Office of the Provost
Office of the Provost
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.
As I reflect on the progress we’ve made this academic year, I am extremely proud of our collective accomplishments across academic and student affairs, and I continue to be amazed by our students, staff, and faculty and their contributions to our community. I’d like to highlight a few that I found particularly inspiring:
◼︎ Did you know that USM’s choir and members of the orchestra performed at Carnegie Hall in April, premiering new music written for them (and to rave reviews)?
◼︎ Did you know that we have once again set records in the number of fully-admitted applications for freshman admission? Our recruiting strategy has expanded to include major market print, television, and billboard advertising in places like New Orleans, Memphis, Tupelo/Columbus, Birmingham, Nashville, and Baton Rouge to name a few. (Click here to view our television spots.)
◼︎ Did you know that our foundation board and donors from across the country are enthusiastically embracing the aspirational aims of Vision 2020 through significant financial support to create or enhance faculty development programs in research, teaching, and scholarly professional development through the Southern Miss Fund for Academic Excellence? Our first award winners were selected last month and recognized this month at Faculty/Staff Awards Day.
◼︎ Did you know that more than 100 faculty and staff were recognized for their research, teaching, and service contributions at the staff and faculty awards ceremony on May 3? Here is a list of the award winners.
We have much more to celebrate. We work at an institution where the atmosphere is warm, friendly, and hospitable. We work at an institution that has a dynamic and lively research community that is inspiring the next generation of scientists and researchers. We work at an institution that is never satisfied to rest on our accomplishments, always striving for more.
While much of our work over the last three years has gone very well—even better than I would have imagined—the changes to the academic schedule for the purpose of expanding intersessions received mixed reviews. Based on input from faculty, staff, and students, this schedule shift requires an earlier-than-planned assessment, and perhaps intervention.
I’ve asked Dr. Amy Miller, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, to facilitate an Academic Scheduling Summit from May 21-24 with the charge to recommend adjustments, if needed, to the academic schedule or meeting patterns, and an implementation timeline. Should adjustments be recommended and approved by President Bennett, the earliest changes would not appear in the schedule until next year. While we must avoid moving backwards in our efforts to realign practices to meet student needs, as with any significant change effort, there are going to be some things that we are not going to get entirely right, and we must pause to figure that out when it becomes evident. In the spirit of Vision 2020, we aspire to do things better each and every day, and sometimes that means we make a course correction that will lead us down a different path to our goals. In preparation for the Summit, please take a moment to provide feedback on the academic calendar through this survey. Further communication will be forthcoming from Dr. Miller on plans for this Summit.
Thank you to all who are part of the effort to transition practices at Southern Miss to meet the changing landscape of higher education. We have much work ahead, but that work is guided by our Southern Miss spirit of grit and fortitude and by our passion. Our future is bright.
Steven R. Moser
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
Allen Chen is an assistant professor of ceramics at The University of Southern Mississippi. Chen, who was born in Taiwan and grew up in California, was a long-term artist in residence at the Mendocino (California) Art Center, Red Lodge (Montana) Clay Center, and Lawrence (Kansas) Arts Center. He was also an assistant professor at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio from 2012-14.
In graduate school, I really started getting into the idea of duality. It frames a lot of our experiences: what we like and dislike, what is right and wrong, good or bad. In the middle is a gray area where all the arguments and discussions happen. That’s a great way to make organic- and geometric-shaped work and have them interact with each other: complement, contrast, and draw a line in between.
Those very intense three years in graduate school became the backbone of how I make my work. Over time, I became interested in showing how dualism frames our environment and identity, and the idea that who you are is relative to your state of mind. There is a difference between how we perceive “truth” vs. “reality.” For example, the way a seed looks is relative to where it is. Its shape inside of a fruit looks different compared to its shape while it is growing and evolving. If that seed lands on dirt or if it starts to rot, it will transform by activating certain parts of itself. I invite the audience to view sculpture with this in mind. If a surface is crusty or spiky, how does that make the audience feel and how would they respond? I’d like my work to be a conduit for people to talk about their own experiences with duality, and to think more about reality and perspective.
I took my first ceramics class not long after I started college. One day, I was watching my teacher, Mr. Bates, help another student on the potter’s wheel, and I’ll always remember the way he was communicating with that student. I knew the profession would be a good fit for me, and it has been a very rewarding field.
Every semester, I have the opportunity to build new relationships and connect with students. Professors have to wear so many hats. We’re at times counselors, peacemakers, disciplinarians, technicians, psychologists, or a shoulder to cry on. What inevitably happens, especially in ceramics, is that the material cracks and breaks. Lots of problems will happen and a student’s work would fall apart. Some of the most rewarding moments are when a student is really frustrated with clay. You can help them figure out how to fix it, and they work hard and try again. A couple of weeks later, after they put in the time to solve that problem, you see how rewarding it is for them to say, “Hey, it worked!” That happens repeatedly every semester, and I love it when I see them succeed through failure.
In sculpture, it is great to be well-versed in a broad range of mediums. I can weld, and I use metal, wood, plaster, paper, and yarn. I draw, take photographs, use a computer, use 3-D sketch programs, and Photoshop. I approach it very experimentally. Being in academia is really awesome in that it affords me these opportunities to experiment and learn new skills.
I feel like the ceramics field is like a pendulum. It is so open to people of all cultures and backgrounds to imbue their own aesthetics and experiences that the medium is basically a melting pot of sculpture, painting, printmaking, music, installation and computer 3-D printing. I’m sure I’m missing seventeen other artistic influences here, but my point is that these different influences express themselves in our galleries, books, magazines in a sort of a cycle; like a pendulum. It swings forward and hits all the different notes of paintings, installation, performance arts and swings back to anagama vessels, crystalline, raku, and then swings back again to more printmaking, 3-D printing, and seventeen other versions of ceramics that I’m not thinking of here.
This isn’t necessarily even the only pattern that I think is changing in ceramics. Because of the power of the internet and social media, the pendulum swings faster as people are able to easily share their expressions with more details and make their work more accessible. In fact, because of social media, it isn’t even a pendulum anymore, it’s more like rain drops of influences and expressions rippling the surface of a well that’s the field of ceramics. Those little ripples are even rippling each other and creating new hybrid ripples of cool expressions. It’s all so exciting to see from the outside, but it can be kind of intimidating when you are trying to make work from the inside.
An Enhanced Faculty First Week Conference Returns August 19-23
This year’s Faculty First Week welcome conference will look different from last year’s inaugural conference. The focus for this year will be on the faculty sessions, which are significantly expanded from the 2018 schedule.
Earlier this month, 49 faculty members responded to our call for proposals to present sessions on professional development or research/creative activity topics. From research on children with disabilities to virtual reality systems, attendees will be able to learn about the breadth of their colleagues’ scholarship.
Faculty will also lead professional development sessions on topics such as scholarly publishing, IRB applications, and best practices in online teaching. In addition to these submissions, we will include sessions on SOAR, Canvas, Digital Measures, and other technologies, as requested by faculty. The week promises diverse, robust sessions for attendees.
Faculty First Week will still include a University-wide Convocation as well as college and school meetings. We are planning opening and closing social events for all attendees. Also, the new faculty who are being hired for fall 2019 will have separate sessions exclusively for them during the week in addition to the general Faculty First Week events. This conference is a good time to get to know these new colleagues and welcome them to the university.
We hope that this year’s Faculty First Week conference will be useful as well as a collegial way to start the next academic year. Stay tuned as we announce more details over the summer!
Any questions or comments should be sent to academic.affairsFREEMississippi.
USM Joins Nationwide Collaborative to Improve Student Success
We are excited to announce that The University of Southern Mississippi is among 130 universities and state systems selected to be part of the “Powered by Publics” initiative launched by the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU) in late fall 2018.
The institutions involved were selected based on their commitment to advancing equity, closing the college achievement gap, and improving college access for a greater diversity of students. Participating institutions have pledged to share information about their practices around student success as well as aggregate data about their institutions. Through this collaboration as well as research supported by APLU, the Powered by Publics effort will facilitate the widespread adoption of evidence-based practices that help us address equity gaps and improve our retention and graduation rates.
The 130 institutions involved in the APLU initiative are divided into sixteen “clusters,” each of which focuses on a different student success area. These clusters will work independently on their topics over the upcoming five years, coming together at the annual meetings to share their work in progress.
Our “Southern Central” cluster focuses on the topic of financial challenges to student persistence. This topic covers everything from strategies for improving financial literacy to programs for mini-grants and their impact on persistence. We will meet regularly via video conference to work through a research task list, share information, and begin narrowing the work plan for the upcoming years. I have the honor of serving as the institutional lead for the University on this project. We have also established a team of experts on financial aid, scholarships, tuition and billing, and retention to collaborate with me on the work that we will do with the cluster.
