School Department News

School of Natural and Behavioral Sciences

Tuesday, September 16, 2014 - 1:06pm

The Greater Pinebelt Community Foundation has awarded William Carey University $20,000 to benefit programs that assist adults with intellectual disabilities.

The $20,000 grant is divided into two $10,000 grants. One of the grants is for “Harnessing Adults’ Full Potential Through Music Therapy,” which provides music therapy services to adults with intellectual disabilities at day rehabilitation centers. The goal of the program is to increase acquisition of skill building and to promote activities for daily living.

Music therapy students work closely with Nicole Ribet, a music therapist with Ribet Rhythms Music Therapy Services and a 2013 graduate of WCU, to help individuals with development disabilities gain social skills and independence, said Jim Pierce, assistant professor of music therapy at WCU.

“Students can work with clients and interact with them, providing benefits to both parties,” said Pierce. “These grants personify the good local communities can do when they work together.”

The second $10,000 grant will go to the WCU Quality of Life Project, which pairs students with adults with intellectual disabilities for recreational and educational projects. The project, now in its fourth year, allows for new experiences for both the client and the student, said Dr. Paul Cotten, project director.

Pennie Young, a case manager with Ellisville State School who has worked closely with Cotten on the project, said the grants make a world of difference in the lives of clients. Clients and students together attend multiple outings each year, including to Carey Dinner Theatre, local concerts and movies, among other activities. The group also takes an out-of-town trip once a year, such as to Graceland and the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis or to the aquarium in New Orleans.

“Because of the efforts of the Foundation and of William Carey University, we can go on trips that do enhance the quality of life of those we work with,” said Young.

The grants are awarded from the Ann Morris Memorial Fund, which was set up to enrich the quality of life of intellectually challenged adults. The Foundation exists to strengthen communities by connecting charitably minded people to causes that matter the most to them.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014 - 2:51pm

The William Carey University Tradition Campus counseling program has received a National Board for Certified Counselors & Affiliates (NBCC) grant to assist in initial Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP) accreditation.

The grant, awarded to the program’s clinical mental health and school counseling tracks, was one of 15 given from an applicant pool of 59 institutions nationally.

“We were honored to receive this funding that will pay for each of our remaining phases of accreditation and will include funding for planned site visits sometime in the spring of 2015,” said Dr. Carol Jones, director of psychology and graduate counseling at the Tradition Campus.

The grant application was evaluated on criteria including the general understanding of the CACREP process; the feasibility of the program’s timeline, goals and challenges; and the potential of the program to graduate counselors who will serve underserved populations in need.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013 - 4:12pm

Hattiesburg, Miss., October 15, 2013 - William Carey University’s Dr. Kelly Caffery, instructor of biology and psychology, will be holding an Enrichment Day at the Hattiesburg Zoo for her animal behavior class on October 19 at 11a.m. They will be making and presenting enrichment items to several different animals at the zoo including the jaguar, tiger, servals, lemurs, and other primates.

“One of the activities includes making a deer out of cardboard and stuffing it with meat to present to the tiger,” Dr. Caffery said. “Last time I did this activity with my animal behavior students the tiger was especially interesting to watch!”

The public is invited to attend and observe. Admission to the zoo is $5 for adults, $4 for military/seniors, $3 for children 2-12, and free for children under 2. They are open 10 a.m.- 4 p.m.

“I think this will be a fun activity for my students, beneficial to the animals, and interesting for the public as well,” Dr. Caffery said. “I think anyone with children will especially enjoy watching the animals interact with the enrichment we make for them.”

For more information about the Animal Behavior Enrichment day, contact Dr. Caffery at (601) 318-6780 or For more information about the Hattiesburg Zoo, call (601) 545-4576 or

Monday, September 9, 2013 - 3:25pm

Hattiesburg, Miss., September 9, 2013 - University of Mississippi Medical Center pediatrician Dr. Hannah Gay, who has gained worldwide recognition for helping to cure an HIV-positive infant, will present a lecture at William Carey University on September 17 at 2 p.m. in Tatum Theatre. Dr. Gay was named one of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World” for finding an apparent cure of this child, known as “The Mississippi Baby.”  Her lecture will deal with this subject.  Faculty, staff, and students are invited to attend. This lecture is the first of WCU’s University Lecture Series.

Friday, May 10, 2013 - 2:27pm

Hattiesburg, Miss., May 10, 2013 - Sen. John Polk will speak at one of William Carey University’s commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 18, at 9:30 a.m. in Smith Auditorium on the Hattiesburg campus. Nearly 800 students will graduate from WCU in four ceremonies. This ceremony is for students receiving undergraduate degrees from the school of arts and letters, school of nursing and school of natural and behavioral sciences.

Sen. John Polk, owner and chairman of the corporation for Polk’s Meat Products, Inc., was elected to a four-year term in the Mississippi State Senate in 2011. He serves District 44, representing parts of Forrest, Lamar, and Perry Counties.  In August of 2012, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves appointed Sen. Polk as Chairman of the Senate Universities and Colleges Committee.  He has served on multiple other committees as well, including Accountability, Efficiency, Transparency, Education, Elections, Energy, Finance, Housing, Ports and Marine Resources.

Originally from Prentiss, Sen. Polk graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi with a bachelor’s in communications and radio-television-film in 1971.  He began his career as news director of WHSY radio in Hattiesburg, and then worked for the USM Office of Public Information before joining the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics in Jackson as its first staff assistant for public affairs.  In 1973 he married Jan Barrett and in 1974, they bought their current business, Polk’s Meat Products, Inc. Through the years Sen. Polk has also owned and operated a radio station, been involved in cattle farming, tree farming, a pizza restaurant, and dabbled in interstate trucking. 

Sen. Polk has served on the board of directors of the Southern Miss Alumni Association, the University Foundation, and is a past president of the International Alumni Association.  In 1998 he was inducted into the University of Southern Mississippi Alumni Hall of Fame. He and Jan live in Lamar County and are members of Temple Baptist Church where he sings in the choir. They have two children; Brian Polk and Julie Polk Breazeale, and three grandchildren: Barrett Blake, and Olivia.