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Released July 22, 2003

CENTER FOR INTERNATIONAL AND CONTINUING EDUCATION
LOOKS BACK ON 90 YEARS OF SERVICE TO COMMUNITY, WORLD

HATTIESBURG - Nowhere are the partnerships between The University of Southern Mississippi, the community it calls home, and the world citizenry it serves more evident than in the efforts of the Center for International and Continuing Education (CICE), which today continues a history of outreach that spans the better part of a century.

This year marks the 90th anniversary of the continuing education efforts that have, over nine decades, grown into today's CICE at Southern Miss, encompassing five program areas - International Programs, Continuing Education and Distributed Learning, the English Language Institute, the Institute for Learning in Retirement, and International Student and Scholar Services.

In looking back at 90 years of education and outreach, and ahead to the future that strong foundation has made possible, Southern Miss President Dr. Shelby Thames said "These programs have grown into leading models for other universities to emulate. Much of our success in these areas has been thanks to the visionary and entrepreneurial spirit of Dr. Tim Hudson, who served as dean of the former College of International and Continuing Education."

The College of International and Continuing Education became the CICE on July 1. Of continuing education's role, Hudson said, "Early on I believed in the value these programs could provide for students. Our original vision has continued to grow and we will always be looking for ways to improve our course offerings and services to best meet the needs of our global economy."

Continuing education at Southern Miss began in 1913, three years after the university's founding, with a set of correspondence courses offered to teachers in the subject areas of English, beginning algebra and basic education. By 1927, the General Extension Division had been founded at the school as a way of further serving public school educators.

The university offered these learning opportunities with an eye toward one of the social and classroom realities of the time - many teachers then did not hold degrees, and poor economic conditions, coupled with the difficulty of travel, made earning one extremely difficult. Thus the chance for teachers to further their educations by way of correspondence and extension services, without having to travel far from their homes, was just what the situation required.

This was just the beginning of continuing education's focus on recognizing a need, then filling it in a way that served both the individuals involved and the community as a whole.

CICE Director Susan Steen said that the center's mission is even more vital, given the nature of the world we live in today.

"Now more than ever, education is a life-long journey; and now more than ever, we're living in an increasingly global society," Steen said. "Our CICE programs extend the university to the local and global communities, offering terrific opportunities for life-long learning and preparation for success in today's interdependent world.

"We're proud to continue the tradition of outreach begun 90 years ago, and grateful to the many outstanding faculty members who've provided leadership and support over the years."

Originally, correspondence and extension efforts were administered by a committee made up of faculty members. But in 1929, the correspondence and extension services were merged and placed under the direction of a single administrator. Aside from a brief period from 1939 to 1942, when the two services again operated separately, the merger of correspondence and extension that would eventually become continuing education carried on as a unit.

In 1961, an ever-increasing demand for services led to the reorganization of the department, and with that reorganization came a new name - the Division of Continuing Education. The newly reshaped division added conference, short-course and workshop programs to its existing avenues of outreach, and the expanded offerings continued to draw more and more participants from the community. Students flocked to take advantage of learning opportunities that were tailored to fit their educational needs, and that also worked easily within the framework of their lives.

As the Division of Continuing Education became aware of the demand for additional credit and noncredit offerings, it moved to meet that demand. It created new services and offered them locally and throughout South Mississippi by way of extension and resident centers.

Meanwhile, the first signs of the university's growing commitment to international education began to take shape. In 1947, the Latin American Institute - which would one day become the English Language Institute (ELI) - was established with the mission of teaching English as a second language.

Today, the ELI, a long-standing facet of international and continuing education at Southern Miss, continues its commitment to quality teaching and intellectual achievement, striving toward its goals of encouraging language in all skills - reading, writing, listening and speaking - while serving a diverse international student body.

In 1953, an academic course in international trade was established within the College of Business Administration. In that same year, the Department of Business Education offered a program leading to certification as a bilingual secretary.

In a foreshadowing of future student body composition, 1955 saw the position of "foreign student adviser" established. The position - which would one day grow into the International Student and Scholar Services program - was charged with assisting the admissions office with the university's ever-growing population of international students.

Today, International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) continues as a vital CICE component. It coordinates all facets of admissions and services for international students and scholars, said ISSS administrator Barbara Whitt Jackson.

"ISSS has been around for more than 48 years," Jackson said. "It has grown from just student services to include services to international researchers, scholars, etc. Due to numerous requests from the public, ISSS has become the community liaison connecting the students and scholars to the community by supporting various functions and organizations outside of USM.

"For example, if a local school is hosting an event and would like to have an international student or scholar from a particular country, ISSS serves as the contact that assists with requests of this nature. Often ISSS is involved in the actual process by transporting students to these events and providing the structure needed to facilitate such requests."

In 1976, the seed from which Southern Miss' acclaimed British Studies Program would grow was planted when a six-week residential course in comparative criminal jurisprudence was established in London.

Other milestones along the path that led to the international presence Southern Miss enjoys today include the 1981 founding of the Center for International Education for the purpose of bringing administration of study-abroad programs under one roof; the continued growth of the British Studies Program, and the establishment of study-abroad experiences in numerous other countries, including Vietnam; and the eventual initiation of an international studies degree program.

Since 1976, more than 8,000 students have participated in Southern Miss study-abroad programs. In recent years, the university has ranked in the top 20 nationally among doctoral institutions in terms of the number of students it has studying abroad.

All told, Southern Miss operates study-abroad programs in 30 countries worldwide, and has developed international exchange programs with 11 universities in seven countries. More than 170 faculty members have led study-abroad programs, research abroad or presented at international conferences through CICE.

In 1991, the Center for International Education was merged with the university's Continuing Education programs, which had continued to grow and expand. The result was the College of International and Continuing Education, which brought a number of wide-ranging educational missions under one roof.

The Institute for Learning in Retirement (ILR), a vital CICE component, offered its first classes in 1991 with 94 charter members. The ILR now boasts an annual membership of more than 400, all of whom must meet two criteria - members must be over 50, and they must have a love of learning and adventure.

ILR founder and university liaison Sue Pace said the institute "brings senior community leaders together in one organization to learn together and form social relationships and generate dialogue and ideas for the betterment of the Hattiesburg area.

"Additionally, research indicates that when senior citizens keep their minds active and form positive relationships with others, they live healthier and more fulfilling lives."

International and Continuing Education has continued to offer nationally recognized, cutting-edge learning opportunities. Continuing education offered its first compressed interactive video course in 1995, and its first fully online course in 1998. On the international side, Southern Miss' Vietnam Studies program recently received a national award for excellence in study-abroad programming from the Institute for International Education.

In July, continuing education's 90 years of growth and expansion culminated in a new organizational structure with the formation of the CICE. Comprising five program areas, the CICE continues the mission of outreach and education that began in 1913, with those first correspondence courses, and is always pushing the international component of learning abroad in new and exciting directions.

"The center (CICE) structure will allow us to serve our faculty partners and other constituent groups efficiently and effectively," said CICE Associate Director Lisa Carpenter.

"We are looking forward to these opportunities for collaboration, and to continuing the development of innovative, life-changing, award-winning outreach programs that make Southern Miss a national leader in international and continuing education programs."

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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM

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