Campus, Hattiesburg community gathers for 105th Founder’s Day
The Hall of Fame inductees participate in the 105th Anniversary of Southern Miss’ Founder’s Day in Bennett Auditorium Monday afternoon.- Lavenue Coren
On Monday, The University of Southern Mississippi celebrated its 105th Founders Day, which marks the legislative forming date of the institution.
The crowd filled Bennett Auditorium at 3 p.m., where there was a ceremony held to honor students’ excellence, to induct into the Student Hall of Fame and to inaugurate the Student Government Association Executive Board for the 2015-2016 academic year. There were many administrators, deans and notable alumni in the audience including Mississippi Judge David Ishee and Hattiesburg Councilwoman Mary Dryden.
The ceremony began with the national anthem sung by men’s acapella group, The Spirit of Southern, and a speech given by university President Rodney Bennett before the faculty and staff service recognition.
This section celebrated faculty and staff of USM that have served the institution diligently for over ten years. This year they inducted four new members, including but not exclusive to Joseph Paul, vice president for student affairs, and Maureen Martin, director of the Dubard School for Language Disorders.
Next, the university honored many outstanding students that received prestigious awards such as Outstanding Freshman, Best Citizen, Hall of Fame and the Judge R.J. Bishop Mississippian Award.
Sean Patterson, a senior mathematics major, received the Phi Kappa Phi Bowl, which is a an award celebrating a senior with a perfect 4.0 GPA and the most credit hours.
“I (received) this email that said I was receiving a Founder’s Day award, and I had no idea what it was,” he said. “When I saw what it was for, I was (dumbfounded.) It’s really exciting.”
After the student awards, former SGA Attorney General Wilton Jackson rose to begin the inauguration for the new SGA Executive Board, which reinstated President Jeffrey George and Vice President Kyle Stoner for a second term. Joining them onstage was recently elected Autumn Sobel, SGA attorney general, Phoenix Pope, election commissioner, and Blake Dunaway, treasurer.
George rose to give a speech, a tradition for newly elected presidents of the past. He spoke strongly about giving back to the university, his pride in the progress that SGA had made in the past year and his excitement for new times to come.
“To our university, Founder’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate the history that has had such a meaningful impact on the lives of so many individuals,” he said. “It is an opportunity to look forward to the promising future as our university continues to make a difference in our community.”
He celebrated Paul’s service to the university.
“Thank you for your commitment to this institution and your vision to improve the experience for all Southern Miss students. The leadership, care and guidance that you have shown me and the thousands of other students you have encountered over the years has had a greater impact than any of us could ever imagine.”
The event closed with a singing of the Alma Mater, performed jointly by the Southern Arts Brass Quintet and the Spirit of Southern. There was then a small reception for participants to mingle.
“Founder’s Day is great day to remember where we came from and to reflect on where we’re going,” Stoner said. “This university has been here for over 105 years and we plan on being here for another 105 years. It’s a great (to) remember where you came from and to leave (the university) better than you found it.”