All posts by Jim Coll

Jim Coll

An Arizona Diamondbacks Fan is Likely the Twins Biggest Supporter

Shawn Miller: Superfan of Southern Miss baseball and Brian Dozier

Brian Dozier Superfan Shawn Miller and family cheer on the Golden Eagles. (Hattiesburg American File Photo)

This is the unlikely story of how an Arizona Diamondbacks supporter, who once lived in Mississippi, has likely become a Minnesota Twins fanatic.

Shawn Miller—it’s a common name. But if you frequented University of Southern Mississippi baseball games in the late 2000s, you know that “Superfan” and his family were anything but common fans of the Golden Eagles and star shortstop Brian Dozier, now an All-Star candidate for Major League Baseball’s Minnesota Twins.

I have not thought much about Superfan in recent years, and haven’t heard from him in longer, but I couldn’t help but picture the smile on his face when this week the Twins released a promotional video and accompanying images in support of Dozier’s All-Star candidacy featuring a bulldozer.

The story goes that Miller and family, including wife Teresa, son Matt and daughter Michelle, were Arizona natives who moved to south Mississippi where Shawn had received a job offer. In 2006, for no particular known reason, Superfan and family became fans of a then little-known freshman shortstop from Fulton, Mississippi. The Millers were huge Diamondbacks supporters, even painting the family car in D-backs colors, but often rode their bicycles to Southern Miss baseball games at Pete Taylor Park with a homemade drum and shakers in tow. If they were out of your line of vision among the thousands of fans at The Pete, you still couldn’t miss their somewhat rhythmic, slightly annoying, but always enthusiastic chant to the beat of the drum, “Here comes the Bull. Here comes the Dozier. Here comes the BullDozier.” For hours. Every game. Little did they know at the time that the lightly recruited Dozier would go on to lead Southern Miss to a berth in the College World Series a few years later and become one of Major League Baseball’s best second basemen.

Prior to this season, I sat down with Dozier, one of five American League finalists in a fan vote to determine that league’s final All-Star selection, to talk about some of his Southern Miss memories—including those of Superfan. Brian indicated that for a few years after he was picked in the 2009 MLB draft by the Twins, he heard from Superfan, getting periodic updates on where the family was living and working at the time. He hadn’t heard from Superfan for a few years but mentioned that some players in the majors, who were once Southern Miss opponents, still ask him about Superfan, inquiring if the Millers were a group of relatives, among many other questions.

I’m not sure what the former Diamondbacks fan is doing these days, but it’s not outside of the realm of possibility that he’s dusting off an old drum, donning a Twins hat, and making plans if Dozier is selected for the All-Star Game.

If that happens, get ready, Cincinnati, because here comes the Bull. Here comes the Dozier. Here comes the BullDozier—and a Superfan.

Jim Coll

Top Stories – June 2015

Protecting American soldiers on the battlefield, innovating methods to assist children with language disorders, partnering with Boeing on next-generation polymer materials, and researching the manner the which dolphins communicate–it’s all in a month’s work at The University of Southern Mississippi.

Here are some of the top news stories from USM this month.

U.S. Army Awards $4.9 Million to Southern Miss for Helmet Liner Research

The United States Army has awarded a $4.9 million research contract to the University for development and evaluation of a helmet liner designed to provide enhanced head protection for warfighters.

The Southern Miss Pneumatic Cushioning helmet liner was developed in the laboratories of Dr. Jeff Wiggins, director of the School of Polymers and High Performance Materials, in collaboration with Dr. Trent Gould, associate dean in the College of Health and professor in the School of Kinesiology, and Dr. Scott Piland, assistant director and associate professor in the School of Kinesiology. The objective of this two-year program is to develop next-generation pneumatic cushioning systems which exceed the blunt impact performance standard of current helmets.

Read More: http://www.usm.edu/news/article/us-army-awards-49-million-southern-miss-helmet-liner-research

DuBard School’s New Products Now Available for Teachers of Students with Dyslexia

Teachers, speech-language pathologists, dyslexia specialists and other professionals who work with individuals with dyslexia/specific learning disabilities in reading now have access to a new product to aid in the remediation of dyslexia.

The University’s DuBard School for Language Disorders has released the Language Enhancement and Achievement Program (LEAP), a program for students who struggle with reading, writing and spelling.

LEAP’s highly specialized multisensory curriculum allows the student to quickly progress through sound-symbol associations and key skills. LEAP was piloted and has been used at the DuBard School for six years, and internal research shows the program’s effectiveness. On average, students diagnosed with a reading disability improved their ability to read unfamiliar words by 64 percent after 48 hours of instruction (one semester).

Read More: http://www.usm.edu/news/article/new-products-now-available-teachers-students-dyslexia

Southern Miss, Boeing Strengthen Partnership with New Master Agreement

As a technology incubator for Boeing, Southern Miss has entered into a new master agreement with the aviation giant to accelerate research and development of next-generation materials, including polymers and polymer matrix composites. The new agreement builds on a decade-long working relationship between USM and Boeing, which currently has a research contract to utilize the assets of the Accelerator – the University’s business incubator.

Read More: http://www.usm.edu/news/article/southern-miss-boeing-strengthen-partnership-new-master-agreement

Professor, Dolphin Research Featured in National Geographic Cover Story

Dr. Stan Kuczaj’s expertise on the popular marine mammal has earned him international recognition for his study of the species’ cognitive and communicative abilities, including in a recent edition of National Geographic.

In the May 2015 issue’s cover article titled “Thinking Like a Dolphin: Understanding One of the Smartest Creatures on Earth,” Kuczaj research examines dolphin use of sounds and other signals as a mode of communication. Kuczaj heads the Department of Psychology’s Marine Mammal Behavior and Cognition Laboratory. The laboratory’s projects have received grant support from the Office of Naval Research and the U.S. Department of Commerce, among others. His work has been featured on Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) and Japanese Public Television.

Read more: http://www.usm.edu/news/article/professor-dolphin-research-featured-national-geographic

Jim Coll

Top Stories – May 2015

Here is what I shared for May 2015. SMTTT!

The University’s “military-friendly” commitment is continuing with the establishment of a Coast Guard Auxiliary Program at the Gulf Park Campus.

The University, in collaboration with the United States Coast Guard, recently announced the establishment of a Coast Guard Auxiliary University Program located on the University’s Gulf Park Campus in Long Beach.

As the official college-level program of the U.S. Coast Guard, the program is specifically designed to provide a quality education to undergraduate and graduate students in developing their leadership and technical talents for service to the U.S. Coast Guard, Department of Homeland Security, emergency response, maritime and public service communities.

Read more: http://www.usm.edu/news/article/southern-miss-us-coast-guard-announce-coast-guard-auxiliary-university-program-gulf-park-cam

The academy continues to produce top scholars and programs.

The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry has earned accreditation through the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) – indicating that it meets or exceeds professional standards, giving students an advantage with prospective employers and graduate schools.

The department is the first in Mississippi to receive accreditation by ASBMB for its Bachelor of Science in Chemistry with emphases in Biochemistry and American Chemical Society-certified Biochemistry.

Read more: http://www.usm.edu/news/article/southern-miss-chemistry-and-biochemistry-undergraduate-program-first-accredited-state

Southern Miss Graduate Nursing Programs Ranked as State’s Best by U.S. News & World Report

The graduate nursing programs at The University of Southern Mississippi have been ranked as the state’s best and also included among the top programs nationwide in a recent assessment by U.S. News & World Report.

A total of 503 nursing schools with master’s or doctoral programs accredited by either the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing were surveyed. The newly expanded rankings mark the first time U.S. News has rated graduate nursing programs. Of the programs surveyed, 246 were eligible for inclusion in the publication’s rankings of master’s programs. Of the six graduate nursing programs in Mississippi, Southern Miss ranked the highest nationwide at No. 102.

