My investment in this project is an investment in higher education. I hope my challenge will encourage other Southern Miss alumni and friends of the university to step up, make the commitment and help us finish the campaign by May.
Hattiesburg, MS (PRWEB) March 13, 2012
The University of Southern Mississippi’s Building Better Business Campaign is one step closer to a new on-campus building for its business school thanks to donations received from several generous donors.
Alumni are among those pledging to help raise $10 million needed to begin construction on the facility. Louis and Lou Ann Poynter of Hattiesburg, Miss., have committed $250,000; Tom and Jana McDonnell of Madison, Miss., have committed $1 million; and Chuck and Rita Scianna of Houston, Texas, have made a commitment of $5 million, naming the proposed building Scianna Hall.
Scianna also issued a matching gift challenge up to $1 million for any contribution, regardless of size, made between February 1 and May 31 to help secure the outstanding $2 million needed to begin construction. The match would bring Scianna’s total commitment up to $6 million.
“My investment in this project is an investment in higher education,” said Scianna. “I hope my challenge will encourage other Southern Miss alumni and friends of the university to step up, make the commitment and help us finish the campaign by May.”
In late February, a gift from The First Bancshares, Inc., pushed fundraising efforts past the 80 percent mark. The First will receive naming rights to the space housing the university’s Center for Financial Services, which will feature finance workstations, up-to-the-minute stock updates, and other financial information.
“The First has been such a strong partner with Southern Miss and the College of Business that it is only fitting that their commitment to the new building moves us into the home stretch for breaking ground,” said Dr. Lance Nail, dean of the College of Business. “This gift furthers their investment in the University and the regional economy through training future generations of Finance professionals in the Center for Financial Services with cutting-edge technology and real time data from around the globe. Knowing that this is the first gift that Chuck will match as part of his challenge is also special given that Chuck studied finance and his success is attributable to global markets.”
“Our company has been very successful in a large part because of the support we have received from Southern Miss, its alumni, supporters and the South Mississippi community as a whole,” said Hoppy Cole, president and CEO of The First Bancshares, Inc. “Southern Miss is a significant economic driver in our area. It is critical that the University has state-of-the-art facilities to remain competitive and attract top quality students. Those students go on to be successful, productive members of our community, which elevates our regional economy. We are pleased to join with other supporters to help make the new College of Business building a reality and look forward to the many benefits this facility will provide to our South Mississippi community.”
Funding for the campaign also included $26 million in state bonds from the Mississippi legislature, in which Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant was a driving force. The remaining balance has been funded by private donations.
The USM Foundation, in partnership with the University’s College of Business, announced the fundraising campaign in March 2011. Once complete, the $33 million, 90,000-square-foot facility will increase the current College of Business by 50 percent and house the Center for Healthcare Sales and Marketing and the Center for Financial Services. It will also provide students with study and gathering spaces and improve the technology with which business education is delivered to Southern Miss students. The building will stand next to the Trent Lott National Center for Excellence in Economic Development and Entrepreneurship on the Hattiesburg campus and will benefit more than 2,200 students and 80 faculty and staff members. Construction is set to begin this May.
“This is an exciting point in the Building Better Business Campaign,” said Bob Pierce, vice president for university advancement and executive director of The University of Southern Mississippi Foundation. “To have The First, a hometown bank that is in a major growth mode, make the gift to push us past the $8 million mark is significant enough in itself, but then to have our lead donor step up to the plate again by making a matching gift challenge to get us to $10 million is truly remarkable. This challenge should be just the catalyst we need to generate the final $2 million necessary to complete the campaign, and I can see no reason why we wouldn't have it finished by the end of May. Chuck Scianna has become a major player not only in the future of our College of Business but also for the University as a whole. Move over Steve Austin, it looks like Southern Miss now has its own $6 million man.”
The First Bancshares, Inc. is the holding company for The First, A National Banking Association. The company was founded and is headquartered in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The First began operations in 1996 and serves South Mississippi and Louisiana with 17 full service banking locations and 202 full-time employees. The company has grown to $681 million in total assets, ranking it 12th in terms of total assets for banks headquartered in the state of Mississippi.
For more information or to make a donation, visit The University of Southern Mississippi Foundation Better Business Campaign or call 601.266.5210.
About The University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities. In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world. Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; further information is found at http://www.usm.edu.