Year in Review: Red-letter Moments Highlight 2023
Posted on December 29, 2023
Anniversary celebrations. The acquisition of a venerable hospital. Accelerated enrollment. Here are some of the moments that shaped the University of South Alabama in 2023:
South Celebrates Diamond Anniversary
The University of South Alabama spent a good part of 2023 reflecting on the 60 years since the founding of what has become the Flagship of the Gulf Coast. Celebrations of Jaguar pride included an announcement of a $20 million gift for a new performing arts center, a weeklong series of homecoming activities, and programs and campus events throughout the year. A redesigned South Magazine, which is published in collaboration with the USA National Alumni Association, featured a timeline and vintage photos looking back at each of South’s six decades.
Providence Hospital Joins USA Health System
In October, Providence Hospital’s 349-bed facility in Mobile, along with eight clinics and six family practices, joined USA Health. Providence became the third inpatient care facility in the USA Health system, the others being USA Health University Hospital and USA Health Children’s & Women’s Hospital. More than 1,700 Providence physicians, associates and providers are now part of USA Health.
First-Year Enrollment Jumps 19 Percent
First-year enrollment increased by 19 percent in 2023, making the Class of 2027 one of the largest in University history. First-year student retention reached 76 percent, the second highest rate ever. Transfer student enrollment was up 10 percent, international enrollment rose 5 percent, and the College of Nursing achieved its largest undergraduate enrollment.
South Breaks Ground on New College of Medicine Building
In December, the University of South Alabama broke ground along University Boulevard for a new $200 million Frederick P. Whiddon College of Medicine building. The new, 250,000-square-foot home for the medical school will allow the University to expand class size from 80 to more than 100 students and help address a national shortage in healthcare providers. The building is scheduled to be completed in 2026.
Jaguars Win Bubas Cup for a Record 16th Time
The 2022-23 South Alabama Jaguars won the Vic Bubas Cup, the annual all-sports champion trophy of the Sun Belt Conference, for a record 16th time. The University recorded top-four finishes in football, softball, golf and men’s cross country, along with men’s and women’s indoor and outdoor track and field. It was the sixth time in nine years USA claimed the cup.
“We are proud to recognize South Alabama for its broad-based athletics excellence in 2022-23,” Sun Belt Conference Commissioner Keith Gill said. “This award is a testament to the dedication of South Alabama's student-athletes, coaches, athletic department staff and University leadership.”
Quarter-Mile of Bayfront Property Donated to South
The University of South Alabama Foundation donated to the University more than a quarter-mile of bayfront property on Dauphin Island for marine education and research. The gift includes sandy beachfront, marsh and submerged land on Aloe Bay, 35 miles south of the main campus. The foundation had owned it for more than 30 years.
“It’s a perfect living laboratory,” said USA Foundation Managing Director Maxey J. Roberts.
Colleges of Medicine, Nursing Celebrate 50th Anniversaries
The Frederick P. Whiddon College of Medicine and the USA College of Nursing both celebrated 50 years of excellence in 2023. The Whiddon College of Medicine has produced thousands of healthcare providers who now serve across the state and beyond. More than 500 physicians in Mobile and Baldwin counties alone were educated at South. The college supports the region's only academic health system. From the College of Nursing, more than 21,000 nursing professionals have graduated and gone on to provide quality healthcare around the world.
South Plans $10 Million Home for Jaguar Marching Band
The Jaguar Marching Band, which provides a spirited soundtrack for the University of South Alabama, will be getting a 24,000-square-foot home on the south side of Hancock Whitney Stadium. Plans for a $10 million facility include a lighted outdoor practice field, a rehearsal studio, dressing rooms, offices, a music library and storage space for uniforms and instruments.
“This will be a game changer for the Jaguar Marching Band,” said Dr. Will Petersen, USA Director of Bands. “The ability to have a dedicated facility where we can rehearse outside or inside is a dream come true.”
- In the second year of Jo Bonner’s presidency, the University filled out its leadership team by naming five deans: Dr. Todd R. Andel, School of Computing; Dr. Susan Gordon-Hickey, Pat Capps Covey College of Allied Health Professions; Dr. Doug Marshall, Honors College; Dr. Angela Barlow, College of Education and Professional Studies; Dr. Michael Capella, Mitchell College of Business.
- Ben Raines, the documentary filmmaker who discovered the remains of the Clotilda, the last ship carrying enslaved Africans to America, was named the University’s first environmental fellow and writer-in-residence.
- Five high-tech operating rooms and a 12-bed post-anesthesia care unit opened as part of a significant expansion at University Hospital.
- The Jaguar football team made its first ever bowl victory a convincing one, dismantling Eastern Michigan 59-10 in the 68 Ventures Bowl, played on campus at Hancock Whitney Stadium. That gave the Jags their first back-to-back winning seasons as a full Division I participant.
- The Jaguar soccer team went undefeated for the first time in program history and won the Sun Belt Conference regular season title.
- Faculty members Dr. Ermanno Affuso, Dr. Philip Habel and Dr. Christina Wassenaar won prestigious Fulbright Scholar Program awards.
- South baseball great and five-time major league All-Star Luis Gonzalez was appointed to the University Board of Trustees.
- South’s newest school, which opened in 2022, became the Angelia and Steven Stokes School of Marine and Environmental Sciences in honor of two South alumni and generous supporters.
- For the first time, women simultaneously held the top positions at South’s Board of Trustees (Arlene Mitchell), National Alumni Association (Kim Lawkis) and Student Government Association (Camille Bonura). Bonura at the end of her term was followed by Amya Douglas.
- Brianna Burrell, a political science graduate from South, became the 2023 Miss Alabama and returned to campus for a celebration in her honor.
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