Hattiesburg, Gulf Park campuses pose similarities

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Courtesy Photo
Courtesy Photo

The University of Southern Mississippi is home to approximately 17,000 students who are spread across two campuses, one located in Hattiesburg and another located in Long Beach.

Though the two campuses share an hour and a half distance between them, the two share many similarities that students may not know about.

First and foremost, the Gulf Coast campus offers many of the same educational opportunities that the Hattiesburg campus offers. With degrees in all six colleges, the Gulf Coast campus offers roughly 42 undergraduate degree programs.

Student life is also full and thriving at the Gulf Coast campus. They offer religious organizations such as the Catholic Student Association and the Wesley Foundation. They also offer many honor societies and degree-specific clubs for students to join to enhance their academic experience.

The Student Government Association is an organization at the Southern Miss Hattiesburg campus that continues to grow and create new initiatives for the students. The Long Beach campus also offers SGA as a way for students to get involved and make a difference on campus.

SGA on the Hattiesburg campus has been working directly with the SGA of the Gulf Coast campus to share ideas and struggles and to help each other grow.

“Though the student population at the Gulf Coast campus is a little different from Hattiesburg, our students are dealing with the same problems on a day-to-day basis,” said Jeffrey George, SGA president. “We discussed parking issues, academic policies and communication with the administration as things that both groups would like to work on throughout this year. “

Southern Style is one of the many leadership opportunities available to students on the Hattiesburg campus. This is a group of 20-25 students who go through a three-step interview process and meet specific academic requirements. Southern Style leads all fall, summer and spring orientation days. They also serve as ambassadors at the university events such as commencement and Founder’s Day. USM Gulf Coast has a similar group of individuals called Southern Connection.

Many students on the Hattiesburg campus refer to the large oak tree in front of Kennard-Washington Hall as “the friendship tree.” But, what a lot of students do not know is that the original Friendship Oak is located on the Gulf Coast campus. This oak tree is over 500 years old and stands on the beachfront side of the campus.

In October 2013, USM Hattiesburg and USM Gulf Coast welcomed new décor to the front of their respective campuses. The “Lofty Return” is a statue both campuses now display. The Hattiesburg campus has a somewhat larger statue. Both were commissioned by USM alumnus Chuck Scianna and created by David Anderson. The statue on the Gulf Coast campus is in honor of the dedication of Aubrey K. Lucas, sixth president of the university, to the foundation and improvement of the  campus. The “Lofty Return” on the Hattiesburg campus is in honor of Martha Saunders, ninth president of the university.

Elizabeth Currie is a senior nursing major on the Gulf Coast campus. Currie spent some of her years studying at the Hattiesburg campus as well.

“The lawn in Hattiesburg is similar to the one on the coast so it felt like I was in Hattiesburg,” Currie said.

Both campuses are undergoing large improvements. Currently the Gulf Coast campus is working on the construction of a recreation facility.

“They are working on building a gym down here on campus and some of the equipment is coming from the Payne center,” said Lauren Atchison, a 2014 Southern Connection member.

One thing that can tie both of these campuses together is their Southern Miss spirit.

“Just like in Hattiesburg, the students that attend the Gulf Coast campus are hard-working, determined and always do their best to represent Southern Miss well,” George said.