It took one week for University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast students, faculty, staff and administrators to transform a building battered by Hurricane Katrina into a canvas of art to be admired.
During the university’s Welcome Week events, hosted by the Department of Student Services and held during the first full week of the fall semester, students and employees were invited to paint six-foot tall boards that would be placed in the windows of the Administration Building on the Gulf Park campus in Long Beach. Heavily damaged by Katrina, the building has been vacant since the storm struck in 2005.
“I found a sense of pride for Southern Miss,” said student Samantha Cotton-Taylor of Gulfport, a junior majoring in social work. “The pride that came over me while painting also matched my love for art. I was also able to meet some very wonderful people – staff especially.”
A total of 45 paintings hang in windows on the buildings south side. In addition to the windows, a larger painted board was placed over the doorway of the building, bearing the university’s traditional black and gold color and featuring signatures of Southern Miss Gulf Coast employees.
“The Department of Student Services was honored to sponsor this project for our students, faculty, and staff,” said Ann Billings, director of Student Services. “It was the highlight of our Welcome Week activities and it gave us the opportunity to provide a sense of community to our campus.”
The campus beautification project was among many activities for students during Welcome Week. Various campus tours, a student services fair and seminars were among many events scheduled for students. To cap off Welcome Week, the Department of Student Services presented Eagle Bash, which featured entertainment from local musician Brooks Hubbert and a volleyball tournament sponsored by the Student Government Association.
“I ended up spending a lot of time on campus during Welcome Week that I wouldn’t have normally,” said Cotton-Taylor. “I was able to see what the campus had to offer.”
She looks forward to participating in future Southern Miss Gulf Coast events. “I would like to be a part of bringing our campus back to life. I think we should also have a day that our families could participate in so they can see why we spend so much time at the university and take such pride in Southern Miss Gulf Coast,” she said.
For more information about Southern Miss Gulf Coast, visit www.usm.edu/gulfcoast.