HATTIESBURG – Jonathan
Krebs relishes the opportunity to show off the past, present and
future of The University of Southern Mississippi.
The president of the Student Government Association
got to talk about his favorite subject Wednesday as he toured the
Hattiesburg campus with Dr. Belle Wheelan, the new president of
the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges
and Schools (SACS).
“We always love the chance to show off our campus
and the Southern Miss spirit,” said Krebs, who gave Wheelan
a guided tour of the new International Center and other locations.
“We have so many defining features on campus and in Hattiesburg
that make us one of the finest institutions in the country.”
Wheelan, who has been in the position for about 13
months, was in Hattiesburg Tuesday and Wednesday to tour the campus
and meet with academic leaders from Southern Miss. Wheelan also
spoke at the Hattiesburg Lake Terrace Convention Center during a
luncheon for leaders of all the university members of the Institutes
of Higher Learning and for community college presidents.
Wheelan said her goal while in Hattiesburg was “to
do a lot of listening.”
“I want to hear what the leaders of the different
institutions have to say about their issues and explain the process
because we’ve changed the accreditation process a little over
the last couple of years,” Wheelan said.
“We want to see where their stumbling blocks
are, see what the questions are and what the good things are,”
Dr. Joan Exline, assistant to the president for accreditation,
planning and articulation, said the idea of statewide reception
for all of the universities and community colleges came about in
“Dr. Wheelan asked us if we’d be
interested in staging this, and we gladly agreed. We broadened it
to include presidents from community colleges and even some of the
private colleges like Millsaps,” Exline said.
Exline said she thought Wheelan would take away from
her time at Southern Miss a positive image of a university on the
“I think she’ll see that we’re
proactively planning new programs that meet the needs of our growing
population. There’s also lots of construction underway, movement
to new facilities and meeting the needs of our students,”
President Shelby Thames said Wheelan’s visit
would allow her to learn about the university on a personal level.
“Building relationships is always important,
especially when you’ll be dealing with people on a business
basis at a later date. Her visit gives her the opportunity to learn
what kind of institution Southern Miss is and what our motivations
are for the future,” Thames said.
Wheelan spent the morning with the deans from Southern
Miss’ five academic colleges, who told her of their academic
plans for the future.
“This was just a real unique opportunity to
have her time and energy devoted to Southern Miss and to give her
a chance to meet our colleagues around the state also. Hopefully,
when she leaves here, she’ll have a better understanding of
higher education in Mississippi,” Thames said.