Coming Back from Katrina
On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated The University of Southern Mississippi’s Gulf Park campus in Long Beach. High winds and a high storm surge washed through the historic halls of the beachfront campus.
The completion of five major building projects on The University of Southern Mississippi’s Gulf Park campus in Long Beach signifies the return of the beachfront campus since damage sustained from Hurricane Katrina in August 2005.
“We are delighted to announce that we have fully returned to the Southern Miss Gulf Park campus following the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina,” said Dr. Frances Lucas, Southern Miss Gulf Coast vice president and campus executive officer. “We worked hard to restore the original beauty of this campus, and update the classrooms for more stimulating student engagement. Our Gulf Park campus is an inviting intellectual hub for the Mississippi Gulf Coast and we welcome all coastal neighbors to come visit with us.”
Elizabeth Hall, which houses the College of Arts and Letters, was the final building to complete renovations after all five buildings broke ground in 2011. In addition to faculty offices, Elizabeth Hall is also home to the university’s Film Program which currently occupies ten rooms. These include two offices, a room designated for film animation, two film editing suites, a room for film recording and mixing, an equipment room, two video editing suites, and a studio space.
The Film Program, part of the Entertainment Industry curriculum in the university’s School of Mass Communication and Journalism, offers the only bachelor’s degree in film production in the state of Mississippi. Students in the program learn production skills by doing hands-on filmmaking while also completing coursework in film criticism, film theory, film history, animation and screenwriting.
“It has been a great pleasure welcoming faculty and staff of the College of Arts and Letters into our new home in Elizabeth Hall,” said Dr. Robert Pauly, associate dean for the College of Arts and Letters at Southern Miss Gulf Coast. “After persevering through nearly eight years in temporary facilities, it has been a very positive and uplifting experience to return back to our campus.”
Southern Miss Gulf Coast engaged in a total of $26 million in campus projects in an effort to return following Hurricane Katrina. The renovation project for Elizabeth Hall, which cost $1.7 million, was led by Starks Contracting Company.
The first buildings to be completed on the Gulf Park campus were the Science Building and Nursing Building, both located on the northwest corner of campus. The Science Building, a $10 million new construction project, features nine teaching laboratories, research space, approximately 20 faculty and administrative offices and an 80-seat instructional classroom. The $1.5 million Nursing Building is a renovation project featuring two laboratories, faculty offices and student learning and study areas within the 10,000-square-foot facility.
The historic restoration projects for Hardy Hall and Lloyd Hall were completed in spring 2013. The $10 million project for Hardy Hall included renovations, as well as new construction for the Barnes and Noble Bookstore and an adjacent parking lot. The three-story building also houses dining services, the College of Education and Psychology, and administrative offices including Admissions and Student Services. Lloyd Hall is a $2.4 million project that provides ten classrooms for students.
“We are all eager for the start of the fall semester, which marks the first time since Hurricane Katrina, that we will begin an academic year with all of our faculty, staff and students together on one campus,” added Pauly.
A powerful “Before and After” gallery below shows the beauty of the campus and the devastating effects Hurricane Katrina had on the historic buildings and grounds. It is with great pride that the campus returns in 2013 with state-of-the-art facilities in a beautiful landscape graced with ancient oaks and the salty air of the Gulf of Mexico.