SMAC unveils new student theater

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Southern Miss students officially have a new entertainment space designed specifically for their use. The Joe Paul Student Theater opened officially on Saturday, Sept. 8 during a  dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony.

The theater features a movie screen that will show recently released films on Wednesday and Saturday evenings throughout the school year. The theater itself gets its name from Vice President Emeritus for Student Affairs Joe Paul, who has served the University in various positions, for more than 40 years.

“It is rare that you find someone that has truly dedicated their entire life to investing in the lives of others,” Hattiesburg City Councilman Jeffery George said.

Dr. Paul is known by members of the Southern Miss and Hattiesburg community for his work with students. Paul coined the phrase, “Leave Southern Miss better than you found it.” This phrase continues to be used by Southern Miss leadership as well as students and has become a mantra for many people on campus.

“I can’t think of anyone that is more student centered than Dr. Paul,” SGA President McKenna Stone said. “Thanks to his investment in student success, by creating such a supportive and loving community here at Southern Miss, I chose to join this Golden Eagle family four years ago.”

The theater is a project that began with the original construction of the Thad Cochran Center in 2006, but it was never completed. In 2013, the plans to finish the theater were pushed forward because of the capital improvement fee that was added to campus fees for students.

“This is dedicated first and foremost and forever for student activities,” Paul said.

The Southern Miss Activities Council, led by president Brandon Adkins, will spearhead the activities that take place in the newly minted theater. SMAC developed the list of films to be shown throughout the semester. The first film “Accepted” will be shown tonight at 10 p.m.

The theater is 9,000 square feet and has 324 seats. Along with a movie screen, the theater also features a state and greenroom that leave room for other student events. Films are shown on Wednesday for $3 and Saturday evenings for free. A student ID is required for entry.

“I am confident that this beautiful facility will enrich the lives of students and community members at this institution, just as Dr. Paul does every day,” said Stone.

For a list of films for SMAC’s Fall movie series, visit the Southern Miss Activities Council Facebook page.