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Dr. Michael Forster

Refill, please – Good news on coffee keeps coming

Coffee and caffeine suffered a bad health rap for a long time, but the tides have decidedly shifted.  Now one research study after another points to significant health benefits connected to the natural blend of antioxidants, bioflavonoids, vitamins and minerals contained in coffee beans.  Some of the positives include reduced risk of heart and vascular disease, enhanced liver functioning, and lowered risks for developing Type II diabetes and certain cancers, including melanoma.

At least we can feel a bit better about dropping all that money at Starbucks (but avoid the sweet drinks; sugar has absolutely no redeeming health features!).

Dr. Michael Forster

Mississippi Roads Are a Public Health Hazard

Mississippi has one of the one of the highest rural traffic fatality rates in the nation, in part because of the crumbling and highly dangerous condition of its roads and bridges. A new study by the national nonprofit Transportation Research and Information Program rates Mississippi as 13th worst in the nation, with 22% of its major rural roads in poor condition. Bridges are rated 12th worst, with 14% considered structurally deficient.

This sad state of affairs is nothing short of a major – and intolerable – public health hazard. People die – 2.42 deaths per every 100 million vehicle miles, 12th highest in the nation – because of it. And that state of affairs exists, and persists, for one reason and one reason only – Mississippi’s public officials, from the governor to county supervisors, lack the political will to raise the tax revenue sufficient to address the problem.

Admittedly, it’s a big problem to fix – bridge repair alone could cost over a half-billion dollars, and road maintenance would require injecting hundreds of millions more per year into the state department of transportation budget. But a crumbling infrastructure does not improve by ignoring it.

That we allow citizens to perish needlessly on hazardous roadways is unconscionable.  Shame on government; shame on all of us.



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:

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:

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.

Read more:

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:

Dr. Michael Forster

CoH Dean’s Council Leadership Change

Many thanks to Doug Higginbotham, CEO of South Central Regional Medical Center in Laurel, for two years of faithful service as chairperson of the College of Health Dean’s Council.  As a recent meeting of the Council, Doug passed the gavel to Ryan Kelly, currently Executive Director of the Mississippi Rural Health Association.

Ryan is the former director of external relations for the college, and knows the college and university communities well.   His latest (current) project on behalf of the college is producing the upcoming May 1 invitation-only Health Summit, of with the College of Health is the principal sponsor.  We can look forward to many more good things ahead.

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:

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:

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.

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

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