Southern Miss Business Summer Newsletter

Southern Miss Business Adopts New Strategic Plan

Over the past year and a half, CBED leadership has been conducting an assessment of the college’s mission, vision, and goals to develop a strategic plan to guide the college over the next five to ten years. Based on input from students, faculty, staff, and industry leaders, the Dean’s Advisory Council crafted a strategic plan that was adopted by the faculty in August 2020. The College of Business & Economic Development at Southern Miss has a long, proud history of producing leaders whose impact is felt around the world. As you take a look at the CBED’s new vision, mission, values and strategic priorities, you will notice leadership is now a prominent component of our strategic plan. We are excited to help current and future business students develop into the best business leaders that they can be!


We will be a recognized leader in providing business educational experiences that inspire and empower business scholars and students to fearlessly lead on the national and international stage.


Our purpose is to develop leaders who leverage an entrepreneurial mindset to create value and innovative business solutions. We ensure that all students have applied experiences that build the knowledge and develop the skills needed to succeed and lead in the global marketplace. We support economic development by advancing knowledge through influential scholarship and collaboration with our communities.

Organizational Values

Authenticity: We stay true to who we are and always act with integrity.

We are committed to relationships and interactions with our colleagues, students, alumni, and partners that are characterized by honesty, integrity, and respect. We value trust in all that we do and understand that our word and reputation are evaluated by how trustworthy we are. We aim to be ethical, authentic, and genuine in our actions in order to build and maintain trusting relationships with all our stakeholders.

Unity: We respect others’ perspectives and work together to strengthen our community.

We are one. One team. One family that cares deeply about each other, our students, and community. We are committed to our success while also working to help our students, partners, and community achieve success. We will provide educational experiences and outreach typified by collaboration, inclusiveness, and teamwork. We strive to create a culture of warmth and belonging.

Resiliency: We persevere by being relevant, tenacious, and adaptable.

We know that nothing comes easy. Persistence and hard work are required to accomplish anything of significance. We believe that rolling up your shirtsleeve is a prerequisite for success, and we ensure our relevance in an ever-changing world through our adaptability, tenacity, and resilience.

Passion: We nurture passion and inspire boldness.

Passion is at the heart of everything we do. We are constantly moving forward, boldly innovating, and positively improving to impact our students, academic disciplines, and community. We use our drive and commitment to energize, engage, and inspire others.

Resourcefulness: We foster curiosity, creative problem-solving, and forward thinking to meet challenges head-on.

We are entrepreneurial and enterprising. We experiment, take risks, and reach beyond existing boundaries. Through creativity, innovation, forward thinking, and curiosity, we challenge the status quo to find new ways of doing things.

Strategic Priorities

In the next five years, the College of Business & Economic Development will focus on:

• Becoming the business school of choice for experiential learning, real-world preparation, and entrepreneurial mindset.

• Expanding opportunities for community, industry, and global engagement.

• Fostering a culture and community of scholars characterized by excellent teaching, impactful teaching and research, collegiality, and considerate service to all stakeholders.

• Enhancing external relations and fundraising activities.

State-of-the-art Professional Sales Lab

In order to prepare graduates for successful careers, the College of Business and Economic Development (CBED) has established a state-of-the-art Professional Sales Lab that includes physical and technical instructional and research resources. The vision for this lab and the Professional Selling program is to create a technology-enhanced, flexible learning environment for students that facilitates the development of high-demand sales, presentation and customer service skills.

The Professional Sales Lab, located on the second floor of Scianna Hall, includes three rooms equipped with Internet Protocol (IP) cameras and noise cancellation microphones that capture video and audio of all interactions in the space. The footage captured will be used primarily to critique sales role-play exercises but can also be used to record other activities, such as mock interviews, research simulations and business idea pitches. Authorized personnel will be able to observe and coach students in real time through a web portal or at a later time using the recorded performance. Mounted outside of each room is a QR code reader that students scan prior to beginning their sessions, allowing them to later access their recorded sessions via a personal student account. Instructors can add timestamped, typed feedback, allowing students to click on each note and “jump” to the specific point in the video to which the comments refer. Additionally, students can create e-portfolios that can be shared with program sponsors and employers to assist with placement in the sales profession.

