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Jim Coll

The World Championships, Miss America and The Emmys: Big Days Approaching for USM Alumni

Several Southern Miss alumni will compete on the world’s biggest stages over the next 4-5 weeks.

This week, Tori Bowie, the United States champion in the 100-meter dash is among the favorites at the World Championships in Beijing, China. The finals of that event are scheduled for Sunday, August 23. Tori, who was a two-time NCAA long jump champion at Southern Miss, may also compete in the 4 x 100-meter relay.

On Sept. 13, Miss Mississippi Hannah Roberts will compete in the Miss America Pageant. Hannah was an Honors College student who graduated with a biochemistry degree in May, and has been accepted to UMC. Among Hannah’s many honors was a Goldwater Scholarship—a national award honoring the next generation of great research scientists. She was one of only three Mississippians to win the award in 2013.

Finally, a National Geographic documentary based on a book by Dr. Andrew Wiest has been nominated for an Emmy Award. Dr. Wiest is not only an alumnus but also a founding director of the University’s Dale Center for the Study of War of Society. His book “Boys of ‘67” that centers on a company in the Vietnam War, was the inspiration for the documentary “Brothers in War.” The Emmy for best documentary will be awarded on Sept. 28.

Of course, we also hope that in late September, Major League Baseball’s Minnesota Twins will be making a run for the postseason as well. Alumnus and MLB All-Star Brian Dozier leads the Twins and was a key member of the Southern Miss 2009 College World Series team.

Katherine Nugent

Making a Difference

Recently I had the pleasure to talk with several people who had recent experiences in health care facilities. The interesting information that I received was that each person told me a Southern Miss nurse took care of him or her during the hospital stay. The theme that emerged from these unsolicited conversations was that their nurse really made a positive difference in their experience.

These conversations caused me to reflect on an email that I received from a recent graduate stating that he enjoyed his job as a nurse and most of all, he enjoyed knowing at the end of the day that he had done something worthwhile that had made a positive impact on someone’s life.

Southern Miss Nursing is making a difference by providing quality programs that prepare our students to be competent in their practice. Nurses who have confidence in their knowledge base, clinical skills, and clinical decision-making instill trust in patients coping with health problems. This trust provides the foundation for positive health outcomes.

Southern Miss Nursing is Transforming Nursing, Impacting Health Care.

Dr. Michael Forster

Sugary drinks kill

Newly published research indicates that sugary drinks are killing 184,000 people each year worldwide, via the diabetes, heart disease, and cancers that they either cause or exacerbate.  Knowing this, says Dariush Mozaffarian, M.D., senior author and dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University,  “It should be a global priority to substantially reduce or eliminate sugar-sweetened beverages from the diet.”

Here, here.  Next to smoking, there’s no single more remarkably bad-and-totally-unnecessary substance than sugar.  And sugar – especially in the form of heavily consumed sweet drinks – doesn’t have to kill you to make you seriously unhealthy, or to contribute mightily to a wide range of health problems, from common colds to cancer.

“This is not complicated. There are no health benefits from sugar-sweetened beverages, and the potential impact of reducing consumption is saving tens of thousands of deaths each year,” Mozaffarian said.

Sorry, Coca-Cola and all your soft drink kin.  Sorry, sugar-sweetened fruit and “sport-energy” drinks.  Sorry, myriad homemade frescas and other glucose-driven concoctions.  We can get along so much better without you.

Source: Singh GM, Micha R, Khatibzadek S, Lim S, Ezzati M, and Mozaffarian, D. “Estimated global, regional, and national disease burdens related to sugar-sweetened beverage consumption in 2010.”  Circulation. Published online ahead of print 06-29-15. DOI:10;1161/CirculationAHA.1140101636




Dr. Michael Forster

Water shortage not just a California problem

Protracted drought conditions in California have drawn a lot of ink lately.  Not merely one of the more populous states, California is responsible for an inordinate amount of America’s corporatized food production, and moreover has a long history of conflict and corruption over water rights (if you haven’t seen Chinatown in a while, check it out).

But California’s overtaxed aquifers are not the only ones under intense stress.  Indeed, the problem of water depletion is far, far more serious.  NASW has just completed a 10-year study of the world’s major aquifers, and finds the majority of them (21 of 37) experiencing depletion – i.e. the water’s being pumped out faster than it’s being replenished through natural processes.

NASA scientist Matthew Roddell told the publication Quartz that aquifers running dry is a real threat.  “The potential consequences are pretty scary.”  That may qualify as the understatement of the yet-young 21st century.   Nearly 70% of water usage goes to producing food for a hungry world population, a hefty percentage of which is already undernourished and suffers myriad health problems as a result.  Water deprivation is already provoking some population displacement and is predicted to promote more in the future.  Food shortages are a frequent contributor to political conflict, even the revolutionary toppling of regimes.

And climate change – according to many scientists deeply implicated in the severe California drought – for sure ain’t helping matters any.  Get ready – looks like a rough (and parched) ride ahead.





Dr. Michael Forster

Change is in the air

At College Council with department heads this morning, it hit me just how much administrative change is taking place at mid-year, at least in the college and in the provost’s office.

In the College of Health:

Kathy Yadrick and Steve Cloud are stepping down as department heads, with Elaine Molaison and Ed Goshorn stepping up, respectively, as chairs of Nutrition & Food Systems, and Speech & Hearing Sciences.

Scott Piland is moving from assistant director to director, just in time to oversee a dramatic rebranding of the old School of Human Performance & Recreation as the new School of Kinesiology, and filling a leadership gap that’s been persisted in the unit far too long.  In addition, Scott and his faculty bid farewell and best wishes to Sport Management colleagues, who are moving to the College of Business and their new digs at Scianna Hall.

Rene’ Drumm kicks off as associate dean at Gulf Park, taking the baton from Stacey Hall, who served admirably for a year on an interim, part-time basis.

Mary Frances Nettles and her team at the college’s only dedicated research unit (a partnership arrangement with UM, which stays on the training end) are also undergoing a rebranding, from the National Food Service Management Institute (a mouthful for even the practiced) to the more felicitous Institute of Child Nutrition.

In the provost’s office:

Denis Wiesenburg returns to the faculty of Marine Science after five-plus years of executive administrative service (first as vice-president for research, then as provost).  Dean Steve Moser of Arts & Letters steps in July 1 as interim provost while a national search aims to identify the university’s next provost and vice-president for academic affairs by January 2016.

Amy Miller transitions from associate dean of Arts & Letters to a brand new position as associate provost for academic excellence.

Debby Hill, formerly university associate registrar, moves into the provost’s office as assistant to the provost for operations (a gig Cynthia Easterling managed under a different title).

A new associate provost for Gulf Park position remains unfilled, but my expectation is that interim provost Moser will make an appointment (probably on an interim basis as well) in early July.

It’s clear that there are many new oars in the water; obviously, the trick will be to get them all pulling in the same direction, and in the same rhythm.