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FY2023 Sees Transformation through Private Giving

Mon, 09/11/2023 - 08:50am | By: Megan Burkes

Through the support of private philanthropy from 2,850 Southern Miss alumni and friends, gifts made through the USM Foundation totaled nearly $12.7 million, including approximately $11.4 million in outright gifts and pledges and $1.3 million in planned gifts.

More than $11 million was disbursed for scholarships, academic programs and other support, including a record high 2,430 privately funded scholarships awarded, totaling approximately $5.5 million.

Publicly launched in March 2022, Give Wing: The Campaign for Southern Miss rests on three priority pillars: student success, academic excellence, and innovation and discovery, and encompasses academic and athletic initiatives. As of June 30, 2023, generous alumni and friends have embraced the tenents of Give Wing with $145.6 million raised, reaching 97 percent of the fundraising goal. 

Several USM alumni are early contributors to the Leadership Scholarship Program. Dr. Paul announced the program as a priority early in his presidency, understanding that engaged students are a bellwether of growth and success for the University. The leadership scholarship program is designed to recruit high-caliber high school seniors who will exemplify Southern Miss grit once on campus.

  • Through a $1 million commitment, alumna Mollie Magee Van Devender ’78 established the Mollie Van Devender Leadership Scholarship Endowment.
  • University of Southern Mississippi President Joseph S. Paul and his wife, Meg, have committed $300,000 to create the Joe and Meg Paul Leadership Scholarship Endowment.
  • Chuck ’75 and Rita Scianna established the Chuck and Rita Scianna Leadership Scholarship Endowment. The couple also established several new scholarships and programs within the USM College of Business and Economic Development and supported the Graduate School, the Center for Military Veterans, Service Members and Families, and Southern Miss Athletics. Their total giving to USM was more than $2.3 million this fiscal year.

 Other significant gifts made during the 2023 fiscal year include:

  • With a $1 million gift, brothers Wick and Randall Moorman established the Moorman STEM Endowed Professorship. The endowment provides support for the Moorman STEM Professor and the activities of the Moorman STEM Jump Scholars, a program they funded in 2021.
  • Margaret McMullan and her husband, Patrick O’Connor through the James and Madeleine McMullan Family Foundation, pledged $250,000 to the de Grummond Literature Curatorship Endowment at USM, which provides discretionary support for the curator position. One of the priorities of Give Wing: The Campaign for Southern Miss is to permanently endow the curator of the de Grummond Children's Literature Collection. Housed in Special Collections on the Hattiesburg campus, the de Grummond Collection is a prized compilation of original manuscripts, artwork and letters from more than 1,400 authors and illustrators.
  • Before her passing in 2022, Clytice Gardner named the USM Foundation as a beneficiary of her AT&T Retirement Savings Plan. Her $327,655 gift enhances the Burnis T. and Clytice Robertson Gardner Endowment which the couple established in 2007 to support students in curriculum, instruction and special education.

“The remarkable generosity of Southern Miss alumni and friends is awe-inspiring, and I am so proud of the impact their investment has on our students and programs,” said Stace Mercier, executive director of the USM Foundation. “The culture of philanthropy is growing, and our Golden Eagle community is stronger than ever. It is truly an honor to work with donors to connect their interests in meaningful ways to our University.”

For more information on supporting The University of Southern Mississippi, call the USM Foundation at 601.266.5210.

Founded in 1959, the USM Foundation is a nonprofit organization committed to serving the University community by overseeing fundraising efforts to raise private support for scholarships and other academic needs at Southern Miss.