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Southern Miss Artist Unveils Mural for New Student Union

Contact Chinika Hood (601)266-5568

HATTIESBURG – University of Southern Mississippi artist/professor Bill Baggett unveiled on Friday the mural that will grace the entrance of the new student union now under construction on Southern Miss’ Hattiesburg campus.

Five years in the making, the mural, named The University’s Bounty, mirrors the spirit of the university’s motto “Freeing the Power of the Individual.” University officials believe it will serve as a compelling landmark for Southern Miss.

“I have seen the evolution of this, and I think the mural really captures the spirit and life of the university,” said Dr. Elliott Pood, dean of the Southern Miss College of Arts and Letters.

Painted in blue, brown and golden hues, the mural’s left panel is filled with a group of excited graduates, an illuminated stadium filled with energized spectators and an elated coach being interviewed by a reporter as he prepares to accept a championship trophy.

The mural’s middle panel displays two captivating glass windows outlined in white that separate a large gathering at one of Southern Miss’ many social events in front of the university’s Aubrey K. Lucas Administration Building. In the foreground, students study at tables and use computers, while others check out a good read at the library.

With a crisp blue sky and vivid sun rays as its backdrop, the last panel shines light on the curiosity of future doctors and scientists, who appear to be clinging onto their professors’ every word as they eagerly work to discover the next big cure or archeological find.

Baggett said the mural, which will continue to evolve until the day he steps onto the scaffolding to begin it, is intended to create more questions than answers.

“A mural is truly a work of art when it sparks curiosity, dialogue and different interpretations,” said Baggett, who has taught at the university for 34 years.

Baggett told the crowd the mural symbolizes the heart of Southern Miss, a sentiment echoed by Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Sid Gonsoulin as he shared his interpretation of the mural.

“The first panel is why we come to Southern Miss, for the knowledge, and the second one is about where we are as a university today, and third panel is about us contributing to society,” Gonsoulin said.

Baggett’s works can be found at home and abroad. The U.S. Information Agency has placed his prints in U.S. Embassy collections in Hong Kong; South Africa; Chile; Israel; Argentina; Yugoslavia; Mexico; Thailand; Sweden; and Iran.

Here in the Pine Belt, Baggett’s works can be seen at Hattiesburg’s Public Library, considered the largest mural ever executed on stainless steel. He has also left an indelible mark at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson and the Jule Collins Smith Museum at Auburn University, where he taught for 10 years and received an endowed Alumni Professorship for Scholarly and Creative Achievement.

“We think Bill can do no wrong; he’s probably one of the very best in the country,” said Dr. Harold Luce, former Southern Miss dean of fine arts.

Baggett expects to begin drawing the mural in the student union this spring. Larry Albert, Chris Robinson and Jenny Stewart of Albert and Associates Architects PA are working with Baggett on the project, along with Philadelphia-based Yates Construction company.

The four-story, state-of-the-art student union will be home to Barnes & Noble, an elaborate dining facility, conference rooms, a presidential suite and ballroom. The north wing of the building is expected to open this summer.

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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Last updated: 01/06/06

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