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Released June 10, 2004

By David Tisdale

HATTIESBURG -- Ann Morris likens her role as the new manager of The University of Southern Mississippi's English Language Institute (ELI) to that of an engineer, figuratively speaking.

"While our primary mission is to teach English to non-native students, we feel like we're building channels of communication between cultures," she said. "We feel like we're building bridges for peace around the world."

Morris, a Southern Miss graduate from Collins, returns after serving as instructional technologies coordinator at the English Language Institute at the University of South Florida since 1978. She holds an undergraduate degree in psychology from Southern Miss, and a master's degree in linguistics from USF.

The Southern Miss ELI, founded in 1947, provides intensive academic instruction programs in English to international students, as well as specialized short-term programs of English instruction. It is one of the oldest English language instruction programs in the country.

"Many students who complete our programs are admitted here or at other colleges and universities around the country, or may return to their home, where they need to use English for their work."

"I think of all the students who have been through the program over the years, and who are out there in the world using the English that they learned here," Morris said. "I like to tell our students that they are students today and leaders tomorrow. It's (ELI) a great program, and I think we've done a great job over the years improving life in other countries through the English instruction programs we have here, and that tradition continues."

Morris said ELI students not only learn how to speak English, but also benefit personally from the intercultural relationships they establish through the program, as well as learning about life in the United States - the keys to building the kind of bridges of international communication Morris hopes are always under construction.

"They take these experiences back (home) with them," she said. "These (intercultural) experiences play a role in their future experiences."

The ELI is scheduled to move into the university's new Center for International and Continuing Education building this fall, and Morris said she's looking forward to the benefits of the new facility.

"Our immediate goal is to increase enrollment in the program, and getting into the new building will enable us to do a lot of things with more room and improved facilities," she said.

Suzy Steen, director of the Southern Miss CICE, welcomed Morris back to her alma mater. "We're delighted to have Ann on board," Steen said. "Under her leadership, we're confident that the ELI will continue its tradition of successfully educating future international leaders not only in the English language, but in the culture and traditions of the American South."


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June 11, 2004 4:55 PM