LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - It was a day of celebration for the University of Southern Mississippi. On Saturday students, faculty, and community members cut the ribbon for two newly restored historic buildings on the Gulf Coast campus. Both Lloyd and Hardy halls were severely damaged in Katrina.
Hardy Hall, built in 1921, has a new book store, administrative offices, dining facility, and is home to the College of Education and Psychology. Across the way, the historic Lloyd Hall built in 1923 now provides students with 10 additional classrooms after a $2.4 million dollar project there.
"It's nice to be able to know that we have our own café. We have our own cafeteria," said Mariah Senegal, a student. "We're not cramped up anymore. We actually have like a real campus. It's really good for the students to be able to be proud of their campus."
USM students, faculty and administrators were jubilant to finally see so much progress after years of being surrounded by Hurricane Katrina destruction. Officials said the university worked closely with FEMA and the Department of Archives and History to make this day happen.
Dr. Frances Lucas said, "There have been hundreds and hundreds of meetings, many discussions, lots of decisions made to bring us here today where the campus has come back better than ever."
The ribbon cutting was a special ceremony for Interim USM President Aubrey Lucas because Southern Miss will have a new President on the job starting on Monday.
"I didn't really realize it until I was writing my notes," said Dr. Aubrey Lucas. "I said 'Probably this is the last official act for you as President'. So I just think it's wonderful to spend your last day as President celebrating and that's what we're doing here."
USM also held an open house so the public could tour the newly renovated buildings.