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Released June 11, 2004


HATTIESBURG -- Wright W. "Bill" Cross received the first College of Science and Technology Outstanding Alumni Award at The University of Southern Mississippi at a luncheon held in his honor on May 27. Twenty-one friends and family members were on hand to help Cross celebrate at Maison Lacour in Baton Rouge, La., including university representatives Dr. Rex Gandy, dean of COST; Dr. Wally Pye, chair of mathematics; and Ben Samel, assistant director of planned gifts.

"Since this is the first time that the College of Science and Technology has ever bestowed an Outstanding Alumni Award, it is indeed a great honor for Mr. Cross to receive such an award," Gandy said. "Through his generous support for the university, the college and the Department of Mathematics, Mr. Cross has demonstrated his great love for this institution."

Cross, a 1951 graduate in mathematics at Southern Miss, has given generously to his alma mater throughout the years. In 1994, the Wright W. Cross Endowment was created to provide scholarships to students with financial needs who major in math and have a grade point average of 3.0 or better. To date, there have been approximately 30 Cross Scholars.

In 1997, Cross and his wife established the Wright W. and Annie Rea Cross Endowed Chair in Mathematics and Endowment for Undergraduate Research. Totaling more than $3 million, this was the largest single gift in Southern Miss history and it established the first endowed chair at Southern Miss. Annually, more than 10 Cross Scholars, as well as the chair in mathematics, are funded by this endowment, which provides salary and research expenses.

In the fall of 1999, Cross was inducted into the Southern Miss Alumni Hall of Fame, and in 2001, he was recognized as a charter member of the university's Gallery of Benefactors.

Pye said the College of Science and Technology Outstanding Alumni Award is particularly significant because it is the first one ever given, and all past graduates of the college were eligible to receive it.

"Despite that, Mr. Cross was unanimously selected by the college's award committee," Pye said.


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June 11, 2004 4:57 PM