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Released January 30, 2004

STUDY RECOMMENDS REPURPOSING OF UNIVERSITY PROPERTY

HATTIESBURG -- Through a public/private partnership with the Area Development Partnership and the Forrest County Industrial Park Commission, The University of Southern Mississippi commissioned a master plan to study land usage of approximately 500 acres of university property.

The study is near completion and suggests a repurposing of the land, which currently includes Van Hook Golf Course. The study recommends using the land to house an Innovation and Commercialization Park that will attract research-driven businesses and industry to the greater Hattiesburg area.

The repurposing of this land will necessitate the closing of Van Hook, which will operate through March 31, 2004. Lake Sehoy will remain as one of the recreational portions of the park.

"We have experienced a steady decline in usage at both facilities for quite some time," said Gregg Lassen, university chief financial officer. "It makes financial sense to use this land in a way that better serves both the university and the Hattiesburg community."

The university has received proposals from Shadow Ridge and Timberton Golf Courses with the purpose of providing discount rates of play for Southern Miss students, faculty, staff and retirees. "We appreciate the willingness of these businesses to work with Southern Miss to ensure that our employees, former employees and students have improved golf facilities and are able to play at discounted rates," said university President Shelby Thames. Other golf facilities may choose to provide proposals and extend discount rates and packages.

The Institutions of Higher Learning Board will begin reviewing the plan at their February meeting. "The master plan for the park does include many public recreational amenities that community members will be able to access and enjoy," said Dr. Angie Dvorak, vice president for research and economic development at Southern Miss.

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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM

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