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Jim Coll

Top Stories – April 2015

Here is what I shared for April 2015. SMTTT!

We are continuing our commitment to a holistic and exceptional student experience with the opening of Century Park South.

On April 9, we cut the ribbon on Century Park South, a $55.6 million project that provides 954 beds for freshmen and other scholarship students. Century Park South includes three buildings—Scott Hall, Vann Hall and Luckyday Citizenship Hall, which also houses the new Moffitt Health Center. All of the buildings have five floors with a multitude of modern features, such as

  • Student kitchen lounges on each floor containing oversized chairs and ottomans, wall-mounted 50-inch HDTVs, full-sized refrigerator/freezers, sinks, microwave ovens and in-wall ovens;
  • Two study rooms and an entertainment unit in each room; and
  • Private bath with shower in each room.

The completion of Century Park South follows the opening of Century Park North in August 2010. Located just across W. Fourth Street on the northern side of campus, Century Park North includes four buildings with four floors and 864 beds.

For more: http://www.usm.edu/news/article/southern-miss-holds-ribbon-cutting-new-student-housing-complex

One of the University’s grandest annual events concluded on April 10—the 48th edition of the Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival.

More than 450 attendees, including teachers and librarians from across the country, attended the three-day festival, which features the awarding of The University of Southern Mississippi Medallion and the Ezra Jack Keats Awards.

The University of Southern Mississippi medallion was presented to Paul Zelinsky. Zelinsky has also received the 1998 Caldecott Medal for his illustrated retelling of Rapunzel, as well as Caldecott Honors for Hansel and Gretel (1985), Rumpelstiltskin (1987), and Swamp Angel (1995).

The University’s deGrummond Children’s Literature Collection is one of North America’s leading research centers of children’s literature in the country and features original works from more than 1,300 authors, including Margret and H.A. Rey, creators of Curious George.

For more: http://www.usm.edu/news/article/children-s-book-festival-keats-book-and-illustrator-award-ceremony-april-8-10

Student safety remains a top priority at USM

The University of Southern Mississippi’s Police Department has been awarded national re-accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.

CALEA accreditation requires an agency to develop a comprehensive, insightful, uniform set of written directives as well as a preparedness program so that the agency is ready to address natural or man-made occurrences that dictate emergency action.

http://www.usm.edu/news/article/southern-miss-police-department-achieves-national-accreditation

Next Monday is the fifth anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and USM’s commitment to continuing research on the spill’s effects is strong.

The University’s newest research vessel, the Point Sur, has arrived at its new home at the Port of Gulfport and has already begun its work educating students and researching the Gulf. On April 24, at 1:30 p.m., we will host an event so that the public can tour the vessel.

On April 20, the 5th anniversary of the spill, our Gulf Coast Research Laboratory will host the first of five lectures in a series updating the public on the effects of the spill. “Deepwater Horizon: A scientist’s perspective,” is a free seminar series that offers a retrospective exploration of the spill through presentations by research staff and discussions among speakers, education staff and attendees to answer pressing questions. Recent legislative appropriations of $6 million to GCRL will assist scientists there in enhancing their already impressive work. For more information on the lecture series, visit usm.edu/gcrl.

Additional legislative support is going to enable USM to build a new Holloway Complex on the Gulf Park Campus. The complex, which is currently comprised of five modular units totaling 18,645 square feet, will be rebuilt as a two-story 25,000-square-foot facility. Housing both the College of Business and College of Health on the Gulf Park campus, the new building will feature more than 30 faculty offices, as well as provide additional classroom space for students on the Gulf Park campus.

Eagle Fest weekend begins Friday

Southern Miss Athletics will host Eagle Fest weekend beginning Friday when the baseball team hosts No. 16 Florida Atlantic. Festivities on Saturday include the Black and Gold Spring Football Game, baseball and softball, as well as a Black and Gold Carnival on Pride Field. For more information, visit SouthernMiss.com.

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

A Note of Thanks from a Student to University Police

Earlier this week, University Police Chief Bob Hopkins shared a note with me he received from a student regarding emergency-related communications. The student thanked Chief for keeping the university updated in all situations. “I feel much safer just by being informed,” the student wrote, “and I appreciate the UPD being honest and keeping the faculty, staff and students updated no matter what the situation.”

