Just one day after he helped break ground on a new College of Business building to be named in his honor, University of Southern Mississippi alumnus Charles “Chuck” Scianna was back on the Hattiesburg campus Friday to give the spring commencement address.
Scianna earned his bachelor’s degree from Southern Miss in 1975 and is the president of Sim-Tex, L.P. in Waller, Texas, one of the leading suppliers of API-certified only country tubular goods. Last year he committed $5 million to the project, followed by a pledge to match contributions to the building campaign up to $1million. His gift is the largest one-time gift to the USM Foundation by an alumnus.
Scianna, who gave commencement addresses at two ceremonies at Reed Green Coliseum, had a straightforward message to the graduates. “Be true to yourself. Don’t try to fake it,” he said. “And be true to your school. Don’t forget where you came from.”
The Bay St. Louis, Miss. native also advised graduates to hold fast to a set of strong, moral values in the face of opportunities to go astray. “There will be a lot of temptations out there for you to compromise your morals and your integrity, but you’ve got to stay true to your values and morals,” he said.
He credited Southern Miss for helping him the success in life and in business and putting him in position to help fund the construction of the 93,000-square-foot facility for the College of Business. The building will sit adjacent to the Trent Lott National Center for Excellence in Economic Development and Entrepreneurship, facing U.S. 49 South.
“Southern Miss prepared me to accomplish what I’ve done in life. It’s the reason I’m here today to speak to these graduates,” he said.
Asked how she felt about graduating, Haley Long of Russellville, Ala. exclaimed “Hallelujah!” The communication major hopes to find a job in business or medical administration.
Like Scianna, Long believes Southern Miss has prepared her to succeed in life, and shares his passion for her alma mater. “Going to school here prepared me for the future by challenging me to be my best, both inside and outside the classroom,” Long said. “And it’s definitely a place to call home.”