Gazebo Gazette

Citing the opportunity to “open a new door” for future military-students, The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) has entered into an academic partnership with the Air Force’s Air University Associate to Baccalaureate (AU-ABC) program. The partnership will benefit students enrolled in USM’s Bachelor of Applied Technology Bachelor of Applied Science program.

USM has established a strong reputation for assisting military-students through its Center for Military Veterans, Service Members and Families. The University is ranked No. 3 nationally by the prestigious resource guide Military Times. USM is also rated No. 1 in the Southeast by Military Times in its “Best for Vets: Colleges 2021 Rankings.”

Veterans Center Director Jeff Hammond notes that the partnership is a culmination of the collaboration between USM officials and Air Force educational administrators that stretched over 24 months and included a rigorous application/vetting process. Hammond says the partnership cannot be overestimated.

“It is extremely important. The honor of serving our service members and their families is something we never take for granted,” said Hammond. This partnership is all about duty: serving those who faithfully serve our nation and our continuing growth of the USM military-connected program in reaching out in all directions to attract, support and care for military-students.”

A total of 24 Air Force students were enrolled at USM for the Fall 2020 semester. Hammond said the goal is to double that number in the foreseeable future. Through the partnership, Air Force students can transfer their credits earned at the Associate’s level toward programs to fulfill Baccalaureate requirements, many of which, including the APT BAS, are 100 percent online.

USM’s Applied Technology Bachelor of Applied Science program was launched in 2007 as the first of its kind in Mississippi. Since that time, the program has continued to experience healthy enrollment.

Dr. Heather Annulis, Vice-Provost at USM’s Gulf Park campus in Long Beach, explains that the program is designed for working adults with demanding schedules and other commitments, including active military service.

“Therefore, a personalized degree plan is constructed with an advisor to ensure scheduling and relevance of the curriculum work in concert with previous transcripts, military training experience, and other applicable certifications to warrant an exceptional university experience,” said Annulis.

The program advances careers in:

  • Organizational leadership
  • Process improvements in organizations
  • Technical project management
  • Business administration
  • Implementation of complex production processes (production managers)
  • Leveraging information technology (support technicians, software engineers, IT system administrators, cybersecurity professionals)

Hammond emphasizes that USM and the Veterans Center invests a significant degree of outreach efforts in serving the active duty Air and Space forces; Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard professionals serving in Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida and Texas.

“In this regard, we are compelled to do more to support these wonderful service members and their families,” he said. “We have the finest Air Force in the history of the world and as the Top Military Friendly institution of higher learning across Mississippi we daily assess where we can do more and how we might do better.”

The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) is a comprehensive public research institution delivering transformative programs on campuses in Hattiesburg and Long Beach, at teaching and research sites across the Mississippi Gulf Coast, as well as online.