USM celebrates 107th Founders’ Day


Courtesy Photo

Courtesy Photo

This year marks the 107th anniversary of The University of Southern Mississippi’s founding.

On March 30, 1910, Mississippi Normal College, which later became USM, was established. The Alumni Association designated March 30 as MSC Day in 1955, when the university was called Mississippi Southern College. According to the university’s website, this day was to be observed by all students, current and former, “to build up a little more custom and tradition concerning the college.”

Since then, MSC Day has been renamed as Founders’ Day and has been continued to be celebrated each year. The Founders’ Day of 2010 celebrated the centennial of the university with the dedication of the Centennial Gateway, a spring convocation ceremony and a large community-style picnic.

“Founders’ Day is an important celebration because Southern Miss has come so far since its legislative founding in 1910,” said Jerry DeFatta, executive director of the Southern Miss Alumni Association. “Our journey thus far is a testament to the resilience and determination of our students, faculty, staff and alumni through the years. On Founders’ Day we celebrate the Southern Miss spirit.”

The Student Alumni Association (SAA) holds events during Founders’ Week each year for students, according to Nicole Ruhnke, Assistant Director for Communication for the Southern Miss Alumni Association. The SAA is the student chapter of the Southern Miss Alumni Association which helps to promote spirit and enthusiasm by protecting the traditions and history of Southern Miss.

On Monday, the SAA hosted a “Thank You Station” in the Thad Cochran Center in which students could send thank you notes to faculty and staff in order to show their appreciation for all of their hard work.

Tuesday, the Southern Miss Trivia Cab gave free rides on a golf cart to anyone who answered USM trivia. The Founders’ Week Faceoff in Spirit Park on the same day allowed students to cast their vote in the faceoff by taking a selfie with Seymour or another campus celebrity.

A “casual networking event” called “Mingle Like You Mean It” was held on Wednesday night in the RC’s Lounge. This event gave students the opportunity to connect with successful young alumni from Southern Miss.

The Founders’ Day “State of the University” address given by USM President Rodney Bennett will be held Thursday on the Gulf Park campus. A live streaming of the speech will be available online for viewers across the state and beyond. Hattiesburg students, faculty and staff can gather in Bennett Auditorium to watch the live video at 3 p.m.

“Next year’s Founders’ Day ceremony will be hosted in Hattiesburg, with the location of the ceremony alternating between campuses each year,” Bennett wrote in an email to the campus community. “The program will be streamed online for those who are unable to attend in person. I encourage you to join us as we reimagine Founders’ Day and celebrate our rich history and promising future across the state of Mississippi and beyond.”

Service Pin Receptions will also be held on both the Gulf Park and Hattiesburg campuses on Founders’ Day for individuals by private invite only. New Southern Miss Hall of Fame student members are honored and other university awards are presented on this day every year.

To conclude the various Founders’ Week events, the SGA will host Founders’ Fest in Spirit Park on Friday from 5 – 7 p.m. Founders’ Fest is a free talent show featuring USM students with all food proceeds and donations benefitting scholarships for USM students with disabilities. For more information regarding Founders’ Day events, visit