work. The facilities will provide high-quality classroom and academic space for social work students and a number of on-campus health and fitness services previously unavailable to Gulf Park students on that campus.

For more: http://www.usm.edu/news/article/southern-miss-holds-ribbon-cutting-renovated-buildings-gulf-park-campus

One of the University’s greatest ambassadors, The Pride, excelled on an international stage…

The Pride of Mississippi Marching Band represented the University and the state of Mississippi well in a trip to Ireland. Select members of the band performed in two parades in Ireland on March 15 and 17, taking top honors in each.

On March 15, The Pride was named overall winner of the International Band Parade in Limerick, Ireland. Twenty-four marching bands featuring 1,100 musicians from across Ireland, Europe and the United States performed in the 45th annual parade.

On March 17, The Pride was named top band in the adult band, 18 and over, category at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin.

About 130 band members traveled to Ireland to march in the parades. The band also marched in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the late 1990s.

We’re increasing our commitment to researching and understanding the Gulf of Mexico…

University officials, including President Bennett and Vice President for Research Gordon Cannon, as well as members of the media, are on their way to Panama to get a closer look at the research vessel, Point Sur. The University, using funds from a Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality grant, purchased the Point Sur from San Jose State University, last month. The vessel is making its way through the Panama Canal on its way from California to the Port of Gulfport.

The 135-foot Point Sur vessel was built in 1980. It can accommodate 13 researchers and technicians, and a crew of eight. For day cruises, it has a capacity of 40 researchers.

The purchase agreement provides Southern Miss with a vessel that can be utilized by the University and other interested parties to explore the Gulf of Mexico, including further research on the BP oil spill of 2010. The vessel will help Southern Miss enhance education and research opportunities for students and faculty who will have access to Point Sur’s sophisticated technology and equipment.

An event will be held on April 24 on the Gulf Coast so that the general public might tour the vessel and gain a greater understanding of the impact it will have on Gulf research.

Our students continue to excel…

Tanner Shaw, a senior finance major, was awarded the prestigious Orrin W. Swayze Scholarship by the Mississippi Young Bankers Association during the group’s annual conference.

The $5,000 award is presented annually to the top Mississippi university major in banking and finance who best represents the tradition of banking excellence exemplified by Swayze, a senior officer for Trustmark until his retirement in 1967.

A 4.0 student, Shaw is a Southern Miss Presidential Scholar and member of the Honors College.

For more: http://www.usm.edu/news/article/southern-miss-student-wins-prestigious-swayze-scholarship