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Coastal Operations

On June 27, 2019, University President Rodney D. Bennett charged Dr. Monty Graham and Dr. Casey Maugh Funderburk with operationalizing work to best position our coastal teaching and research sites for future growth.

Out of this charge and taking into account the extensive, thoughtful work of the University’s Vision 2020 initiative as well as the Gulf Park Academic Reorganization Committee’s work, Drs. Graham and Maugh Funderburk invited representatives from coastal sites to serve on the Coastal Operations Leadership Team.

The Coastal Operations Leadership Team consists of 15 members representing faculty, staff and one community member working to ensure our research and academic programs best serve our students and coastal community. Membership includes:

Shannon Campbell, Cyndi Gaudet, Monty Graham (co-chair), Joe Griffitt, Read Hendon, Jessie Kastler, John Kelly (City of Gulfport), Casey Maugh Funderburk (co-chair), Heather Miller, Pam Moeller, Tom Rishel, Amanda Seymour, Jenny Tate, Jerry Wiggert, Ken Zantow

The Coastal Operations Leadership Team, taking into account faculty and staff input from an August 22, 2019 open meeting, developed a Vision for our Coastal Future and selected three pillars to best position our coastal teaching and research sites for future growth. On September 17, 2019, the University’s Provost and President accepted the Vision and Pillars as foundational structures from which Coastal Operations work will proceed.

Next steps include a request for ideas, found below. In order to fully develop a path forward for our Coastal Operations, faculty and staff input is central to success. Full participation from all employees will lead to our brightest future at Southern Miss.

Request for Ideas

The Coastal Operations Leadership Team invites innovative ideas to guide the development of new, integrative, or realigned academic and research programs supporting The University of Southern Mississippi’s Vision for our Coastal Future. Ideas are requested that focus on student success, research and scholarly innovation, and community wellbeing.

Vision for our Coastal Future

The University of Southern Mississippi’s Coastal Operations will be a national leader addressing issues relevant to people in coastal and maritime settings.

To meet the vision, we:

  • Embrace the dynamic nature of coastal environments, and
  • Seek agile and adaptive research-based solutions to existing and emerging ecological, social and economic phenomena.

Our success will be realized through a collaborative relationship among distinctive academic programming, research and development and the coastal community, that prioritize the three pillars of our Coastal Vision: Understanding the Ocean and Coasts, Improving Coastal Resilience and Supporting the Blue Economy.

Understanding the Ocean and Coasts: Our ocean and coastal ecosystems – and the dynamic interactions between them – remain largely undefined frontiers, despite their geographic proximity and the reliance we place upon them. From the coastline to hundreds of miles offshore and from the ocean surface to its deepest depths, discovery and exploration of the processes, habitats, biota and resources of those systems are essential to advancing our understanding of the distinctive features which define us as coastal communities.

Improving Coastal Resilience: Communities situated along coastlines derive unique benefits from their placement adjacent to oceans and estuaries but also face ongoing challenges sustaining livelihoods and infrastructure threatened by hazardous weather events, shifting climatic conditions and anthropogenic influences. Understanding the social, economic, health, community and ecological impacts from those episodic (e.g., hurricanes) and progressive (e.g., sea level rise) effects is crucial to enhancing coastal resiliency through adaptive community response, informed risk management and sustainable development.

Supporting the Blue Economy: The Blue Economy is comprised of businesses and industries which derive economic benefit from coastal and marine resources and/or placement within the coastal area. Like all economies, it is fundamentally supported by education, healthcare, government and social services. The Blue Economy includes the largest sectors of shipbuilding, coastal tourism and fisheries. It also includes ports and shipping, defense industries along the coast, restoration activities and other direct employment related to the ocean.

Ideas born out of this process should:

  • Operate within the three pillars of our Coastal Vision: Understanding the Ocean and Coasts, Improving Coastal Resilience and Supporting the Blue Economy;
  • Leverage our coastal location, expertise, and community partnerships;
  • Create programmatic and research innovation;
  • Grow enrollment;
  • Increase external funding;
  • Develop faculty research and scholarly productivity; and/or
  • Raise the University’s national visibility and standing.

The following should be included in a submission:  

Project Abstract: Describe the nature of the idea and describe how it will support the overall vision of our Coastal Operations. (Max. 200 words)

Anticipated Outcomes and Accomplishments: Describe the anticipated positive outcomes of your idea and the accomplishments that would be used to measure success if implemented. (Max. 300 words)

Proposal Narrative: Describe how this idea aligns with the vision and pillars of Coastal Operations. In what ways will this concept enhance innovation, raise visibility, or otherwise improve Coastal Operations? In your narrative, identify specific aims of the proposed research or academic idea and how these aims will be accomplished. Describe the local, regional or national demand for this idea. (Max. 1000 words) 

The submission period has been extended to Friday, Oct. 11, 2019 at 5 p.m. to honor recent requests for more time.

Evaluation of all submissions will begin with an open comment period running concurrent to the submission deadlines, extending through Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019. Following conclusion of the comment period, the Coastal Operations Leadership Team will begin an iterative evaluation that will engage members of USM’s Coastal Operations to incorporate selected ideas or parts thereof into a vision for our coastal future. 
Submit an Idea
Review Submitted Ideas
Idea Synthesis and Evaluation 

Questions may be submitted to USMCoastFREEMississippi.