The University of Southern Mississippi
|The University of Southern Mississippi|
The University of Southern Mississippi Seal
|Established||March 30, 1910|
|President||Dr. Rodney D. Bennett|
|Students||15,325 (Fall 2013)|
|Location||Hattiesburg, Mississippi, USA|
|Campus||Urban, 1086 acres (1.7 m²)|
(NCAA Division I)
|Colors||Black and Gold|
The University of Southern Mississippi, known informally as Southern Miss, is a public research university located in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. It is situated 70 miles (110 km) north of Gulfport, Mississippi and 105 miles (169 km) northeast of New Orleans, Louisiana. Southern Miss is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award baccalaureate, master's, specialist, and doctoral degrees. The university is classified by the Carnegie Foundation as a "Research University" with "High Research Activity" (designation "RU/H").
Founded on March 30, 1910, the university is a dual campus institution, with the main campus located in Hattiesburg and the Gulf Park campus located in Long Beach, with five additional teaching and research sites.
The university has a particularly extensive study-abroad program through its Center for International Education, and is consistently ranked as one of the top universities in the nation for the number of students studying abroad each year. It is especially noted for its flagship British Studies program, which regularly sends more than 200 students each summer to live and study in the heart of London. The university is also home to a major polymer science research center, and one of the strongest fine arts programs in the southeastern United States.
Originally called the Mississippi Southerners, the Southern Miss athletic teams became the Golden Eagles in 1972. The school’s colors, black and gold, were selected by a student body vote shortly after the school was founded, and while mascots, names, customs, and the campus have changed, the black and gold colors have remained constant.
- 1 Institution
- 2 History
- 3 Campus and student life
- 4 Athletics
- 5 Fine arts
- 6 Notable campus landmarks
- 7 Alumni
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
The university's primary mission is "to cultivate intellectual development and creativity through the generation, dissemination, application, and preservation of knowledge." Southern Miss is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and its programs are fully accredited by 30 state and national agencies.
Southern Miss offers approximately 189 programs leading to baccalaureate, master’s, specialist, and doctorate degrees. Southern Miss has traditionally drawn many of its students from Mississippi schools and community colleges, hailing from every county in Mississippi, though today the majority of undergraduates come from public schools across the southern United States and around the globe. The University of Southern Mississippi Symphony Orchestra has more than 90 members (including undergraduate and graduate students) from the United States and 14 other countries.
The University of Southern Mississippi offers more than 250 clubs and organizations, as well as intramural athletics and special events. Student organizations at Southern Miss include the Conference USA featuring year-round athletics in 16 sports.
The institution's strengths include its large research endowment, its emphasis on accreditation at the departmental and college levels, its respected music and art programs, and its athletic prowess. Several degree programs at the university rank among the best of their kind in the nation. The New York Times Book Review rates the university's Center for Writers as one of the Top 10 in the country, and the Polymer Science and Engineering department is consistently ranked among the nation's top 10 by U.S. News & World Report. U.S. News & World Report also included the university on a list for “Most Popular Universities”. The School of Communications is ranked among the top ten programs in the nation, according to the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, and Southern Miss is one of only one percent of business schools in the nation accredited in both business and accounting by the AACSB International Association for Management Education.
Dr. Rodney D. Bennett became the tenth president of the university in April 2013.
The University of Southern Mississippi is governed by the University President along with the Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning. The President of The University of Southern Mississippi is the day-to-day administrator of Southern Miss and is appointed by and responsible to the State Institutions of Higher Learning Board.
The university is organized into six colleges, offering academic programs of study in:
- College of Arts and Letters
- College of Business
- College of Education and Psychology
- College of Health
- College of Nursing
- College of Science and Technology
In addition to its six academic colleges, The University of Southern Mississippi also offers the following programs:
- George R. Olliphant Honors College
- Graduate Studies
- International Studies Program
- Fully Online Programs: Master of Science in Sport Management and Master of Science in Sport Coaching Education
- DuBard School for Language Disorders
- Frances A. Karnes Center for Gifted Studies
Mississippi Normal College, eventually renamed The University of Southern Mississippi, was founded on March 30, 1910 to train educators. The college's first president, Joseph Anderson Cook, presided over the opening session of instruction on September 18, 1912 and oversaw the construction of College Hall (the academic building); Forrest County Hall (men’s and married students’ dormitory); Hattiesburg Hall (women’s dormitory); the Industrial Cottage (training laboratory for home management); and the president’s home (now the Ogletree Alumni House). In its first session, Mississippi Normal College had a total enrollment of 876 students.
