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USM’s College of Business growing its expectations

Rendering of Scianna Hall, the new school of business to be built at Southern Miss

College expects to break ground this summer on new 90,000 square-foot home

HATTIESBURG — The University of Southern Mississippi’s College of Business is not looking for its future somewhere over the rainbow. The College has found it situated on an expanse of gravel between M.M. Roberts Stadium and McCarty Hall.

Thanks to quicker-than-expected fund-raising, the gravel lot will be the new address for the College of Business’ state-of-the-art 90,000 square-foot home a year ahead of schedule, with an opening planned for fall of 2014. The $30 million building will get the business school out of the cramped circa 1960s Joseph Green Hall, where a space squeeze has been limiting enrollment to around 2,150 students.

With 1,200 seats, the new building will accommodate the College of Business’ growth for the next 30 years, school officials say.

And it is in those years that USM’s College of Business intends to achieve notice as “The School of Business for Mississippi.”

Just as Mississippi State University is known for its prestigious engineering school and Ole’ Miss for medicine and law, the University of Southern Mississippi will be “the” destination for students who want to study business administration in Mississippi, said Dr. James T. Tisdale, director of external affairs for the College.

“We want to plant that flag,” he said.

Where is Mississippi’s business conducted? he asked rhetorically.

“It happens between Jackson and the Gulf of Mexico. We want to be the center of it.”

More specifically, added Tisdale, “We want to be the driver of it.”

Southern Miss has a distance to go to catch its much older brethren, the University of Mississippi, whose School of Business Administration received a U.S. News & World Report ranking of 83 among the nation’s business schools in 2009. Southern Miss popped into the rankings that year with a designation of 215 out of the 329 on the list of approximately 500 eligible universities.

At the time, USM College of Business dean Lance Nail called the ranking “A big deal for us,” noting that more than 1,000 business schools in the country hope for a ranking.

The rankings are calculated based on individual school assessments by the deans of business schools around the country.

To qualify for the ranking, USM’s College of Business had to receive accreditation by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. The College recently received renewal of the accreditation. “We got a glowing report,” Tisdale said.

The college is one of fewer than 600 AACSB-member institutions with business accreditation, according to USM.

Further, said Tisdale, the college is among the 1 percent of business schools in the country that hold AACSB accreditation in both business and accounting.

The College recently strengthened its academic standing with accreditation of its human resources curriculum by the Society of Human Resource Managers. “They worked real hard to get that certification,” Tisdale said.

The College of Business features five departments — the School of Accountancy; Department of Management and Fashion Merchandising; Department of Finance, Real Estate and Business Law; Department of Management and International Business; and Department of Casino, Hospitality and Tourism Management.

At the undergraduate level, the college offers degrees in accounting, business administration, fashion merchandising, finance, international business, marketing, management and tourism management. At the graduate level, the college offers the Master of Business Administration and Master of Professional Accountancy programs.

With an expectation to reach $8 million in fund-raising in the next few weeks, the college is on track for a summer groundbreaking. Once the college raises its $10 million, the state will release money for the remainder of the $30 million of the project, Tisdale said.

“We’ve come a long way form being State Teachers College to trying to be the business college of Mississippi.”

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