Read more: http://www.usm.edu/news/article/southern-miss-graduate-nursing-program-ranked-state-s-best-us-news-world-report

Southern Miss Students Receive National Science Foundation Fellowships

Four University of Southern Mississippi students have been awarded prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships, marking the first time the University has produced this many winners in a single year.

Laken Kendrick, of Hattiesburg, Miss.; Abagail Williams, of Independence, Mo.; Dexter Dean of Clinton, Ala.; and Cassandra Reese, of San Diego, Calif., were granted the fellowships from a pool of 16,500 applicants. No other Mississippi college or university matched Southern Miss in NSF Fellowship winners for 2015. Southern Miss student Lisa Lauderdale received honorable mention recognition, while two alumni – Michael Sims and Travis Thornell – also earned fellowships at the University of Florida and Purdue University, respectively.

Read more: http://www.usm.edu/news/article/southern-miss-students-receive-national-science-foundation-fellowships

GCRL Oil Spill Seminar Series coincides with Deepwater Horizon Fifth Anniversary

The University‘s Gulf Coast Research Laboratory is hosting a seminar series, Deepwater Horizon: A Scientist’s Perspective,” throughout the summer.

The seminar series offers a retrospective exploration of the spill through presentations by research staff and discussions among speakers, education staff and attendees to answer pressing questions.

Read more: http://www.usm.edu/news/article/gcrl-oil-spill-seminar-series-coincides-deepwater-horizon-5th-anniversary

Southern Miss baseball enters the Conference USA Tournament on an unprecedented run. Our Golden Eagles take a school record-tying, 13-game winning streak into the Conference USA Tournament, which is being played at Pete Taylor Park.

The Golden Eagles (35-16-1) equaled the best consecutive game win streak mark originally accomplished in 1995 as that squad won the first 13 games to start the season. The Golden Eagle hosts the eight-team Conference USA Tournament beginning Wednesday, May 20, at Pete Taylor Park.

On Monday, pitcher James McMahon won the C-Spire Ferriss Award, which is presented to the top baseball player in the state. James has a record of 11-1 this year and is also a top candidate for conference pitcher of the year award.

Read more: http://www.southernmiss.com/sports/m-basebl/smis-m-basebl-body.html

Jim Coll

Top Stories – April 2015

Here is what I shared for April 2015. SMTTT!

We are continuing our commitment to a holistic and exceptional student experience with the opening of Century Park South.

On April 9, we cut the ribbon on Century Park South, a $55.6 million project that provides 954 beds for freshmen and other scholarship students. Century Park South includes three buildings—Scott Hall, Vann Hall and Luckyday Citizenship Hall, which also houses the new Moffitt Health Center. All of the buildings have five floors with a multitude of modern features, such as

  • Student kitchen lounges on each floor containing oversized chairs and ottomans, wall-mounted 50-inch HDTVs, full-sized refrigerator/freezers, sinks, microwave ovens and in-wall ovens;
  • Two study rooms and an entertainment unit in each room; and
  • Private bath with shower in each room.

The completion of Century Park South follows the opening of Century Park North in August 2010. Located just across W. Fourth Street on the northern side of campus, Century Park North includes four buildings with four floors and 864 beds.

For more: http://www.usm.edu/news/article/southern-miss-holds-ribbon-cutting-new-student-housing-complex

One of the University’s grandest annual events concluded on April 10—the 48th edition of the Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival.

More than 450 attendees, including teachers and librarians from across the country, attended the three-day festival, which features the awarding of The University of Southern Mississippi Medallion and the Ezra Jack Keats Awards.

The University of Southern Mississippi medallion was presented to Paul Zelinsky. Zelinsky has also received the 1998 Caldecott Medal for his illustrated retelling of Rapunzel, as well as Caldecott Honors for Hansel and Gretel (1985), Rumpelstiltskin (1987), and Swamp Angel (1995).

