This week marked events both campus and city wide to inaugurate the first 100 years of the university of southern Mississippi.
Who would have ever have thought on that day in 1910 the small teachers college would ever be thought of in the same context as the, then long established, University of Mississippi (or Ole Miss) or Mississippi State.
The wealth, the population, the influence and—in most people's minds—the future growth and prosperity of the state would always be closer to those venerable institutions in the northern part of the state.
Mississippi Normal College…then Mississippi Teachers College…then Mississippi Southern College…and finally in the early sixties the University of Southern Mississippi went through a series of birthing pains and identity issues before truly becoming one of the "big three" major universities in the state.
Located at the confluence of a cross roads that caused Hattiesburg to be called the Hub City with spokes reaching out short distances to Jackson, New Orleans, the Gulf Coast, Mobile, Laurel and Meridian, the university was in the center of the great Pine Belt region of Mississippi.
Things like lumber companies were locating here and the population was burgeoning. Camp Shelby was a strategic training and debarkation center from world war one up through the middle eastern wars of today.
Through the visionary efforts of both the city fathers and daring educators the potential of southern miss was developed and mined aggressively.
The history and progress of the Pine Belt and the University of Southern Mississippi have been intertwined and complimentary for the past 100 years.