A Bay St. Louis native who worked his way through USM considers philanthropy to be the best form of investment.
- by Maurice Singleton
When I went to Southern Miss, I saw kids with new cars. I thought I was great because I had a new 10-speed bicycle.”
Scianna was raised in Bay St. Louis and graduated from Bay High School in 1971. To earn a business degree at USM, he worked long hours as co-manager of an A&P grocery store while commuting to and from Hattiesburg twice a week. He graduated in 1975.
In 1986, Scianna co-founded Sim-Tex Corporation, which is the largest distributor of oil country tubular goods in the United States. Oil country tubular goods, or OCTG for short, are pipes, tubing, and casings used in the onshore and offshore production of oil and gas.
The success of Scianna and this business has significantly benefited USM and its students, as Scianna and his wife Rita are the University's largest individual benefactors, with lifetime contributions of more than $10 million.
Scianna credits his parents and service in the Marine Corps as the source of his ambition and drive. The first of nine children born to the late Charles Scianna Sr. and Beverly Favre Scianna, the businessman said that his benevolent parents nurtured his philanthropic aspirations.
“I hope that my rewards come in the next life, because it's not me. It's God,” Scianna explained. “I think that going to college or junior college gives you an advantage. I want to provide the same opportunities I had to the students today.”
Scianna finds campus visits invigorating and greatly enjoys witnessing what his contributions have made possible.
“When you go on campus to talk to students, it’s like a B-12 transfusion,” he said.
“Sometimes if you do things, other people will follow just because you do it,” said Scianna. “Public universities can no longer survive with only the money from the state.”
The Sciannas have generously donated towards the Building Better Business Campaign, including $6 million for the new Scianna Hall business center; the commissioning of two Golden Eagle sculptures on the Hattiesburg and Gulf Park campuses; support of the Children's Center for Communication and Development, the Center for Military Veterans, Service Members and Families; as well as various athletic activities.
“I have known Chuck Scianna since the fourth grade,” said USM President Dr. Joe Paul, also a native of Bay St. Louis. “Chuck was then – and is now – the funniest, most genuine, and most trustworthy a friend anyone could hope for.
“His business brilliance is matched by his servant heart. He is as humble and non-ego driven as any benefactor I have encountered,” Paul added.
President Paul says that Chuck and Rita see their philanthropy as investing in worthy causes, and that those “investments” at their alma mater have benefited the College of Business and Economic Development, the College of Nursing, athletics, and more.
In addition to their contributions to USM, the Sciannas have also supported William Carey University, which has dedicated Scianna Hall, a multi-purpose building at its Tradition campus.
Another Scianna beneficiary is the Boys and Girls Country in Hockley, Texas, a program that provides housing, education, and emotional support for underprivileged children. Each year, Boys and Girls Country aims to provide for and support 85 children, aged five to eighteen. Additionally, the program supports 23 children in their college career and future aspirations.
Scianna is also a board member for the Marine Scholarship Foundation, which has raised more than $8 million in scholarships awarded to dependents of those who served in the Marines and Navy. Many of Scianna’s family members still reside in Bay St. Louis and Hancock County, including his youngest sibling, Julie Scianna, owner and president of Landmark Title Company.
“Chuck and Rita are the humblest people you'll ever meet,” said Julie. “They're a team in every way. I don't think they’ve ever done anything for the recognition. Everything they do reflects their passions and their hope to leave this world better than they found it.
“They embody Christ in their marriage and throughout all aspects of their lives,” Julie adds. “They lead by example. We are truly proud of all they've accomplished.”
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