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Released November 24, 2004

ALABAMA COUPLE DONATES $1.1 MILLION TO SOUTHERN MISS'
WORKPLACE LEARNING AND PERFORMANCE CENTER

LONG BEACH - An Alabama couple with ties to two of that state's major universities has donated $1.1 million to The University of Southern Mississippi's Workplace Learning and Performance Center, located on the Gulf Park campus.

Drs. Jack J. and Patti Pulliam Phillips, who received degrees from the University of Alabama and Auburn University, respectively, are the donors.

The Chelsea, Ala., residents' gift will create the Drs. Jack and Patti Phillips Workplace Learning and Performance Endowment, which will support graduate assistantships, a Guru Series, professional development at the center, and activities for the WLPC Advisory Council.

Dr. Patti Phillips said, "It was the easiest check I've ever written."

"We hope two things evolve from our gift and involvement with the WLPC," she continued. "Our workforce needs a first-class center for public sector accountability, and we hope to launch a center for accountability and performance improvement, which will broaden the reach to industry."

The WLPC, which moved to the Gulf Park campus in June, provides solutions for one of the most critical issues in today's global marketplace: how to develop a high-knowledge, multi-skilled workforce for the 21st century. The WLPC offers tools such as measuring the impact of workforce training and development, assessing workforce needs and mapping strategies for workforce planning, and using competency models to build and manage a workforce. The WLPC has received more than $4 million in support of workforce development research initiatives from agencies such as the U. S. Department of Labor, NASA, the Mississippi Development Authority, and IHL. The WLPC hosts conferences, professional development workshops, and certificate programs that attract a national audience. As part of the Department of Economic and Workforce Development at Southern Miss, the WLPC is an example of how education, employers, and economic development work together to provide "new economy" skills.

"We are thrilled that Jack and Patti thought so much of our program to show their support through such a generous financial contribution that builds a legacy for the work they have done," said Dr. Cyndi Gaudet, director of the WPLC.

Dr. Patti Phillips received a doctorate in international development from Southern Miss in 2003. She and her husband founded the Return on Investment (ROI) Institute in 2003. The institute represents more than 50 years of experience in measurement and evaluation of training, human resources, technology and quality programs and initiatives.

Together with their team and partners, they serve private and public sector organizations in more than 40 countries by implementing accountability systems and processes through education, consulting, coaching and continuing research and publications. Patti Phillips is also chair and CEO of The Chelsea Group Inc., a research and consulting firm specializing in the evaluation of training and performance improvement programs in public sector organizations.

Southern Miss is a domestic partner with the ROI Institute. Patti Phillips shared what she believes to be the benefit of partnering with Southern Miss. "We're already in 41 countries and hundreds of organizations, but we see a tremendous opportunity in partnering our expertise with Southern Miss' academic excellence and vision of growth. Together, not only can we make some great things happen in workforce development and economic development, but we can also have fun doing it," she said.

Gaudet said the WLPC's success depends on its capacity to build and nurture stronger partnerships between technology development and economic and workforce development to build new economy skills. "Both Jack and Patti know that the ability to achieve these goals relies on a solid commitment to the program, which they have demonstrated through their gracious gift to the Workplace Learning and Performance Center," she said.

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November 24, 2004 3:53 PM