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Southern Miss Alumni Association Inducts Six into Alumni Hall of Fame

Thu, 09/28/2017 - 13:03pm | By: Nicole Ruhnke

The University of Southern Mississippi Alumni Association will induct six of the University's most dedicated and distinguished alumni to its Hall of Fame on Friday, Oct. 13, as one of the highlights of the 2017 Homecoming celebration.

The banquet and ceremony will be held in the Grand Ballroom of the Thad Cochran Center on the Hattiesburg campus and will begin at 6:30 p.m. Limited seating is available to the general public. All-inclusive tickets for the event are available for $50 and may be purchased by contacting the Alumni Association at 601.266.5013.

The Southern Miss Alumni Hall of Fame was established in 1987 to recognize those whose contributions have helped move the University forward.

The 2017 inductees include the following:

Rich Corsetto ‘71

Rich Corsetto is currently the head coach of the men's basketball team at Bronx Community College in New York City. Corsetto holds a bachelor's degree in health, physical education and driver education from The University of Southern Mississippi. He taught health and physical education in northern New Jersey for 27 years and was a high school varsity boys' basketball coach for 17 years. Corsetto has been a junior college, men's basketball head coach for 20 years, having served at Hudson Community College, Passaic County Community College and now Bronx Community College. He was named Coach of the Year by the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region 19 in 1991, 1993 and 2005 and won the Region 19 tournament those same years, advancing to the NJCAA National Tournament. He also led his team to win the Garden State Athletic Conference Championship 14 times. His overall coaching record in high school and college over 37 years is 737 wins and 303 losses.

Corsetto has been a recipient of many honors and awards, which include induction into the National Junior College Athletic Association Men's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013; The University of Southern Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 1997 (inducted for both basketball and baseball as one of only two athletes inducted for two sports); the Old Timers Athletic Association of Greater Paterson Sports Hall of Fame in 1997; the Harford Community College Hall of Fame in 1992 as the first athlete inducted; and the Bergen County Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989. Corsetto was named Distinguished Senior Athlete at USM in 1971, named to the Passaic County All Century Basketball Team in 2000, and received the Paterson Great Falls Rotary Club “Athletes Making a Difference” Award for giving back to the youth and community of Paterson, N.J.

Corsetto was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies of the National Baseball League as a pitcher/outfielder in 1967 and 1968 and by the Pittsburg Condors of the American Basketball Association in 1971.

Corsetto was born in Paterson, N.J., and has lived in Wayne, N.J., for 40 years. During the last 11 years, he has also enjoyed summers at his vacation home in Ortley Beach, N.J., with his wife of 48 years Doreen, daughter Pamela, son-in-law Sean, granddaughters Carleigh and Cassidy, and grandson Kevin. He has been a member and supporter of the Southern Miss Alumni Association since 1971 and is proud to spread the word of his Golden Eagle legacy.

Donald R. Cotten ‘68, ‘71

Donald R. Cotten, a native Mississippian, is a two-time graduate of The University of Southern Mississippi, having been awarded a Bachelor of Science with honors and a Master of Science in biological sciences and science education. Cotten earned a doctorate in science education and curriculum and instruction from West Virginia University in 1976 and was selected to the West Virginia University Academic Hall of Fame.

In his professional career, Cotten has held positions at Lexington High School, Wesson High School, Copiah-Lincoln Community College, The University of Southern Mississippi, the Public Education Forum of Mississippi, Arkansas State University, Radiance Technologies and Lamar University. He has been involved in academic partnerships and is presently engaged in a number of business initiatives. He has also held various positions in education, including teacher; professor; department chair; director of research and sponsored programs; associate vice president for research; director of the Center for Science and Mathematics Education; vice president for research and graduate dean; associate vice chancellor for research and technology transfer; and vice provost for research. His work spans nationally and internationally within both the private and public sectors.

The most important position Cotten feels he has held is the honor of being an educator and mentor to thousands of undergraduate and graduate students who he continues to support and communicate with throughout the world. According to Cotten, advising and challenging individuals to reach their potential is truly one of the most important roles one can contribute to our state and country. Additionally, the honor of serving in administrative roles has provided him the opportunity to support colleagues as they strive to contribute to their students and disciplines. The University of Southern Mississippi was very much a part of Cotten's efforts to become the first-generation graduate of his family.

