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Southern Miss Dedicates Trent Lott Center in Friday Ceremony on Hattiesburg Campus PDF Print E-mail
Friday, March 05, 2010
Contact David Tisdale, 601.266.4499   

The building where The University of Southern Mississippi’s efforts to advance the state and nation’s economic fortunes are headquartered, as well as the life’s work of the man whose name it bears, were causes for celebration today on the school’s Hattiesburg campus.

The Trent Lott National Center for Excellence in Economic Development and Entrepreneurship will house the Department of Economic and Workforce Development, the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security and the Center for Logistics, Trade and Transportation. The third floor is home to the university's Foundation offices.

Local, state and national leaders in government and industry joined Southern Miss administrators faculty, staff, students and community members for a dedication ceremony Friday which not only signaled the opening of the facility but included a tribute to Lott, a former U.S. Representative and Senator who served the state in Congress for 35 years.

Southern Miss President Martha Saunders joined University President Emeritus Dr. Aubrey K. Lucas and Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant in paying tribute to Lott, the event’s guest of honor, and heralding the new center’s promise for preparing students to lead in a dynamic global economy.

Saunders said the center “reflects the vision of a lot of people who came together” to make it a reality, while Bryant praised the potential it harbors for the future and Lott for his long career in service to the state and nation.  “He never forgot where he came from or who he served,” Bryant said. “I can think of no better person to name this center after than Trent Lott.”

Lott said the center could be a “shining light on the hill” for economic development and congratulated Dr. Saunders for her work to help push the project to completion. He also challenged the university to maximize the potential of the center to be a force in its stated purpose. “This is a tremendous asset to the university and the state of Mississippi,” he said. 

It was former Southern Miss President Horace Fleming, Lott said, who broached the idea of the center to him. And after Lott worked closely with state officials a decade ago to secure its Nissan auto factory in Canton that he said he truly understood the need for training leaders who understood all the factors that went into identifying and recruiting industry.

“I was impressed with what went into it, and realized this (economic development) is a science like anything else,” he said. “It’s not something that just happens. So I was convinced we needed more economic developers, and now USM can be the place where they are trained.”

The 53,000-square-foot, three-story building, designed by Albert and Associates of Hattiesburg, embodies the Greek Revival architecture style. A spiral glass staircase encapsulated in its rotunda serves as the focal point of this magnificent structure.

Gail Albert, wife of the center's lead architect Larry Albert, said she remembered going with Larry to Washington about 11 years ago for the initial meetings about the project, but Friday was her first chance to go inside the building. “It’s simply amazing,” she said. “My favorite part has to be the spiral staircase.”

Finlo Construction of Hattiesburg was general contractor for the project that began in February 2005. It was funded through a combination of state, federal and private financial support.

State Rep. Percy Watson (D-Hattiesburg), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, is a Hattiesburg native who has four children who earned degrees from Southern Miss. He said Lott put it best when he said a team effort made Friday’s day of celebration possible, including the work of both state and federal legislators to secure portions of the building’s funding.

“I’m very proud of what this building represents for the city, the state of Mississippi and the nation,” Watson said.

U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.) said the building was “absolutely beautiful “ and says a lot about the support so many corporate and private donors gave to make it a reality. “I really expect great things to take place inside this building, and I feel fortunate to have been here today for such a historic occasion,” he said.

For more information about the Trent Lott Center, online visit www.usm.edu/trentlottcenter/

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.
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