December 22, 2014  

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Innovation Serves as Cornerstone of Southern Miss Mission

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The University of Southern Mississippi has much for which to be thankful.

We have the means and opportunity to educate our next generation of leaders.  We are part of a vibrant community rich in the arts and teeming with economic initiatives.  We have friends and alumni who support our institution and our fundamental mission of improving the lives of our students, their families, and our communities.  We employ faculty and staff who are committed to our mission and who will stop at nothing to take us to the top.  And we are a home for innovative researchers who develop solutions to real-world problems.

As November came to a close, I found myself not only reflecting on these points of thanks, but also looking to the future and considering what is next for Southern Miss.  While we continue working to ensure quality across the board and to create pathways to completion for our students, I am reminded of the Governor’s proclamation designating November as Innovation Month for Mississippi.

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “innovation” is defined as the introduction of something new; a new idea, device, or method.  Associated words include: unique, creativity, intuition, persistence, knowledge, and motivation.  Typically we think about innovation in terms of new inventions or breakthroughs in research – but in reality, anything that is new and different can be considered innovative. 

At Southern Miss, we pride ourselves on developing new innovation techniques.  As a top-tier research university with two campuses and five additional teaching and research sites, we are a leader in higher education not only in the state of Mississippi and the southern region, but also throughout the country.  We offer more than 140 undergraduate majors and more than 200 graduate degree programs designed to meet and exceed the higher education needs of today’s college-bound students.  Our students engage in undergraduate and graduate research with faculty who are experts in their field.  And we are constantly seeking ways to innovate in everything we do, whether we are developing new student-centered facilities that enrich the student experience; cultivating partnerships that emphasize community engagement; working through our Gulf Coast Research Laboratory (GCRL) in Ocean Springs to analyze research that bolsters the coastal economy; or conducting large public event safety assessments and training safety personnel through our National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4).

Each person who is connected to our campus – including our students, faculty, staff, alumni, friends, and community members – contributes to our ability to be innovative and responsive to the needs of our constituents.  Our goal is to avoid doing “business as usual” and to carry the spirit of Innovation Month into everything that we do, both now and in the future.

I thank you for your support as we try new things, take risks, and pioneer new ideas, both in academic research and in our daily work.