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Released April 19, 2004



HATTIESBURG - The University of Southern Mississippi has initiated an incentive program to reward its faculty and staff for securing and managing contract and grant support.

In a time when funding for higher education is declining in Mississippi, the incentive policy - called Model for Incentive Dollars for Augmenting Salaries (MIDAS) - could help attract quality recruits while rewarding and retaining current researchers, said Dr. Angeline Dvorak, vice president for research and economic development.

"The fundamental goal of MIDAS," Dvorak said, "is to create an incentive base to grow and promote research activities and research enterprise for Southern Miss."

Available during the fall and spring terms, MIDAS is open to full-time faculty and staff whose base salary is paid from the Education and General (E&G) funds.

The proposal must go before the Board of Trustees of the State Institutions of Higher Learning for approval before it can be implemented internally.

Dr. Linda McFall, vice president for business and finance, said that the arrangement will not only benefit university employees, but the entire state economy as well.

"About $369 million was brought into the state directly from external funds this past year from all the universities in the IHL system," McFall said. "That does not include people eating at restaurants, buying clothes, buying cars; that's extra money that goes directly into the economy."

The maximum research supplement is 30 percent of the regular academic salary, based on 100 percent released dollars. To qualify for the supplement, the employee must recover at least 25 percent of his or her salary.

The university's administration, from business and finance to research, has been committed to growing the research enterprise during the last five years, Dvorak said, but the "faculty and staff are the ones making it happen."

"They are writing the proposals, and doing everything else - teaching classes, directing dissertations, everything they've always done, plus writing proposals that help support their work as well as their students'," she said. "External research dollars not only support research but they enhance classroom teaching for every Southern Miss student."

Funds for the incentive will be accessible from educational and general funds recovered from released salary dollars obtained through the contract or grant.

All requests for salary supplement must be approved in writing in advance by the individual's chair and dean for compliance with contract or grant and academic requirements for the college.

Dvorak said the research market is extremely competitive, yet Southern Miss has had about a 60 percent success rate with proposals submitted during the last five years. The administration's goal is $100 million dollars by 2005, she said.

Dvorak said: "The people are doing outstanding work, or they wouldn't be getting funded. These are people who have gone out and sought competitive money and secured it. MIDAS is a reward for that outstanding performance because it is very, very competitive.

"We have people from universities with much greater resources than ours vying for these same dollars. Yet we've grown from $20 million to $60 million in less than five years. That speaks to the quality of the faculty and staff."


OCEAN SPRINGS -- Award-winning wildlife photographer Tom Ulrich will lead two photographic events at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory on Wednesday, March 10.

He will present a nature photography workshop from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and then a talk and slide show called "Wildlife Images 2003" at 7 p.m., both at The University of Southern Mississippi GCRL.

Admission to the evening event is free and will be held in the Caylor Auditorium at GCRL. The veteran photographer will feature photos from his 2003 photographic safaris abroad and in North America. He will answer questions and sign his books during the reception following his slide show.

The registration fee for the all-day workshop is $50 per person, payable to GCRL. Registration includes a continental breakfast, light lunch and snacks. Participation is limited to 20. Though the workshop is geared toward beginners, Ulrich tailors the experience to meet needs for all degrees of skill.

"The beginners will definitely benefit from the workshop, but I always help the more advanced get something out of it also," Ulrich said. "I lead many photo trips and always find a wide range of levels."

Ulrich said participants do not need to bring their photographic equipment unless they need an explanation about some aspect of their equipment.

Topics include a brief review of the principles of photography, relationships between shutter and aperture settings, fundamental elements of composition, use and timing of fill-in flash, digital versus film photography, techniques of close-up photography, and a brief discussion of slide etiquette, the photography business and marketing.

Ulrich grew up in South Chicago, graduated with a degree in biology from Southern Illinois University and taught for four years before launching his career as a freelance photographer. He has supported himself with nature photography for the past 29 years.

His library of more than 300,000 transparencies includes birds and mammals from all over the world. His photographs have been featured in publications such as National Wildlife, Audubon, National Geographic, Montana Outdoors and Life.

He has published six nature books, including Mammals of the Rockies, Birds of the Northern Rockies, Once Upon a Frame and his 2002 release, Photo Pantanal. Dr. William E. Hawkins, GCRL executive director, said Ulrich brings the scientific and artistic worlds together.

"Tom earns his living photographing wildlife all over the world," Hawkins sad. "He is an outstanding observer and a biologist. His approach to photography is to capture his subjects exhibiting their natural behavior."

The GCRL is home to the university's Department of Coastal Sciences, the Center for Fisheries Research and Development, and the Gulf Coast Geospatial Center. The J.L. Scott Marine Education Center and Aquarium is also a unit of the laboratory. The GCRL is part of the Southern Miss College of Science and Technology. For more information, call the laboratory at (228) 872-4200.


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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM