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Office of the Provost

Inside the Academy - Winter 2020

Page Content

In This Issue

🏛 A Message from the Provost
        •  Welcome
        •  Faculty Fellowship Program
        •  Contractual Obligation Policy
📋 Changes to Annual Evaluation Period
🛳 Coastal Operations
📰 USM in the News: Media Mentions
🎓 The View from Academic Affairs
  •  Flex Period Workshops Available
        •  Summer Grant Recipients Announced
        •  Online Learning Summit
        •  Advisement Dates and Resources
        •  Employee Assistance Program
🔍 Focus on Faculty
🏦 Office of Undergraduate Scholarships
🎥 Ellie J. Dahmer Awarded Honorary Doctorate
Dates & Deadlines


 A Message From the Provost

Steven R. Moser


Dr. Steven R. MoserAs we transition over the next few months from the winter season to the spring and all the hope and opportunities this time of year brings, I want to recognize all we have accomplished in the years leading up to Vision 2020. Enrollment has stabilized, our financial picture has improved, and across the division faculty and staff are investing in the opportunities that have been afforded through our unified efforts to make Southern Miss a better and stronger institution.

In the spirit of maintaining our momentum, Spring 2020 brings an increased focus on program performance assessment and realignment. National experts will visit campus over the spring term in order to deepen our ongoing conversation on balancing our program portfolio and revitalizing programming where appropriate. This richer, more robust review of our academic portfolio will allow us to assess program alignment to our institutional mission, assess enrollment goals that are based on capacity (and all that entails), consider financial ratios, and gauge the responsiveness of our professional programs to market demands. 

The long-term goal is to enhance the bottom-line funding towards building a salary retention program, among other priorities. Without an effective method to review and realign the academic portfolio, we face an ongoing drain on our financial resources. By the conclusion of this series of workshops, deans and school directors will more accurately be able to determine program health and performance, while leveraging this knowledge towards goals for program revitalization, improvement, or sunsetting. 

The first of those workshops begins this month, and one is scheduled every month through April. Ask your dean or director about this work the next time you have an opportunity. 

New Faculty Fellowship Program

I am pleased to announce a new fellowship program that will acknowledge members of the Corps of Instruction who contribute significantly to the Vision 2020 ideals and/or those of our institutional mission, vision, and values. This spring, we will begin awarding to full-time members of the Corps of Instruction—at any rank—the title of University Faculty Fellow. The designation will include a $10,000 cash award per year over two fiscal years ($20,000 total). This program will be fully funded through the Southern Miss Fund, with funds disbursed in accordance with established policies at the USM Foundation.

◼︎ Requirements

As part of this award, the University Faculty Fellows will be expected to share their research/creative scholarship, teaching or collaborative innovation work with the campus community during Faculty First Week in the fall of their second award year. Fellows may also be asked to participate in presentations and/or interactions with the Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) Board of Trustees and/or Foundation donors. These events will allow them to share academic interests and expertise, aimed at building connections and fostering a broader intellectual community.

◼︎ Eligibility

All faculty recently promoted to Associate or Full Professor (teaching, research, clinical or tenure track), or assistant tenure-stream professors having completed a positive pre-tenure review, in all units, who do not hold a distinguished professorship, and who devote the majority of their effort to excellence in fundamental research, scholarship, creative work, teaching innovation, and/or inter/multi-disciplinary academic curricular/research/service innovation are eligible for nomination. Preference will be given to faculty who have not had an infusion of research funding through grants or retention programs.

◼︎ Process

Deans, school directors and faculty colleagues at the rank of professor may nominate candidates. Candidates may NOT nominate themselves or contribute supporting information to the nomination materials. The Council for Academic Excellence will review, score and rank the nominations and make recommendations to the Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs. Final selections will be announced at the Faculty and Staff Awards Day ceremony at the conclusion of the Spring term. Application nominations and materials will be submitted through Digital Measure’s Workflow throughout February. You will be notified when the portal link is open, around January 31, 2020. The portal will remain open until February 28, 2020.

Contractual Obligation Policy

As faculty, we are fortunate to find ourselves in a profession that allows us the freedom to pursue our academic interests in a highly flexible environment. We have the ability in our academic roles to contemplate, to research, to explore our work in ways unique to our own design. And our institution best fulfills its role when we—members of the Corps of Instruction and mentors to our students and communities—demonstrate how our academic work can help shape a better tomorrow. 

