60th Anniversary Timeline: 1990s

Posted on December 13, 2023 by USA Marketing and Communications
USA Marketing and Communications

Aerial view of South in the 1990s

A NEW ERA Founding President Dr. Frederick Whiddon retires. Both a pragmatist and a visionary, Whiddon in 35 years builds from scratch a major university. Stressing academic excellence, he strongly prefers hiring faculty members with doctoral degrees. He hands over to his successor a teaching, research and healthcare leader with nine schools and colleges and a hospital system. A year later, the University launches its first nine online classes, in education, business and nursing. Today, entire undergraduate and graduate programs are available online.


Creating the Commons

South buys the Kingswood Shopping Center, diagonally from campus at Old Shell Road and University Boulevard. It becomes University Commons, housing the College of Education and Professional Studies and the Department of Psychology.


Youngest Grad

Ten-year-old Michael Kearney receives a degree in anthropology, becoming the world’s youngest-ever university graduate. Later pursuits include winning $1 million on the web-based game show “Gold Rush” and performing with an improvisational comedy troupe.


Coach Bill Musselman with basketball players.1995

From the NBA to USA

South makes national news by hiring former National Basketball Association and University of Minnesota Coach Bill Musselman. He leads South to the NCAA postseason tournament in his second season, then returns 
to the NBA.


-U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright



Call her Dr. Secretary

South awards its first-ever honorary degree, naming then-U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright a Doctor of Humane Letters.



President Whiddon1998

Secondary President

Dr. Frederick Whiddon retires as president. V. Gordon Moulton, vice president for services and planning, succeeds him. In his 15-year presidency, South completes more than half a billion dollars’ worth of construction, greatly expands healthcare facilities and research programs, and becomes an economic powerhouse employing 5,500 people.



Mitchell Center Opens

The 208,300-square foot Mitchell Center opens, giving South a top-flight multipurpose facility for large events. It serves as the home for men’s and women’s basketball, for which it seats 10,000, and permanently brings Commencement to campus from its long-standing venue at the Mobile Civic Center. 

Opening ceremony of the Mitchell Center.

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