The school underwent more name changes in 1924, to State Teachers College, and in 1940, after instruction had expanded beyond teacher training, to Mississippi Southern College.
The college's fifth president, State Archivist Dr. William David McCain, was installed in 1955 and worked diligently to expand Mississippi Southern College. He oversaw the construction of 17 new structures on campus and convinced Gov. Ross Barnett to give Mississippi Southern College university status in 1962. This resulted in a fourth, and final, renaming of the institution to The University of Southern Mississippi.
McCain's administration also superintended the inclusion of African-American students on campus. At the time the school's mascot was the Southerners and was represented by "General Nat" on the field.
In a period when pressure was growing nationally to integrate the state’s institutions of higher learning, he was well known to vehemently oppose the prospect of having any black students at Mississippi Southern. In recognition of this, in 1964 James Meredith made his attempt to enter Ole Miss rather than Southern, thinking success more likely there.
Indeed, when Clyde Kennard, a black Korean War veteran, attempted to enroll at Mississippi Southern in the late 1950s, McCain made major efforts with the state political establishment and local black leaders to prevent it. As a result, Kennard was twice arrested on trumped-up criminal charges and eventually sentenced to seven years in the state prison.
Dr. McCain’s direct involvement in this abuse of the justice system is unclear. He was certainly as aware as other intimate members of the state political establishment were as to how fraudulent and bogus the charges were but made no public objection.
At the very time McCain was so forcefully seeking to keep Clyde Kennard out of Mississippi Southern, he made a trip to Chicago sponsored by the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission, where he explained the reality of Mississippi life saying that those blacks who sought to desegregate Southern schools were "imports" from the North. Kennard was, in fact, a native and resident of Hattiesburg.
"We insist that educationally and socially, we maintain a segregated society. ... In all fairness, I admit that we are not encouraging Negro voting," he said. "The Negroes prefer that control of the government remain in the white man's hands."
By the fall of 1965 both Ole Miss and Mississippi State University had been integrated – the former violently, the latter peacefully. The University of Southern Mississippi leaders, such as President McCain, had come to realize that the battle to maintain segregation was lost. Therefore, they made extensive confidential plans for the admission and attendance of their first black students. A faculty guardian and tutor was secretly appointed for each. The same campus police department which six years before had attempted to railroad Kennard to prison when he attempted to enroll, now had very strict orders to prevent or quickly stop any incident involving the two black students. Student athletic, fraternity, and political leaders were recruited to keep the calm and protect the university from such bad publicity as Ole Miss had suffered from its reaction to James Meredith.
In 1972, the Southern Miss Gulf Park Campus was founded and the university athletic teams were renamed from the “Southerners” to the “Golden Eagles.” By the time McCain retired in 1975, enrollment had climbed to 11,000 students.
In the years following McCain's campus transformation, The University of Southern Mississippi continued to expand dramatically. Notable changes included: replacement of the quarter system with the semester system, creation of the Polymer Science Institute, reorganization of the university’s 10 schools into six colleges, affiliation with Conference USA, establishment of the School of Nursing as a college; the implementation of online classes; and an expansion of the Gulf Coast campus.
The beginning of the 21st century at Southern Miss saw growth, in the person of Dr. Shelby Thames. The tenure of Shelby Thames was characterized by a significant increase in the quantity of research being done at the University. USM was assigned the "Doctoral / Research Extensive" designation by the Carnegie Foundation during the Thames era, a category that includes the largest, most important research universities in the nation, which number approximately 150. The most recent figures indicate that annual research funding entering the University exceeds $100 million per year. Dr. Thames has been praised by many, including the faculty, for his response to the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina. The October, 2005 meeting of the Faculty Senate of the Gulf Park campus, for example, passed an official resolution of appreciation, and the Hattiesburg American reported that his post-Katrina address to the faculty at Hattiesburg was well received. Furthermore, no University employees were released in the aftermath of the storm, although the Gulf Park campus alone sustained over $100 million in damage. Such was not the case at Tulane University, for example, where approximately 25% of the staff was released, and significant athletic and academic programs- including the Computer Science major and most engineering programs- were dropped.
