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USM Foundation Exceeds Goal for Dale Center Campaign

Thu, 08/13/2015 - 08:51am | By: Amy Martin

As co-chairs of the Dale Center Campaign, Dr. Beverly Dale and Maj. Gen. Buff Blount joined University President Rodney D. Bennett in welcoming former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates as the guest speaker for the 2014 Lt. Col. John H. Dale Sr. Distinguished Lecture in International Security and Global Policy.

Launched Feb. 6, 2014, the Dale Center for the Study of War & Society Campaign has exceeded its $2 million goal. The fundraising initiative built upon early successes of the program and elevated the Dale Center from one of the top five military history programs in the country to the premier academic program for the study of war and society in the United States.

Located at The University of Southern Mississippi, the Center is also a hub for the study of leadership, and a resource for decision-makers interested in the outcomes of war.

“The successful completion of the Dale Center Campaign is a remarkable feat. The fellows of the Dale Center wish to thank our patrons and supporters for all of their encouragement and aid,” said Dr. Andrew Wiest, distinguished professor of History and founding director of the Dale Center. “Their generosity will enable the Dale Center to reach even greater heights of scholarship, teaching and community outreach – placing the Dale Center and Southern Miss firmly in a position of international leadership in this important field of study for many years to come.”

Long-time University supporters Dr. Beverly Dale and Maj. Gen. Buff Blount, U.S. Army (Ret.) spearheaded the Campaign by leading a 10-member steering committee. Eager to see the enhancement of the Center begin, Dale jumpstarted the Campaign by making the lead contribution to establish a support endowment. In recognition of her gift, the Dale Center is named in honor of her family. Dale's late father, Lt. Col. John H. Dale Sr., served as a professor of Military Science, head of the Department of Military Science and head of the ROTC Program at Southern Miss from 1957-61 and 1964-66.

“Buff and I believe that the fine scholars in the Dale Center will continue on their path to making this military history program at USM one of the very best in the nation,” said Dale. “My entire personal, political and professional life has been colored by my years growing up as a child of a U.S. Army Officer and his very excellent Army wife. My brother's oldest son now makes a career in the U.S. Air Force. I am so very happy to have the Dale family name attached to the Center for the Study of War & Society at my alma mater.”

The funds raised during the Campaign, which totaled more than $2.02 million, will allow the Dale Center to expand its already impressive list of programs and events, to include:

  • Establishment of a $1 million general support endowment, as well as the $150,000 Margaret Boone Dale “Women in War” Support Endowment, the $100,000 Scianna Dale Center Research Support Endowment, and the Craig Howard Military History Research Endowment;
  • Enrichment of the Major General Buford “Buff” Blount Endowed Professorship in Military History;
  • Enhancement of the Richard F. McCarthy Lecture Series and the Lt. Col. John H. Dale Sr. Distinguished Lecture Series;
  • Creation of endowments for the Lamar Powell History Graduate Scholarship, the Carroll Warren and Parker History Scholarship and the Virginia Culpepper Dale Center Research Award; and
  • Formation of the Colonel W. Wayde Benson (USMC, Ret.) Graduate Fellowships for Research in War and Society and the Margaret Boone Dale Graduate Fellowship for the Study of Women and War.

The success of the Campaign was made possible through generous contributions by loyal Southern Miss alumni and friends. 

For Col. Wayde Benson, a retired Marine and member of the USM Foundation Board of Directors, it was a roundtable discussion that inspired his interest in the Dale Center. After attending several public lectures, he became an active participant and generous donor, supporting the Dale Center through monthly donations.

“I can't say enough about the quality of the professors and the students that I've met through this program,” said Benson. “The Dale Center is a very bright spot in the University.”

It was Benson's most recent contribution of $24,000, along with a $30,000 commitment from Carroll, Warren & Parker, PLLC, that pushed the Campaign beyond its $2 million goal.

As one of the country's top war and society history programs, the Dale Center serves as a resource for the study of the history of conflict and its influence on both soldiers and civilians. Attracting graduate students nationwide to study warfare, the Center provides opportunities through the study-abroad program at Southern Miss to study the history of war with faculty in locations such as Normandy and Vietnam. The Dale Center also engages the community through its Richard McCarthy Lecture Series, monthly War and Society Roundtable discussions and the Lt. Col. John H. Dale Sr. Distinguished Lecture Series in International Security and Global Policy.

The Dale Center has an impressive list of accomplishments. Some of their recent successes include the following:

  • The National Geographic documentary “Brothers in War,” which is based upon “The Boys of '67: Charlie Company's War in Vietnam” by Dr. Andrew Wiest, has been nominated for an Emmy award in the Outstanding Historical Programming-Long-Form category.
  • The Dale Center hosted The Art of War at the Mississippi Museum of Art in February 2015. The event highlighted the exhibit, Civil War Drawings from the Becker Collection, and included a panel moderated by Dr. Susannah Ural, co-director of the Dale Center. The Dale Center will host its second annual Art of War Day at MMA on April 30, 2016.
  • Dale Center faculty and graduate students have traveled widely in the United States, Europe and Asia to conduct primary historical research, which has uncovered new and important aspects about the history of conflict.
  • In 2013, the Dale Center served as the primary host of the Society for Military History's annual meeting in New Orleans. The SMH conference is the premier event in the field, gathering leaders from across the globe to study military history together, to share new research, network, and set the future parameters of this important field of study.
  • Dr. Andrew Wiest and Dr. Heather Stur, both fellows in the Dale Center and Vietnam War experts, led the Dale Center's collaboration with the Vietnamese community in New Orleans East to host a commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon on April 30, 2015.
  • The Dale Center hosted former U.S. Secretary of Defense Dr. Robert M. Gates as the guest speaker for the 2014 Lt. Col. John H. Dale Sr. Distinguished Lecture Series in International Security and Global Policy.

“In 2001, the Dale Center for the Study of War & Society was founded at Southern Miss to foster a better understanding of the history of warfare, especially questions about how wars affect societies and how societal values influence how wars were fought,” said Wiest. “Now, fourteen years later, through an amazing collaboration of faculty, students and a wonderful group of community supporters, the Dale Center has risen to a role of international prominence in the field.”