Granted, a career in the academy is not the same as it might have been two or three decades ago, where—in the most extreme example—one could lecture from well-worn notes and otherwise disappear into the lab, the library, or the studio. It is a calling, admittedly, but employment expectations have evolved as higher education adapts to changing markets and demographics, funding, political changes, and shifting student demographics. Federal and state dollars no longer flow into the coffers as they had in the past, which makes every student we recruit an investment in our viability as an institution. 

This year, we have clarified our work through the Contractual Obligations Policy. This policy establishes a baseline that better defines the expectations of faculty employment at The University of Southern Mississippi. By far, the majority of Corps of Instruction members represent this ideal: engaged, thoughtful members of our faculty and academic staff focused on their disciplinary expertise and how that shared expertise transforms lives. Yet, there are some who view the new policy as extreme, an infringement on faculty academic freedom, or perhaps as an administrative overreach. The policy is intended, however, to simply clarify what most of us practice as academics—to be present and engaged—and is nothing more than a baseline expectation of employment well within the institution’s rights and responsibilities. Additionally, the policy is intentionally broad in order to allow units latitude in defining the diversity of effort needed to sustain or improve our current level of institutional performance and impact. Those who have to manage gaps in performance across academic units, who sometimes have to impose unfairly on already fully engaged faculty to fill those gaps, were important contributors to this conversation. 

The challenges that come with shifting expectations in faculty work, student success efforts, and program viability and modernization are universal, so universal that, just last month, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), which represents top tier universities across the United States, devoted an entire national conference to the topic of engagement and work of the faculty. Clarity in expectations set forth in the policy aspires to establish equity and fairness across the academy, and our ongoing commitment to this engagement will ultimately support the academic freedoms that are fundamental to higher education and the work that we do.  


Changes to the Annual Evaluation Period

Council of Directors Executive Committee

Originating with the Council of Directors (COD) and reviewed by the Office of the Provost, a change has been recommended by the Faculty Handbook Committee and approved by President Bennett for the annual evaluation period to align with the academic year rather than the calendar year. The intent is to provide a more meaningful process for faculty members and school directors in two ways:

(1) faculty will be evaluated for a full academic year rather than splitting the academic year into two evaluation periods;

(2) the change will make goal-setting more relevant and useful for both the faculty and the school directors and allow faculty to set individual goals for the full academic year while enhancing the ability of directors to align goals with school needs and the Academic Master Plan.

The evaluation period will now fall between June 1st and May 31st with the review period occurring anytime between the end of spring semester and September 1st. Concerns have been voiced to directors related to evaluations occurring while faculty are off contract. The Council of Directors has suggested the evaluation process be as flexible as possible. Faculty Evaluation Committees (FEC) would ideally complete evaluations prior to the end of spring contract or during the beginning of fall contract. They could also choose to work on this during the summer months and count this as service credited during the academic year, similar to research conducted during the summer months. This is not an uncommon practice among other institutions of higher learning. 

As Schools transition to the new Annual Evaluation timeline, the Council of Directors recommend conducting formative performance evaluations of new faculty in the Spring 2020 semester. This evaluation would be appropriate for permanent tenure and teaching track faculty who have not undergone their third-year reviews and would serve to provide feedback on teaching, research, and service. While directors may manage this evaluation as they see fit, they should focus their reviews on the development of new faculty members and on minimizing any potential negative impact that the three-semester bridge (Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020) to the new Annual Evaluation review period has on faculty members. Directors should consider input from peer and/or faculty mentors and may broaden the scope of input to include more people if appropriate. Questions or concerns should be directed to your school director.


Coastal Operations Update

Casey Maugh Funderburk, PhD 
Vice Provost for Gulf Park

Monty Graham, PhD
Associate Vice President for Research, Coast

Gulf Park Campus
During the summer of 2019, University President, Dr. Rodney Bennett, charged us with the work of exploring growth opportunities along our Coastal sites. Excited by the opportunity to dig into the University’s Coastal research and teaching initiatives as a whole, we assembled the Coastal Operations Leadership Team (COLT) to assist us in that work (visit to learn more about the team and our process). With a goal of presenting our work to the University’s leadership team by December, we set out to determine the best course of action for our work, which resulted in an interactive faculty and staff session during Faculty First Week.

Born out of the feedback we received from over 100 faculty and staff who attended the Faculty First Week session, external stakeholders, and local community members, we centered our efforts around the idea that three foundational pillars would support the work we do moving forward across all Coastal sites. We developed a vision, “The University of Southern Mississippi's Coastal Operation will be a national leader addressing issues relevant to people in coastal and maritime settings” with the foundational pillars: Understanding the Ocean and Coasts, Improving Coastal Resilience, and Supporting the Blue Economy, existing as intersecting, overlapping, interconnected pieces.

Additionally, the Gulf Coast Faculty Council and an assembled Coast Organization Review Team, worked to evaluate and review 36 submissions received as a response to a Request for Ideas call. The contributions to the request for ideas resulted in collaborative, thoughtful submissions. Those groups synthesized the submitted ideas across disciplinary boundaries and within the framework of the three pillars. Across all committees working toward our December deadline, nearly 50 faculty and staff members, representing all Coastal sites, contributed to the final report.

 Out of our work, we imagine intentional multi-disciplinary and interdisciplinary units sharing the three pillars across academic and research areas. Implementation of those pillars in core programmatic areas and leveraging all of our Coastal facilities to encourage continued growth. Aligning with the work of Vision 2020, we imagine the coming months and years, will help us to refine and shape Coastal operations as we move toward an implementation phase.  


 Media Mentions


NPR | Fisheries And Fishermen Hard Hit By Decline Of Oysters On Gulf Coast

Typically, the week before Thanksgiving would mean a busy oyster shucking floor at Bon Secour Fisheries on the Alabama gulf coast. But this year just three shuckers are working to fill gallon tubs with oyster meat.

There should be 20 more.

Lillie Easton talks to USM students about the history of the civil rights movement

U.S. News & World Report | University Civil Rights History Class Takes to Streets

Mississippi streets became classrooms where civil rights activists and local historians were teachers for a university course about the civil rights movement, focusing on Mississippi. 


Clotilda | Marine conference to include look at Clotilda science

Conference co-chair Leila Hamdan, of the School of Ocean Science and Engineering at The University of Southern Mississippi, said it’s the first time in nearly 20 years that the [Biennial Conference of the Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation} has been held on the central Gulf Coast.


Jim Hood and Tate Reeves

The Indianapolis Star | What Tuesday's elections could tell us a year before Trump faces voters

…State legislative races in Mississippi, Louisiana, New Jersey and Virginia – where Democrats have a legitimate shot to wrest away power from the GOP for the first time in two decades – are also being watched for signs of voter sentiment about the president.

Were federal benefits granted to Confederate veterans?

Houston Chronicle | Fact check: Were federal benefits granted to Confederate veterans?

The claim: “Confederate veterans were conferred with many of the same benefits of other United States military veterans by Acts of Congress back in 1929 and 1957.” — Sid Miller, Texas Agriculture Commissioner.

PolitiFact ruling: Mostly true.

Bat poop

St. Louis Post-Dispatch | Bat poop may give Missouri researchers clues about historical changes to climate, vegetation

Whether it’s ice, lake-bottom mud, or cave stalactites and stalagmites, if something piles up and accumulates over time, it can tell scientists about past climate conditions or surrounding landscapes and how they’ve changed.
That’s also true for big, old, slippery piles of bat poop, or guano, from Missouri caves.


Science of Reading

Education Week | Will the Science of Reading Catch on in Teacher Prep?

Mary Sacchetti spent six years and tens of thousands of dollars preparing to become a special education teacher and then a reading specialist.

But even after she earned her master's degree from a highly ranked university, she still felt like she didn't have the necessary knowledge and skills to teach all students how to read.

After Hours Shooting

The New York Times | An Overlooked Danger: School Shootings After Hours

Jarvis Murphy tried to get away.

He joined a fleeing crowd, heard gunshots echo on the stadium concourse, felt a bullet pierce the ground a few inches from his left shoe.

He kept running — toward the exit, toward his car, willing himself forward even as he got a jolt in one leg, then the other.

Austrailia Wildfires | How Did The Australia Fires Start? Climate Change Is Adding Fuel To The Flames 

According to reports, the fire has devastated millions of acres, taken at least 25 lives, killed an estimated half a billion animals, and destroyed hundreds of homes. But in the chaos of media outlets and celebrities urging the public to donate, it's difficult to decipher how the Australia wildfires started in the first place.


The Viiew from Academic Affairs

Dr. Amy ChasteenAmy Chasteen

New for Spring 2020: Flex Periods for MWF Classes

Faculty members may use flex periods to cover new content, offer additional review or discussion of class exams or papers, or otherwise expand the material they are able to cover. The academic calendar and meeting patterns for spring 2020 have been adjusted from the prior year’s format, with a slightly longer semester and different class meeting times. The MWF classes meet for 60 minutes three times a week, and with the lengthened semester, this pattern includes more than the minimum required contact minutes for the classes. As a result, MWF classes now allow for three “extra” class meetings that offer faculty the flexibility to introduce supportive or supplementary content to enhance their classes. For example:

Faculty members can elect to provide students with additional study days without class meetings prior to final exams or other significant assignments. 

Faculty members can invite guests to class to deliver workshops or presentations on topics that impact students’ success in the courses (e.g., note-taking, stress management, writing/speaking skills). 

We have developed a list of topics and guest presenters available to instructors for in-class presentations during flex periods; you will find this on the Provost’s office website, under Faculty/Staff. Although not exhaustive, this list offers a good starting point for potential speakers.

The flex period structure is designed to enhance the educational experience of students in the MWF classes, many of which are lower-level courses geared towards students early in their academic careers. We encourage you to take advantage of this additional time during the semester to address the areas in which you most often see students struggle. The three flex periods provide significant additional time to complement the core class content, and we encourage creative approaches to utilization of this new structure. If you have questions, additional suggestions for in-class workshops, or your own ideas about how to optimize flex periods to improve student outcomes, please contact Amy.ChasteenFREEMississippi. We welcome your input.

2020: In-Class Workshops/ Presentations Available for Flex Periods

Below are some examples of presentations that various offices around campus have prepared to offer in any class. The list is not exhaustive, however, so if you are interested in a related but different topic, please reach out to one of the contact people listed below to discuss your preferences. If you are aware of other workshops or presentations that should be added to this list, please email academic.affairsFREEMississippi. Thank you!

◼︎ Understanding USM’s Definition of ‘Plagiarism’ and How to Avoid It
Cindy%20BlackwellAcademic Integrity Officer

◼︎ Is It Okay to Get that Online? How Studying Can Become Academic Misconduct
Cindy%20Blackwell%C2%A0Academic Integrity Officer

◼︎ Developing Effective Study Skills for College Classes
Katie%20McBrideDirector, New Student and Retention Programs

◼︎ Time Management Strategies
Katie%20McBrideDirector, New Student and Retention Programs

◼︎ Stress Management for College Students
Lisa%C2%A0WrightHealth Educator, Office of Health Promotion
Moffitt Health Center

◼︎ Alcohol and Drug Use, Abuse, and Harm Reduction
Lisa%20WrightHealth Educator, Office of Health Promotion
Moffitt Health Center

◼︎ Body Image, Disordered Eating, and Strategies for Peer Support
Lisa%20WrightHealth Educator, Office of Health Promotion
Moffitt Health Center

◼︎ Note-taking Techniques for Lecture Classes
Katie%20McBrideDirector, New Student and Retention Programs

◼︎ Overcoming Challenges in Hard Classes (Growth Mindset)
Katie%20McBrideDirector, New Student and Retention Programs

◼︎ How the Speaking Center Supports Student Communication
Laura%20StengrimDirector, Speaking Center

◼︎ How Students Can Make the Most of the Writing Center
Maria%20Conti%20MaravillasDirector, Writing Center

◼︎ Top Tips for Crafting a Strong Resume for Job-Seeking and Internships
Rusty%20AndersonDirector, Career Services

◼︎ Making the Most of the Career & Internship Expo: Tips for Students from Freshman to Senior Year
Rusty%20AndersonDirector, Career Services

◼︎ How to Find and Obtain the Right Internship – and Why it Matters
Paige%20JonesDirector, Center for Pathway Experiences


2020 Summer Grants for the Improvement of Instruction Recipients

Each year, the Office of the Provost calls for applications for Summer Grants for the Improvement of Instruction. For 2020, the call focused on supporting faculty members’ integration of High-Impact Practices (HIPs) into undergraduate courses. We are very pleased to be able to provide support to nine faculty members in the upcoming summer to revise their classes. 

  • Charkarra Anderson-Lewis and Vickie Reed will redesign Personal Wellness (DPH 101) to include an e-Service-Learning experience and content on diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Leah Fonder-Solano will redesign SPA 313 and 331 to incorporate active learning, low-stakes formative assessments, a performance prognosis inventory, community service-learning, and more High-Impact Practices. Dr. Fonder-Solano will also pursue Quality Matters Course Certification for this online class.
  • Kalyn Lamey will incorporate active learning strategies into a redesigned hybrid version of Brief Applied Calculus (MAT 102).
  • Jennifer Regan will construct 11 unique manipulatives to use in the active learning classes she teaches for the anatomy and physiology course sequence.
  • Erin Smith and Jo Hawkins-Jones will revise CIE 301 (Mathematics: Primary and Middle Grades) with experiential learning techniques designed to create inclusive learning environments and “build knowledge, confidence and interest in mathematics.”
  • Bryan Spuhler will redesign the instructional framework for FAM 475: Contemporary Issues in Family Life to incorporate substantial practical applications, including academic service-learning, collaborative learning experiences, and active learning pedagogy.
  • Mariann Taylor will revise the instructional framework for FAM 401: Family Life Education to expand pathway opportunities in community practicum sites for students and enhance the diversity, equity, and inclusion content.

We look forward to seeing the results from these awardees’ projects at the end of the summer.

Thank you to the committee, chaired by Kelly Lester in the Center for Faculty Development, who thoughtfully reviewed the grant submissions and provided recommendations regarding this year’s award cycle. We look forward to seeing the results of the grantee’s work and its impact on student learning and persistence. The next call for summer 2021 grant applications will be released in October 2020, so please consider applying for that year if you have not received a Summer Grant for the Improvement of Instruction in the past five years.


SAVE THE DATE: Online Learning Summit February 24

Online Learning Summit

The University student body now includes more than 2,100 exclusively online students, and most students in face-to-face programs also take at least one online course each year. Online program delivery expands the accessibility of a college education to working professionals around the world who are unable to come physically to campus. Online classes also offer scheduling flexibility to many of our working students in programs on the Hattiesburg and coast campuses. Teaching online offers opportunities for reaching more and different students; however, it also can require new pedagogical strategies, creative course design, and awareness of policies and practices that differ in some ways from face-to-face teaching environments.

In response to calls from faculty for increased development opportunities for online Small Teaching Online by Flower Darbyteaching and learning, we are pleased to announce an Online Learning Summit to be held on the Hattiesburg campus on Monday, February 24th (no classes meet that day, as it is the first day of Mardi Gras Holiday). Please mark your calendars for this event!

As part of the Online Learning Summit, we are excited to welcome author and instructional designer Flower Darby, who will host a workshop for faculty on the morning of the 24th. This workshop, “Small Teaching Online: Practical Strategies to Increase Student Engagement and Learning,” will draw on her experiences as an educator and instructional designer to provide useful tips for improving student outcomes in online classes. Her enthusiastic presentation style and substantial experience will no doubt make her session a highlight of the Online Learning Summit.

In addition to Flower Darby’s workshop, the Online Learning Summit will also include sessions on topics such as:

  • The history, trajectory and vision for online learning at Southern Miss
  • Canvas tools and pedagogical strategies for building rapport with students
  • Effective course design across the disciplines
  • Interpreting the “regular and substantive interaction” standard from the Department of Education
  • Academic integrity and proctoring in online classes

We hope faculty from across the disciplines will join us for this day-long event. More details will be forthcoming in the next two weeks, along with a registration form for the various sessions and lunch. Many thanks to the Center for Faculty Development and the faculty on the Online Learning Committee for contributing to the design of this Summit and agreeing to share their expertise through workshops during the day.

