Kenneth F. Rhinehart, threetime University of Southern Mississippi alumnus and instructor, recently designated the University as the beneficiary of a bequest to support faculty through an endowed chair position.
Growing up in Waynesboro, Miss., a geologically interesting location due to the unique limestone strata that runs through the area, Rhinehart became interested in geology at a young age. His environmentally rich childhood setting prompted his passion for geology and led to his pursuit of higher education in the field.
The son of a proud Southern Miss alumna, the late Wilodyne Muckelrath Rhinehart ‘45, Rhinehart earned his Bachelor of Science in psychology and geology, as well as a Master of Science in geology, from The University of Southern Mississippi.
"Mother always encouraged me to support the University, and much of my life was spent with Southern Miss. I want to return the favor to the school for helping me develop my knowledge and character," Rhinehart said.
Following completion of his master's degree, Rhinehart began teaching environmental science courses at Southern Miss, where he continued throughout the 1990s.
Since 1991, Rhinehart has taught over 20,000 students and continues to enjoy a meaningful career as an educator. He is currently a full-time environmental sciences instructor in the Center for Science and Mathematics Education and manages a family business in land and timber, which gives him the opportunity to practice what he teaches about sustainable forestry.
In 2011, Rhinehart, along with his students, initiated work to designate Southern Miss as a Tree Campus USA recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation. This project recognizes the University's commitment to environmental stewardship and exemplifies the impact K Rhinehart is making beyond the lives of just his students.
"Mississippi is a gifted state, but those gifts are often squandered and undervalued. Our forests, and products manufactured from our forests, are subjects I will always promote and educate others about," Rhinehart said. "I want to contribute to Southern Miss being a leader in the community to promote our local resources through connecting our research and education with the public."
Through this planned gift, Rhinehart's investment in Southern Miss will continue his mission to promote Mississippi's resources by providing an endowed faculty chair position in the Department of Chemistry.