By TED CARTER
The University of Southern Mississippi’s College of Business is making a giant leap into the future with the start of classes Aug. 19 in Scianna Hall, a $34 million addition to the Hattiesburg campus.
The opening of the building just south of the university’s football stadium culminates several years of fund-raising followed by a couple years of construction. The building is named for Charles “Chuck” Scianna, a Texas oil drilling equipment company owner and USM business school alum who donated $6 million toward the project.
Upon taking over as dean of the Business College in spring 2013, Dr. Faye Gilbert said the state-of-the-art instructional building promised “no limits to connect Southern Miss faculty with students and outreach opportunities.”
The location fronting U.S, 49 South and situated next to the Trent Lott Trade National Center for Excellence in Economic Development and Entrepreneurship “is perfect to send a clear signal of the leadership role the people at Southern Miss have provided for a long period of time,” Gilbert said.
The move from the nearly half-century old Joseph Greene Hall takes the college’s business students from a traditional classroom setup to a modern building with classrooms designed for multiple seating configurations, the use of multiple monitors and video screens and distance-learning hookups.
“This is pretty big for us” on the distance learning side, said J. Bret Becton, associate dean of the Business College. With the remote-learning technology in each classroom, students at USM’s coast campuses can participate in Scianna Hall classes, Becton noted.
All of the classes will be videotaped and made available for students to download, he added.
The 94,000-square-foot building includes an entire wing of “creative learning labs” on the second floor with seating and amenities designed for small group study or individual study. “We think this is going to be real big for our students for their performance and retention,” Becton said.
The new building is also home to an 88-seat testing center, where students can gain certifications in Microsoft Office programs such as Excel.
In addition, a 285-seat, art-deco style auditorium with latest audio-visual capabilities can be used for classes, special events and for talks from invited speakers.
“That is my favorite room in the building,” Becton said.
The new school term will also bring the Scianna Hall opening of the Business College’s financial lab equipped with a Bloomberg terminal and modern stock ticker that gives students New York Stock Exchange trading information on an eight-minute. delay. “This will be like a trading room,” Becton noted
Scianna Hall will accommodate 2,200 business students upon opening next week but is designed for 2,600 to 2,800 students.
“We were bursting at the seams at Greene Hall,” said Becton, referring to the former home of the College of Business that will undergo a $7 million renovation for use by USM’s College of Health.
Scianna Hall is also much closer to student dormitories and will be more convenient for students taking economic development classes at the neighboring Trent Lott Center.
Meanwhile, USM is building a $31-million home for the College of Nursing on the western edge of the Hattiesburg campus. The university broke ground on the building last September and expects completion next year.
Increasing the square footage dedicated to the College of Nursing by 135 percent, the new building will allow for an increase in nursing enrollment from the current 550 students to more than 800. It also will allow new programs in the College of Nursing through student interactive areas, an enlarged and enhanced clinical simulation lab, computer labs, and interactive classrooms.
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