From the inauguration of a new president to milestones in research, The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) celebrated a momentous 2023. The highlights are too numerous to list in their entirety. Below is a rundown of news stories from this year that warrant special remembrance.
- Joseph S. Paul was officially inaugurated as USM’s 11thpresident on Oct. 5 during an investiture ceremony held in historic Bennett Auditorium as the school also celebrated homecoming week. The 1975 graduate of Southern Miss first served in the post on an interim basis beginning in July 2022 before being named president starting Nov. 1 of last year by the State Institutions of Higher Learning.
- In May, Dr. Lance Nail, a veteran university faculty member and administrator, was named Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs. Nail previously served USM as Dean of the College of Business from 2008 to 2012.
- In June, Dr. Kristi Motter, a USM alumna with significant experience in student affairs, student recruitment and financial aid, was named Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management. Motter served as Vice President for Student Affairs at The University of Alabama in Huntsville since 2014, and previously served as Associate Vice President for Enrollment Services at USM from 2004 to 2014.
- In April, Dr. Kelly Lucas was named Vice President for Research. Lucas had served in the position on an interim basis since July 1, 2022. Prior to the appointment, Lucas served as USM’s Associate Vice President for Research, Coastal Operations; Director of the University’s Thad Cochran Marine Aquaculture Center; and was the first chief scientific officer for the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources.
- In March, Brian Hauff, a licensed architect with more than 25 years of professional experience, was named the Associate Vice President for Facilities Planning and Management. Hauff came to USM from Evangel University in Springfield, MO, where he served as Director of Facilities, managing on-campus construction projects, as well as supervising daily operations, including maintenance, custodial and grounds personnel.
- In December, Dr. Shannon Campbell, Senior Associate Vice President of Coastal Operations, announced her retirement after 28 years of public service leveraging her professional experience and expertise of which the last three have been focused on the school’s Gulf Coast presence.
Research and academics
- The University’s highly reputable Nurse Anesthesia Program reached a coveted milestone with a maximum 10-year accreditation by the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthetists. USM’s program is the only one offered in Mississippi.
- Through its diligent efforts in cybersecurity education, USM earned distinction as a Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense. The prestigious honor is earned via a program established by The National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.
- In October, federal, state, and local officials celebrated the completion of USM’s Roger F. Wicker Center for Ocean Enterprise with a ribbon-cutting at the Mississippi State Port Authority at Gulfport. The facility will serve as the centerpiece of research and development in the Gulf, creating a unique maritime technology environment on the Mississippi Coast.
- In September, the University announced the renewal of a five-year NIH (National Institutes for Health) research grant totaling more than $21 million for the Mississippi IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (MS INBRE), headquartered at USM. The program is a statewide network of colleges and universities, designed to strengthen the biomedical research infrastructure in Mississippi.
- The USM School of Education announced in September a $2.3 million expansion of its Golden Eagle Teacher Residency Program through a Teacher Quality Partnership grant from the U.S. Department of Education. In 2019, the Golden Eagle Teacher Residency Program began with a select group of undergraduate students who completed their senior coursework online while gaining an entire school year’s worth of experience in an elementary classroom under the mentorship of an accomplished teacher.
- Two important figures in America’s 2003 invasion of Iraq – the general who led the U.S. Army 3rd Division that captured its capital, Bagdad, and an iconic network television journalist who joined him and his troops as an embedded war reporter – reunited April 13 at USM to discuss the legacy of that fateful and controversial military action for the 2023 Lt. Col. John H. Dale Sr. Distinguished Lecture in International Security and Global Policy, hosted by the University’s Dale Center for the Study of War & Society.
- Members of the USM Professional Sales Program attended the National Sales Challengehosted by William Patterson University of New Jersey – and walked away with several awards. Maggie Gressett, a senior marketing major and EAGLE Scholar, took first place in the sales role play competition and finished fifth place overall.
- Kaela Barnicle, a senior healthcare marketing major, claimed first-place honors at the American Marketing Association Sales Competition in New Orleans this spring. AMA hosted its annual International Collegiate Conference where hundreds of business students network, workshop, and compete in a variety of competitions.
- Ashton Husband of Wiggins, Miss., a criminal justice major at USM, is just one of four students from across the country to be selected as a National Transfer Student Ambassador by the National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students.
- In November, the University celebrated another storied milestone as Give Wing – The Campaign for Southern Miss was successfully completed two years ahead of schedule. USM alumni, faculty, staff, and friends collectively committed more than $156 million to support student success, academic excellence, and innovation and discovery during its most ambitious fundraising campaign.
- Through the support of private philanthropy from 2,850 Southern Miss alumni and friends, gifts made through the USM Foundation totaled nearly $12.7 million, including approximately $11.4 million in outright gifts and pledges and $1.3 million in planned gifts. More than $11 million was disbursed for scholarships, academic programs and other support, including a record high 2,430 privately funded scholarships awarded, totaling approximately $5.5 million.
- In January, the College of Business and Economic Development received a $1 million investment from Chuck and Rita Scianna. The Sciannas are long-time champions of the University. They have generously supported College-specific initiatives on several notable occasions, including an investment of $6 million during the Building Better Business campaign to fund a new home for the college on the Hattiesburg campus. Completed in 2015, the facility is aptly named Scianna Hall.
- In October, USM became the first Mississippi university to place permanent emergency kitscontaining Narcan medication in residence halls on the Hattiesburg campus. Narcan, also known by its clinical name Naloxone, is a medicine that rapidly reverses an opioid overdose. The Emergency Kits, stocked with Narcan, include instructions for use and CPR masks available in campus housing.
- In November, Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch announced the “One Pill Can Kill”partnership with USM, a public awareness campaign to educate, support, and empower Mississippians about the dangers associated with fentanyl and the resources available to save lives.
In June, USM baseball hosted the second Super Regional series in school history against the University of Tennessee.