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MISSISSIPPI PUBLIC UNIVERSITIES SUPPORT ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT THROUGH EVENTS TO ENTERTAIN, EDUCATE, ENRICH LIVES

5/8/2020 - Jackson, Miss.

Mississippi Economic Development Week provides the opportunity to recognize the many ways Mississippi Public Universities support economic development throughout the year. The events held on university campuses, from football games hosting thousands to festivals and conferences that help entertain and educate, have an important economic impact. Although the ‘pause’ button has been pressed on many events this Spring due to the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), these events will continue to enrich the lives of Mississippians when circumstances allow them to resume.

Delta State University’s Bologna Performing Arts Center (BPAC) presents an annual season of performances, attracting guests who frequently patronize area restaurants, stay overnight, and go shopping downtown. Earlier this year, BPAC received $11,000+ from the Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi, the Woodward Hines Education Foundation’s fund, Teach for America’s Pitch for a Purpose, and the local Cleveland Walmart for its ongoing arts education initiatives.

Delta State University pays attention to economic development in many ways. For instance, the College of Business and Aviation’s 15th annual International Business Symposium in February was themed “Evolving in International Business.” Founder and notable alumnus David Abney, CEO and chairman of the board of UPS, delivered the keynote address and stressed three points: the state of international business; challenges and opportunities moving forward across the global landscape; and implications for Mississippi and the Delta.

Other speakers at the two-day event included Natalie Allen, anchor/reporter at CNN International; veteran marketer Melia Christensen, best known in the Mississippi Delta for having served as director of the Leland Chamber of Commerce; and Abney’s longtime colleague, Cher Porties, president of UPS Mid-South District.

Each October, Mississippi University for Women hosts the Eudora Welty Writers' Symposium in honor of The W's most famous alumna and invites a diverse group of Southern writers and scholars to present their work. A highlight of the symposium is the announcement of the Eudora Welty Prize for an unpublished book of scholarship. All Symposium events are held on the MUW campus and are free and open to the public. The Symposium is made possible through the generous support of the Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation.

In conjunction with the Symposium, the Welty Gala is held in downtown Columbus as an annual fundraiser for the MUW Scholarship Fund. The Welty Gala includes a Friends reception with this year’s Welty Symposium authors followed by dinner and a presentation by an author.

In 2019, bestselling author John Feinstein was the guest speaker for the dinner. An author of 36 books, including the two bestselling sports books of all time: A Season on The Brink, and A Good Walk Spoiled, both No. 1 New York Times bestsellers, his most recent book, The Legends Club, chronicles the rivalries and relationships among Mike Krzyzewski, Dean Smith and Jim Valvano.

Mississippi State University and the Starkville Community were set to celebrate the 35th anniversary of Super Bulldog Weekend before the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) caused large events and gatherings across the state to be canceled. Super Bulldog Weekend, which usually attracts thousands, is the spring semester’s version of fall homecoming. The events include several athletic competitions and events, including baseball games at Dudy Noble Field at Polk-Dement Stadium, the maroon-white football scrimmage at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field, along with the Old Main Music and Cotton District Arts festivals.

The longest-running event produced by the University of Mississippi’s Center for the Study of Southern Culture, the Oxford Conference for the Book was scheduled to be held for the 27th year before cancellation due to concerns about the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19). The conference kicks off with an opening dinner that includes conversation with fellow conference-goers and conference authors. The conference is filled with luncheons, lectures, readings, book signings and panel discussions.

The University of Southern Mississippi is one of only 37 institutions in the nation accredited in theatre, art and design, dance and music. It is only fitting that the university hosts a celebration to showcase the best theatre, art, design, and dance. A multi-arts event celebrating the artistic work of faculty and students in the School of Performing and Visual Arts at Southern Miss, Revelry boasts more than 50 events over 13 days. Special programming of artistic and creative activities for the week include master classes, workshops, guest and visiting artists, family-friendly events, and formal productions.

Opening with a Dance Gala, the event features a wide range of activities, from yoga in the gallery to learning the basics of the potter’s wheel. The schedule is planned to provide a community event for every taste. This multi-arts week has been an opportunity for the programs in the School of Performing and Visual Arts, including Art and Design, Dance, and Theatre, to collaborate and build community within the School and throughout Hattiesburg.

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The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.

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