The Thames administration has presided over the financing and execution of several construction projects on the campus, often in partnership with private-sector entities. A new addition to the student union holds the second-largest Barnes and Noble store in the southern U.S., for instance, and Barnes and Noble pays $1.5 million in annual rent on this facility. Thames also negotiated a financially favorable food services agreement with Aramark (who will donate $9 million to University construction projects). Other enhancements to the campus realized under Dr. Thames include the upscale Power House restaurant (at an old college power plant), the $15 million sorority village, additions to the football, basketball, and baseball facilities, and many enhancements designed to make the campus generally more open, green, and pedestrian-friendly.
In at least one obvious way, though, the overall academic reputation of the University suffered under Thames, and improved when he left. The University experienced an unexpected, highly publicized drop from "Tier 3" to "Tier 4" in the U.S. News & World Report college rankings beginning in the 2004 edition, a development which roughly coincided with the height of the Shelby Thames controversy. By 2009, Thames was gone, and the University had experienced an atypically large jump back into the upper portion of "Tier 3.". In the 2011 U.S. News & World Report College ranking USM is in the "Tier 2".
USM ranks highly in the college rankings developed by Washington Monthly, a persistent critic of the U.S. News & World Report rankings. In these rankings, which attempt to make a more holistic assessment of an institution's value, USM ranks 98th out of 245 doctoral institutions. This is the highest ranking of any school in Mississippi. A January 2006 college ranking list created by a graduate student at Stanford University based on Google hits also ranks Southern Miss rather high- 62nd out of over 1700 U.S. institutions.
On February 10, 2013 a violent EF4 wedge tornado tore through the Southern Miss campus causing tens of millions of dollars in damage. The tornado formed in western Hattiesburg and continued into Southwestern Alabama. The tornado destroyed 2 buildings and damaged 6 others, however there were no fatalities and few injuries on the campus due to advanced warnings before the tornado hit and the fact that most students were away for the Mardi Gras break.
Campus and student life
Semesters at the university run from August to December and January to May, with a 10-week summer session. There are also two four-week accelerated summer terms.
In Fall 2006, The University of Southern Mississippi dedicated a 4-story, multi-million dollar addition to its R.C. Cook University Union. The Thad Cochran Center is now home to a 2-story Barnes & Noble Bookstore (proclaimed to be the largest college bookstore in the Southeastern U.S.), three ballrooms, a stadium-style theater (currently unfinished), student organization offices, and Southern Miss Dining and Fresh Food Company. There are also several meeting rooms held within the union complex. The Union and Programs team hosts more than a thousand events each year.
At nearly 300, Southern Miss' student organizations appeal to a wide spectrum of interests and are categorized under the following areas: Business, Education and Psychology, the Arts, Games and Athletics, Graduate Studies, Greek Life, Health and Human Sciences, Honors Societies, Liberal Arts, the Military, Religious Life, Residence Halls, Community Service, and Science and Technology. The largest organizations based on student membership include the: Student Government Association, African-American Student Organization, Southern Miss Activities Council, The Legacy Student Alumni Association, and Baptist Student Union.
Gulf Park campus
The university’s presence on the Mississippi Gulf Coast began in 1947 when then Mississippi Southern College first organized classes at Van Hook Hall, Methodist Camp Grounds, in Biloxi. In 1958, classroom space and facilities moved to Mary L. Michael Junior High School in Biloxi. To meet the educational needs of various occupational fields and interests along the Gulf Coast, the University relocated in 1964 to Keesler Air Force Base. Classroom facilities were obtained for night classes from the Jefferson Davis campus of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Junior College; the addition was called the USM Harrison County Resident Center. One of the most prominent landmarks on campus is the Friendship Oak. This huge live oak tree, that adorns the lawns of Hardy Hall and the Administration Building, dates from approximately 1487. The earliest available reference to the moniker Friendship Oak is found in an article written by Bob Davis, correspondent for the New York Sun, who described the tree in his book People, People, Everywhere, published in 1936.
In September 1966, Southern Miss further extended its offerings by adding the Jackson County Resident Center, located on the Jackson County campus of the MGCCC in Gautier. The Jackson County Center was built for the University by the Jackson County Board of Supervisors, largely through the efforts of Dr. Shelby Thames when he was executive vice president of USM. The center was constructed with the hope that all four years of a number of degrees would be located in Jackson County through USM and MGCCC. In 2009, however, the decision was made to close the Jackson County Center and consolidate course offerings at other teaching sites on the Gulf Coast.
