September 19, 2014  

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Southern Miss Breaks Ground on New Home for College of Business

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Southern Miss officials were joined by state and local dignitaries for the official groundbreaking of Scianna Hall on Thursday, May 10. (Photo by Kelly Dunn)

With just a few shovel turns of dirt, the long-imagined dream of a new home for the College of Business at The University of Southern Mississippi has taken a significant leap toward reality.

Southern Miss officials and noted dignitaries gathered on Thursday, May 10, to break ground on Scianna Hall, a 93,000-square-foot facility that will sit adjacent to the Trent Lott National Center for Excellence in Economic Development and Entrepreneurship, facing U.S. 49 South.

The new building is named in honor of Southern Miss alumnus Charles “Chuck” Scianna, who has committed $6 million toward the project, which is estimated to cost $30 million. Scianna’s gift includes an initial commitment of $5 million that named the facility, as well as a subsequent $1 million matching gift challenge that assisted in the successful conclusion of the private giving campaign necessary to facilitate construction. Scianna’s commitment represents the largest one-time gift to the USM Foundation by a Southern Miss alumnus.

“I am interested in making an investment that the University and the state will benefit from,” said Scianna, president of Sim-Tex, L.P. in Waller, Texas. “We will get a greater return on this investment than on any other in the quality of education, curriculum and graduates we produce. I’ve always said I’d put a business degree from Southern Miss up against any other degree in the country.”

A native of Bay St. Louis, Miss., Scianna earned his bachelor’s degree from Southern Miss (1975) and a master’s degree from the University of Houston. Scianna and his wife, Rita, have two daughters – Stephanie, who is a student at Southern Miss, and Ashley, who resides in Houston and works for Sim-Tex, one of the leading suppliers of API-certified oil country tubular goods.

Scianna Hall will transform the Southern Miss College of Business program that includes approximately 2,200 students, more than 65 faculty members and 17 staff members. The new facility will replace antiquated Joseph Greene Hall, which opened in 1967.

“For so many years, the construction of a new building to house the ever-growing College of Business has been just a vision, but now it is becoming reality,” said Gov. Phil Bryant, who was on hand for the ceremony. “While I was serving as lieutenant governor, the Legislature provided $26 million of state funding for this new state-of-the-art center. The new College of Business building will be a tremendous asset in providing a solid foundation for the next generation of business leaders in our state.”

Following the groundbreaking, The University of Southern Mississippi Foundation hosted a reception announcing the successful conclusion of the $10 million Building Better Business Campaign. A gift commitment from Hancock Bank, along with a matching gift made by Scianna, pushed the campaign past its $10 million goal. The contribution will award Hancock Bank naming rights of two classrooms in Scianna Hall.

“We are obviously thrilled with the successful conclusion of the campaign so Scianna Hall can come to fruition,” said Bob Pierce, vice president for university advancement and executive director of the USM Foundation. “We had a wonderful team in place that included Dr. Saunders, Dr. Nail, our campaign steering committee led by Joy Lightsey and a hardworking Foundation staff. This is something to be proud of.”

Ely Guild Hardy Architects and Studio South Architects collaborated on the project design for Scianna Hall. The estimated completion date is spring 2014.

Among the notable features, Scianna Hall will:

  • Increase the square footage dedicated to the College of Business by 50 percent;
  • House the Center for Healthcare Sales and Marketing and the Center for Financial Services, allowing students, faculty and professionals to work, research and learn together;
  • Provide students with study and gathering spaces, including the new student leadership suite; and
  • Improve the technology with which business education is delivered to Southern Miss students, including a distance learning lecture hall and tiered, case-oriented classrooms equipped with digital displays and comprehensive multimedia stations.

“The College of Business is a premier program at Southern Miss,” said President Martha Saunders. “When completed, this new building will provide our students with cutting-edge business tools and a distinct advantage for real-world business experience in a global marketplace.”

The Southern Miss College of Business is fully accredited by AACSB International – The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. Over the past three years, College of Business faculty have generated more than 50 publications in ranked, high-citation journals – equaling or surpassing the quality research productivity of doctoral-granting colleges in the region. In 2010, the College of Business entered the U.S. News & World Report rankings for business programs for the first time, placing it in the top 15 percent of business programs in the United States.

“From providing teaching and learning spaces conducive to improving student learning in business knowledge and skills to faculty spaces that promote the advancement of business knowledge, Scianna Hall will move Southern Miss further toward its vision to become the leading business school in the state and the region,” said Dr. Lance Nail, dean of the College of Business. “We could not be more appreciative to Governor Phil Bryant and the Mississippi Legislature for the state funding and to our donors for the private support.”

To learn more about the College of Business at Southern Miss, call 601.266.4659 or visit www.usm.edu/business. For more information on the Building Better Business Campaign, visit www.usmfoundation.com/businessbuilding.

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