Opening its doors in 1910, this public research university of 15,000 students has two main campuses, one in Hattiesburg and one in Long Beach, with additional teaching and research sites. The Gulf Park campus in Long Beach, with its Spanish Mission-style buildings, is situated on the Gulf of Mexico and, unsurprisingly given its location, key research areas include marine and coastal sciences. Other areas of research strength include polymer and high performance materials.
The University of Southern Mississippi offers more than 90 undergraduate programmes, more than 80 graduate courses and study abroad programmes in 19 countries. The institution also has particularly strong arts programmes with courses across the four subject areas of theatre, dance, art and music. The university’s 16 athletic teams are the Golden Eagles and famous alumni include NBA star Clarence Weatherspoon.
The Hattiesburg campus with its oak trees, green spaces, brick walkways and Barnes & Noble bookstore, is about 90 minutes’ drive from the city of New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. One of the many attractions on campus is the All-American Rose Garden. Anyone caught picking the roses, which attract international visitors, faces a fine. The beachfront Gulf Park campus was badly damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and has since undergone a successful rebuilding programme. Despite the intensity of the hurricane, a magnificent 500-year-old tree on campus, known as the Friendship Oak, survived the storm.
Since 2013, each campus has been home to an impressive bronze sculpture of a golden eagle, Lofty Return, who symbolises the institution’s role in helping students to “take flight” while encouraging alumni to “return to the nest”.