The Gulf Park College for Women in Gulfport, Mississippi, opened in 1921. The last commencement was held in 1971 and the University of Southern Mississippi acquired the campus in 1972. In March 1972, the USM Harrison County Resident Center program was moved from the Jefferson Davis campus of MGCCC to the campus of the former Gulf Park College for Women, located on Highway 90 in Long Beach. Gulf Park was a two-year private school founded by Col. J.C. Hardy, who also founded the Gulf Coast Military Academy. The school opened for classes September 10, 1921, and held its final commencement May 29, 1971. The school’s closing was attributed to the sagging economy, damage inflicted by Hurricane Camille in 1969, and the increasing ability of community colleges to provide quality education at a low cost.
In July 1972, the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning established the USM Gulf Park and Keesler Air Force Base Center as an upper-level degree completion regional campus of the University, offering programs leading to degrees at the baccalaureate and graduate levels. On August 19, 2002, Southern Miss admitted its first class of freshmen on its Gulf Park Campus, making the university the only comprehensive university in the state with dual-campus status.
Today, the Gulf Park campus serves as the central campus for several teaching centers, including:
- The Stennis Space Center Teaching and Research Site is located in Hancock County on the Mississippi-Louisiana border and is NASA's largest rocket engine test facility.
- Gulf Coast Student Service Center Teaching Site, located in Gulfport, this became the interim site of the Gulf Park campus following Hurricane Katrina. Located in the Healthmark Center, it continues to serve as a site while the Gulf Park Campus is renovated.
- Gulf Coast Research Laboratory Teaching and Research Site (GCRL), located in Ocean Springs, is home of the Department of Coastal Sciences, the Center for Fisheries and Research and Development, the Marine Education Center and the Thad Cochran Marine Aquaculture Center.
- Point Cadet Teaching Site, located in Biloxi, R/V Tommy Munro, a 97-foot research vessel, is a unit of GCRL and docks at Point Cadet.
- The Keesler Center, located on Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, provides courses for military personnel as well as the civilian community.
In addition, other USM units in the Gulf Coast region are the elements of the College of Marine Sciences; the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in Ocean Springs; the J. L. Scott Marine Education Center and Aquarium on Point Cadet in Biloxi; the Hydrographic Science Research Center; and the Center for Marine Sciences at the John C. Stennis Space Center in Hancock County.
On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina caused about $115 million in damage to Gulf Park and led to the relocation of classes to a healthcare facility in Gulfport, Healthmark Center (1520 Broad Avenue, Gulfport, MS). As of July 2006, USM Gulf Park is still being rebuilt. The Friendship Oak, however, has survived this storm as it survived Hurricane Camille and countless lesser storms that have hit the area.
The University of Southern Mississippi has 14 residence halls and about 5,000 students live on campus throughout the school year.
Freshman Quad Residence Halls:
- Bolton Hall, traditional residence hall housing upper-class females.
- Jones Hall, a traditional residence hall housing freshman men.
- Pulley Hall, a traditional residence hall housing freshman women.
- Roberts Hall, a traditional residence hall housing freshman men.
- Wilber Hall, a traditional residence hall housing freshman women.
Triad Complex Residence Halls:
- Hattiesburg Hall, a suite-style residence hall housing male residents with a certain GPA.
- Hickman Hall, a traditional residence hall housing freshman female students & offices for Housing & Residence Life.
- Mississippi Hall, a suite-style residence hall housing female residents with a certain GPA.
Upper-Class Residence Halls:
- Hillcrest Hall, a suite-style residence hall housing upper-class women.
- McCarty Hall, a super-suite style residence hall housing upper-class men.
- Pinehaven, a complex featuring apartment-style housing for families and graduate students.
- The Village, a community-style living area that houses the current National Panhellenic Conference sororities and the National Pan-Hellenic Council sororities, as well as Upperclass Scholarship, Nursing, and Athletic women.
- Century Park, a community-style living area that houses Honors College students and Luckyday and Leadership scholars.
Publications and media
- Southern Miss Now is the official news and information source of the University Communications Office at the University of Southern Mississippi.
