August 22, 2017  

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Southern Miss Renames Building in Honor of Former President J.B. George

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Southern Miss President Martha Saunders, right, and Student Government Association President Jazmyne Butler pose with the plaque that will hang inside the J.B. George Building. (Photo by Danny Rawls)

The former Speech and Hearing Building at The University of Southern Mississippi was officially renamed the J.B. George Building in honor of the University’s third president during a ceremony held Thursday, June 14 on the Hattiesburg campus.

George served as president from July 1, 1933 to June 30, 1945. When he began his tenure, the school had undergone a name change from Mississippi Normal College to State Teachers College. In 1940 George helped guide a name change to Mississippi Southern College.

“Jennings Burton George led this university through two of the darkest periods in our nation’s history – The Great Depression and World War II,” said Southern Miss President Emeritus Aubrey K. Lucas at the building dedication. “He was known as a frugal businessman and a fiscal administrator who also understood the importance and value of landscape and architecture on a university campus.

“All who enter this building, where so much significant teaching and learning occurs on a daily basis, will no doubt take note of the exemplary life of President J.B. George, a man who deserves our utmost respect.”

George’s name previously graced the university’s longtime cafeteria known as The Commons. That building was torn down in 2009 and replaced with a beautifully landscaped spot called Centennial Green.

A native of Red Bay, Ala., George attended elementary and high school in Belmont, Miss. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Mississippi Normal College and his master’s and doctoral degrees from Peabody College in Nashville, Tenn. He served as vice president and registrar at State Teachers College for a brief time before ascending to the presidency.

“He would have been delighted to have his name on any building at a place he loved dearly,” said George’s daughter, Billie Palmor, who made the trip from her home in Leander, Texas for the event. “But he would have been especially proud to be connected with one like this that offers so much help to students of all ages.”

During the ceremony, Southern Miss President Martha Saunders unveiled a plaque that will hang at the entrance to the building which houses the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences; the Department of Curriculum, Instruction and Special Education and The Children’s Center for Communication and Development.