Register for the Online Learning Summit



Decorative FlourishAdvisement Dates and Resources, Spring 2020

Classes are currently being entered for the summer and fall 2020 terms, and schedules will be visible in SOAR on February 24, 2020. Each program sets its own dates for advisement of students, depending upon the number of students to be advised and advisors’ schedules.

Based on feedback from advisors, directors, and deans, we have extended the priority registration window to a full week for the spring 2020 advisement season; priority groups will be able to enroll March 23, and open registration will begin on March 30. Students will be able to register until the start of the summer or fall term, but we encourage them to register as soon as possible, as that allows them maximum access to class seats and enables us to assess demand for classes. 

As you prepare for advisement season, note that the new Advisement Center’s website now includes a substantial list of Resources for Advisors. The site also features a robust Resource Directory for Students that can help you refer students to key campus support offices. Please share this link with your advisees and encourage them to use the information and resources available online. As always, we welcome your suggestions for additional information to include on this site to support your work as an advisor, or your students’ academic success.

Decorative flourish


NEW! Employee Assistance Program

Southern Miss employees now have access to the ComPsych GuidanceResources program, which offers someone to talk to and resources to consult whenever you need them. Call 800.272.7255 (TTY: 800.697.0353) for 24/7 access to a GuidanceConsultant, who will answer your questions and, if needed, refer you to a counselor or other resources. To use the service online, visit or download the GuidanceNow app. (Web ID: COM589)

Free and confidential.

Confidential Emotional Support

Confidential Emotional Support

  • Anxiety, depression, stress
  • Grief, loss and life adjustments
  • Relationship/marital conflicts

Work-Life Solutions

Work Life Solutions

  • Finding child and elder care
  • Hiring movers or home repair contractors
  • Planning events, locating pet care

Legal Guidance

Legal Guidance

  • Practical assistance with legal issues including divorce, adoption, family law, wills, trusts, etc. 
  • Need representation? Get a free 30-minute consultation and a 25% reduction in fees

Financial Resources

Financial Resources

  • Retirement planning, taxes
  • Relocation, mortgages, insurance
  • Budgeting, debt, bankruptcy, and more

Online Support

Online Support

  • Articles, podcasts, videos, slideshows
  • On-demand trainings
  • "Ask the Expert" personal responses to your questions


Focus on Faculty


Make Room for the Sea by Adam Clay

Clay, R. A., To Make Room for the Sea, Milkweed Editions, Minneapolis, MN, United States. (March 10, 2020).

Homeland Security

Hill, J. B. (2019). Introduction to Homeland Security: Policy, Administration, and Organization. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.

Explorations in Numerical Analysis

Lambers, J. V., Sumner, A. C. (2019). Explorations in Numerical Analysis (pp. xv+658). World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., Hackensack, NJ

Hill, J. B. (2019). Marijuana 360: Differing Perspectives on Legalization. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Nored, L. S. (2019). Child Advocacy in Mississippi (15th Anniversary Annual Update ed.). New York: Thomson/West Publishing.


Brannock, J. (COPI), Haley, A. P. (COPI), "Digitizing and Transcribing Mississippi Community Cookbooks," Sponsored by US/UK Network on Food and Digital Scholarship at The University of Sheffield and the Arts and Humanities Research Council, United Kingdom, Federal, $6,553.00. (November 2019 - Present).

Reeves, S. R. (PI), "Building Books," Sponsored by Mississippi Professional Educators, Other, $1,000.00. (October 1, 2019 - August 2020).

Zhang, Y. (PI), Zhang, C. (COPI), Luttrell, J. (Supporting), Fink, A. (Supporting), Tripathi, A. (Supporting), "An automated system for pedestrian facility data collection," Sponsored by National Academy of Science, Federal, $129,954.00. (November 7, 2018 - November 7, 2020).


Music - Adjudicator, Clinician, or Consultant
Hightower, J. T., "Guest Faculty, Canadian Operatic Arts Academy (COAA)," Canadian Operatic Arts Academy. (2019).

Music Performance - Major Participant, Opera/Musical
Hightower, J. T., "Michele—Il Tabarro, Mobile Opera2019." (2019). 

