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USM Launches Historic Fundraising Campaign

Mon, 04/04/2022 - 02:50pm | By: Megan Burkes

Give Wing - The campaign for Southern MissOn March 26, 2022, The University of Southern Mississippi launched its largest fundraising campaign in University history with a special event in M.M. Roberts Stadium. With a $150 million goal, USM is working to raise funds in support of academics and athletics, including student scholarships, faculty support and facilities.

Give Wing: The Campaign for Southern Miss rests on three priority pillars: student success, academic excellence, and innovation and discovery. To date, $109,445,458 has been raised, reaching 73 percent of the fundraising goal.

Campaign goals include increasing undergraduate scholarships, programmatic support and facilities for students, endowed faculty professorship and director positions, as well as elevating USM’s robust research enterprise. Campaign funds will also enhance the campuses with new and upgraded facilities, like Quinlan-Hammond Hall of Honor, the new home for the Center for Military Veterans, Service Members and Families, Pete Taylor Park, and multiple other athletic facilities.

“In our first century, The University of Southern Mississippi evolved from a small teachers’ college into a Carnegie R1 research institution with a national reputation for excellence. Our unwavering commitment to student success remains constant as we continue our growth into the next 100 years,” said University President Rodney D. Bennett. “We are poised to write the next chapter of our Southern Miss story. This is an exciting time. This is our time – our campaign for the University we hold so dear.”

The campaign hopes to add $53.5 million in new or enhanced endowed scholarships, $14 million in Eagle Club scholarships for student athletes, and six newly named professorships for distinguished faculty members. Additionally, the campaign will raise funds for entrepreneurial programming, athletic facility enhancements, and other University-wide programming.

As Southern Miss prepares the next generation of leaders, thinkers and trailblazers through Give Wing, our message remains clear. “As our generous donors continue to rise up and support our beloved University, there is a clear line-of-sight To The Top,” said Stace Mercier, executive director of the USM Foundation. “Together, we are elevating Southern Miss to its greatest heights yet.”

Some of USM’s most recognizable alumni have volunteered to serve as campaign co-chairs, along with Campaign Chair Joe Quinlan ’73, chairman of the board of First National Bankers Bankshares, Inc., in Baton Rouge, La. These celebrities serve as ambassadors for our fundraising efforts, and include:

  • Natalie Allen – Newsy anchor and global correspondent, Natalie has spent her career sharing the world’s news at several major networks, including CNN, The Weather Channel and NBC. Natalie Took Flight in 1984 with her degree in radio, television and film.
  • Jimmy Buffett – The legendary singer and songwriter took flight in 1969 with a history degree. From Mississippi to Margaritaville, Parrot Heads from around the world cherish his stories and songs.
  • Brett and Deanna Favre – The Gun Slinger, Number 4, one of our NFL Hall of Famers, Brett Favre took flight in 1991 when he was drafted by the NFL. He will forever have his name in the record books and stamped on the hearts of Golden Eagle fans everywhere. Deanna Favre took flight 1994 with her degree in human performance and recreation. She is an author and philanthropist, having founded the Favre 4 Hope Foundation, which supports charities that provide support to underserved and disabled children and breast cancer patients.
  • Chuck Scarborough – Took flight in 1969 with a degree in radio, television and film. Mr. Scarborough has been with WNBC-TV New York since 1974 and has earned 36 Emmy Awards. He currently anchors News 4 New York every weeknight.
  • Adalius Thomas – Took flight in 1999 with a degree in coaching and sports administration. The former Baltimore Ravens Super Bowl XXXV champion and New England Patriots AFC champion is now a successful restauranteur and entrepreneur.

For more information on Give Wing: The Campaign for Southern Miss and ways to support, visit