Cotten has extensive experience in strategically working with state, federal and private sector partners in building competitive university education and research programs. In addition, he has and continues to serve on the board of directors for private foundations, works closely with federal laboratories, and assists with public policy makers to implement policies that ensure strong public/private partnerships. He continues to engage economic and educational opportunities in the areas of technology, energy, sustainability and health care. Cotton and his wife Catherine were charter members of EAGLE PAC, a non-partisan political action committee formed in 2013 to support The University of Southern Mississippi, and he also served as chairman.

Cotten is honored to have been recognized by his peers, as well as continue to serve in a number of positions in professional and community initiatives. He was a two-time recipient of The University of Southern Mississippi's Excellence in Teaching Award and The University of Southern Mississippi Professional Service Award. He has served as president of the Mississippi Academy of Sciences and Mississippi Science Teachers Association; board member of Oak Ridge Affiliated Universities; co-chair of the Emerging Technology Program in Texas; board member of the Julie Rogers Cancer Gift of Life Program; member of the United States President's Council on Research/Economic Initiatives; and the National Science Foundation's Strategic Planning Committee, among other leadership positions.

Cotten and his wife Catherine are active in financially supporting and serving on boards and committees working to make a difference in education, health care, community and faith-based organizations. Catherine received her Ph.D. from The University of Southern Mississippi in 1992. The Cottens continue to maintain a presence in South Mississippi.

Mary S. Graham ‘86, ‘88, ‘94

Mary S. Graham, Ph.D., was named the president of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (MGCCC) in 2011. The 104-year-old, multi-campus institution serves nearly 30,000 residents annually in its four-county district with a $132 million operating budget and more than 1,000 full- and part-time employees.

A native of Mississippi, Graham earned her Ph.D. in higher education administration from The University of Southern Mississippi, as well as her master's and bachelor's degrees. As a MGCCC alumna, she embraces the philosophy of the community college and the rich tradition of excellence in education.

Since beginning her career in 1987 on the Jackson County campus of MGCCC, Graham has held several administrative positions within the college, including director of admissions/registrar, director of institutional relations, and vice president of community campus. Graham also served as the vice president of the Perkinston campus for 13 years, prior to being named president of the second largest community college in Mississippi.

During her tenure as president of MGCCC, the college has been recognized as a “Great College to Work For,” and Aspen Institute ranked it as one of the Top 10 Community Colleges in the United States. Additionally, the college has been named as a Top 100 Associate Degree Producer by Community College Week, a STEM Jobs Approved School, a Military Friendly School, a Fit Friendly Workplace and has been one of 150 community colleges nationwide invited to apply for the prestigious Aspen Prize each year since its inception.

Graham currently serves as chair of the American Association of Community Colleges' board of directors (AACC). She also serves as president of COMBASE (an organization of college presidents committed to community engagement); president for the Mississippi Community College Foundation; board member for the Gulf Coast Business Council; member of the Mississippi State Workforce Investment Board (SWIB); board member for the National Diabetes and Obesity Research Institute (NDORI); and board member for the Gulf Coast Community Foundation. Graham has been recognized in the Top 10 of the 50 Leading Business Women by the Mississippi Business Journal's; a recipient of the 2014 NCMPR Pacesetter Award; a recipient of the Outstanding Community Leader Award by The Sun Herald and the Mississippi Business Journal; a Stone County Educator of the Year; and as Honorary Commander, 81st Training Wing, Keesler Air Force Base.

She is married to Wayne Graham ‘85, and they have three children: Sarah ‘17, Michael and Anna.

Larry Harrington ‘80

Larry Harrington is a highly decorated U.S. Army general with 32 years of distinguished military service. His military awards include the U.S. Army Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, Monitorial Service Medal, Army achievement medals, Humanitarian Service Medal, the Mississippi Magnolia Cross, as well as the Combat Action, Airborne and Air Assault badges. He is also the recipient of the Polish army “Zlotym Medalem” and French army medallion and the recipient of special recognition from the Australian and Swedish armies, the Deputy Prime Minister of Defense in the Czech Republic, and the government of Afghanistan.

Harrington served in some of the most demanding, complex and strategically relevant assignments. He commanded Task Force Storm in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Other notable assignments include serving as the commander task force engineer responsible for stabilizing and setting conditions for rebuilding the Mississippi Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina and serving as commander of a maneuver battalion that completed a highly successful National Training Center rotation. He has served in leadership positions in units supporting NATO Forces Europe and was the facility manager and director of public works at Camp Shelby. His military career culminated as the assistant adjutant general for the Mississippi Army National Guard.

