September 16, 2014  

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Dean’s Suite in Asbury Hall at Southern Miss to Memorialize Former Nursing Dean

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This artist's rendering shows the proposed new College of Nursing building at Southern Miss to be named Asbury Hall.

A gift commitment of $250,000 will push The University of Southern Mississippi Foundation’s College of Nursing Building Campaign closer to its $8 million goal and honor Dr. Gerry Cadenhead Fletcher, former dean of the College of Nursing and dedicated supporter of Southern Miss athletics, who passed away on July 22.

The contribution, which was made by Southern Miss alumnus Chuck Scianna will provide naming rights for the Dr. Gerry Cadenhead Fletcher Dean’s Suite in Asbury Hall, the name for the proposed College of Nursing facility. Located on the third floor, this 4,224-square-foot space will feature the dean’s office, associate dean’s office, two staff offices, a reception area and a workroom.

Fletcher joined Southern Miss in 1980 as a professor and the chair of the nursing program. From 1983 to 1988, she continued to teach and educate future nurses as assistant dean. She then served as interim director of the School of Nursing before she was named dean of the College of Nursing in 1997.

When Fletcher retired from Southern Miss in 2001, she maintained a strong connection with the University by serving on the College of Nursing Advisory Board, the Nursing Building Campaign Steering Committee and the Southern Miss Athletic Foundation Board of Directors. She and her husband, Col. Tyler Fletcher, were members of the USM Foundation Honor Club at the President’s Circle level. Fletcher’s involvement with Southern Miss Athletics led to a friendship with Scianna, a fellow Circle of Champions member.

“In my last conversation with Gerry on July 18, 2013, she closed the conversation by asking me not to forget the College of Nursing,” Scianna shared. “She reminded me that my wife, Rita, is a nurse and said that it would be appropriate for me to do something for the College of Nursing. The timing of her request impacted me. Rita and I both feel that it is important to honor a person who was so dedicated to our University and gave so much of herself to help take Southern Miss to the top.”

Katherine Nugent, current dean of the College of Nursing, said, “Dr. Fletcher dreamed of seeing the nursing program return to its college status and the completed construction of a new building for the college. After her retirement, she was actively involved as a supporter and advocate of Southern Miss nursing. Through her service to the College and her financial support, she modeled for all of us the importance of giving back to our educational institutions.”

The College of Nursing Building Campaign began in January 2012 with the announcement of a $4 million gift from the Asbury Foundation of Hattiesburg that provided naming rights for the new facility. Shortly after the campaign kicked off, the School of Nursing was reinstated as the College of Nursing.

Currently, the USM Foundation has received more than $5.5 million in commitments. Five million dollars of the $8 million campaign has been earmarked for construction with the remaining $3 million to be used for an endowment to support the long-term maintenance needs of the proposed 86,000-square-foot building with a total project cost of $28 million. Federal grants and state bond funding provided by the Mississippi legislature will also be used to complete the project.

The state-of-the-art Asbury Hall, to be located on the western edge of the University’s Hattiesburg campus, will provide an applied learning space that will empower nursing faculty to continue to strive for instructional excellence and will further impact the College of Nursing’s ability to recruit qualified students and faculty. By increasing the square footage dedicated to the College by 135 percent, Asbury Hall will provide much-needed space for teaching and experiential learning; replacing a facility that can no longer meet the requirements of nursing education.

For more information on the College of Nursing Building Campaign, visit www.usmfoundation.com/nursingbuilding.