The need for a lab of this caliber was initiated by the continued success of our students in the professional selling program. This year, three professional selling students attending the 13th Annual National Sales Challenge, ultimately being ranked #4 overall, #2 and #9 in the Top 10 Role Play Competition, and #9 in the Top 10 Sales Challenge Champions.

The lab will also support the healthcare marketing program. Over the last four years, eight of our healthcare marketing students have been selected for Eli Lilly internships. The Professional Sales Lab will be instrumental to growing the size and renown of the Professional Selling and Healthcare Marketing programs in the college.


The 2020 Meet The Firms event will be held virtually on Thursday, September 10, 2020, from 5:00PM - 7:00PM. All students and employers must register for the event so please visit our website for more information.

Small Business Development Center Helps Businesses Navigate Pandemic

Stephen Clairmont and his wife, Deshawn, have built a successful manufacturing business that produces decorative home goods with inspirational messages, but their 12-year-old business, Clairmont and Co., took a hit when the economy stumbled because of COVID-19. When the shutdown began in March, the Clairmonts started the process of applying for the Small Business Administration's Economic Injury and Disaster Loan program and the federal Paycheck Protection Program. SBDC Business counselor Rita Mitchell walked them through the application process via texts, phone calls and emails.

"The loans were a definite game changer," Stephen Clairmont said. "I could not have done this so quickly without the MS-SBDC's help."

When the opportunity arose to keep the business open while serving front-line workers by supplying mask and gowns, it was a perfect solution for them. In just two short weeks, the Clairmonts were able to retool the plant with sewing machines to make masks and other personal protective equipment that were hard to find at the time.

The Clairmonts were high school sweethearts who grew up together in Laurel and returned to start their business and family after graduating from college. Clairmont and Co. and their retail store, HAND+made, are both in Laurel, which has garnered national interest due to the popularity of the HGTV home renovation show "Home Town."

"Stephen won't volunteer this about himself, but he is so kind and generous," Mitchell said. "He and Deshawn are very much part of the fabric of the community."

The PPE business was brisk until the larger manufacturers caught up, Then orders started tapering off, something the Clairmonts expected. Most of the masks they make are custom orders, and they are in the process of transitioning back to creating decorative home goods, but with an expanded vision for the future.

"Now that we have the infrastructure in place, we're going to use the sewing machines to add another product line," Stephen Clairmont said. "This experience has opened up an avenue to add pillows and other soft goods. We already have some in product development right now."

"The story of Clairmont and Co. is still being written, and the Mississippi SBDC is proud to help play a supporting role in the reinvention and relaunch that Stephen and Deshawn are bringing forth," Rita Mitchell said. "Stay tuned for the next evolution of Clairmont and Co.; I can't wait to see what visionary ideas they come up with next."


Keiyana Gaskin (Accounting, Vicksburg, Miss.) was awarded the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) Minority Scholarship for 2020-21. This scholarship is awarded to outstanding minority students across the country currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in accounting.

Congratulations, Keiyana!

2020 MSCPA Scholarship recipients

Congratulations to Kayla Jo Martin (MPA) and Hunter Reed (Accounting) for being selected as 2020 MSCPA scholarship recipients. Kayla Jo was awarded the Gary Thornton Graduate Scholarship while Hunter Reed was awarded the Undergraduate Scholarship. Additionally, Hunter was selected for the Hamp King Award. Join us in celebrating these accomplishments!


Dr. Sungsoo Kim, Dr. Brandon Allen, and Dr. Chris Croft collaborated with Neel-Schaffer, Inc. and the Trent Lott National Center for Economic Development and Entrepreneurship to complete a technical report for the Lamar County Sports Complex. The research project included two components: Residents’ Quality of Life and Economic Impact.

