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C Spire Opens Insight Park Office

By Debbie Nelson

University of Mississippi

Note: Stella Connell, MacKenzie Ross and Louise Tyson also contributed to this report.

Andrea Hickerson (left), dean of the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media, talks with Graham Miller, C Spire vice president of product, and Hu Meena, the company’s CEO, at the firm’s new office space at Insight Park. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

 C Spire, a diversified telecommunications and technology services company, has expanded its Oxford office, relocating into Insight Park at the University of Mississippi and elevating the Mississippi-based company’s partnership with the university.

Supporting economic growth and preparing students for meaningful careers are priorities for both the university and C Spire. Through this partnership, C Spire and Ole Miss are developing a pipeline of student talent and innovation while creating technology jobs in Mississippi. 

“We truly value the relationship we have with the leadership and key personnel of C Spire,” said Noel Wilkin, provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs. 

“Their support has enabled us to bring real-world visibility to the campus in ways that allow us to ensure we are offering cutting-edge education. Additionally, their proximity to campus will increase the opportunities to engage students in a world-class technology business experience through internships.”

C Spire has partnered with universities across the state for decades. The company has a history of innovative thinking by what Hu Meena, C Spire’s CEO, described as a “team of smart people” who decades ago leveraged company landline operations to expand into cellular service and, later, pioneered fiber-optic networks – “all without a playbook.”

These connectivity services are the pillars of the company, providing an array of learning opportunities for workforce training and career development, Meena said.

In this expanded partnership, programs in the schools of Journalism and New Media, Business Administration and Engineering position the university as a resource to further enable C Spire’s growth and innovation through its students and faculty experts.

Ken Cyree, dean of the School of Business Administration, said the partnership will make a significant impact on the business school.

“We are thrilled that C Spire is increasing its presence on the Ole Miss campus since this will help attract our graduates to their company and allow our best students to remain in Mississippi,” Cyree said.

C Spire and the School of Engineering have developed strong ties over the past decade with a track record of Ole Miss alumni parlaying internships to full-time positions. 

“With C Spire coming to Insight Park, we’ll be able to push our collaboration further – and that’s especially critical for our students and faculty in this dynamic tech industry,” said Yixin Chen, chair of the Department of Computer and Information Science.

Andrea Hickerson, dean of the School of Journalism and New Media, said she sees the company’s presence as an opportunity for students to see professional communications strategies in action. 

“The interdisciplinary nature of the collaboration with C Spire provides the opportunity for the journalism school to demonstrate how communication is central and complementary to business and computing,” Hickerson said. “We are particularly excited for students studying integrated marketing communications to have the opportunity to have internships with C Spire here on campus.”

At Ole Miss, company leaders have served on various university boards and worked in classrooms with students and faculty. C Spire representatives actively recruit students across engineering, business and marketing programs for internships, co-ops and full-time roles.

“Now that we are on campus and at Insight Park, we are trying to use this as an avenue to better educate students by providing opportunities to face real-world business challenges,” said Graham Miller, C Spire vice president of product. “This is mutually beneficial for employment work experience as well. Some students have also moved on to other companies like Google, Facebook and Apple.”

C Spire has been a strong supporter of the university, funding student scholarships and STEM programs, and sponsoring various events on the Oxford campus. To date, the company and C Spire Foundation have contributed nearly $3 million to Ole Miss. 

Partnering in this manner is a shared effort between C Spire and UM to increase job opportunities in Mississippi and retain college graduates. These efforts will be strengthened by the company’s presence at Insight Park.

“When you are inside this building, you can see the technology around you,” Miller said. “It is important to us as a technology company to leverage that, which is simply not the case with just any building. 

“Looking for a larger space, closer to campus made more sense. The previous location required a 20-minute commute, which carved into students’ time availability.”

Hughes Miller, the university’s director of industry engagement, identified the available space for C Spire and helped make the switch to Insight Park. 

“When Hu reached out to me sharing that C Spire was looking to grow its Oxford office and partner more with the university, identifying space at Insight Park was an obvious first step,” he said. “It’s exciting to now see this level of engagement and both organizations partnering to drive innovation and create more technology jobs in Mississippi.”

The mission of Insight Park is to “provide a dynamic research area where businesses can locate on the university campus in Oxford and take full advantage of opportunities for collaborative research, academic resources and more.” 

“We are delighted to welcome C Spire,” said William Nicholas, director of economic development at Insight Park. “They are a first-class technology company and a perfect fit for the research park. 

“We are particularly excited about the potential for C Spire to more easily collaborate with our talented faculty, staff and students both in the classroom and with internships.”

To learn more about the university’s industry engagement initiative, contact Hughes Miller, director of industry engagement, at hughes@olemiss.edu and 662-915-2885 or visit https://industry.olemiss.edu.

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