Call for Topics

Overview and Questions

The QEP Topic Selection Task Force designed a multi-phase process for selection of the University's new QEP.  The first phase, the Call for Topics, invited all members of the university community (students, staff, faculty, alumni, parents, employers, and community members) to share topic suggestions through completion of a brief online form with the following questions:

  1. What student learning or student success topic do you think Southern Miss should focus on for its next QEP (Quality Enhancement Plan)?
  2. Please mark your classification or affiliation with Southern Miss.  You may mark more than one as applicable.  If faculty, please indicate your college.
  3. Please indicate your primary site/campus.
  4. If you are interested in submitting a brief proposal or collaborating with others regarding the same topic, please list your name and e-mail address below.  (Note: There is no obligation.  This will only be used to invite you tosubmit a proposal and/or work with others interested in the same topic.)


The Call for Topics was widely advertised through announcments by President Bennett, presentations by Task Force members to constituent groups, communication by the SGA President to student organization leaders, posters throughout the Hattiesburg and Gulf Park campuses, the student newspaper, social media (Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and Linked In), and direct email communication to alumni.  A complete list including dates is provided below.  

  1. Presentation to Faculty Senate - November 1, 2013
  2. Presentation to Academic Council - November 11, 2013
  3. Letter from President Bennett to University community - November 19, 2013
  4. Napkin Holders in Student Cafeteria (with QR code link to survey) - November 11 - December 13, 2013
  5. Posters in buildings on Hattiesburg and Gulf Park Campus - Throughout
  6. Presentation to College of Arts and Letters - November 19, 2013
  7. Presentation to College of Business - November 22, 2013
  8. Presentation to College of Education and Psychology - November 21, 2013
  9. Presentation to College of Health - November 21, 2013
  10. Presentation to College of Nursing - November 20, 2013
  11. Presentation to College of Science and Technology - November 14, 2013
  12. Presentation to University Libraries - November 2013
  13. Presentation to Division of Student Affairs - November 20, 2013
  14. Presentation to Enrollment Management Team - December 6, 2013
  15. Article in Student Printz (student newspaper) - November 25, 2013
  16. Advertisement in Student Printz - December 2, 2013
  17. Direct e-mail to Alumni Association members - November 25, 2013
  18. Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and Linked In - Throughout
  19. Letter from Student Government Association President Ann Marie Chilcutt to officers of all student organizations - November 25, 2013
  20. Weekly announcements in USM Mailout - throughout
  21. Direct e-mail to Gulf Coast Faculty
  22. Blackboard Announcement - December 3, 2013
  23. Eagle Vision - Throughout
  24. Link on main USM home page - Throughout

An example of the communication sent out during this phase is provided below:


Members of the Southern Miss Community,

Every 10 years, as part of our reaffirmation of accreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), Southern Miss has the opportunity to develop a new Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) to improve an area of student learning or student success in a significant way through a university-wide, multi-year initiative. Our first QEP, Finding a Voice: Improving Oral and Written Communication, resulted in the expansion of the Writing Center, establishment of the Speaking Center and faculty development strategies to improve students’ speaking and writing skills, and it continues to make an impact on student outcomes in these areas.

As a member of our campus community, you are invited to participate in the topic selection process for our next QEP. It is extremely important to get a sense of the needs and opportunities that all members of the Southern Miss community think are important. The process will occur in multiple phases with a final topic identified by the end of the spring 2014 semester. In the first phase, you are invited to submit topic ideas for consideration. In the second phase, you will be invited to submit proposals for possible QEP topics. The top proposals will be identified by the students, faculty and staff on the QEP Topic Selection Task Force guiding this process and shared with the Southern Miss community for discussion and feedback. 

As we enter the first phase, we need your input regarding the student learning and student success issues you think would be most beneficial for Southern Miss students. I encourage you to visit this link today to share your idea in one or two words, phrases or sentences. The QEP Topic Selection Task Force will receive responses through Dec. 13.

Thank you for your participation in this important process.  If you have any questions, please contact Dr. Julie Howdeshell, director of Quality Enhancement, at, or Dr. Kathy Masters, chair of the QEP Topic Selection Task Force, at

Rodney D. Bennett


Total Number of Topic Submissions
There were 636 topic submissions.Top Categories from Call for Topics
The top ten categories from the Call for Topics were:

  1. Retention, graduation, and student success
  2. Experiential learning (student research, service learning, internships)
  3. Critical thinking and problem solving 
  4. Career prepartion and professionalism
  5. Student health and well-being
  6. Advising and academic planning
  7. Tutoring, test-taking and time management
  8. Math, quantitative reasoning, and statistics
  9. Sustainability education
  10. Financial literacy and success; Global connections

Relationship to the University
Respondents were asked to identify their relationship(s) with the University as follows: undergraduate student, graduate student, faculty, staff, alumni, parent of USM student, community member, and/or employer of USM graduates.  Respondents could mark more than one and thus the totals add up to more than the total number of submissions.  The breakdown of respondents is listed below:

  • Undergraduate students - 160
  • Graduate students - 78
  • Alumni - 198
  • Faculty - 185
  • Staff - 106
  • Parent - 26
  • Employer - 11
  • Community member (and not one of the above) - 5

Faculty by College/Area
Faculty were asked to indicate their college.  A breakdown of the faculty respondents is provided below by college/area.  The percentage indicates the percentage of faculty survey respondents from each college.  For example, of the faculty responding to the survey, 29% were from the College of Arts and Letters.   

  • Arts and Letters (29%)
  • Business (7%)
  • Education and Psychology (14%)
  • Health (11%)
  • Nursing (7%)
  • Science and Technology 18%)
  • University Libraries (14%)

Names/Email Addresses
Of those responding, 299 included their names/email addresses as wanting to receive an invitation to submit a proposal and/or collaborate with others on a similar topic.An example of the communication sent out during this phase is provided below: