With a vision of success for the future and a love for their alma mater, Moran M. Pope, Jr. and Powell G. Ogletree met with the goal of sparking individual growth and development in future students and providing a way for donors to impact students through the gift of education. The result was the establishment of the Mississippi Southern Foundation on October 27, 1959.

Pope led the Foundation Board of Directors as its first president from 1959 to 1982, and Ogletree served as secretary and treasurer from 1959 to 1983. Twenty-seven presidents have followed in leading the USM Foundation since its establishment. During its first full academic year in operation, the organization, which became known as The University of Southern Mississippi Foundation in 1962 to coincide with the institution’s name change, awarded a total of $2,234.94 in scholarships.

The Foundation continued to reach new milestones for the benefit of the University, and in 1969, successfully completed its Decade of Progress Program by exceeding its goal of raising one million dollars during the first ten years of operation by reaching $1,054,136.38. As progress grew each year, the Foundation celebrated a new achievement in 1980 as total giving surpassed $5 million. The following year marked its first single million-dollar year and boded well for the future of students of Southern Miss. 

In fiscal year 2013-14, the Foundation generated $15,560,117, reaching its second highest fundraising total in gifts and pledges received during a single fiscal year. In addition, $3.5 million was awarded in more than 2,000 scholarships to deserving Southern Miss students.

With a rich history of 58 years and counting, filled with achievements, including a recent record-breaking employee participation in giving, numerous successful campaigns and the launch of an online scholarship application system, the USM Foundation continues the vision on which it was established by impacting the lives of Southern Miss students by providing the gift of education.