Tuesday’s much anticipated “Dancing with the Deans” event at a packed Thad Cochran Center Ballroom on the University of Southern Mississippi Hattiesburg campus treated its audience to a mix of Fred Astaire-style agility and a few disco-inspired flashbacks.
Featuring Southern Miss administrators and their dance partners, the event was held in conjunction with the formal kickoff of the university’s 2012 Campaign for Southern Miss. Emceed by WDAM-TV news director Randy Swan, the event was judged by Southern Miss President Emeritus Dr. Aubrey K. Lucas, former assistant vice president for student affairs Vrita Delaine and alumna and former Dixie Darling Bonnie Warren.
“Don’t quit your day job,” quipped Lucas to one contestant in reviewing his performance.
Donning an eye-catching, glimmering gold shirt, College of Health Dean Dr. Mike Forster had the audience swooning to a case of “Saturday Night Fever” as he shimmied across the dance floor, earning him the Crowd Favorite award.
But it was Dean of University Libraries Carole Kiehl who archived the event’s Grand Champion title, wowing the audience with her rendition of the rhythmic Cha-cha-cha along with dance partner Kyle Tullos, a Southern Miss senior from Hattiesburg.
“It was a load of fun,” Kiehl said. “My partner (Tullos) made me work hard to get ready.”
Tullos, who also partnered with Graduate School Dean Dr. Susan Siltanen and College of Business representative Dr. Leisa Flynn, praised Kiehl for “stepping up to the challenge” to get ready for the event. “I thought she was fantastic,” Tullos said of Keihl. “She was really dedicated in her preparation, and it showed on the dance floor.”
Linda Bass, proctoring and training specialist for the Southern Miss Learning Enhancement, said she hoped “Dancing with the Deans” becomes an annual event. “It was extremely fun. I was really impressed with the level of talent,” she said as the event concluded with audience members invited for a final dance on the floor. “I’d love to see it every year.”
Dancing with the Deans” included presentation of information from the USM Foundation showing how easy it is to support the 2012 Campaign for Southern Miss, including through payroll deduction. The goal of the campaign is to increase employee participation in support of the university and its programs. Annual gifts from Southern Miss faculty and staff members provide the necessary resources for programs and services that help the university maintain its margin of excellence in numerous areas.
For more information on how to support the campaign, contact USM Foundation Development Officer and 2012 Campaign for Southern Miss coordinator Jessica Cloud at 601.266.6429, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.