Contact: James Carskadon
STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State University’s G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery Center for America’s Veterans now has a new home at Nusz Hall.
MSU, military and congressional officials dedicated the new 7,500-square-foot building during a Friday [Sept. 2] afternoon ceremony. The ceremony featured remarks from U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, U.S. Representative Trent Kelly, MSU President Mark E. Keenum, alumnus and donor Tommy Nusz and Center for America’s Veterans Director Ken McRae.
Keenum said, “We want (veterans) to have a wonderful place, a center where they can come together and learn from one another, to share with another and to make that transition from military life – not only to civilian life – but also to student life.”
Tommy and Terri Nusz, who both graduated from MSU in 1982, contributed a significant gift that sparked the construction of Nusz Hall, which salutes multiple generations of U.S. military personnel. Nusz said observations from his wife helped spark the idea of building a new space for the Center for America’s Veterans. On Friday, Nusz commended the MSU personnel that worked to make the new veterans center a reality.
“I congratulate these men, along with Terri, on their vision becoming a reality that now sits at the front door of our great institution,” Nusz said. “I also want to thank them for recognizing the fact that while we can do a great job at advancing a lot of things in the areas of academics, research and athletics, all of that means nothing without the shield of those who preserve our freedom.”
Charles M. Nusz, the brother of former MSU football coach Dave Nusz (Tommy’s father) is a U.S. Navy veteran of World War II. Tommy Nusz is CEO and board chairman of Houston-based Oasis Petroleum, which he co-founded in 2007.
The Center for America’s Veterans at Nusz Hall features student support spaces, a computer lab, study rooms, a meeting area and administrative offices, which will serve the veteran community at MSU. Approximately 450 veterans and service members are students at MSU. Including dependents, the veteran community comprises more than 2,300 students on campus.
In 2015, the Military Order of the Purple Heart designated MSU as a “Purple Heart University” for its outstanding service to military veterans, service members, dependents and survivors. Military Times ranked MSU No. 44 in the country in its 2016 ‘Best for Vets’ rankings for the university’s commitment to education and providing opportunities for America’s veterans.
Jerry and Judy Kaye Thames, along with their family, established the Col. John Ware Thames Tribute to America. The prominent flag display at the north entrance of Nusz Hall recognizes all branches of the U.S. military. The display honors the life and service of Jerry Thames’ father, Col. Thames, the late alumnus and MSU professor of military science and tactics.
The G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery Foundation, which works to further the legacy of Montgomery, is among the many groups and individuals that have supported the construction of Nusz Hall. The late Montgomery was an MSU alumnus, former U.S. congressman, World War II veteran and major general of the Mississippi National Guard. In Congress, he authored the Montgomery G.I. Bill.
Kelly, who has spent 30 years in the Mississippi National Guard and was deployed to Iraq in 2005 and 2009, said he was glad to see MSU continue to show its commitment to veterans, which will benefit the entire student body.
“When you’re exposed to (veterans), it matters,” Kelly said. “Because you learn how to lead. You have a set of values instilled in you that propelled this nation to the places it needs to be.”
Wicker, also a veteran of the armed forces, lauded the new building and the role it will play in serving veterans.
“What a good idea this is,” Wicker said. “It’s not an idea every university has. You are making, on behalf of the university, a strong statement on behalf of veterans.”
For more on MSU’s services available for veterans, visit www.veterans.msstate.edu.
MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.