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Released May 29, 2003

SOUTHERN MISS DANCE FOUNDER NAMED FOR EXCELLENCE

HATTIESBURG - Patricia Amacker McConnell, associate professor of dance at The University of Southern Mississippi, is the recipient of the 2003 Excellence in Higher Education Award from the Mississippi Alliance for Arts Education. She was presented with the prestigious award at a gala May 3 at Mississippi College.

According to the letter she received announcing her selection, the panelists were impressed with the types of service she has engaged in as an educator and as a servant in the field of arts education.

"That (she) guided and brought full circle a program that secured accreditation for dance in the state of Mississippi is remarkable," the panelists' letter said, "because of (McConnell), a generation of performers, choreographers, and dance educators are bringing the art form of dance to audiences and K-12 students in Mississippi schools."

McConnell was the founding director of the dance major program at Southern Miss. Under her leadership, she guided the curriculum to national accreditation-only one such program in Mississippi. She will be retiring from Southern Miss in June.

"Thirty-two years ago, I came to Mississippi as a trailblazer for dance, working as a choreographic artist and educator throughout the state," McConnell said. "I am retiring this year, but throughout my career, I set forth to make innovative, positive and lasting contributions to activities in which I was involved. "

To demonstrate how much McConnell has meant to the dance program at Southern Miss, former students and graduates have initiated a scholarship fund in her honor. This fund provides financial support for future students of the dance program who exhibit artistic excellence, creativity, dedication, leadership and an ability to communicate the power of dance within the community-all attributes that McConnell's students feel their mentor has exhibited throughout her career.

For more information about the scholarship fund, call (601) 266-5922.

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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM

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