USM Gets $1.87 Million Gift

The Robert M. Hearin Foundation donated $1.87 million Wednesday to the University of Southern Mississippi to fund graduate fellowships in the field of polymer science.

The gift, which will be earmarked for native Mississippians, brings the foundation's total commitment to the university to more than $3.2 million.

"This generous gift, along with their grant two years ago to recruit a world-class scientist to polymer science, will be instrumental in maintaining the prominence Southern Miss holds in this field,'' said USM President Shelby Thames, who founded the polymer science program.

The gift will fund a maximum of 15 five-year graduate fellowships in the School of Polymers and High Performance Materials that include tuition waiver and a $25,000 stipend annually.

The first three fellowships can be awarded in September.

Douglas Wicks, interim chairman of the polymer science program, said the fellowships will encourage Mississippi's brightest students in science, engineering and math to remain in the state.

He said the Hearin Foundation gift will help reverse the trend of Mississippians leaving the state by offering stipends that are competitive with those from other areas.