USM Foundation Announces Fundraising Initiative for New Home for The Center for Military Veterans, Service Members and Families
Fri, 10/25/2019 - 17:50pm | By: Megan Burkes
With a goal of constructing a new building to provide the more than 1,700 student veterans, service members and their families with a home of their own on The University of Southern Mississippi’s Hattiesburg campus that is commensurate with the honor of which they are so deserving, the USM Foundation announces a $2.4 million fundraising initiative to make the facility a reality.
The Quinlan-Hammond Hall of Honor’s tentative completion date is Fall of 2021, when it will house the Center for Military Veterans, Service Members and Families allowing Southern Miss to holistically care for and meet the needs and interests of the military student community. The facility will be located at the corner of Thirty-Fifth Avenue and Pearl Street in Hattiesburg.
“Many of our military students bring diverse life experiences to the University,” said Stace Mercier, executive director of the USM Foundation. “The Quinlan-Hammond Hall of Honor is reflective of those differences, while respectful to their service, at one of the nation’s top military friendly institutions.”
Currently housed in a 1,600 square-foot refurbished dwelling on the west side of the Hattiesburg campus, the Center has quickly outgrown its current space. The Quinlan-Hammond Hall of Honor will be a 5,200 square-foot facility with a conference room, study space for small groups or individual work, a library with adjoining lounge and study, as well as other meeting areas and staff office space.
“As our military student population continues to grow at Southern Miss, it is time to honor them with a building reflective of who they are and their tremendous sacrifice for our freedoms,” said the Center’s director, Maj. Gen. Jeff Hammond (US Army, Retired). “This space will be a significant campus landmark and a safe haven, allowing our students to connect with others who share similar experiences.”
This building project will be 100 percent privately-funded. Any funds raised over the construction and furnishing costs will be used to create an endowment to provide support for the Center.
Designed by USM alumnus, veteran and owner of Spring Architecture and Engineering, Rich Bekesh, along with architects Derek Ray and David Zenner, the space is centered around a vertical concrete ingress angled like a salute. The space acknowledges and welcomes veterans, service members and their dependents each time they enter. Embedded bricks and other design elements will reveal the stars and stripes of the American flag to all who pass.
“Military service to our country is among the highest forms of patriotism and selflessness, and I am so proud of The University of Southern Mississippi’s commitment to our students who are veterans, active duty military, or reservists,” said University President Rodney D. Bennett. “I could not be more grateful for our dedicated alumni and friends who support our military student community and who will make this exciting new building initiative a reality.”
USM is nationally recognized as a top military friendly institution and maintains designation in other prestigious publications. Center staff provide guidance and support as military students move through the admission process, on to graduation and career placement. Student veterans can learn and grow in an environment dedicated to their unique perspectives, successfully attracting military veterans, service members, their dependents and survivors to pursue their academic and professional development interests at Southern Miss.
Founded in 1959, the USM Foundation is a non-profit organization committed to serving the University community by overseeing fundraising efforts to raise private support for scholarships and other academic needs at Southern Miss. The Foundation manages donor dollars to provide the most advanced educational opportunities available to students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of Southern Miss.
The USM Foundation’s current endowment totals more than $104 million. For more information on supporting The University of Southern Mississippi, visit usmfoundation.com.
To support this building initiative, visit usmfoundation.com/Veterans.