USM Announces Capital Improvements

USM Announces Capital Improvements
(Photo source:WLOX)
(Photo source:WLOX)

SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - USM leaders unveiled plans to spend more than 13 million dollars in State funding Friday.

State lawmakers allocated the money before the 2015 legislative session recently ended. A lot of the money received from the state will be used at USM's Gulf Coast Campuses. 

It's been more than four years since the employees of USM have seen pay-hikes. Part of the state funds will end up in the staff's wallets in the form of merit pay-raises. 

"Back in October the University Presidents all came together and decided our number one ask was going to be for a salary program so we're very grateful to the legislature for allowing us to implement that," said USM President Rodney Bennett.

Six million dollars has been ear-marked for USM's Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in Ocean Springs. 

"This is going to cover about 20 years of lack of increases in operating budgets. It is sorely, sorely needed to improve research productivity be able to hire new faculty and support students," said Monty Graham Ph.D., Department Of Marine Science. 

College President Bennett said,"The work that we do along the Coast is significant and really positions us to be the leaders among marine research and the study of the oceans"

The remainder of the 13 million dollars will be used to tear down the Katrina damaged Holloway Complex building and rebuild a new 25-thousand square foot building in its place with more office and classroom space.  News senior Samantha Allen was happy to hear about these plans.

"Growth of USM will benefit the Coast. And students availability to classroom access is an important part of that," said Allen.

State lawmaker Richard Bennett agreed with her.

"Dr. Bennett came to us stressing the importance of it. We went to work we got 3 and a half million dollars of it this year in a bond bill and we got 3 and half million coming next year. So it's a seven million dollar project to replace those buildings," explained State Representative Richard Bennett. 

University leaders say those pay-raises, which are part of a separate funding allocation from the state, will be anywhere from 1 to 5 percent.

Copyright 2015 WLOX. All rights reserved.