October 1, 2014  

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South Mississippi Home Health Foundation Makes Gifts to Nursing Program

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The South Mississippi Home Health Foundation provided a gift of $400,000 to the Nursing Building Campaign at Southern Miss. Pictured from left to right: Southern Miss President Rodney D. Bennett; SMHHF Board President Mary Stainton; Dr. Katherine Nugent, dean of the College of Nursing; Elaine Temple; and Dr. Lynwood Wheeler. (Submitted photo)

Recent gifts from South Mississippi Home Health Foundation included $400,000 to the Nursing Building Campaign at The University of Southern Mississippi, which helped push the private fundraising initiative above the $6 million mark.

The contribution to the USM Foundation in support of the campaign will be used for the creation of an endowment to assist with the maintenance and operations of the new building, which will be called Asbury Hall, and will also result in the naming of the facility’s lecture hall.

Construction has already begun at the site on the western edge of the University’s Hattiesburg campus, and is estimated to be completed by the summer of 2016. A formal groundbreaking ceremony will take place near the construction site at 10 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 19.

The $400,000 is part of a larger donation totaling more than $600,000 to benefit the University, with the majority of the giving focused on the College of Nursing. The additional gifts include $110,000 to establish a new endowed scholarship in honor of Dr. Frederick E. Tatum, M.D.; $5,000 for the nursing Dean’s Development Fund; and an additional $100,000 to endow a scholarship for Deaconess HomeCare and Hospice employees, as well as their children and grandchildren.

“Supporting education has always been an important goal of South Mississippi Home Health Foundation and Deaconess HomeCare and Hospice,” said SMHHF Board President Mary Stainton. “The College of Nursing at Southern Miss is one of the cornerstones for professional nursing education in Mississippi, and the construction of a new nursing building on campus is long overdue.”

In January of 2012, the USM Foundation announced an $8 million fundraising campaign to construct a new building for the College of Nursing. The campaign got off to a strong start with a $4 million commitment from the Asbury Foundation of Hattiesburg to name the building. The state-of-the-art facility, which will be located adjacent to the University’s Theatre and Dance Building, will increase the square footage dedicated to the College of Nursing by 135 percent, providing much-needed space for faculty and students and replacing a facility that can no longer meet the requirements of nursing education.

Dr. Katherine Nugent, dean of the College of Nursing at Southern Miss, noted that South Mississippi Home Health (now known as Deaconess HomeCare and Hospice Services) has a reputation of excellence in the Pine Belt, much like the University’s College of Nursing.

“South Mississippi Home Health and Deaconess HomeCare and Hospice have established a tradition of providing quality health care in the comfort of the patient’s home for more than 40 years,” said Nugent. “Our students have benefitted from scholarships funded by South Mississippi Home Health Foundation over the past three years through the Dr. Frederick Tatum Annual Scholarship. I am humbled that the foundation has chosen to continually invest in the future of the College of Nursing by naming the lecture hall, funding endowed scholarships, and supporting the mission of the nursing program.”

Founded in 1987, South Mississippi Home Health Foundation Inc. is a nonprofit organization funded by donations from Deaconess employees in Mississippi and from investment income.

The Frederick E. Tatum, M.D. Annual Nursing Scholarship is awarded to Southern Miss nursing students with a minimum 3.0 grade point average and preference given to students interested in home health care and community health. The first five recipients of the scholarship received funding at the beginning of the fall 2010 semester. The new gift from SMHHF will continue the annual scholarship for 2014-15 and create the endowment that will fund nursing scholarships in perpetuity.

Bob Pierce, the University’s vice president for advancement, complimented SMHHF on its vision for supporting the future of nursing. “It is special that South Mississippi Home Health Foundation’s board elected to invest in both capital infrastructure and endowed scholarships. These leaders took a long-term view, and Southern Miss nursing students decades into the future will still be reaping the benefits of these gifts to support scholarship endowments and the ongoing viability of Asbury Hall.”

Stainton pointed out that the new nursing building at Southern Miss will create greater visibility for the University’s nursing program and attract the highest caliber students and educators.

“With the ever-changing dynamics in health care, nurses have to be prepared to meet these challenges,” said Stainton. “The new facility will be equipped with the latest cutting-edge equipment and will be a great attraction to future nursing candidates and faculty. Southern Miss will get national recognition for this impressive facility.”

To learn more about the Nursing Building Campaign at Southern Miss, contact the USM Foundation at 601.266.5210 or visit: www.usmfoundation.com/nursingbuilding.