For more than 60 years, the name Moran Pope has been synonymous with service to The University of Southern Mississippi and the Hattiesburg community.
A name change to the Southern Miss Alumni Association’s highest honor for service to the university and the Alumni Association will help ensure that Pope’s efforts are easily remembered for the next 60 years and beyond.
On Saturday, the Southern Miss Alumni Association announced that its Meritorious Service Award has been named in honor of Pope, a former Hattiesburg mayor and university volunteer who was instrumental in a number of landmark events in Southern Miss history.
“The naming of the award after Moran Pope is an attempt to appropriately recognize a man who has given a lifetime of service to the university and to the Alumni Association,” said Bob Pierce, executive director of the Alumni Association. “No one is more deserving of this honor.”
The award is presented each year to one Southern Miss alumnus or alumna, “who has continued to give of their time and talents throughout the years and to recognize outstanding alumni support, professional achievement, loyalty and service to the university.”
The announcement was made on Saturday at the Association’s Annual Awards Brunch and Business Meeting, held each year as part of the University’s Homecoming celebration. This year’s recipient of the award is H. D. “Doc” Roberts of Hattiesburg.
Roberts is a member of the Southern Miss Alumni Hall of Fame and the M-Club Hall of Fame, a former member of the USM Foundation’s board of directors and a member of the Circle of Champions, a giving level reserved for top donors to Southern Miss Athletics.
Although Pope’s achievements are many, his work on behalf of Southern Miss has had a lasting, positive effect on the institution. Among other accomplishments, Pope was president of the Alumni Association when it was chartered in 1955 and was president of the USM Foundation when it was chartered in 1959.
Pope served as the first president of the USM Foundation for a term of 20 years, remaining in office until $1 million had been raised by the organization. He was instrumental in the creation of the S. M. Educational Building Corporation, the organization used in the financing of many university structures including the President’s Home, residence halls and some of the athletic facilities. He is a charter member of the Alumni Hall of Fame and received the Association’s Meritorious Service Award in 1979.
Among those who have been inspired by Pope’s service is his son, Randy, his partner in the law firm Pope & Pope, P.A., and like his father, a past president of the Alumni Association and USM Foundation.
“It seems like someone tells me almost every week how blessed I am to have been able to work and learn from my Dad—not only in our law practice but also in our work with the Alumni Association and the Foundation,” said Randy Pope, who currently serves as the Association’s president-elect.
“I tell them thanks, and that I agree. One of the greatest joys I have had serving as president of both the USM Foundation and the Alumni Association is knowing my father was instrumental in creating both of those entities and that he also served as president of both of them. On behalf of our family, I thank the Alumni Association’s Board of Directors for their decision to name this award in honor of my dad.”
Among the more lasting contributions of Moran Pope to the Hattiesburg community are his service on committees for the restoration and renovation of downtown Hattiesburg, the Forrest County Chancery Court Building and the Forrest County Courthouse. In addition, he was co-chairman with Dr. Fred Tatum of the Library Bond Issue Committee. In recognition of his many contributions to the city of Hattiesburg, he received the Hattiesburg Rotary Club’s Hannah Award for Outstanding Community Service and the Hub Award.
As an active member of First Baptist Church in Hattiesburg for more than 50 years, Pope twice served as chairman of deacons and as chairman of two pastor search committees. He served as Sunday School superintendent, taught classes and was a member of many church committees. He has since become an active member of University Baptist Church in Hattiesburg.
Pope and his wife, Yvonne, are the parents of two children, Moran III (Randy) and Melinda Pope DeRocker of New York City, a singer and music director. They are the grandparents of Lucy Pope Schultze and Valerie Pope Nicholson.
In addition to the Moran Pope Meritorious Service Award, the Alumni Association handed out 15 additional honors on Saturday in the categories of Outstanding Service, Continuous Outstanding Service, Special Service, Outstanding Young Alumnus and Friend of Southern Miss.
• Outstanding Service Award—Cynde Clark, Sumrall; Scott Kersh, Brandon; Jamie Loris, Mobile, Ala.; Susan Marquez, Madison; Lisa Palazzo, Biloxi; David Rimes, Hattiesburg; and Janet Walker, Pearl
• Continuous Outstanding Service Award—John Cox, Hattiesburg; Herky Hardee, Waynesboro; Clymer Wright, Houston, Texas The Southern Miss Alumni Association’s Meritorious Service Award has been named in honor of Moran Pope, a former Hattiesburg mayor and University volunteer who was instrumental in a number of landmark events in Southern Miss history. Pictured from left are the award’s 2009 recipient H. D. “Doc” Roberts; Pope; and Alumni Association President Curt Hébert. (Southern Miss photo by Danny Rawls)
• Special Service Award—Bill Pace, Hattiesburg; Phillip Pitts, Petal; Patricia Sumrall, Sumrall
• Outstanding Young Alumnus Award—Dave Estorge, Gulfport
• Friend of Southern Miss Award—Luckyday Foundation Board of Managers, Jackson
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.