The note, I believe, is a testament to our crisis communications strategy. To be sure, we know our UPD is extremely effective in limiting crime, but when the time comes as it does on all campuses across the country, we are committed to communicating in a way that is transparent and helpful to the University.

While the communication of unpleasant circumstances on our campuses may result in some short-term negative news coverage and social media criticism, consistent and transparent communication assists in keeping our campuses safe. It requires thick skin from leadership, but is the best long-term public relations strategy as well—and this note helps validate that approach.

I sincerely appreciate Chief Hopkins’ commitment in this area.

Dr. Michael Forster

Scarce resources and poor performance = finger pointing

You hate to see public officials supposedly on the same team taking off after one another.  Last week K-12 state board of education member William Harold Jones blasted the Mississippi legislature as a “hostile environment” for public education, indeed “the worst political environment of education since desegregation.”  John Moore, House Education Committee Chair, retorted that Jones’ comments were “disappointing.”

In the context of discussions over chronically poorly performing schools (about a quarter of Mississippi school districts are rated in bad shape, making us, according to many national education groups, worst in the nation), the criticism looks like so much responsibility shifting.  But the truth is that schools have been chronically underfunded, by any measure, and there’s no denying that resources connect rather directly to quality.  While it’s true that “you can’t solve a problem by throwing money at it,” it’s at least equally true that starving schools of funding is a sure-fire path to failure.

There is, moreover, a pernicious “trickle up” effect on higher education.  Students entering community colleges or universities (also under-resourced, of course) lacking fundamental academic competencies require remediation, often extensive, to give them a decent shot at progressing to a degree and subsequent career.  While a worthwhile investment in students motivated to overcome their deficiencies, remediation is expensive, and a continuous drag on rates of retention and graduation.

When faced with the high cost of educational investment, Mississippi leaders are fond of pleading poverty, and asserting, in effect, that “we’re doing the best we can with what we can afford.”  But what Mississippi certainly cannot afford is to stay on the path of producing public K-12 graduates unprepared for the rigors of advanced learning.

 

Jim Coll

This Week at Southern Miss (February 23-March 1)

Here are some of the top events occurring on University of Southern Mississippi campuses and teaching sites this week.

Monday, February 23rd

Hub UnPlugged– Noon-2 p.m., The Student Activities Hub– Part of “Spring It On Week” hosted by The Southern Miss Activities Council. Students can sign up to play acoustic instruments, sing, or recite poetry at this event. Contact the Office of Student Activities at 601.266.4403.

The Times of Harvey Milk– 12:15-1:30 p.m., Learning Commons at the Gulf Park Library– In an effort to start a Diversity Book Club, the Gulf Coast Library, along with the Alliance for Equality, will present the award-winning documentary, “The Times of Harvey Milk.” Dr. Douglas Chambers of the Department of History will introduce the film by sharing how the 10th anniversary of Milk’s death inspired him to help establish an LGBT alumni association at his alma mater, the University of Virginia.

Eagle Awards– 6 p.m., Trent Lott Center room 103– Featured event celebrating Black History Month. Hosted by the Office of Multicultural Programs. For more information contact Valencia Walls at 601.266.5057.

OLLI Lecture- 6:30 p.m., Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the Peck House– Dr. Henry Nau, an expert on U.S. foreign policy and international politics and former White House senior staffer, will present a special lecture. Nau will discuss his thoughts about current American foreign policy, a partnership between the Department of Philosophy and Religion and Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. The event is free and open to the public. For more information about the John F. Nau Endowment Fund in Philosophy and Religion, contact the Department of Philosophy and Religion by calling 601.266.4521.

 

Tuesday, February 24th

“250 Years: Black Poetry from Phillis Wheatley to the Poets of Southern Miss”- Noon, RC’s Lounge– Featured event celebrating Black History Month. Hosted by the Office of Multicultural Programs. For more information contact Valencia Walls at 601.266.5057.

Spring Career Fair- Noon- 4 p.m., Thad Cochran Center– Students and alumni can network with a large number of employers, present résumés and learn about careers and internship opportunities.  Professional or business casual attire is required for attendance. For information and to view a list of employers attending, visit the Career Services website or call 601.266.4153.

Cirque Du SMAC- 7 p.m., Trent Lott Center– Part of Spring It On Week hosted by The Southern Miss Activities Council. This event will be featuring Crescent Circus. Hosted by Southern Miss Activities Council. For more information call Office of Student Activities at 601.266.4403.

