September 19, 2014  

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USM Foundation Raises More Than $15 Million in Fiscal Year 2013-14

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The DuBard School for Language Disorders 50th Anniversary Campaign was just one of the initiatives that benefitted from the contributions of alumni and friends last year. The school is a practicum site for university students majoring in speech-language pathology, audiology, or deaf education, and serves children with severe language-speech disorders. (Submitted photo)

Generating $15,560,117 during fiscal year 2013-14, The University of Southern Mississippi Foundation reports its second highest fundraising total in gifts and pledges received during a single fiscal year. This represents an 82 percent increase over the amount raised last year.

This year’s giving total is a testament to the loyalty and commitment of the alumni and friends of Southern Miss,” said Shannon Fleming, executive director of the USM Foundation. “We depend on private support to maintain and increase a margin of excellence that must be in place as we continue to offer a quality education for our students. The message we want all our donors to hear is that their generous gifts are changing lives for the better.”

These successes come during Dr. Rodney D. Bennett’s first complete year as president of The University of Southern Mississippi.

“Perhaps the most exciting aspect of our second-highest year ever is the fact that it came during Dr. Bennett’s first full year as president of the University,” said Bob Pierce, vice president for university advancement. “I believe this level of contributions is a strong endorsement of his presidency and the course he has charted for Southern Miss.”

During the recently concluded fiscal year, which ran from July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2014, gifts to the Foundation helped increase the organization’s total net assets to more than $115 million, provided approximately $3.3 million in support to the University and awarded more than 2,000 scholarships to Southern Miss students.

Significant achievements during the 2013-14 fiscal year included the following:

  • Fundraising for the DuBard School for Language Disorders 50th Anniversary Campaign and the Moffitt Health Center Campaign both exceeded $1 million.
  • The Dale Center for the Study of War & Society Campaign, which kicked off in February 2014, has raised $1.6 million toward its $2 million goal.
  • The College of Nursing Building Campaign surpassed the $6 million mark toward an $8 million goal, with plans for a formal groundbreaking ceremony for Asbury Hall to be held September 19.

Another fiscal year highlight for the USM Foundation was the Southern Miss Gold Rush – a crowdfunding event during which the Foundation successfully raised $200,391.90 in just 36 hours. The Foundation utilized social media platforms to encourage alumni, students, employees and friends to support their favorite areas of the University by making a gift on March 25-26. The total amount raised represents 326 gifts from donors in 38 U.S. states, England, China and Hong Kong.

The 2014 Campaign for Southern Miss, the USM Foundation’s faculty and staff campaign, set a new record for employee participation in giving with more than 40 percent of full-time university employees making gifts to the USM Foundation. This is an increase of more than 300 percent since the Campaign was launched in 2012. Designed to cultivate, recognize and inspire members of the University's faculty and staff, The Campaign for Southern Miss uses a peer-to-peer approach that encourages participation in giving over dollars raised.

Fleming, who was appointed as executive director of the USM Foundation in June 2013, credits the USM Foundation Staff and Board of Directors for their diligent efforts to help the organization progress forward.

“Raising more than $15 million could not have been possible without the dedication of the Foundation Board of Directors and Staff, as well as key University personnel including President Bennett and Vice President for Advancement Bob Pierce,” said Fleming. “Together, our team is poised to take the lead as we seek the incredible opportunities for continued fundraising success that lie ahead.”

The USM Foundation Board of Directors is comprised of 38 members who are committed to supporting the organization both as volunteers and donors. In fiscal year 2014, 100 percent of the Foundation Board of Directors made gifts to the Foundation.

Rex Kelly, a Southern Miss alumnus, served as the board’s president during the 2013-14 year. For 2014-15, Kelly passes the reigns to long-time University supporter Lou Ann Poynter.

“In a day when only 26 percent of needed revenue for the University comes from state funding, it is necessary that each of us do our part to ensure Southern Miss continues its legacy of excellence by giving to the USM Foundation,” said Kelly. “Private support helps our students gain the opportunity to make a difference. It is an investment that pays big dividends.”