September 20, 2014  

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Annual Fall Convocation Spotlights Southern Miss Achievements

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Southern Miss Interim President Aubrey Lucas discusses the previous year's highlights during the fall 2012 convocation held Wednesday, Sept. 12 at Bennett Auditorium. (Photo by Danny Rawls)

University of Southern Mississippi Interim President Aubrey Lucas greeted faculty, staff and students at the institution’s fall 2012 convocation Sept. 12, thanking them for their service to the university and noting various individual and institutional accomplishments from the previous academic year.

An increase in freshmen enrollment, expansion of state-of-the art student housing, advancements in academic research that have garnered national and international media notice, individual student, faculty staff achievements and groundbreaking on new buildings for the Colleges of Business and Nursing were among many accomplishments Lucas cited as he expressed hopes for more in the future.

“Doesn’t that make you proud to be at Southern Miss?” he said.

Members of the president’s executive cabinet also spoke about achievements and goals for their areas in 2012-2013. The cabinet includes Provost Denis Wiesenburg; Athletics Director Jeff Hammond; Vice President for Student Affairs Joe Paul; Southern Miss Gulf Coast Vice President Frances Lucas; Interim Vice President for Finance and Administration Tom Estes; Vice President for Advancement Bob Pierce and Executive Assistant to the President for External and Governmental Affairs Chad Driskell.

Paul credited not only his staff in the Division of Student Affairs for their efforts to boost freshman enrollment, but also faculty and staff for “making us attractive to students.”

Wiesenburg and Frances Lucas gave a special welcome to new members of the faculty, 86 of which are tenure-track and 15 of which will be based at Southern Miss Gulf Coast.  Estes noted campus construction projects underway and on the drawing board, including the renovation of historic College Hall which is set to go back online in fall 2013 and house the School of Mass Communication and Journalism.

Pierce praised faculty and staff for their generosity in increasing their financial donations to the university through the Campaign for Southern Miss as well as his staff for its work to help the Foundation secure $20 million in gifts to the university, a fiscal year record.

Hammond also spoke, inviting Southern Miss faculty and staff to attend Saturday’s home football opener against East Carolina while also thanking them for their work to help students meet their goals.

“You do touch hearts and, wow, you do change lives,” Hammond said, noting that the athletics department and university share the same mission of fostering student achievement. “Together, we can make a difference in the lives of everyone we touch at this university,” he said.

In praising the group for their work, Lucas said, “I’ll put this cabinet up against any in the nation.”