Mississippi university, community college ink MOU for honor student transfers

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Officials from The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) and Hinds Community College (HCC) signed a joint Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) during a recent meeting at the HCC Raymond Campus that allows for a seamless transfer of students enrolled in the school’s Honors Institute who choose USM and its prestigious Honors College to complete their degree.

Per the agreement, students who will graduate or have graduated in good standing from the HCC Honors Institute – carrying at least a 3.4 GPA (grade point average) – will be granted automatic admission to the USM Honors College’s two-year Keystone program. Those admitted then must maintain good standing by keeping a cumulative GPA of 3.25 or higher; pursuing an independent research project that cumulates in an Honors thesis; and making satisfactory progress toward degree completion.

USM President Dr. Joe Paul, a graduate of USM’s Honors College, joined USM Provost Dr. Gordon Cannon and Dr. Sabine Heinhorst, dean of the USM Honors College, in lauding the agreement and building on the university’s longtime relationship with HCC. Joining the USM contingent at the event was HCC President Dr. Stephen Vacik, Honors Institute Dean Tim Krason, and Joy Rhoades, director of the HCC Honors Program at its Rankin campus.

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“We’re excited to be formalizing this relationship,” Dr. Vacik said. “We do a fantastic job with our Honors Institute, not only academically, but socially and culturally, offering travel opportunities for our students to interact with people from other places, and therefore giving them the full experience. I believe you will find the students from our Honors Institute who come to USM will be fantastic students.”

Dr. Paul concurred with Dr. Vacik, thanking him and his colleagues at HCC for the opportunity to expand the relationship between the two schools, further noting that “We have a rich tradition of Hinds students transferring to USM, where they continue to be successful students and then graduate and go on to do great things in the world, so to now solidify this agreement makes it a joyful day for us.”

Dr. Heinhorst echoed Dr. Paul’s comments in also praising the agreement, noting the success of past Hinds alums who enrolled in and graduated from the USM Honors College as among some of the college’s success stories. “We are excited about forging this new partnership because it’s a win—win situation for both of us,” she said.

USM first offered Honors classes in 1965; in 1976, its Honors program evolved into a formalized Honors College, the sixth oldest public honors college in the nation and oldest Honors College in Mississippi. Its goal is to foster communal engagement with ideas and an atmosphere of personal connection and achievement, providing its students with small classes, opportunities for active learning, leadership, and research experiences in a supportive and challenging intellectual community. Its more than 500 students also benefit from attentive mentoring and exposure to cutting-edge scholars and artists.