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Released October 26, 2005

SACS PRESIDENT TOURS SOUTHERN MISS DURING
STATEWIDE SUMMIT WITH UNIVERSITY LEADERS

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,” she added.

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 July.

“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 move.

“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,” Exline said.

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.

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October 26, 2005 3:26 PM