- The Student Printz is the university's student-run newspaper, is published twice a week during the fall and spring semesters.
- The Southerner is the University's full-color yearbook publication.
- WUSM FM 88.5 is the 3000-watt Southern Miss public radio FM station, located on the first floor of Southern Hall.
- Mississippi Review is a quarterly published journal that features fiction, poetry, and essays.
- The Drawl is a publication that the highlights the traditions and history of Southern Miss. Incoming Golden Eagles are given a copy of The Drawl their first week of school.
- The Talon is a quarterly magazine that keeps alumni and friends abreast of the latest Southern Miss news and events.
- The Cook Library, located on the Hattiesburg campus, contains the principal collections of books, periodicals, microforms, government documents and other materials which directly support the instructional programs of The University of Southern Mississippi at all levels.
- The McCain Library and Archives houses the Library's Special Collections and University Archives on the Hattiesburg campus. Collections include the de Grummond Children's Literature Collection as well as a remarkable collection of Mississippi oral history, manuscripts, and civil war materials.
- The Gulf Coast Library, located on the Long Beach campus, is part of the University Libraries serving the Gulf Coast campuses (Gulf Park, Keesler, and Jackson County campuses). This state-of-the-art library is the only comprehensive university library on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and provides students with a wealth of library resources and media collections.
- The Gunter Library is located at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory (GCRL), Ocean Springs, MS campus. The Library provides technical information for the research staff, resident faculty and students, and visitors. Included are files of abstracts and reprints, books and journals, expedition reports, dissertations, and reference works. Special book collections support the academic program of the Laboratory. The Gunter Library is a unique resource designed to support research, education, and service in the marine sciences.
Mardi Gras holiday
The University of Southern Mississippi is one of the few universities to allow a two-day holiday each year for Mardi Gras. Currently, the University does not hold classes on the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, many USM students expressed a desire for the holiday, due to the university's proximity to New Orleans and its close ties to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, where Mardi Gras is celebrated with a devotion that rivals the annual New Orleans celebration. In 1981, Ken Stribling, who was at the time serving his first of two years as president of USM's student body, organized a student drive to institute a holiday that would occur annually on Fat Tuesday. After the university's Calendar Committee refused to allow the holiday, Stribling appealed the decision to USM President Aubrey Lucas. At an annual Christmas celebration at USM in December 1981, Lucas made a surprise announcement that USM would try the holiday on Fat Tuesday in 1982 to see how it worked. Stribling made a similar effort in 1982, and Lucas again allowed the holiday for Fat Tuesday in 1983. The next year, the holiday for Fat Tuesday was made a permanent part of the university's calendar.
Subsequent efforts by the university's student government in 2003 led to the addition of the Monday before Ash Wednesday as part of the Mardi Gras Holiday, creating a two-day holiday for the event. While many USM students attend Mardi Gras during the holiday each year, the majority of students spend the four-day weekend preparing for mid-term exams or visiting loved ones at home. Regardless, the Mardi Gras Holiday has become a recruiting tool and an enjoyed novelty at Southern Miss.
The Golden Eagles have excelled in all areas of athletics. Southern Miss has captured national titles twice in football and three times in track and field. In 2011, the Golden Eagle football team finished as the #19 team in the Associated Press (AP) College Poll. The Golden Eagle baseball team are two-time Conference USA champions and have been invited to twelve regional NCAA tournaments and also a trip to the College World Series. The Golden Eagle baseball team has the #3 recruiting class in the country by Baseball America. The Southern Miss basketball team is a one-time champion of the NIT tournament.
The University of Southern Mississippi is the only institution within Mississippi, and one of only a dozen universities in America, to hold accreditation in all four fine arts emphasis areas: art, dance, theatre and music. The Southern Miss Wind Ensemble has a considerable reputation, as does The University of Southern Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, which has performed with such figures as singers Renee Fleming and Ray Charles, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Itzhak Perlman, violinist Joshua Bell, flautist James Galway, trumpet player Doc Severinsen, and tenor Plácido Domingo. In the past few years, the Southern Chorale, the university's top choir, has come into national and international prominence. The Southern Miss Pride of Mississippi Marching Band has performed at such events as the inauguration of President Jimmy Carter and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in November 2010. The Department of Theatre and Dance has been active in the Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival. Several productions from The University of Southern Mississippi have been selected for performance at the Region IV (Southeast) festival; two productions (Catfish Moon & The Rimers of Eldritch) have been invited to the national KC/ACTF festival at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C..