Our ongoing conversations with our cluster colleagues will be complemented with annual in-person conferences where we can hear from all 16 clusters and learn from their work. In addition, APLU will provide support and resources to USM to maximize our student success efforts. Those efforts will involve deeper research into best practices on financial factors in student retention and other cluster areas.
This APLU partnership comes at an excellent time as the launch of HelioCampus will allow for greater ease of data access and analytics. We look forward to examining student data and gaining insight into best practices for addressing financial challenges that our students face.
If you have any questions about the APLU initiative and the role of Southern Miss in the collaborative, please let me know.
The University of Southern Mississippi and Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College have created an innovative teacher education pathway program officially known as Teachers College to help alleviate the critical teacher shortage in Mississippi.
To uphold the quality of academic offerings and student services, The University of Southern Mississippi this spring invited 4,822 freshmen and seniors to participate in the National Survey of Student Engagement, an established survey used by colleges and universities across the country to gather data about student life on campus.
The NSSE results will be released to participating institutions in late fall 2019. USM’s results will be shared in an open forum setting in spring 2020 to encourage discussions between students, faculty, and staff about its findings.
USM’s Student Life commercial appeared on TV in select markets the day of the Super Bowl and during other broadcast and streaming TV programming in target markets, such as Hattiesburg, Mississippi Gulf Coast, and Jackson.
The University of Southern Mississippi now offers a fully-online Master of Arts in Teaching degree, which leads to a Mississippi teaching license. Dr. Jay Howell, coordinator for the program, says Southern Miss offers both traditional licensure programs and alternate route teaching licensure programs. The alternate route licensure programs are designed for people who did not choose education as their undergraduate major.
The Conversation US | Does the Suzuki method work for kids learning an instrument? Parental involvement is good, but other aspects less so
"Giving children an instrumental music education can be expensive. In addition to purchasing an instrument and paying the cost of music lessons, parents invest their time by encouraging practice, attending recitals and driving their child to and from lessons. Parents rightly want value-for-money and confidence that their child’s teacher employs an evidenced-based, proven teaching method."
◼︎ The Santa Fe New Mexican | U.S. investing $50M in Amtrak route that passes through New Mexico
"The federal government will pump $50 million into Amtrak’s Southwest Chief passenger train route, which passes through New Mexico, members of the state’s congressional delegation announced Friday. The measure — pushed by U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján — will provide money for safety improvements and maintenance along the Southwest Chief route.
◼︎ The Washington Post | Three tragic deaths reverberate across U.S. amid steady rise in suicides
"Americans are increasingly likely to die by their own hand. In 1999, about 29,000 people in the United States killed themselves, and by 2017, the toll had grown to more than 47,000, a significant rise even when adjusted for the growing population. In recent days, three of those deaths have shocked the nation."
◼︎ seattlepi.com | SIA and NCS4 to Present Scott Dunn With 2019 Sports Security Innovator Award
"The National Center for Spectator Sport Safety and Security (NCS4) and the Security Industry Association (SIA) have named Scott Dunn – senior director of business development, solutions and services for Axis Communications, Inc. – as the 2019 recipient of the Sports Security Innovator Award. SIA will present Dunn with the honor at the National Sports Safety and Security Conference and Exhibition, taking place July 9-11 at the New Orleans Downtown Marriott in New Orleans, Louisiana.”
◼︎ The Washington Post | Donald Trump’s ‘trans ban’ reverses more than 70 years of military integration
"Unit cohesion. Readiness. Lethality. Efficiency. President Trump is not the first person to use such words to rationalize discrimination and oppose military integration.
Yet by reversing former president Barack Obama’s opening of the armed services to transgender personnel, Trump stands alone as the first president to overturn the integration of a minority group into the military."
◼︎ C-SPAN | U.S. Marines at the Battle of Guadalcanal
"Military historian Andrew Wiest talked about the U.S. Marines who fought at the Battle of Guadalcanal between August 1942 and February 1943. Mr. Wiest is co-author of “The Pacific War: From Pearl Harbor to Hiroshima.” The National World War II Museum in New Orleans hosted this 50-minute presentation as part of a day-long symposium marking the Battle of Guadalcanal’s 76th anniversary."
May 9: Commencement - Graduate (Hattiesburg)
May 10: Commencement - Hattiesburg
May 11: Commencement - Gulf Coast
May 13: Final grades due by 11 a.m.
May 27: MEMORIAL DAY HOLIDAY