 

Wednesday, February 25th

Hump Day/ Clothesline Exhibition Project- 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Shoemaker Square/Weathersby Lawn– Part of “Spring It On Week” hosted by the Southern Miss Activities Council. Contact Office of Student Activities at 601.266.4403.

By the Way, Meet Vera Stark- 7:30 p.m., Tatum Theatre– Presented by the Theatre Department. Reserved Seats: $14 adults; $12 faculty, staff, seniors, military; $8 students. For more information contact the Theatre Department at 601.266.4994.

Shattering Violence featuring Aaron Boe- 7 p.m., Thad Cochran Center– Part of “Spring It On Week” hosted by the Southern Miss Activities Council. Contact the Office of Student Activities at 601.266.4403.

 

Thursday, February 26th

The Mississippi Academy of Sciences Annual Meeting- 3:30 p.m., Thad Cochran Center– More than 1,000 researchers, students and professors from across the state will convene at the Thad Cochran Center on Feb. 26-27 for the Mississippi Academy of Sciences’ Annual Meeting. University President Rodney D. Bennett will present the keynote Dodgen Lecture – “USM Research: Transforming Everyday Life into Infinite Possibilities.” The Dodgen Lecture  will conclude with an awards ceremony to acknowledge research being done throughout the state. The Dodgen Lecture is free and open to the public.

Campus Crawl- 5 p.m., various location on Hattiesburg Campus– Part of Spring It On Week hosted by The Southern Miss Activities Council. Contact Office of Student Activities at 601.266.4403.

“Trials, Tribulations, and How We Overcome Them”- 7 p.m., Owings-McQaugge Hall, room 105– This event will be featuring Dr. Joseph K. Byrd of Xavier University. Hosted by the Office of Multicultural Programs. For more information contact Valencia Walls at 601.266.5057.

Men’s Basketball vs UTSA— 7 p.m. Reed Green Coliseum

By the Way, Meet Vera Stark- 7:30 p.m., Tatum Theatre– Presented by the Theatre Department. Reserved Seats: $14 adults; $12 faculty, staff, seniors, military; $8 students. For more information contact the Theatre Department at 601.266.4994.

Mary Poppins7:30 p.m., Mannoni Performing Arts Center– To purchase tickets contact the Southern Miss Ticket Office 601.266.5418 or southernmisstickets.com.

 

Friday, February 27th
The Mississippi Academy of Sciences Annual Meeting- Thad Cochran Center– More than 1,000 researchers, students and professors from across the state will convene at the Thad Cochran Center on Feb. 26-27 for the Mississippi Academy of Sciences’ Annual Meeting.

Softball vs. University of Incarnate Word— 4:30 p.m. Gulfport, Miss.

Frozen at the Fountain- 6 p.m., Centennial Lawn– An event a part of “Spring It On Week” hosted by the Southern Miss Activities Council. Contact the Office of Student Activities at 601.266.4403.

By the Way, Meet Vera Stark- 7:30 p.m., Tatum Theatre– Presented by the Theatre Department. Reserved Seats: $14 adults; $12 faculty, staff, seniors, military; $8 students. For more information contact the Theatre Department at 601.266.4994.

 

Saturday, February 28th

Mary Poppins- 2 p.m., Mannoni Performing Arts Center– To purchase tickets contact the Southern Miss Ticket Office 601.266.5418 or southernmisstickets.com

Softball vs. Jackson State University— 3 p.m. Gulfport, Miss.

Men’s Basketball vs. UTEP— 7 p.m. Reed Green Coliseum

By the Way, Meet Vera Stark- 7:30 p.m., Tatum Theatre– Presented by the Theatre Department. Reserved Seats: $14 adults; $12 faculty, staff, seniors, military; $8 students. For more information contact the Theatre Department at 601.266.4994.

Mary Poppins7:30 p.m., Mannoni Performing Arts Center– To purchase tickets contact the Southern Miss Ticket Office 601.266.5418 or southernmisstickets.com

Softball vs. Nicholls State— 8 p.m. Gulfport, Miss.

 

Sunday, March 1st

Mary Poppins- 2 p.m., Mannoni Performing Arts Center– To purchase tickets contact the Southern Miss Ticket Office 601.266.5418 or southernmisstickets.com