Who doesn’t feel a little more optimistic when the sun is shining, the sky is blue and a warm breeze is gently blowing? In just the same way that the environment can impact our lives, it can also contribute to or detract from the way we learn.
In Arts & Letters, we provide excellent educational experiences in our classes, studios and labs and through our performances and internships. We also are beginning to focus on providing that sense of “place” that draws students together outside of the formal academic experience. This summer, we began to exam that sense of place in the Liberal Arts Building so that students would want to linger between classes and congregate to visit with classmates or to meet new people. Slowly we are building an environment that is not only functional, but that is also aesthetically encouraging and provides a greater identity for what we do. We’ve added study nooks and places to quietly congregate before and after classes, an electronic message board on both floors. We’ve added art and cleaned up technology in the classrooms. The Manonni Performing Arts Center and the Fine Arts Building have also gone through a renaissance of sorts. In both old and new facilities, our focus on developing an encouraging environment is beginning to show some results.
What I hear in the halls now is the quiet buzz of student conversations as they work and study. Faculty report that they enjoy seeing students working between classes; they appreciate the animation of students as they process their learning; and I revel in the atmosphere of warmth, beauty, and friendliness that is our home in LAB and was already a part of the School of Music and the Departments of Art and Design, Dance and Theatre. Soon our School of Mass Communication and Journalism will move into their beautiful new home, and we will have new learning and performing spaces on 31st Avenue by way of the pedestrian walkway project, just in time to enjoy the spring weather next semester.
On Friday, August 24, the College of Arts and Letters faculty and staff convened in the Thad Cochran Center for our very first “beginning of the year” college-wide meeting. I was thrilled to see so many attend a late Friday afternoon meeting at the end of the first week of classes. After the introduction of new faculty, we enjoyed two wonderful addresses from Interim President Lucas and Provost Wiesenburg. The primary focus of the meeting, however, was to discuss our strategic planning initiative.
I pointed out during my presentation that we are an energized and passionate faculty and I have witnessed the delight and satisfaction of our wonderful students for the experiences we provide in our classrooms, studios, and rehearsal halls. But despite the great work happening all over the College, we lack a clear, self-determined identity. At the very basic level, the strategic planning this fall will help us tell our story, in such a way, that we will be able to articulate that which is already true…that which sets us apart from the rest. We might ask why we would undertake strategic planning during a year of transition? Benjamin Franklin said, “You may delay, but time will not.” If we look back, the university is always in a state of transition… when have we not been engaged in the search for some critical position at the university – a new chair, a new dean, a new provost, or a new president? Yet by crafting a plan that will position us for future distinction, with a commitment to mutual goals and a shared vision for a successful future, we take a giant step forward in controlling our own destiny no matter the leadership changes that happen around us.
Will Rogers said, “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” No college or department can remain static for long, nor should we wait for the perfect time to move forward. We’ll get “run over.”
The following update was sent out to the Southern Miss faculty/staff email listserve Sunday afternoon 8/26/2012:
“Tropical Storm Isaac continues on a path to enter the Gulf of Mexico. It has been difficult to pin point where Isaac will make landfall and currently locations from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle should be monitoring the storms activities and be on alert and prepared to act if instructed to do so.
The university’s Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) is being updated as information becomes available.
Updates and information concerning day-to-day operations of the university will be distributed through the Eagle Alert emergency notification system and will also be available at http://www.SouthernMiss.info.
To sign up for Eagle Alert or ensure your contact information is current, visit http://www.usm.edu/safety/eagle-alert.
Take this time to prepare for possible severe weather and impact of the storm. Review your preparedness and plan accordingly. More information regarding preparedness can be found at http://www.redcross.org and http://www.nhc.noaa.gov;
Keep up with Southern Miss updates at
From Bobby Chain Technology lobby: Southern Style members Lane Hebert (left), a nursing major, and J.D. Saucier (center), a biology major, assist a SciTech transfer student following last call registration.
Last call for fall for transfer students took place today. The College of Science and Technology saw over 60 eager transfer students ready to register for fall classes.
Transfer students are an important component to the Southern Miss family. Our faculty and staff work to provide service to these students to make their transition to Southern Miss a successful one.
Here are some photos of today’s transfer registration:
Southern Style member Ann Marie Chilcutt greets SciTech students in the small group sessions.
Department of Biological Sciences Chair Dr. Glen Shearer with a Preview Transfer student following registration.