Notable campus landmarks
- The District is located near the intersection of US Highway 49 and Hardy Street. The historic district of campus is anchored by the five original buildings of the campus: Ogletree Alumni House, The Honor House, College Hall, Forrest Hall, and Hattiesburg Hall. It is also the traditional tailgating site for students during football season. It is home to Lake Byron, which has served as a focal point for many university activities and several weddings.
- The All-American Rose Garden is one of two All-American Gardens in the state. The garden at Southern Miss was developed by the Hattiesburg Area Rose Society in 1972 through the leadership of the late William Wicht, a Hattiesburg resident who served as the first president of HARS. A memorial to Wicht's efforts to make the garden a reality is located next to the garden. Since its official dedication in 1974, the Southern Miss rose garden has received numerous awards for maintenance and display. Many a student has tried to impress his sweetheart by picking a rose, which if caught, carries a fine of up to 500 dollars.
- The Eagle Walk is found underneath the upper deck of M.M. Roberts Stadium. Two hours prior to football game day, a cannon is fired, which begins the procession. ROTC, The Pride of Mississippi Marching Band, University officials, and football players make a march through this street to the cheers of thousands of fans. Every fall, the incoming freshman give the walls and street a "fresh coat of paint" as they have done for half a century.
- The Dome is a nickname for the Lucas Administration building found at the Hardy Street entrance to campus. It is so named due to the large cupola at the peak of the roof. Originally, it was an orange color of copper. This faded to a dull green over the years. In 2001, a restoration project was undertaken which painted the dome back to its original copper color. Currently, it houses the offices of the president, vice president and other supporting staff.
- Shoemaker Square is an expanse of land formed near The Hub and the Walker Science Building Quad. The bricked fountain is focal point of the "Friday Night At the Fountain", a student led pep rally prior to Saturday football games. The fountain has been tainted with soap suds by pranksters on many occasions.
- The Little Rock can be found in the historic district of campus. It is traditional painted weekly and is used to promote various campus athletic, academic and fine art events. Occasionally, it can be found to be painted with logos of secret societies that exist on campus.
- Whitney Miller '11 - winner of the first MasterChef title from season one of the Fox television show and author of her cookbook “Modern Hospitality: Simple Recipes with Southern Charm”
- David Sheffield ’72 - Comedy writer and Hollywood screenwriter for “Saturday Night Live,” writing mostly for cast members Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo. Later, he wrote screenplays for Hollywood movies, including “Police Academy II,” and “Coming to America.”
- Jimmy Buffett ’69 - Singer, Songwriter, and author
- Cat Cora - Celebrity Chef, Iron Chef America on Food Network
- Gary Grubbs ’72 – actor, JFK, The Astronaut's Wife, the O. C., Will & Grace
- Cooper Huckabee - actor
- Clifton Hyde, musician, Blue Man Group, various others
- Nan Kelley - host of Grand Ole Opry Live, GAC Network, Miss Mississippi
- Tom Malone - Musician, CBS Orchestra - Late Show with David Letterman, Blues Brothers Band
- Tom Smith-musician, scholar, educator, jazz education hall of fame
- Steve Wiest-musician, multiple Grammy nominated jazz musician, composer, performer
- Nanette Workman - singer
- John Holman (writer) '83 - an American short story writer, novelist, and academic.
- Government and education
- Phil Bryant '77 - Governor of Mississippi
- Thomas G. Clausen Ph.D. in education - Last elected state school superintendent in Louisiana, 1984-1988
- Evelyn Gandy - first woman to serve in several Mississippi state governmental positions, including lieutenant governor
- Oseola McCarty '98 (honorary degree) - The university's most humble and famous benefactor
- Steven Palazzo - U.S. Representative for Mississippi's 4th congressional district
- Martha Dunagin Saunders '69 - former President, The University of Southern Mississippi
- Clifford Ronald "Ronnie" Shows - former Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives from Mississippi.
- James W. Smith, Jr. '65 - Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Mississippi
- Gene Taylor '80 (Graduate Studies) - former U.S. Representative, Mississippi's 4th Congressional District
- Major General Walter H. Yates, Jr.
