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Date    12-8-05
Contact Leigh Anne Wilson (601) 266-4491


HATTIESBURG-- Students, faculty and staff at the University of Southern Mississippi enjoyed an evening of holiday music, food and a visit from “Rasta Claus” at Tuesday’s grand opening of The Courtyard, located next to the old Power Plant building across from Cook Library.

The Courtyard is intended to provide a warm and inviting setting, with a New Orleans French Quarter-style setting, in the heart of campus for students, faculty and staff to gather. The Courtyard itself was the idea of Greg Lassen, vice president for Business and Finance. He wanted a place for students, faculty and staff to be able to relax and enjoy the campus. With the visions of Fred Fisher of Fisher Nursery and the direction of project manager Dr. Cynthia Moore, associate provost, The Courtyard came to life.

The celebration was complete with holiday music played by the Southern Miss Steel Pan Combo, servings of samples of Starbucks coffee and cocoa, banana foster bread pudding, hot wassail and gumbo courtesy of Aramark, as well as Barnes & Noble giveaways. A special guest also attended the event – Rasta Claus sang holiday carols to entertain the guests.

“The addition of the holiday decorations, music, prize giveaways and hot food for the official opening of The Courtyard just got everyone in a festive mood,” said Sid Gonsoulin, associate vice president for Student Affairs.

Gonsoulin commented that students are able to sit and enjoy their surroundings at The Courtyard while they drink a cup of coffee from Starbucks and study, socialize or practice scripts for their drama class.

"Being from the New Orleans area, the new Courtyard provides a home-away-from-home feeling because there is a little taste of New Orleans in the middle of the Southern Miss campus,” said Brandi Ferrer, a sophomore international business, finance and relations major. “I’m thrilled to have an outside nook to relax and enjoy the beauty of our campus."

About The University of Southern Mississippi

The University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities. In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world. Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; further information is found at

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