Music Performance - Major Participant Oratorio
McIlwain, J. K., Jackie McIlwain and Ben Corbin, Muestra Internacional de Clarinete de Panama, Panama City, Panama. (2019).

Music Performance - Accompanist/Church Organist
Rust, D., "Plaza Classic Film Festival," Douglas Rust, El Paso Foundation, Plaza Theater, El Paso, TX, United States. (2018 - Present).

Art - Exhibition, Competitive
Torres, J. A., "Art on the Atlanta Beltline," City of Atlanta and Beltline Inc., Atlanta Beltline, Atlanta, GA. (August 2018 - June 2020).


Dawoud, A. (COPI), Wallace, K. J. (PI), Miao, W. (COPI), "Remote Chemical Detection for CWAs and Explosives," Sponsored by DOD, Engineer Research and Development Center, Corps of Engineers, Federal, $1,071,986.00. (October 1, 2019 - 2022).


Researchers engage Mississippi Delta communities to build research infrastructure

Kendra Ablaza

A group of USM professors are conducting multidisciplinary research on how to build a better relationship between medical institutions and the communities they serve through patient-centered outcomes. Their work particularly focuses on how Community Health Advisors link communities and health care systems when it comes to chronic disease prevention among African American male populations in the Mississippi Delta.

Led by Dr. Jennifer Lemacks, an associate professor of Nutrition and Food Systems within the School of Kinesiology and Nutrition, the development of the comparative research project, “Comparing holistic versus traditional approach to engaging patients in cancer preventive behaviors,” began in the fall of 2018 and is ongoing. Dr. Lemacks along with collaborators Dr. Michael Madson and Dr. Tammy Greer from the School of Psychology, Dr. Daniel Credeur from the School of Kinesiology and Nutrition, and Dr. Michelle Brazeal from the School of Social Work were awarded the Multidisciplinary Disciplinary proposal to develop community-academic partnerships to support the development of the research.

This project works with the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute’s Tri-County Male Health and Wellness Initiative, a collaboration between USM researchers, the Mississippi Network for Cancer Control and Prevention’s Community Health Advisor’s Men in Black and Blue Fighting Prostate Cancer, Fannie Lou Hamer Cancer Foundation, and other organizations in the rural Mississippi Delta. The Tri-County Initiative aims to bolster research capacity among Leflore, Montgomery, and Carrol Counties of the Mississippi Delta.

One of the goals of this project is to design a better patient-centered model for medical institutions focused on engagement. The project also aims to show that addressing disease prevention holistically to consider common ailments long before some African Americans face a cancer diagnosis can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of CHA models and the engagement of African American males in cancer prevention behaviors.

Lemacks said it is generally difficult to engage men from minority populations, especially for preventive services, for reasons like patient mistrust of medical institutions and an institutions’ lack of understanding on how and where to recruit African American males for healthcare services.

We need to meet people where they are at, not expect them to be where providers need them to be.

This collaboration can not only lead to the dissemination of a best practice holistic method to engage rural African American males in chronic disease prevention, but it can also promote a much larger picture of chronic disease and cancer prevention that is very different from how traditional models approach care today, Lemacks said. 

Community Health Advisors are public health workers who know how to reach underserved populations and can be successful liaisons to their communities. However, their work thrives on the strong relationship between medical institutions and the communities they serve to prevent and treat health issues such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

“There is more to a CHA model than merely hiring community members to carry out a task, and it can be a large investment with little return if not implemented appropriately,” Lemacks said.

Project activities are centered around strategical planning to build infrastructure and further engage communities and researchers together. Their award, the Multidisciplinary Research Teams Program Development Grant through the Excellence Fund at Southern Miss, is focused on engaging the target population and building this infrastructure at the community level. For the overarching goal, Lemacks said it would probably require about three to five years before the group could measurably assess an impact.

“Time and again, we see that the answer to this problem lies in an institution’s connection to its community and we need to meet people where they are at, not expect them to be where providers need them to be,” Lemacks said. “Additionally, we approach health campaigns based on a single disease outcome, which isn’t always realistic or meeting this person where they are.”

A Report from the Office of Undergraduate Scholarships

Erin Lambert Dornan

311% increases, 3,056% increases, 100% awarding, 86% cash collected. 

