On April 21, 2011, a pre-dawn fire swept through the Johnson Natatorium at The University of Southern Mississippi. The flames and intense heat destroyed all SCUBA equipment, a week before students were to take their open water certification dives.
Three years later the SCUBA program, offered by the university’s School of Human Performance and Recreation, is back. Students are able to earn college credit for courses ranging from basic certification to specialties such as advanced diver and rescue diver. In some cases students may apply these skills to a future profession, such as marine biology or therapeutic recreation.
“We were unable to resume the program until the natatorium renovations were complete,” said Dr. Susan Hubble-Burchell, assistant to the dean of the College of Health for curriculum and program development. “The university community once again has convenient access to an exciting recreational activity.”
The SCUBA program began in 1975 under the direction of Dr. Charles Burchell, past chair and professor of recreation. In 2003, leadership passed to Bill Powe, who earned his initial certification with the Southern Miss program. Powe is now a certified instructor trainer by the National Association of Underwater Instructors.
“For nearly 40 years the program has facilitated a better understanding of, and appreciation for, the underwater environment, the impact of diving tourism, and a lifelong physical activity that contributed to a healthy lifestyle for hundreds of university students, staff, faculty and community members,” said Hubble-Burchell
For more information about SCUBA certification, call the School of Human Performance and Recreation at 601.266.5386