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Released July 20, 2004


HATTIESBURG -- As a former advertising and visual display specialist for one of the nation's largest department stores, Rusty Rolison developed a knack for presentation. Now, he's using that same talent in his new job at The University of Southern Mississippi.

Rolison's role as manager of performance facilities for the College of Arts and Letters has been expanded to include all of the university's planned events. As the new Southern Miss events coordinator, Rolison will oversee the production of all meetings and events on the Hattiesburg campus.

"Rusty's talents in the visual arts arena and his experience in merchandising will be an asset to his additional responsibilities," said Southern Miss President Dr. Shelby Thames.

"It is important that every event we have at Southern Miss exude class, and Rusty can really enhance our efforts in that regard. His attention to detail and his connections on campus will make event planning and coordination much easier for faculty and staff."

For the last four years, Rolison has managed functions for the College of Arts and Letters at Bennett Auditorium and the Mannoni Performing Arts Center Auditorium. Between the two, Rolison oversees about 300 events per year. With his expanded duties, Rolison said he expects that number to jump to about 500 events per year.

"It could be as simple as telling someone where to appropriate a table or a microphone (for an event) to suggesting a theme or a manner of operation for an event. It will be like having one-stop shopping in the area of event planning," he said.

Rolison said that in the past, events on campus were planned with varying degrees of success. His new role will help establish a consistent procedure for individuals or organizations planning an event. An online events checklist created by Rolison will be available on the university's Web site to help facilitate the process.

"We saw some areas of opportunity to improve, and it is the university's desire that everyone's event has the same opportunity for success.

"This position wasn't created to hinder people's event, but to help improve it. Through talking with President Thames, he mentioned he'd like for me to view the campus and see what could be done to make it more beautiful and more inviting to people who want to attend, as well as for people who are already on campus," Rolison said.

A native of Butler, Ala., Rolison received a business and fine arts degree from the University of West Alabama (formerly Livingston University). Formerly employed by

JC Penney, Rolison was part of the opening team for Northpark Mall in Jackson, Galleria Mall in Hoover, Ala., and Madison Square Mall in Huntsville, Ala. His professional background also includes visual display and television promotion.

A theater costume designer for 20 years, Rolison has worked with various theater groups in Alabama and sits on the Miss Junior Miss board of directors.

Dr. Denise von Herrmann, associate dean of the College of Arts and Letters, said Southern Miss is fortunate to have an individual with Rolison's background and experience.

"He has a unique skill set involving facility oversight, event planning, auditorium management, and experience working with a wide array of constituencies. The College of Arts and Letters is very pleased to partner with the broader university in this way. We believe that this new position will help the university put its best foot forward during the myriad of events we host each year."


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July 23, 2004 11:04 AM