What do these numbers mean?

Implementing consistent business practices across campus works when awarding scholarships and implementing a collaborative approach to packaging needs at Southern Miss.

Dr. Erin Lambert DornanDuring the 2018-19 academic year, the Office of Undergraduate Scholarships (OUS), led by Dr. Erin Lambert Dornan, was tasked to develop a campus-wide packaging philosophy and implement a centralized scholarship management system. The main objective for the Office of Undergraduate Scholarships is to provide and reward a population of scholarly students with resources and tools to pursue academic and financial goals. With over 80% of the USM student population receiving some type of financial assistance, it is important to spread university scholarship dollars to as many students as possible to help make college more affordable.

Working with over one hundred campus partners, GO Liaisons and signature authorities, OUS partnered with the USM Foundation to implement the GO System campus-wide for the 2019-20 awarding cycle. “When OUS was created in fall 2016, Provost Moser wanted all undergraduate scholarships to be housed in one location,” said Kate Howard, assistant vice president for enrollment services. “We created creative partnerships and implemented best practices across disciplines and saw 311 percent increases in GO general scholarship applications, 3,056 percent increases in student scholarship acceptances, with 100 percent of scholarships for incoming students being awarded before the May 1 national college acceptance date.”

Scholarship awarding is just one piece of the financial packaging philosophy at Southern Miss. Other areas impacting student finances are federal loans, grants, external scholarships and out-of-pocket expenses. Collaboration amongst financial stakeholders on campus included Business Services, Enrollment Services, Financial Aid, Fiscal Planning and Analysis, Undergraduate Scholarships and USM Foundation.

What’s next? We aim to continue strengthening university-wide efforts regarding packaging and scholarship awarding and ensure scholarships and financial aid are awarded by major payment deadlines to increase awareness of college costs and provide ample time for families to prepare for these costs.

Major outcomes from this group included establishing University awarding deadlines for campus partners and publishing an external Financial Calendar for USM constituents. The main driving force behind all campus financial deadlines was the University Payment Plan. By enforcing student payment before school started, leaders worked to ensure other financial deadlines were aligned. “With the payment policy beginning fall 2019, it was vital for scholarships and financial aid to be posted to students’ SOAR accounts so they could see a more accurate picture of what they owed the institution,” said Barbara Madison, Director of Student Financial Services. Cash collected for student accounts through August 2019 increased 80% over the previous year.

The director of the Office of Financial Aid, David Williamson, saw an increase in FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, submissions as well. “We saw a 12% increase in total FAFSA applications loaded as of July 1 for aid year 2020 in comparison to aid year 2019.” This allowed federal grants and loans to be offered on students’ accounts prior to first payment giving more time for families to prepare and budget for college costs.

What’s next? We aim to continue strengthening university-wide efforts regarding packaging and scholarship awarding and ensure scholarships and financial aid are awarded by major payment deadlines to increase awareness of college costs and provide ample time for families to prepare for these costs. Striving to achieve these goals will ultimately impact student satisfaction, retention and enrollment at Southern Miss.


American Civil Rights Activist and Educator Ellie J. Dahmer Awarded Honorary Doctorate

Esteemed Civil Rights activist and lifelong educator Dr. Ellie Jewel Davis Dahmer, of Forrest County, Miss., was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, during The University of Southern Mississippi's Commencement ceremony on the morning of Dec. 13, 2019.

Largely recognized for her work alongside her late husband, voting rights icon Mr. Vernon F. Dahmer Sr., Dr. Dahmer was honored for her contributions to the American Civil Rights Movement and her advocacy for literacy and academic achievement.


Did You Know?USM StudentsSeveral of USM's online programs have been rated among the nation’s best in the 2020 U.S. News & World Report Best Online Programs rankings.



Dates & Deadlines

January 30:  Applications due for the Faculty Senate Junior Faculty Awards to the Office of the Provost

January 30:  Applications due for the Nina Bell Suggs Endowed Professorship to the Office of the Provost

February 13:  School directors submit recommendations for pre-tenure review to the College Committee

February 14:  UAC submits tenure stream faculty promotion and tenure recommendations to the Provost


See complete list of important dates and deadlines.




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