USM calls dedication of two new buildings 'happy and historic moment'

LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - Nursing and science students joined in the excitement at USM Gulf Park Thursday. About 100 people gathered for not one, but two ribbon cutting ceremonies. USM leaders called the dedication of two new buildings a proud moment as the campus bounces back from Katrina.

"It's a pleasure to welcome you to this happy and historic occasion.  We're so proud of all of our Gulf Coast faculty and staff who have brought us to this happy moment," Interim USM President Dr. Aubrey Lucas told the crowd.

After his welcoming remarks, Dr. Lucas joined other USM dignitaries, Long Beach leaders, state officials, faculty and staff in cutting the ribbon for the new $10 million Science Building. Then, everyone moved across the street to dedicate the Nursing Building. Southern Miss leaders called both buildings significant additions to the Gulf Park campus.

"Now, we have superior spaces to educate our students. Our labs are going to help them grow and learn in ways they never could before with our other facilities," said Dr. Frances Lucas, USM Gulf Coast VP & CEO.

The Science Building features nine teaching laboratories, research space, offices, and an 80-seat instructional classroom. It is the first new building on the Long Beach campus in a decade.

"I almost started crying, because we've been at the other campus for so long and it's just nice to have a fresh new building, and new labs, and new equipment. It makes learning easier and I love it," said USM senior Sara Mott.

The $1.5 million Nursing Building features two labs, faculty offices, and study areas. The 10,000 square foot renovated building used to be the city's recreation center. The facility replaces the one that was destroyed by Katrina.

"Oh, I feel very excited! Our faculty truly deserve a place to do the quality education we have and the room that we need for our simulation lab and our other creative classroom experiences," said Katherine Nugent, Dean of the College of Nursing.

"This is one of the happiest days ever for the University of Southern Miss Gulf Coast. We're back," said Dr. Frances Lucas.

The state-of-the-art buildings show USM is not only coming back, it is also building for the future.

USM will host another ribbon cutting ceremony this Saturday for historic Hardy Hall and Lloyd Hall. The event starts at 11:30. The ribbon cutting and open house are open to the public.

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