Millsaps Windgate Center, USM Air Force Program and MSU GEAR UP Grant | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Millsaps Windgate Center, USM Air Force Program and MSU GEAR UP Grant

Millsaps College held a dedication ceremony for its new Windgate Visual Arts Center on Thursday, Sept. 5. Photo courtesy Millsaps College

Millsaps College held a dedication ceremony for its new Windgate Visual Arts Center on Thursday, Sept. 5. Photo courtesy Millsaps College

Millsaps College held a dedication ceremony for its new Windgate Visual Arts Center on Thursday, Sept. 5. The building, located on the west side of the Millsaps campus, allowed the college to move its art facilities from the third floor of its academic complex and into a larger space, Elise Smith, chair of the art department and professor of art history at Millsaps, told the Jackson Free Press. Students can access the building through a newly opened entrance at the intersection of West Street and Wesley Avenue in Jackson's midtown neighborhood.

The Arkansas-based Windgate Foundation, which funds visual-arts studies at universities and museums across the United States, donated $2.5 million to Millsaps for the construction of the center. The North Carolina-based William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust also helped Millsaps secure additional donations from Maurice and Cathy Hall, and Michael T. McRee.

Millsaps broke ground for the 17,300-square-foot Windgate Center in November 2017, and classes inside the recently completed building began on Aug. 26. The center is the first new building constructed on the Millsaps campus in roughly 30 years, Smith told the Jackson Free Press.

The center includes expanded studio-art rooms for woodworking, metalworking, papermaking, sculpting, painting, word presses and more, as well as a Mac lab for digital-arts classes, a seminar room and a student lounge stocked with art books for students to borrow. Millsaps will use the building's main gallery, the Hall Family Gallery, to host exhibits from artists across the Southeast, as well as gallery talks and juried art exhibitions for senior art majors, Smith says.

"We're tremendously energized as an arts community to be able to give the arts a much stronger focus here at Millsaps," Smith says. "We're hoping to attract students who maybe wouldn't normally take art classes be better be able to work with midtown businesses like Pearl River Glass Studio and generate community involvement for upcoming projects like our midtown sculpture walk."

USM Partners with Air Force Program to Help Airmen Earn Degrees

The University of Southern Mississippi is partnering with the Community College of the Air Force General Education Mobile Program to help airmen obtain associate degrees in applied science.

Participants in the program will be able to complete up to 15 credit hours of their general-education requirements via five online courses at USM, which they may then apply directly to their associate degree through the Community College of the Air Force, or pursue an undergraduate degree at USM.

The CCAF is a federal program of the United States Air Force that grants applied-science associate degrees in partnership with Air University at the Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala.

GEM offers general-education courses to help students meet CCAF degree requirements through distance learning, in which a student does not have to be physically present in a classroom to participate in the class. The USM program provides online freshman- and sophomore-level general education courses, a release from the university says.

For more information or to enroll in the program, call the USM Center for Military Veterans, Service Members and Families at 601-264-4620 or visit usm.edu/military-veterans.

MSU Receives $27.9 Million GEAR UP Grant

The U.S. Department of Education's Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, or GEAR UP, grant program recently gave Mississippi State University a seven-year, $27.9-million grant to assist low-income students with entering postsecondary education.

The grant will support students in the Greenville, McComb and Meridian public school districts. Mississippi U.S. Senators Cindy Hyde-Smith and Roger Wicker supported MSU's grant application, a release from the university says.

MSU's Research and Curriculum Unit will oversee the implementation and staffing for all professional learning services through the grant. Partners for the GEAR UP Mississippi program include the Mississippi Department of Education, the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning, the Woodward Hines Education Foundation and ACT, Inc.

The GEAR UP program will identify a cohort of students in the partner school districts and work with from middle school onward to increase academic performance and high-school graduation rates, the release says, as well as increase enrollment in postsecondary education.

Project partners will develop a virtual-reality-tour app that includes all of Mississippi's public university and community colleges. GEAR UP will also develop a chatbot that can provide 24-hour responses to common state and federal financial-aid questions.

The Woodward Hines Education Foundation will provide financial-aid-application support for students and families, and manage statewide ACT test prep services. The MSU Research & Curriculum Unit will work with the Mississippi Department of Education to provide targeted teacher training and STEM, or science, technology, engineering and math, outreach, the release says.

For more information on the GEAR UP grant program, visit ed.gov/gearup/index.html.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story stated that the Windgate Visual Arts Center was 5,000 square feet. The actual measurement is 17,300 square feet. We apologize for the error.

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