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
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
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
“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
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
“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
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 www.usm.edu.
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