Residents’ Quality of Life: The primary purpose of this study was to measure whether or not a potential Lamar County Sports Complex can increase local residents’ quality of life (QoL). In this regard, this study was to help decision-makers in Lamar County if there is an opportunity to build a new Sports Complex in Lamar County.

Economic Impact: Neel-Schaffer, Inc. requested assistance from the Department of Economic Development and Hospitality & Tourism at the University of Southern Mississippi to conduct an economic impact (EI) study of a potential Lamar County Sports Complex. The research team has collected the primary data and secondary data (e.g., estimated construction cost) to determine the EI of a potential Sports Complex in Lamar County, including the cities of Hattiesburg, Lumberton, Purvis, and Sumrall. The potential Lamar County Sports Complex will contribute to the regional economy through direct, indirect, and induced effects.

2020 CPE Seminar

This year's CPE Seminar was hosted virtually and attracted over 130 participants. CPAs attended the Accounting and Auditing Update as a part of their annual hours towards continuing professional education. Sponsors included Regions Bank, The School of Accountancy, and Beta Alpha Psi.


Celebrating Retirements


Dr. Beth LaFleur has retired as the Associate Dean of the College of Business and Economic Development and Director of the Professional MBA Program at the University of Southern Mississippi. She also served as a Full Professor of Marketing and joined the Southern Miss Gulf Coast faculty in 2004.

During her time as MBA Director, program enrollment more than tripled. Dr. LaFleur spearheaded the work done to shape the MBA program into what it is today, leading many changes to keep the program relevant over time. These improvements included reducing the number of prerequisites, creating the hybrid and online formats, developing the business foundations graduate certificate, partnering with NCS4 and the Sport Management faculty to offer an MBA with an emphasis in sport event security management, establishing waivers of the GMAT requirement, and working to have the program recognized and ranked by U.S. News and World Report. In addition, she has remained an advocate for graduate and undergraduate programs in business on the coast and was the driving force that initiated the start of Who’s Who on the Gulf Park campus.

Jewel Adams

After serving Southern Miss for 24 years, Jewel Adams has retired from the College of Business and Economic Development, School of Finance. Adams began her journey with Southern Miss by accepting a position with the National Food Service Management Institute. She then accepted a position in the School of Human Performance and Recreation where she stayed for 17 years before ultimately becoming the Administrative Specialist in the College of Business and Economic Development. She served as President for the Association of Office Professionals for two terms and served on numerous committees including the Southern Miss Diversity Committee and Staff Council.

During the 2020 Eagle Awards Ceremony, Adams was selected as the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award. This is the event’s top award and is given to one recipient each year that has dedicated their life to making an impact in the lives of others. Adams has also received the Department of Athletics Outstanding Staff award, University of Southern Miss Staff Excellence award, College of Health Distinguished Office Professional award, African American Student Organization (AASO) Outstanding Black Staff award, and the Association of Office Professional (AOP) Office Professional of the Year award.

Michelle Fleming

Michelle Fleming has retired after 25 years of service to The University of Southern Mississippi. Michelle spent nearly 20 years serving as an Academic Advisor in multiple colleges over the course of her career including the College of Business and Economic Development, College of Health, and College of Nursing. Michelle shared that the role of an advisor allowed her to guide students through their degree programs and ultimately to degree completion while they balanced their classes, personal lives, and careers. She shared that she enjoys volunteering for the annual commencement ceremony held on the Gulf Park campus to watch the students she has grown to know so well walk across the stage and receive their diploma. The opportunity to celebrate those who have worked extremely hard and overcoming challenges and hardships to reach this milestone has been a driving force for Michelle and her work.


The University has launched a new webpage with plans and information for the Fall 2020 semester, as students prepare to return to USM campuses. Flight Path: Fall 2020 contains updated health and safety protocols, academic course delivery details, and includes information about Community Standards, housing and dining, academic success, as well as additional student, faculty and staff resources.