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Students celebrated at 106th Founders’ Day


On Tuesday and Wednesday, The University of Southern Mississippi hosted Founders’ Day ceremonies in Hattiesburg and on the Gulf Coast in celebration of its legislative founding.

During the ceremonies, the university and the Legacy Student Alumni Association inducted new Student Government Association officers and honored select seniors, faculty and staff.

Alumni Association President Bradley Floore said Founders’ Day is a great spring program because it provides the Southern Miss community a way to connect and celebrate the university’s accomplishments over the past year.

“As a graduating senior, this Founders’ Day program is especially important to me,” Floore said. “As an underclassman, I knew about the program, but I didn’t fully comprehend its importance, and I think this is why more students don’t attend the program.”

Floore encouraged students and other members of the USM community to participate in future ceremonies. During the celebration, Floore presented SGA President Caroline Bradley with the Southern Miss ring.

Other inducted SGA officers include Vice President Jesse Robinson, Treasurer Franky Lopez, Attorney General Autumn Sobel and Election Commissioner Christen White.

“Hearing from Dr. Bennett and others share Southern Miss’s successes will inspire you and motivate you,” Floore said.

Alumni Association programs manager BayLee Long said Founders’ Day is a celebration of the university’s rich history and promising future.

“[The Alumni Association] hopes that community members will experience a renewed excitement for the past, present and future of Southern Miss,” Long said. “As a sponsor of Founders’ Day, the Alumni Association hopes that the Founders’ Day events will encourage alumni to become more involved with the University and reconnect with their alma mater.”

The Gulf Park ceremony began at 9 a.m. in Hardy Hall Ballroom. The Hattiesburg ceremony began at 3 p.m. in the Mannoni Performing Arts Center.

USM President Rodney Bennett gave a speech during the Hattiesburg celebration.

“After more than 100 years, our fundamental purpose remains consistent: to impact the lives of students, the families in our communities through high-quality education and research programs,” Bennett said. “I am certainly grateful for the time, for the talent and for the efforts each [community member] has contributed to our legacy. And I look forward to continue to work to move The University of Southern Mississippi into the future.”

The university presented the Outstanding Freshman Female and Male awards to Corai Jackson and Cameron Cloud, respectively. The Best Citizens award went to Douglas LeBlanc and Ukamaka Nwaokorie. The Leave it Better than You Found It award was presented to Perry Overstreet, and the Barbara Ross Gold Leaf Scholarship was presented to Raven Winding.

USM Hall of Fame inductees included Haleigh Bradley, Katherine Brewer, Kristen Dupard, Bradley Floore, Jeffery
George, Phoenix Pope, Sarah Beth Selph, Kyle Stoner, Jessica Thompson and Aleke Vehos.

In addition, the university recognized staff and faculty who have been involved on campus for a decade or more.

The university’s Alumni Associated designated March 30 as Founders’ Day in 1955, according to the USM website. In 2010, the university celebrated its centennial anniversary and dedicated the Centennial Gateway.

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Students celebrated at 106th Founders’ Day