- William Chong Wong '72 - A Delta Sigma Pi fellow, former Secretary of Finance for the country of Honduras (October 2004-January 2006, January 2010-February 2012), current Economical Advisor of the President of Honduras. On August 15, 2012, he was awarded a recognition by Honduras National Congress. On May 4 2013, The French Government awarded him with the Grand Prix Humanitaire de France (which includes a Gold Medal and Diploma).
- Ralph Dunagin - creator of the editorial comic strip “Dunagin’s People,” a nationally syndicated commentary cartoon that was printed in more than 100 newspapers for 30 years.
- Sally-Ann Roberts - Anchorwoman for WWL-TV in New Orleans, Louisiana
- Natalie Allen '84 - anchor for CNN International.
- Ed Hinton '70 - Sportswriter for ESPN.com
- Scott Walker '97 - News anchor at WDSU-TV in New Orleans
- Kathleen Koch - Correspondent, CNN
- Chuck Scarborough - Emmy award-winning anchor at WNBC-TV in New York City and author
- Clymer Wright - Editor of Fort Bend Reporter in Fort Bend County, Texas; later conservative political activist in Houston
- David McRaney — Internationally bestselling author of "You Are Not So Smart."
- Major General Jeffery Hammond] ’78, ’86 - led one of the initial battalions into Bosnia in enforcement of the Dayton Peace Accords, served as the commander of U.S. forces in Baghdad, where he proudly served 33,000 troops of the U.S. Army 4th Infantry Division and Multi-National Division Baghdad in their effort to protect the people of Iraq's capital city.
- Major General James H. Garner '54, '57 - appointed the Adjutant General of Mississippi in 1992 and 1996 and served as commander of the 114th Area Support Group, commander of the 31st Support Center (Rear Area Operations) and commander of the 2nd Battalion, 20th Special Forces for five years.
- Major General Fletcher C. Coker, Jr. '62 - assigned duties as Vice Commander, Joint Warfighting Center/Vice Director, Joint Training, U.S. Joint Forces Command, in May 1997 and oversight of all assigned reserve component personnel, and advises the CINC USACOM on matters affecting or pertaining to the National Guard. He also serves as senior National Guard representative of the Chief, National Guard Bureau to the U.S. Joint Forces Command.
- Major General Dewitt T. Irby, Jr. '62 - commanded Company A, 2d BA, 63rd Armor of the 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley, Kansas.
- Brigadier General Richard S. Poole
- Major General Walter H. Yates, Jr. - military decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, numerous Air Medals, Army Commendation Medal, and the Purple Heart.
- Colonel Woodrow G. Lyon
- Brigadier General Robert L. Stewart '64 - NASA astronaut
- Colonel Rayford Vaughn - (Retired)spent 26 years in the US Army as a software engineer. Commander of the Army's Information Systems Software Center, headquartered at Fort Belvior, Virginia, and the first Director of the Pentagon Single Agency Manager for Information Technology Services.
- Brigadier General Stanislaus I. Hoey - served with the 3d Armored Field Artillery, 2d Armored Division, as a Reconnaissance and Survey Officer and Battery Executive Officer and went to Vietnam in mid-1963 as a Military Advisor with the 23d Infantry Division at Quang Duc.
- Major General Buford C. Blount III - has been serving as the Army’s Deputy G-3 since Oct 2003. Previously he was the Commanding General, 3d Infantry Division (Mechanized), Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield. Major General Blount gave up command of the 3 ID after bringing them home from Iraq where they were the lead force in capturing Baghdad.
- Brigadier General James Parker Hills
- Lieutenant General Thomas Miller - served in a wide variety of command and staff assignments predominantly in Airborne and Light Infantry units to include overseas tours in Iraq, Haiti, Korea, Hawaii and Japan.
- Colonel Ronald J. Rabin - commissioned as a second lieutenant of infantry from the ROTC program at Mississippi Southern College (now the University of Southern Mississippi) and entered active duty in August of that year. In 1960, following various assignments in CONUS and Korea, Colonel Rabin volunteered for duty with the Army’s Special Forces at Fort Bragg, NC. After completing the course, he assumed command of an A Detachment and deployed to engage in Counterinsurgency operations in the Kingdom of Laos. Upon his return he was assigned to the G-3 Section, Headquarters, Special Warfare Center and in 1964 attended the Burmese language course at the Defense Language Institute. During 1964 Colonel Rabin accepted his Regular Army commission.
