March 22, 2019  

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Retired Southern Miss Professor, Wife Make Transformational Gift to Foundation

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Retired Southern Miss Professor Richard L. Conville, second from right, and his wife, Mozella, second from left, are pictured with Chad Driskell, left, Vice President for External Affairs, and Christy Arrazattee, Director of the Center for Community and Civic Engagement. (Photo by Kelly Dunn)

A profound appreciation for community service inspired former University of Southern Mississippi Professor Richard Conville and his wife, Mozella, to make a $100,000 gift to the USM Foundation for discretionary support of programs associated with the University’s Center for Community and Civic Engagement (CCCE).

USM Foundation and CCCE representatives made the announcement of the Richard L. Conville and Mozella P. Conville Center for Community and Civic Engagement Fund for Excellence during a ceremony held Friday, Oct. 23 at the R.C. Cook Union Building on the Hattiesburg campus.

“The Convilles have already done so much, locally and statewide, to promote community engagement, and they have already made a huge, lasting impact on Southern Miss and this area,” said CCCE Director Christy Arrazattee. “For years, Dr. Conville has championed service-learning and in doing so, changed the lives of many students and faculty. This gift will allow us to build even further upon his good work.”

Richard Conville retired in 2013 after 35 years of service at Southern Miss where he served as chair of the Department of Communication Studies. He views the endowment as an opportunity to give something back to a University that provided so many opportunities for his family.

“We saw that University funding was limited,” said Dr. Conville. “We saw the potential of the Center to contribute to the lives of our students, and we saw the margin of excellence that private gifts can provide University programs.”

Conville was hired in 1978 by the University and became the first full-time chair of the Department of Communication Studies. While charting the course for the department’s growth and role at the University, he led the development of curriculum as well as the hiring of the first five faculty members.

During his time at Southern Miss, Conville was actively involved on and off campus. He served as president of the Faculty Senate and Chair of the Research Council, and as a member of the Academic Council. He also was chair of the Masters Facility Planning Committee and received the “Service Learning Faculty Innovation Award” from the Office of Community Service Learning. He was the Hattiesburg Junior Auxiliary’s 2012 recipient of the Humanitarian of the Year award, and he was appointed by Governor Haley Barbour to serve on the Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service from 2011-2014.

Dr. Conville notes that the CCCE’s efforts extend far beyond the campus, providing numerous volunteer opportunities through the Hattiesburg area.

“The Center connects students with the community as volunteers with Habitat for Humanity, the Heart Walk and Relay for Life, and as students engaged in service-learning projects such as with the Edwards Street Fellowship Center and Aldersgate Mission,” he said. “Such experiences help meet the University’s mission – in the words of Ernest Boyer: ‘Not only to prepare students for productive careers, but also to enable them to live lives of dignity and purpose; not only to generate new knowledge, but to channel that knowledge to humane ends; not merely to student government, but to help shape a citizenry that can promote the public good.’ ”

Arrazattee points out that funds from the gift will be used to support the Center’s efforts to serve students and faculty with experiences that will enhance their ability to learn and teach through community service.

“Through the Convilles’ generosity, we have a lot of flexibility to use these funds to support everything from student service projects to educational opportunities for faculty and staff,” said Arrazattee.”

To learn more about gifts administered through the USM Foundation, call 601.266.5210 or visit: www.usmfoundation.com. To learn more about the Center for Community and Civic Engagement, call 601.266.5074 or visit: http://www.usm.edu/center-community-and-civic-engagement