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Released August 18, 2005



SOUTHERN MISS TO MOVE FORWARD WITH
CASINO, RESORT MANAGEMENT DEGREE THIS FALL

HATTIESBURG – The University of Southern Mississippi is proceeding with plans to teach casino and resort management classes this fall on its Long Beach campus.

Following the state's decision to forego an appeal of a judge's earlier ruling in favor of the courses, Southern Miss will offer a degree in business administration with an emphasis in casino and resort management on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Southern Miss is the first state-supported university to offer business courses specific to the state's large gaming and tourism industry.

"Today's action gives us the ability to form a true partnership with the casino and resort industry, which allows us to fill their management and professional job needs with Mississippians who were educated in Mississippi, said Dr. Harold Doty, dean of the College of Business. "After 18 months of hard work, we are free to move forward aggressively to launch a program that will benefit both Southern Miss and the state."

The university first submitted the proposal for the degree program in February 2004 after the Institutions of Higher Learning's request in late 2003 that Mississippi universities explore the feasibility of offering these kinds of programs. The state college board approved the new Bachelor of Science program during its April 2004 meeting in Jackson. Southern Miss offers this new degree through the Department of Tourism Management in the College of Business.

Students may earn the degree with one of three emphasis areas. Casino and resort management is available on the university's Long Beach campus, while hotel management and restaurant management are taught in Hattiesburg. Students in the degree program must complete approximately 40 credit hours of core business requirements and another 18 credit hours in their chosen emphasis area.

The program will help those currently in the casino industry who might lack the educational credentials to advance to executive level positions, said Dr. Cheri Becker, chair of the Department of Tourism Management. "In creating this program, Southern Miss can help those employees advance their careers. We're looking forward to developing a strong relationship with the industry on the coast and other areas of the state to shape a program that will best meet their needs," she said.

The program is designed to provide students with a broad-based educational core that focuses on the development of communication and critical thinking skills. These core skills are followed by the acquisition of a strong business foundation, a prerequisite to managing any large business. The third focus is on how these business skills are integrated and applied within different segments of the tourism industry.

Recreation and tourism in Mississippi generated $5.7 billion in 2003, and the industry employs more than 90,000 Mississippians. Tourism is the state's largest service sector employer, according to a 2004 report by the Tourism Division of the Mississippi Development Authority.

"The tourism industry is a major source of jobs in Mississippi," said Southern Miss President Shelby Thames. "Southern Miss is a part of the economic engine for south Mississippi and can now help fuel continued economic growth in this area now that we are allowed to meet the educational needs of this important industry."

For more information, contact the College of Business at (601) 266-4659.

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September 14, 2005 4:49 PM