The University’s deGrummond Children’s Literature Collection is one of North America’s leading research centers of children’s literature in the country and features original works from more than 1,300 authors, including Margret and H.A. Rey, creators of Curious George.

For more: http://www.usm.edu/news/article/children-s-book-festival-keats-book-and-illustrator-award-ceremony-april-8-10

Student safety remains a top priority at USM

The University of Southern Mississippi’s Police Department has been awarded national re-accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.

CALEA accreditation requires an agency to develop a comprehensive, insightful, uniform set of written directives as well as a preparedness program so that the agency is ready to address natural or man-made occurrences that dictate emergency action.

http://www.usm.edu/news/article/southern-miss-police-department-achieves-national-accreditation

Next Monday is the fifth anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and USM’s commitment to continuing research on the spill’s effects is strong.

The University’s newest research vessel, the Point Sur, has arrived at its new home at the Port of Gulfport and has already begun its work educating students and researching the Gulf. On April 24, at 1:30 p.m., we will host an event so that the public can tour the vessel.

On April 20, the 5th anniversary of the spill, our Gulf Coast Research Laboratory will host the first of five lectures in a series updating the public on the effects of the spill. “Deepwater Horizon: A scientist’s perspective,” is a free seminar series that offers a retrospective exploration of the spill through presentations by research staff and discussions among speakers, education staff and attendees to answer pressing questions. Recent legislative appropriations of $6 million to GCRL will assist scientists there in enhancing their already impressive work. For more information on the lecture series, visit usm.edu/gcrl.

Additional legislative support is going to enable USM to build a new Holloway Complex on the Gulf Park Campus. The complex, which is currently comprised of five modular units totaling 18,645 square feet, will be rebuilt as a two-story 25,000-square-foot facility. Housing both the College of Business and College of Health on the Gulf Park campus, the new building will feature more than 30 faculty offices, as well as provide additional classroom space for students on the Gulf Park campus.

Eagle Fest weekend begins Friday

Southern Miss Athletics will host Eagle Fest weekend beginning Friday when the baseball team hosts No. 16 Florida Atlantic. Festivities on Saturday include the Black and Gold Spring Football Game, baseball and softball, as well as a Black and Gold Carnival on Pride Field. For more information, visit SouthernMiss.com.

Jim Coll

Southern Miss Staff Members Win State Public Relations Awards

Here at Southern Miss, it is my pleasure to work with a number of outstanding public relations and marketing professionals–both within the Office of University Communications and across our campuses. So it was no surprise to me that several were honored for their work at the Public Relations Association of Mississippi Awards in April in Tupelo. The awards program recognizes outstanding work in the field of public relations by professionals within the state of Mississippi. In all, Southern Miss picked up six awards in the competition.

Hanna Knowles and the University’s College of Health won a PRism award for Knowles’ news release, “Finding Harmony: Connecting College to Community,” which highlighted the work of social workers with nursing home residents with dementia.

The Office of University Communications was honored with a pair of Awards of Excellence for its work on the choose.usm.edu website targeting prospective students and a series of YouTube videos featuring faculty and student research and scholarly activity. Catherine Lott and the DuBard School for Language Disorders also received an Award of Excellence for its fall fundraising event, the DuBard School Speakeasy.

Tara Burcham and the College of Science and Technology were recognized with an Award of Merit for Burcham’s entry, “I Hate Bacon,” while Jenny Boudreaux and the Southern Miss Alumni Association also received an Award of Merit for the alumni magazine, The Talon.

These honors are further affirmation of the high-quality work being produced by public relations professionals across the University. The range of awards in a number of categories demonstrates not only well-done professional work, but also points to the success of Southern Miss students, alumni, faculty and staff that create public relations opportunities.

Congratulations to all the winners.