As The University of Southern celebrates the 100th anniversary of its founding, the university community is also celebrating the dedication of the newly constructed Centennial Gateway and the announcement of the identity of the structure’s lead donor.
University President Martha Saunders and members of the Centennial Celebration Steering Committee today joined campus and community leaders at the historic entrance to the Hattiesburg campus to dedicate the Centennial Gateway and to honor the Edward J. “Ed” Langton family as the donor who pledged $200,000 in 2009 to fund the 125-foot-wide brick and cast stone structure. A supporting gift of $17,777.77 from the Gold Leaf Society also helped fund construction.
“We are overwhelmed with excitement to see such an awesome landmark be erected to symbolize our heartfelt belief in the value of the university not only to our community, but to all humanity,” said Langton. “That is what led me to memorialize those thoughts in the dedication’s bronze plaque…Enter This Gateway to Fortify the Mind. Depart This Gateway for the Betterment of Humanity.”
Mr. Langton currently serves as chairman of the board and CEO for Grand Bank of Hattiesburg. He is also the founder, chairman and CEO of Mortgage Funding Corporation and is founder and chairman of IF-I Foundation, a nonprofit charitable foundation. The family includes Ed’s wife, Lynda, and their adult children, Lance and Lauren.
The Langton family’s dedication to Southern Miss is long-standing. Ed and Lynda are Life Members of the Southern Miss Alumni Association and members of the University Foundation’s Honor Club. In addition, Ed has served as president of both the Alumni Association and USM Foundation boards of directors.
He is also a director and past chairman of the advisory board of the DuBard School for Language Disorders and has, for many years beginning in 1990, been its fund-raising campaign chairman. Ed was honored by the Alumni Association as an Alumni Hall of Fame inductee in 2001 and was a recipient of the Continuous Service Award in 2006.
“We are so grateful to the Langton family for vision and support on this project,” said Saunders. “Ed and Lynda are true servant leaders who have loved and served this university since their student days. Their generous gift will ensure a warm welcome to students well into our next 100 years.”
Langton’s dedication and generosity are not limited to the university. He is the current president of the Greater Pine Belt Community Foundation and has been a director of the United Way, where he was also chairman and co-chairman of the Grant Givers Club and chosen as a community hero to carry the Olympic Torch for the 1996 Olympics. He is a charter member of the Founders Society of St. Stanislaus College Prep and executive board member of the Pine Burr Area Council of The Boy Scouts of America, having received the prestigious Silver Beaver Award. He was chosen as a Non-Rotation Paul Harris Fellow. In addition, he served in the United States Army as a first lieutenant.
The gateway is one of the most significant initiatives of the University’s Centennial Celebration of 2010. Extending from the east side of West Memorial Drive to the west side of East Memorial Drive, the 62-foot-wide middle section of the gateway features the name and seal of the institution, as well as urns replicated from the Aubrey K. Lucas Administration Building. Four-foot-wide gateposts on opposite sides of the streets feature the year of the university’s legislative foundation in 1910. At its lowest height, the wall is six-feet, eight-inches tall, and is 10-feet high at its center, where the university seal is located.
The structure was designed by Albert and Associates Architects of Hattiesburg, and constructed by B.W. Sullivan Building Contractor Inc. of Hattiesburg.
The Centennial Gateway entrance to The University of Southern Mississippi campus in Hattiesburg was made possible through donations by the Ed Langton family and the Gold Leaf Society. (Office of University Communications photo by Steve Rouse)
The Centennial Gateway entrance at The University of Southern Mississippi was officially dedicated during a ribbon-cutting as part of Founders’ Day festivities on Tuesday, March 30, 2010. Shown here from left to right: Bob Pierce, Rex Kelly, Alvin Williams, President Emeritus Aubrey K. Lucas, Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant, Lauren Langton, Ed Langton, Lynda Langton, Lance Langton, Southern Miss President Martha Saunders, Larry Albert, Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree and Jennifer Payne. (Office of University Communications photo by Steve Rouse).
About The University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities. In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world. Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; further information is found at www.usm.edu.