Last month, the College of Nursing and USM family said good-bye to a former nursing dean. Dr. Gerry Cadenhead Fletcher began her career at The University of Southern Mississippi in 1980 to serve as the Chair of the Baccalaureate program at Southern Miss. She was named Dean of the College of Nursing in 1987 and served in that position until her retirement in 2001. During her tenure at Southern Miss, Dr. Fletcher used her influence to advance the College of Nursing, foster professional development of faculty, and guide students in their careers. After her retirement, Dr. Fletcher remained involved with the university, Mississippi nursing, and the Southern Miss Nursing program.
Gerry was a dynamic nursing leader, a true friend of Mississippi Nursing, an inspiration to students, and a positive and supportive friend to many. Most important is that Gerry modeled for all of us the importance of being engaged in your university, your place of employment, your profession and to give back to those institutions that provided you with the opportunity to be successful and to make a difference.
Gerry will always be remembered for her influence on others. As stated by one alumni and former USM nursing faculty, “Southern Miss and nursing have lost an irreplaceable and valuable treasure”.
Here’s a warm Southern Miss “WELCOME” to all you new students, faculty and staff.
And WELCOME BACK to those of you starting the new academic year as returning faculty, staff and students.
Best wishes for success in all that you do in the coming year.
Today’s Clarion-Ledger carries a Section B story titled “State’s Colleges Gaining Notice.” Nice notes from writer Dustin Barnes on a number of Mississippi’s public universities. Mississippi State ranks as a top research university, certainly the top banana in the state. Delta State garners kudos for leading “green” efforts to reduce energy consumption. Mississippi Valley is a super bargain and ranks high in graduate earnings. Ole Miss is among the “most literary” of universities in the nation, right up there with Smith College, Princeton, and Harvard. Little MUW, finally, is said to be one of the best colleges in the country to work for.
Okay, that’s five of eight publics enjoying at least a sliver of limelight. Not bad for the state; commissioner Bounds and the college board ought to be smiling today. But not so good if you’re Jackson State, Alcorn, or Southern Miss, and don’t seem to merit a mention. What are we, Mr. Barnes, the chopped liver of Mississippi higher ed? You’re a newsman; dig a little deeper, will you?
This fall we welcome approximately 3,000 returning and new students to the College of Arts and Letters. Those students have chosen to study for undergraduate and graduate degrees in our diverse array of programs in the arts, humanities and social sciences, and in our many collaborative interdisciplinary programs.
The back-to-school season is always an exciting one for our students, faculty and staff, and me personally. I am proud of our A&L community and anticipate another stellar year. Indeed, we will need to raise the bar even higher as we begin to focus on our strategic goals – anchored in our student success and profile expansion efforts. So I encourage everyone to:
Consider the positive individual difference we can make as we, the faculty and staff, work to realize our greatest potential.
There are many ways a college conveys its core values. In an issue of Liberal Education, Jack Meacham and Jerry Gaff noted that it is important that we “do what we say and say what we do.” Our public declaration found in our college and school/department strategic goals is our guide and those declarations share some of the same key words and phrases like “excellence in scholarship, focus on student success, and innovation in the classroom.” Without a clear path forward and a positive commitment to the journey, it is unlikely that our strategic plans will emerge in practice. Our faculty places us well to continue the tradition of developing innovative opportunities for our students and producing meaningful scholarship. Moving forward together is critical to this endeavor as we shift “what has been to what could be”.
Take pause along the way to consider.
I am amazed at how quickly time passes as we move from one academic season to the next. It seems that with the new and ever changing technology that has pervaded our lives, we spend a great deal of time in gear and racing ahead at full throttle. The pace we have adopted in our modern-day lives often influences how quickly we come to some of the decisions we make on issues in our own lives and those as a faculty across the college. Yet in our endeavors in creative and scholarly research, we are committed to thoughtful consideration and a measured and deliberate tempo to produce the great body of work seen in the college. I encourage the same discipline seen in our scholarship efforts as we adapt to an ever-changing constituent need. We must be nimble and flexible, but also thoughtful and deliberate in the decisions that we will have to make in the months and years to come as we strive for relevance and the ability to sustain or increase the impact we have had for our students and the community we serve.
Let us move forward together. Welcome back!
On behalf of the College of Science and Technology, I’d like to extend best wishes to former dean Dr. Joe B. Whitehead, Jr. and former associate dean Dr. Dale Ledford, both of whom retired effective July 31.
We wish Dr. Whitehead success in his new position as Provost of North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, NC. Dr. Whitehead was appointed interim dean of the College of Science and Technology in August 2009 and became dean in March 2010.
We also wish Dr. Ledford the best in his new occupation as retiree. Dr. Ledford spent many years at Southern Miss providing leadership for the college at the Long Beach campus and the temporary Gulfport Student Services Center location and more recently on the Hattiesburg campus.
Both men left Southern Miss better than they found it and we are proud to call them permanent members of the Southern Miss family. Good luck to both as they begin new chapters in their lives.