IHL holds monthly meeting at Southern Miss

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Higher Education officials were on the Southern Miss campus Thursday, continuing budget talks and strategic planning for the upcoming year.

The board met with several department heads at USM, to discuss future needs and opportunities to achieve desired success.  Institutions of Higher Learning Commissioner Dr. Hank Bounds praised President Martha Saunders for her leadership through the states difficult financial times.

Bounds also touched on the importance of Mississippian's investing in an education, and how Southern Miss has done exceptionally well in producing graduates.

Bounds said, "You look at the indicators of stability at an institution. Enrollment is up dramatically here at Southern Miss, retention rates between Sophomore and Freshman year has increased dramatically, graduation numbers are up and private donations are up. Every indicator that you would use to measure the health of an institution is headed in the right direction at a fairly good pace."

President Dr. Martha Saunders said, "We very much appreciate the attention of the IHL Board. I think that they are very sensitive to the needs of the institution and to the distinct needs of all eight institutions. We are not all alike and today is a good reflection of their interest at what's going on at Southern Miss."

Both Bounds and Saunders also spoke about the importance of bringing industries to the state, to keep college graduates at home.

Saunders said, "We do a great job of educating them, we give them a diploma, we don't want them to leave. We want them to be able to stay and work here. So, I think it is an important function of the institution to work with the state to find ways to attract businesses."

Bounds said, "It is an engine for economic development. On Friday, I know that there is a ribbon cutting for a new business. Southern Miss was absolutely one of the partners that made that happen."