Harrington's civilian career is equally impressive. He has founded, managed and served as CEO or president of companies that he either owned or operated for others. He has many years of experience providing executive leadership, business strategy, business development, program/project management and contracting for Top 25 Fortune 100 companies. He brings a wide range of business experience in both the public and private construction markets. He has notable project experience that includes horizontal and vertical military construction in support of NATO forces throughout Central Europe. In addition, he has significant experience supervising service contracts and is comfortable working high-visibility projects and running large organizations.

With more than 30 years of experience as a volunteer with civic, public and non-government organizations, Harrington has served as an executive board member for the Mississippi Chapter of the Association of Builders and Contractors and as a fellow at George Mason University Center for Infrastructure Protection and Homeland Security. He is a member of Mission Readiness Council for a Strong America and is co-founder of Hattiesburg Area Habitat for Humanity.

Harrington is a member of the William Carey University Alumni Hall of Fame, The University of Southern Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and the USM ROTC Hall of Fame. He was chosen as a member of the Area Development Partnership's Leadership Pinebelt and has served on boards for the Salvation Army in Hattiesburg and the Hattiesburg YMCA. He is a past president of the M-Club Alumni Association and the Oak Grove Sports Booster Club. He has also held public office after being elected commissioner of the Forrest and, later,  Lamar County Soil and Water Conservation District.

Harrington celebrates 37 years of marriage to Rose DiFatta Harrington. Together, they have two children and three grandchildren: John Harrington, his wife Kelsi and their sons Hudson and Brooks and Zack Harrington, his wife Hunter and their daughter Grace.

Greg R. Strahan ‘75

Greg R. Strahan is the president and chief executive officer of Owensboro Health Inc. in Owensboro, Ky. He holds an Associate of Arts from Pearl River Community College, located in his hometown of Poplarville. He received a Bachelor of Science in business from The University of Southern Mississippi and a Master of Science in health care administration from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

His professional work experience began in 1978 as an accountant before moving on to be a controller for a furniture rental company in 1983. He found his love for the health care field in 1986, and since that time, healthcare has been his career, moving from manager of a durable medical equipment business to managing and recruiting physicians in three hospital systems. In Owensboro, Strahan began as the vice president of business development in 2005, becoming chief operating officer in 2007 and president and CEO in 2016.

He has been published in Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) and in Hospital Strategies in Managed Care. He has also spoken at a number of conferences on the operating efficiencies deployed within Owensboro Health System. His most exciting accomplishment was leading the team in the design and building of a brand new 477-bed facility in Owensboro from 2006-13, which won a number of national awards on architectural design, using lean principles with the use of natural light and art as a part of the healing process.

He is currently involved with the Kentucky Health Collaborative, Kentucky Hospital Association and the Owensboro Kentucky Project to improve the future for the next generations. Greg and his wife Susie reside in Owensboro and are proud parents ofhave four children and five grandchildren.

James H. Thompson Sr. ‘58

For 53 years, James “Jim” Thompson has owned, managed and developed hospitals, home health agencies, physician office practices and durable medical equipment companies. He also has experience in consulting for teaching and non-teaching hospitals in the public and private sectors.

Thompson has been extensively involved in the development of facilities, including functional design, space programming, departmental layouts, equipment specifications and construction monitoring.

He is a 1958 graduate of Mississippi Southern College with a bachelor's degree in business administration. In addition, Thompson earned a master's degree in hospital administration and a Ph.D. in health facilities management.

As an active member in his community, Thompson has served as preceptor and adjunct professor for the education of graduate students in his profession and as chairman of a local school board, hospital boards, civic and industrial boards and a mental health association. Thompson is also a U.S.         Air Force veteran of the Korean War.

Thompson also is a Life Fellow of the America College of Health Care Executives (LFACHE) and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Health (FRSH-England). In service to The University of Southern Mississippi, Thompson has been a member of the Business Advisory Council for the College of Business, the Dean's Council for the College of Health, the Department of Athletics' Circle of Champions, and has served as president of the USM Foundation. He is a President's Circle member of the Foundation's Honor Club.

Thompson has been the recipient of honors and awards for his leadership ability and management accomplishments and is partially retired. He and his wife Mary reside in Milton, Fla.