USM Founder’s Day: Celebrating 104 years of hard work

Students and faculty came together in Bennett Auditorium on March 27 for the University of Southern Mississippi's annual Founder’s Day celebration. Southern Miss officially celebrated its 104th anniversary on March 30.

The 27 students that were honored in the main ceremony have contributed to the university in various ways. They are recognized for their achievements in academics, leadership and community services. Faculty and staff were also honored for their services and dedication to USM students. Ninety-four members of faculty and staff were recognized for their 10 to 30 years of service at Southern Miss. Three were recognized for 40 years of service.


Before the ceremony began, Rodney Bennett, the president of the University of Southern Mississippi, gave visitors a warm welcome and delivered a presidential speech.

“I am excited about the significant progress we have made during the past year in improving quality across the board,” Bennett said.

“Our fundamental purpose remains consistent: to impact the lives of students, their families and our communities through the high quality educational opportunities offered here at the University of Southern Mississippi.”

The 2014 Outstanding Freshmen awards were given to twelve students. These students are ranked in the top one percent of the student body, according to Paul.

“They are making Southern Miss better on a daily basis,” Paul said.

The Best Citizens award went to Kelly Rebecca Rake and Steven Anthony Panepinto, two Southern Miss seniors who have both done volunteer work within the university.

The Leave It Better Than You Found It Award was given to Alex Doleac. This award is given annually to a senior.

The next award given was the Barbara Ross Gold Leaf Scholarship. Established in 2012, the award is given to a member of a Greek organization who is dedicated to the university. The 2014 recipient was Kristin Rilee House.

Nine students were inducted into USM’s Hall of Fame. Students who make it into the Hall of Fame are distinguished by their good work while at Southern Miss.

The Phi Kappa Phi Silver Bowl award was given to Caitlyn Elizabeth Burkes. This award is given to students with a 4.0 grade point average and the highest number of credit hours taken at the university.

The Judge R.J. Bishop Mississippian award, which honors men and women who have had hardships of the economic, family or physical nature but overcame them and continued their education, was given to David Fondren, who is a first generation college student. There have been 27 recipients of this award.

After all the awards were given, the inauguration of the 2014-2015 Student Government Association officers took place and thus ended the ceremony.


Photos by John Perry