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Released October 16, 2003


HATTIESBURG -- The University of Southern Mississippi Alumni Association, in conjunction with the University Bookstore, will unveil the new official ring for the university community Oct. 30 during a special ceremony on the Southern Miss campus.

Adorned with images and icons from the university, the official ring captures the traditions of Southern Miss and the link between the Hattiesburg and Gulf Park campuses.

"The launching of the Southern Miss official ring program is an exciting initiative," said Bob Pierce, Southern Miss Alumni Association executive director. "We have partnered with the University Bookstore to create a program that offers a single identifiable ring for all of our students and alumni. We expect the ring will become a virtual 'walking diploma' for all Golden Eagles so that everyone who sees the ring will quickly realize the wearer is from Southern Miss."

The project is part of a larger initiative to promote the history and traditions of the university and is the result of almost two years of work and joint efforts by the Alumni Association and University Bookstore. A committee composed of students, faculty, staff and alumni collaborated on the design of the official ring, which will replace the more than 30 different versions of class rings currently available on the two Southern Miss campuses.

Margie Heltzel, a member of the official ring committee and the current president of The Legacy, the student alumni organization, said. "The official ring captures the spirit of Southern Miss. The images on the ring define our experiences on campus."

The ring design will be unveiled at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 30 at the Aubrey K. Lucas Administration Building as part of the Homecoming Week festivities. Southern Miss students and alumni who meet the ordering requirements will have an opportunity to order a ring directly after the unveiling ceremony. Any student who has completed 60 credit hours, including a minimum of 30 from Southern Miss, and is in good academic standing, may purchase a ring.

Representatives will also be on campus to take orders for the official ring Nov. 17-20 and Jan. 26-28, 2004, during ring order events. The first group of official rings will be presented in a ceremony on March 30, 2004, as part of the university's ninety-fourth Founders' Day celebration. Southern Miss President Dr. Shelby Thames will be the first recipient of the official ring at the inaugural ring presentation ceremony in March.

Subsequent ring presentation ceremonies will be held annually as part of the Founders' Day festivities. Marcus Nause, manager of programs for the Southern Miss Alumni Association, believes the ring presentations will enhance the observance of the anniversary of the institution. "I had the opportunity to visit the ring presentation ceremony at University of Texas at Austin several months ago, and it certainly plays a role in building a bond between the students and their alma mater," Nause said. "We plan on creating a ring ceremony that will further enhance our Founders' Day events and will have deep meaning to those who decide to purchase the official ring."

For the first year of the program, students and alumni may trade in their current Southern Miss rings, regardless of manufacturer, and have them recast into the new official ring at no charge. For more information on the official ring program, contact Marcus Nause at 266-5357 or


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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM