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Office of the Provost

Inside the Academy: Fall 2018


Inside the Academy

Provost   Faculty Profile   Academic Affairs   In the News   Faculty Focus   Eagle SPUR/Wings   Deadlines


Published by the Office of the Provost, Inside the Academy highlights the academic accomplishments, groundbreaking research, and important upcoming dates and deadlines for the Division of Academic Affairs at The University of Southern Mississippi.



A Message from the Provost

Steven R. MoserAs an institution, we are moving in the right direction towards a more sustainable future. We have certainly accomplished much in these past few years, but we have not always effectively communicated this progress internally. Business practices, enrollment, operational coherence and efficiency all contribute to our institutional goal of becoming a model for public higher education. Certainly, the Office of the Provost has attended or hosted numerous meetings, responded in person or via email to various constituencies about Vision 2020 and a host of other topics, and I’ve met with hundreds of you individually. Still, at the core of our efforts is you, our faculty and staff, many of whom stand center in the aspirational work underway. 

To help keep you always informed and up-to-date in your work life, we are pleased to announce the launch of Inside the Academy, our new email and web-based information sharing platform focused specifically on academic affairs. This inaugural issue and subsequent quarterly issues already under development will allow us to approach topics that do not necessarily fit within the structure of an email message from the Provost, instead offering information that is candid, genuine and beneficial to faculty and staff. 

With these curated briefings, we hope to give faculty and staff access to both significant success stories from across the academy as well as the more mundane but important deadlines and other announcements. We hope this will be a welcome addition to your inbox and encourage you to bookmark the dedicated web page. Kendra Ablaza, Academic Affairs communications coordinator, will serve as our editor, and Danielle Sypher-Haley is our designer. We welcome all feedback and will seek to continually improve and expand with each new issue. 

Steven R. Moser

Steven R. Moser

Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs



Updates from the Provost 

AY20 Hiring Plan

HiringLast week, President Bennett approved a comprehensive Academic Affairs hiring plan for AY20 based on recommendations from the deans that were ultimately vetted through my office, in consultation with Vice President for Research Gordon Cannon and interim Vice President for Finance and Administration Allyson Easterwood. I appreciate the work of all deans and directors who were involved in developing hiring proposals for consideration. Although we were not able to fulfill all requests, the approved hiring plan includes a strategic institutional investment that will provide for 15 new, previously unfunded lines in areas that are highly productive or have demonstrated potential for enrollment growth. The plan also includes the approval of hiring for a number of existing faculty lines that are currently occupied by visiting faculty or are expected to become vacant this year. The total of 95 approved searches encompass tenure-track, teaching corps, and visiting lines and will do much to realign resources to meet needs in enrollment growth. Thinking back to where we were at this time last year, I am proud that we are positioned to begin addressing hiring needs, and I am pleased that this institutional investment in faculty hiring also reflects growing confidence in our improving financial and enrollment picture.

Academic Calendar 

Academic CalendarMore immediately, over the last two weeks I have received mixed reviews regarding the implementation of the new Academic Calendar. Admittedly, the stress caused by change of this magnitude is to be expected – after all, pedagogies have to be adjusted and students have to realign their study patterns. But in peeling back some of the concerns registered by students, we do see some schedule management issues. For example, GEC 03, 04, 05 and 06 have few sections scheduled in the M/W/F meeting pattern, which was the recommended schedule for general education courses. Offering most GEC and lower division courses in the plan of study only on a two-day (Monday/Wednesday or Tuesday/Thursday) schedule forces class schedules into extended time periods and results in many students having a back-to-back, four day a week schedule, without a break throughout the day. Student concerns about the intensity of this schedule lead us to ask: Are we scheduling primarily based on instructor preference, or are we focusing on what students need? Did the old departments and schools intentionally move to a 4-day schedule? The schedule is optimal when academic units spread classes across a Monday through Friday schedule for lower division classes so that students can take a mix of MWF and TTH classes. I’ve asked the deans to work with Directors to resolve the scheduling bottleneck for the spring. Registration for undergraduate classes has been temporarily suspended as we make these adjustments.  Students will be able to resume class enrollments next Monday, October 22.  You can find the current scheduling guidelines under Policies on the Provost website.



IntersessionRelated to scheduling, in a conversation with the Council of Directors Executive Committee, Pat Sims, Tim Rehner, and Stacy Reischman Fletcher suggested that we formalize our rotations and sequencing to more fully utilize intersessions. Some students may benefit from a 3+12 hour class configuration (intersession + regular term) and many faculty have expressed an interest in teaching one of their standard load classes in the intersessions, thus reducing their teaching load in the regular term. The barrier for students has been the cost of intersessions. Currently full-time students have to pay a large fee ($200/credit hour) to take an intersession course, in order to help offset instructional overload costs. Beginning in January that fee will be reduced to match our online fees of $20 per credit hour. If we can retain more of our students, we can pay for the reduced fee through higher overall enrollments each term. We will continue to make corrections in our practices around scheduling for both the intersessions and the regular term. We have much to do.   


Salary Adjustments

Salary AdjustmentsWe are also working on changes to the salary adjustments attached to promotion, which are overdue. Under Provost Wiesenburg, an increase in the salary bump from associate to full was implemented. This established an invaluable tool to help offset or reverse some salary compression trends. Currently Human Resources AVP Krystyna Varnado is conducting research to re-establish CUPA (College and University Professional Association) based salary ranges for hiring and to address compression/inversion. Through this effort we will see improved data for making informed decisions to address these salary issues. This work may give us some opportunities around triggers used to adjust salaries.  Could it be time to use promotion to adjust to the CUPA market value for rank?  Perhaps there are other ways to address compression that are incremental – a more realistic way to resolve some issues in the near term in the absence of legislative salary programs. Regardless, the work Human Resources is doing to establish a fair baseline for CUPA market ranges is a good place to start.


Diversity Development Initiative

DiversityAlso, beginning this spring, the Office of the Provost will launch a diversity development initiative (similar to one established at Virginia Tech). In order to recruit faculty to USM from under-represented groups, engaging in practices that fall outside of our normal search procedures may help us build bridges to draw from graduate programs or professional conferences. Under this initiative the Office of the Provost will provide small travel grants of up to $2000 for doctoral students, post-doctoral fellows, and early career professors from other institutions in order to connect them with faculty and students at USM around common research interests. Although this can be done at the school or discipline level, most connections are made individually through conferences and professional development events. The Future Faculty Development Initiative could fund up to 12 visiting scholars for campus visits. Look for more details in the coming months but consider this opportunity as you attend conferences or interact with research colleagues across the country.


Academic Reorganization Timelines

TimelineFinally, Academic Reorganization timelines to complete governance documents have been ambitious. Extending timelines for the development of policies and procedures, annual evaluation documents, and tenure and promotion standards may be required to meet optimal outcomes in these documents. The implementation documents are being approved through a process outlined on the Reorganization website, and many of the initiatives have already been approved by President Bennett. Of course, it is far better to get these implementation efforts correct than to create them quickly, so some completion deadlines may need to be adjusted as we diligently work on this phase of Vision 2020.


Looking Forward

Vision 2020In closing, as we all experience mid-semester fatigue and the stress that comes from major changes impacting our work life, we can’t lose sight of our original goals under Vision 2020.  In a time, when according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, enrollments are declining by 1.36% annually, institutions that are flourishing are making decisions based on innovative and aspirational practices and grounded in the student experience.  We are about continually improving pedagogy, reducing financial barriers, expanding access, increasing degree attainment for our diverse student body, and leveraging our limited resources with our exceptional talent and capabilities. And of course, in approaching our challenges together, in reflective discipline and commitment, we will break the destructive cycle in higher education across the last decade and land on the other side as the model for public higher education across the country. 


Faculty Profile

Assistant Professor of English Olivia Clare: 5 Questions

Olivia Claire

Olivia Clare is a fiction writer, poet, and Assistant Professor of English. She was raised in Baton Rouge and has lived in California, Iowa, New York, Nevada, and Texas.

She is the author of a short story collection, Disasters in the First World, from Grove Atlantic. Her novel is forthcoming from Grove Atlantic. She is also the author of a book of poems, The 26-Hour Day (New Issues, 2015). 

She is interested in interdisciplinary and collaborative work, for both her own creative work and the work of USM students. This semester, Dr. Clare and Assistant Professor of Dance Brianna Jahn are facilitating a student collaboration between the Center for Writers and the School of Performing and Visual Arts.


What was the deciding factor that influenced you to teach at USM?

The creative writing program here is known throughout the country. When I first visited campus, I saw this as a truly unique opportunity to contribute to the legacy of the graduate and undergraduate programs. 


Do you have a favorite writing exercise, lesson or method that you share with your students?

One of the first things we start talking about is significant, memorable details. When we write with those, we allow a little movie to be played in the reader's head as she reads, something the author John Gardner calls the "continuous dream." The students' first exercise is to go out into the world and take things in with their senses, then write down the details they're seeing, hearing, smelling, etc. I refer back to that exercise throughout the course. Sometimes, if I have 20 minutes or so, I do the same exercise. Always be attentive to what's around you, I tell them. That's so important: your attention to the world. 


Please name a writing inspiration that seems obvious to you and another that others might find surprising.

I grew up in community theater, and I still feel part of that broader artistic family. Some of the ways that I think about characterization and dialogue come from my background in theater. I also grew up playing classical music, and I know this has influenced the rhythms of my sentences


Disasters in the First WorldWho has most inspired you?

It's too hard to pick one person. I have several family members—including my father and mother—who have an incredible work ethic. My parents gave me a life in the arts, so a curious, creative spirit was at the center of so much of my daily life. These family members also taught me to not waver, and to practice, practice, practice to get closer to where I wanted to be. 


What events inspired your forthcoming novel?

A few main events inspired this novel. The first event was Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. The novel takes place in a fictional town in Louisiana. (I grew up in Baton Rouge, though the town in the novel is not based on Baton Rouge.) The other events were the deaths of my great-great grandmother, great-grandmother, and grandmother. I had close relationships with all of them, and they were incredibly strong women. The novel is not about them—that is, these characters aren't based on them. But I'll just say that my relationships with them are a part of this manuscript. 


The View from Academic Affairs

Amy Chasteen MillerWhat’s changing with advisement and enrollment windows, and why?

For years, we have seen a lag time between student advisement and enrollment in classes. Students would meet with their advisors when the schedule was visible in SOAR, but they often would not have a “window” open to register in SOAR for weeks. By that time, it would slip their minds and they would delay signing up for classes, often for months. It has not been uncommon to have more than a thousand students from one semester unregistered for the next semester until the last weeks before the term starts. 

Prior to spring 2018, students were given enrollment appointments based on seniority; we pulled data that indicated students did not use these “windows” in large numbers. At the same time, by creating staggered appointment windows we were creating an extended time period for many students between advisement and their ability to register.

To encourage students to register as soon as they were advised, we thus elected to open enrollment to most students simultaneously and close to the time they would be advised, so that they could register promptly.

This fall, the spring schedule was visible in SOAR on October 3. We kept advanced registration appointments for only four groups, who could register starting on October 8: 

  • Veterans
  • Fully online students (to access online courses ahead of face-to-face students)
  • Honors College students
  • Student-athletes 

All other students could register beginning October 10. We have now paused registration until October 22, then all students will be able to continue enrolling until the start of spring classes.


For Advisors

  • Please have students register as soon as they can after advisement so that they can get the classes they need.
  • Talk with students about the option of January Intersession classes. We have 28 intersession classes offered in spring 2019. Students can take one class (up to 4 hours) during that session, and it will count as part of their spring course load for credit hour purposes. Students who need 15 hours in order to received state aid or scholarships can take 3 hours in intersession and 12 in the regular session, for instance, allowing them to have more flexibility in their schedule. Details about class options and answers to frequently asked questions are available on the Registrar’s Intersession webpage.  

  • Check out the wealth of resources and essential forms available on the Success website, and note the Academic Calendar on the Registrar’s site with essential dates for this and upcoming semesters.

As always, if you have any unanswered questions, feel free to let%20me%20know.


Amy Chasteen Miller

Vice Provost for Academic Affairs

◼︎ New University-Wide Change of Major/Minor Forms

Effective October 2018, all changes/ additions of majors or minors should be done using new University forms. Rather than having different forms for different schools/colleges, we now have one common form for majors and one for minors/certificates that all students can use, regardless of degree. Forms should be completed by the student and taken to the school of the intended major. Once signed, the form should  be dropped off at the dean’s office.  



◼︎ Resources to Explore Major Possibilities and Careers

Have a student who is unsure about their major or what career possibilities exist for them? Please direct them to the Choose a Major web page to see different avenues to explore, and encourage them to use the online tools provided through Career Services.  In particular, we recommend they use the Focus 2 tool (code: USM500) and What Can I Do With This Major? as resources to reflect on their options. Talking with faculty mentors and the staff at Career Services can help them explore their choices more deeply.



◼︎ Faculty First Week Video Gallery

Did you miss a Faculty First Week session you'd hoped to attend? We have videos!



◼︎ Teaching Gen Z

Interested in learning more about teaching Generation Z students in the changing world of Higher Ed? Amy Miller is offering a workshop through the Center for Faculty Development twice during October. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2018 | IC 319 | 3:00 - 4:30 pm 

OR Friday, October 26, 2018 | IC 319 | 11:00 am - 12:30 pm



Academy in the News

◼︎ BBC World | Sargassum: The seaweed deluge hitting Caribbean shores

"When waves of sargassum - a type of seaweed - washed up on Eastern Caribbean shores seven years ago, people hoped it was a one-off. Matted piles swamped coastlines from Tobago to Anguilla." More...

◼︎ Smithsonian Magazine  | What Made P.D. East the Fearless Wit of Forrest County

"On May 17, 1954, a man named P.D. East spent part of his workday photographing a chicken egg that weighed a quarter of a pound. An egg of that heft qualified as news in Petal, Mississippi, and as the owner of the weekly Petal Paper, East covered the local news.”


◼︎ Fox News | Jellyfish numbers on the rise along US beaches

"'With the warmer temperatures there’s more people in the water so there’s a bigger chance of people getting stung,' said Shannon Howard, a marine biologist at the South Carolina Aquarium." More...  

Eagle's Nest Food Pantry

◼︎ U.S. News  & World Report | Southern Miss' Student-Led Food Pantry 'A Model' for Others

"The two-year success of the University of Southern Mississippi's free food pantry is one reason officials with the Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi showed up there…with representatives from colleges and universities in tow.

"The Eagle's Nest, with the help of Hattiesburg's non-profit Extra Table, offers low-fat proteins, low-sugar fruits, healthy grains and a variety of other items to Southern Miss students, faculty and staff."



◼︎ CNN | Gene editing could eliminate mosquitoes, but is it a good idea?

"Researchers have rendered a population of mosquitoes in a lab sterile using the gene-editing tool CRISPR-Cas9 by homing in on a specific target in insect DNA — the doublesex gene — raising the possibility of eradicating disease-carrying species of the insect entirely, according to a new study published Monday in Nature Biotechnology.


Mississippi Gopher Frog

◼︎ VICE News | Only 200 Of These Frogs Are Left In The Wild — Kavanuagh Could Decide Their Fate

"Right now, the dusky gopher frog — an endangered species with only 200 adults left in the wild — lives only in Mississippi. In an effort to expand the population, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated about 1,500 acres in Louisiana to help rehabilitate the frog. But the agency ran into a problem: Weyerhaeuser, one of the world’s largest timber companies, partially owns the land and sued the government to avoid restrictions on the area.


◼︎ Hattiesburg American | Southern Miss' new Marine Research Center offers unique environment for ocean exploration 

◼︎ U.S. News & World Report | 4 Mississippi universities share $20M federal science grant

◼︎ South China Morning Post | Chinese scientists hope to fight ocean pollution by making plastic that breaks down when exposed to seawater

◼︎ AP News | University and community college enrollment falls slightly 

◼︎ The Enquirer (Cincinnati) | Cincinnati shooting: Experts see mass shootings as an outgrowth of U.S. suicide epidemic

◼︎ Tampa Bay Times | Another reason Florida’s Red Tide is so bad this year: Pollution from the Mississippi River


Faculty Leadership Institute

The Center for Faculty Development is pleased to announce the inaugural Faculty Leadership Institute (FLI) beginning January 2019.

The FLI aims to build an interdisciplinary community that cares about leading and professional development. We invite faculty applicants who are already in leadership positions within the university (programs, schools, committees) or in professional organizations, as well as faculty who are considering taking on leadership positions. Both junior and senior faculty are welcome to apply.

Learn more... 


Faculty Focus

Faculty Focus: Cutting Edge Research from Around the University & Beyond





Salt MarshBiber, P. D., Wu, W., Carter, G. A., "Understanding the trajectory of coastal salt marsh structure, function, and processes in the face of sea-level rise: A synthesis from historical imagery, biophysical processes, and hierarchical modeling," Sponsored by National Academies of Science, Federal, $507,000.00. (November 1, 2015 - July 1, 2018).

Biber, P. D., Dutta, S. (Presenter), Gulf of Mexico Alliance 2018 All-Hands Meeting, "Developing a Geospatial Database for Living Shorelines and Gap Analysis for the Gulf of Mexico," Gulf of Mexico Alliance, St Petersburg, FL. (June 12, 2018). 

Biber, P. D., Carter, G. A., Bell, M. (Presenter), Ecological Society of America 2018, "Detecting coastal salt marsh change from aerial imagery: Pascagoula River Marsh, 1996-2014," Ecological Society of America, New Orleans, LA. (August 7, 2018).


GRANT: Consortium for Oil Spill Exposure Pathways in Coastal River-Dominated Ecosystems (CONCORDE)

Dr. William Monty GrahamStephan HowdenJerry WiggertFrank HernandezAlan Shiller

Graham, W. M., Howden, S. D., Wiggert, J., Hernandez, F. J., Shiller, A. M., "Consortium for Oil Spill Exposure Pathways in Coastal River-Dominated Ecosystems," Sponsored by Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative, Private, $1,156,566.00. (January 1, 2018 - December 31, 2020).



Soto, I. M., Cambazoglu, M. K., Boyette, A. D., Broussard, K., Sheehan, D., Howden, S. D., Shiller, A. M., Dzwonkowski, B., Hode, L., Fitzpatrick, P. J., Arnone, R. A., Mickle, P. F., Cressman, K. (2018). Advection of Karenia brevis blooms from the Florida Panhandle towards Mississippi coastal waters. Harmful Algae, 72, 46-64.



Howden, S. D. (COPI), Lucas, K. (PI), Blaylock, R. B. (COPI), Chambers, M. (COPI), Smith, M. R. (COPI), Capron, M. (COPI), Stewart, J. (COPI), "AdjustaDepth – Adjustable Depth Seaweed Growth System," Sponsored by DOE/ARPA-E/Mariner, Federal, $500,000.00. (December 1, 2017 - November 30, 2018). 



Howden, S. D. (COPI), Lucas, K. (COPI), Blaylock, R. B. (PI), Chambers, M. (COPI), Capron, M. (COPI), Smith, M. R. (COPI), Stewart, J. (COPI), "Seaweed Paddock Pelagic Sargassum Ranching," Sponsored by DOE/ARPA-E/Mariner, Federal, $500,000.00. (December 1, 2017 - November 30, 2018).



Lee, J., Blackmon, B. J., Cochran, D. M., Kar, B., Rehner, T. A., Gunnell, M. S. Community Resilience, Psychological Resilience, and Depressive Symptoms: An Examination of the Mississippi Gulf Coast 10 Years After Hurricane Katrina and 5 Years After the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness, 1-8.



Connell, C. L. (PI), Huye, H. F. (Supporting), Dufrene, B. A. (Supporting), Mohn, R. S. (Supporting), Yadrick, M. K. (Supporting), "Impact of a Preschool Obesity Prevention Program Enhanced with Positive Behavioral Supports," Sponsored by USDHHS, Office of Minority Health through a grant to Mississippi Department of Health, Federal, $483,306.00. (November 2018 - Present).

Connell, C. (presenter), Huye, H. F. (co-presenter), Dufrene, B. A. (co-presenter), Newkirk, C. (co-presenter), Horton, G. (co-presenter), Mississippi IDeA Conference, "Preschool obesity prevention with positive behavioral supports: the IPOP study design," Mississippi IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence, The Westin Jackson, Jackson, MS. (July 27, 2018). 



Villarosa-Hurlocker, M. C., Carroll, M. G., Capron, D. W., Madson, M. B. (2018). "Are there social benefits? Exploring the role of positive consequences in the relationship between social anxiety symptoms and negative drinking consequences." Addiction Research & Theory, 26(4), 275-281. 

Whitley, R. B., Madson, M. B., Zeigler-Hill, V. (2018). "Protective Behavioral Strategies and Hazardous Alcohol Use Among Male College Students: Conformity to Male Gender Norms.


Eagle SPUR and Eagle Wings

  Eagle WingsThe Drapeau Center for Undergraduate Research is accepting applications for the fall competition of Eagle SPUR and Eagle Wings.  Eagle SPUR provides undergraduates up to $1000 to support an independent research or creative project conducted in collaboration with a faculty mentor.  The project would be carried out in Spring 2019, and funds can be used for supplies or travel or a stipend.  Eagle Wings supports undergraduate travel (up to $1500) to professional conferences during Spring and Summer 2019 to present projects that are already largely completed.  The student must be first author on the presentation.

Proposals due Wednesday, October 31 at 5 p.m. 

If you or they have any questions, please contact us at curFREEMississippi or 601.266.5997.


Dates and Deadlines  

October 19: Applications due for the Summer Grants for Improvement of Instruction to the Office of the Provost

October 19: School Directors submit promotion and tenure recommendations to the College Advisory Committee

November 1: Applications due for the IHL Diversity Award to the Office of the Provost

November 5: Applications due for the Lucas Endowment for Faculty Excellence to the Office of the Provost

November 12: Applications due for the Excellence in Service, the Excellence in Teaching and the Excellence in Librarianship Awards to the Office of the Provost 

November 20: CAC submit promotion and tenure recommendations to the dean

November 22-23: Thanksgiving Holiday


View Provost's Calendar


Did You Know?

Mortar Board

USM welcomes the largest freshman class in the history of university, and experiences the largest percentage growth of Mississippi public universities in Fall 2018.

Find out more...

The University of Southern Mississippi Foundation’s endowment reached

00 million

in fiscal year 2018.



USM teaching and research is now being featured on the football game video board and in a 2-minute recurring radio segment during the broadcasts. 




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