- Lieutenant Colonel Edward Kauchick
- Colonel Kenneth Rigby
- Brigadier General Larry Harrington - Assistant Adjutant General of Mississippi.
- Brigadier General Robert F. Thomas '81 - Assistant Adjutant General-Army.
- Science and technology
- Robert Hyatt '83 - Author of Cray Blitz a World Chess Champion Computer Program
- Robert L. Stewart '64 - Former NASA Astronaut and retired Army brigadier general
- Matt Carpenter (runner) '87 - a trail runner who has won the Pikes Peak Marathon twelve times, the Vail Hill Climb eight times, the Imogene Pass Run six times, the Barr Trail Mountain Race, Everest SkyMarathon Tibet, and Aspen SkyMarathon five times each, and holds the course record for all of these events. Carpenter’s success in the sport has been so extensive and dominant that he has been compared to Lance Armstrong, and described as “one of the greatest mountain runners of all time."
- James Ray Carpenter '50, '51 - the former president of the Professional Golfers’ Association of America.
- Tom Johnson - NFL Defensive Tackle, New Orleans Saints
- Major General Jeff Hammond ’78, ’86 - Athletics Director at the University of Southern Mississippi
- John Bale - MLB pitcher, Kansas City Royals
- Michael Boley - NFL Linebacker, New York Giants
- Jeff Bower - Former head football coach, The University of Southern Mississippi
- Chad Bradford -Former MLB pitcher, Tampa Bay Rays
- Jeremy Bridges - NFL Lineman, Arizona Cardinals
- Steve Broussard - Former NFL Punter, Green Bay Packers
- Mack Brown - (Grad Degree '76) Head Football Coach - University of Texas Longhorns
- Kyle Burkhart - NFL Offensive Lineman - Seattle Seahawks
- Reggie Collier - First NCAA quarterback to rush for 1,000 yards, and pass for 1,000 yards in the same season
- Rod Davis - Former NFL Linebacker, Minnesota Vikings
- Jim Davenport - Former MLB infielder and manager
- Demar Dotson - NFL Offensive Lineman - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Brett Favre '91 - Former 11-time Pro Bowl and 3-time MVP NFL quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers, New York Jets, and Minnesota Vikings
- Ray Guy '73 - Former 7-time Pro Bowl NFL punter, Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders
- Bobby Hamilton - Former NFL defensive end, Cleveland Browns
- Don Hultz '62 - NFL defensive player, Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles, Chicago Bears
- Maxie Lambright - Former head football coach, Louisiana Tech
- Mike Landrum - Former NFL Tight End, Atlanta Falcons
- Cliff Lewis - Former NFL Linebacker, Green Bay Packers
- Louis Lipps - Former NFL Pro-Bowl Wide Receiver and 1984 AFC Rookie of the Year, Pittsburgh Steelers
- Chris Long - Former women's basketball coach, Louisiana Tech
- Don Maestri - Head Basketball Coach, Troy University
- Larry Mason - Former NFL Running Back, Cleveland Browns and Green Bay Packers
- Kelly McCarty - American professional basketball player in Europe, former NBA player for the Denver Nuggets
- Ryan McKee - NFL Offensive Lineman - St. Louis Rams
- Gerald McRath - NFL Linebacker - Tennessee Titans
- Shawn Nelson - NFL tight end - New York Jets
- Tyrone Nix - Assistant Head Coach, University of Mississippi
- Doyle Orange - CFL All-Star Running Back, Toronto Argonauts
- Todd Pinkston - Former NFL Wide Receiver, Philadelphia Eagles
- Jeff Posey - Former NFL Linebacker, Washington Redskins
- Pat Rapp- Former MLB Pitcher, Florida Marlins
- Patrick Surtain '98 - Former Pro-Bowl NFL Defensive Back, Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs
- Adalius Thomas - Former NFL Pro-Bowl Linebacker, New England Patriots
- Clarence Weatherspoon '93 - Former NBA Basketball player (Retired)
- Terry Wells - Former NFL Running Back, Houston Oilers and Green Bay Packers
- Chad Williams - Former NFL Defensive Back, Kansas City Chiefs
- Sammy Winder - Former NFL Pro-Bowl Running Back, Denver Broncos