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Released May 09, 2003


HATTIESBURG -- The difference a year can make in the expansion of learning opportunities was on full display at The University of Southern Mississippi's Institute for Learning in Retirement Thursday afternoon. One year to the day after a groundbreaking ceremony for the ILR's new Asbury Annex, a group that included representatives from the university, members of the Hattiesburg area business community and dozens of ILR members officially opened the new facility here with a dedication ceremony.

"The Institute for Learning in Retirement is a program that brings both quality and prestige to Southern Mississippi," said Southern Miss President Dr. Shelby Thames, speaking to a group gathered for the event. "This program is one of the many on our campus that engages both the university and the community."

Addressing directly the ILR members in attendance, Thames added, "You at the ILR speak with a voice that encourages life-long learning. That's an important message to get to all people in our society. Southern Miss believes in lifelong learning, and thus we encourage the growth of ILR."

Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree was also at Thursday's ceremony. He said that he saw the dedication of the Asbury Annex as a milestone event.

"As I look at this building, that's what I'm reminded of - where we've been, where we've come, and where we have to go," he said.

The Asbury Annex was named for the Asbury Foundation, Inc. of Hattiesburg, which contributed $210,000 toward construction. Asbury Foundation President William K. Ray was in attendance Thursday, as were representatives from numerous other organizations that donated parts of the $750,000 that was eventually raised. Individual contributions, many made in the amount of $10,000, were also a large part of the building effort.

Located at 3601 Pearl Street, the annex was built to relieve pressure on the Peck House, which has been the ILR's main facility. The number of ILR members now attending the institute's business and social events has outgrown that building.

Sue Pace, who founded the ILR in 1991 and now serves as liaison between the ILR and Southern Miss, spoke to the institute's growth in her remarks Thursday.

"In 1991, we started with 94 charter members," Pace said. "We now have well over 400 members each year, and I think these are the true pioneers. Thank you all."


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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM