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Arts Institute of Mississippi

The human desire for creative expression is universal and timeless, and at Southern Miss, we are proud to work with tomorrow’s professional artists, graphic designers, dancers, choreographers, musicians, composers, conductors, actors, directors, set and costume designers, writers, filmmakers, and movers and shakers in the entertainment industry. We take the arts seriously, and accredited in all four areas of the performing and visual arts (music, dance, theatre, and art). In addition to our commitment to our academic programs in the arts, we are proud of the number and variety of arts events that we regularly present to the public. The College of Arts and Sciences hosts arts events almost every night of the week during the fall and spring semesters, and many in the summer months. All of these are open to the public, and many are offered free of charge. 


The Arts Institute of Mississippi (AIM) was founded in 2015 as a special initiative of the College of Arts and Letters at The University of Mississippi to promote the arts statewide. 

  • Work to increase funding for both arts education and public arts
  • Encourage collaboration and public outreach among the Southern Miss arts programs, including Art and Design, Dance and Theatre in the School of Performing and Visual Arts, the School of Music, the Center for Writers in the School of Humanities, and Media and Entertainment Arts in the School of Communication
  • Recognize and encourage local and statewide arts initiatives and special projects
    Work with Partners for the Arts, an alliance between the Pine Belt Community and Southern Miss, which provides funding to enhance the arts at Southern Miss
  • Recognize outstanding high school level arts teachers in the state Mississippi by offering an annual award—The Arts Institute of Mississippi Awards



  • Faculty Guide for presenting Arts Conferences, Institutes, Special Projects and Events 



The AIM Awards: Recognizing Outstanding Arts Educators Throughout the State


Ms. Daniela Pardo, 2019 AIM Outstanding Arts Educator Award in the Strings category. Seated left to right with the students: Ms. Connie Hudson, District 2 Commissioner; Mrs. Valerie Johnson, Semmes Elementary School principal; Dr. Michael Miles, Interim Director of Orchestral Activities at USM; and Ms. Daniela Pardo, 2019 AIM Award Recipient.

Ms. Catherine Williams, 2019 AIM Outstanding Arts Educator Award in the Creative Writing category. Ms. Williams is the English Teacher at West Marion High School in Foxworth, Miss.

Ms. Karli Corr, 2019 AIM Outstanding Arts Educator Award in the Visual Arts category. Ms. Corr is an Art Teacher at Our Lady Academy High School in Bay Saint Louis, Miss.

Dr. Robert Brooks, 2019 AIM Outstanding Arts Educator Award in the Theatre category. Dr. Brooks is the Theatre Instructor at the Mississippi School of the Arts in Brookhaven, Miss.

Mr. Travis Coakley, 2019 AIM Outstanding Arts Educator Award in the Bands category. Mr. Coakley is the Fine & Performing Arts Director/Director of Bands at Biloxi High School in Biloxi, Miss.

The AIM Awards, presented by the Arts Institute of Mississippi at Southern Miss, seek to recognize and honor high school level arts teachers, schools, and organizations that are making an impact through exemplary achievements in arts education throughout the state of Mississippi.

  • Online nomination submission deadline is Tuesday, March 3, 2020.
  • The recipients will be notified by Friday, March 27, 2020, and must agree to receive the award in person on date(s) to be determined in the spring of 2020.

Judges will evaluate the materials submitted and select a recipient in each discipline. 




Meet Our Past Award Recipients

2019 AIM Award Recipients

2018  AIM Award Recipients


Dr. Jay DeanDr. Jay Dean, DMA, was the Music Director and conductor of the Southern Mississippi Symphony Orchestra from 1988-2018. During his tenure the orchestra has grown into a university ensemble that has earned a distinguished national reputation. Founded in 1920, the Southern Mississippi Symphony Orchestra is the oldest operating symphony orchestra in the state of Mississippi. It presents a umber of annual subscription concerts per season in Hattiesburg, as well as many concerts throughout Mississippi. In addition to its regular symphonic concerts, the Southern Mississippi Symphony Orchestra performs as the orchestra for all opera and musical theatre productions.

Dean received his DMA in Orchestral Conducting from the University of Texas at Austin. Before coming to The University of Southern Mississippi, he was Music Director of Dekalb Youth Symphony Orchestra in Atlanta, the Mercer University/Atlanta Chamber Orchestra, the Columbus State University Orchestra, the Atlanta Festival Orchestra and Chorus, the Austin Civic Orchestra, and the Southwest Chamber Orchestra.

We’d like to invite you to learn more about the arts programs at Southern Miss:

For more information regarding AIM please email%20us.