Honoring the legacy of one man and serving more than 120,000 others, the Ogletree House is the home for Southern Miss alumni on the Hattiesburg Campus of The University of Southern Mississippi. Today, thanks to the contributions of more than 850 alumni and friends of the University, the house is more attractive and functional than ever.
Frances Ogletree, widow of the building’s namesake Powell Ogletree, flanked by University and Alumni Association officials, cut the ribbon today on the newly restored and expanded facility, marking the successful completion of a $4 million, 20-month construction project.
The building, one of the five remaining original buildings on the Hattiesburg campus that opened to students in 1912, was returned to its original glory and expanded to 12,800 square-feet, nearly twice its original size. The facility served as the president’s home for Mississippi Normal College until 1975, and the following year the Alumni Association began its occupation of the facility. It was renamed in 1987 upon the retirement of Powell Ogletree, who had served as director of alumni relations for more than 34 years.
“The Ogletree House is the home for our more than 120,000 alumni—the University’s largest constituent group,” University President Martha Saunders said. “This facility is one of which we can all be proud, and I know that our alumni will return to their on-campus home to reconnect with their Alma Mater, to renew old friendships, and to celebrate the accomplishments of our great university.”
Saunders suggested that the restoration and expansion of the Ogletree House is a tangible example of the University’s theme of “Creative. Bold. Determined.” The fund-raising campaign for the project began just before Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf South in August 2005, and the construction project is being completed as the University faces its toughest economic challenge in decades.
“This project embodies each of those qualities (Creative. Bold. Determined.),” Saunders said. “We were creative in our design, bold in our vision to generate the funding for construction, and determined to make the project come to fruition, regardless of natural disasters or economic turmoil.”
Saunders was one of two featured speakers at the ribbon-cutting event, along with Ogletree House Building Committee Chairman Randy Pope. Pope reminded those gathered for the ceremony what the completed facility says about the importance of the project to Southern Miss and its alumni.
“The Ogletree House says that our alumni love the University,” Pope said. “It says that the University and its alumni and friends value our history and are planning for our future. The Alumni Association could have walked away from this old building with its antiquated wiring system and cramped offices, but we chose not to. We chose to restore the building to its 1912 condition, and expand it several thousand square feet. And the expansion is not just functional; like the original building, it is beautiful.”
The new Ogletree House contains the Poynter Multipurpose Room; the Draughn Parlor; the Phalen Courtyard; the USM Foundation Atrium; the Carlisle Conference Room; the Simmons Kitchen, featuring Viking Range appliances; the Bonnie Purvis Warren Library; the Waites Executive Director’s Suite; and additional work space for the Association’s staff and volunteers.
About the Ogletree House
In 1912, the president’s home for Mississippi Normal College was built at a cost of $18,000.
In 1976, the Alumni Association moved from its offices in the Student Union (now McLemore Hall) into the Alumni House. Because the Association had launched an effort to raise $200,000 to build a new president’s home, the University allocated the existing president’s home for the Association’s use.
In 1987, the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning approved a request from then Southern Miss President Aubrey K. Lucas to have the facility named the Ogletree House in honor of Powell G. Ogletree, recognizing Powell’s service to Southern Miss as director of alumni relations.
About Powell Ogletree
Very few individuals are as woven into the fabric of the University as is Powell Ogletree. A former editor of The Student Printz and a double graduate of Mississippi Southern College, Powell, who died in 2005, literally dedicated his life to the betterment of The University of Southern Mississippi.
Powell accepted Dr. R.C. Cook’s invitation to become the first full-time alumni secretary for the institution and started work on June 22, 1953. He moved into a 10-foot by 16-foot office in College Hall with one secretary. There were records on 3,200 former students, 150 paid alumni members, no organized chapters, and financial assets of $55.86. When he retired on October 31, 1987, there were records on 59,000 alumni, more than 17,500 active members of the Association, 60 organized chapters, and assets exceeding $600,000.
During his tenure with the University, he played a key role as Southern Miss gained university status; The University of Southern Mississippi’s athletic teams became known as the Golden Eagles; and the USM Foundation, the University’s fund-raising arm, was established, as was the Alumni Hall of Fame.
“When thinking about the individuals who have had the greatest influence on The University of Southern Mississippi, Powell Ogletree has to be one of those at the top of the list,” said Bob Pierce, executive director of the Alumni Association. “He was truly an integral component of the development and growth of this wonderful institution. Southern Miss could not be what it is today without the work of Powell Ogletree.”
Participating in the ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday for the newly renovated and expanded Ogletree Alumni House at the University of Southern Mississippi include, from left, Alumni Association Director Bob Pierce; Alumni Association Executive Committee President Curt Hebert and President-Elect Randy Pope; Frances Ogletree, widow of the building’s namesake, Powell Ogletree; Southern Miss President Martha Saunders; Lou Ann Poynter and President Emeritus Aubrey K. Lucas, Ogletree House Campaign Committee Co-Chairs. (Southern Miss photo by Steve Rouse)
The renovated Ogletree Alumni House on Southern Miss’ Hattiesburg campus is named for the first director of the university’s alumni association, Powell Ogletree, and is one of the five remaining original buildings on the campus. (Southern Miss photo by Steve Rouse)
One of the many new features of the recently renovated and expanded Ogletree Alumni House at The University of Southern Mississippi is this beautiful stained glass window depicting the university’s iconic Aubrey K. Lucas Administration Building (Southern Miss photo by Steve Rouse)
Visitors touring the recently renovated and expanded Ogletree Alumni House Friday following its official reopening photograph a new fountain in the courtyard of the facility, which includes a beautiful sculpture of a Golden Eagle, the university mascot. (Southern Miss photo by Steve Rouse)
About The University of Southern MississippiThe 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. More information is found at www.usm.edu.