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: 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.


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.

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