37th Annual F.E. Woodall Spring Conference scheduled for March 23

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Delta State University’s Division of Counselor Education and Psychology is hosting the 37th annual F.E. Woodall Spring Conference for the Helping Professions on March 23.

The conference boasts 32 breakout continuing education sessions and a keynote address. The event provides continuing education for counselors, social workers, psychologists, and other helping professions to receive quality, affordable continuing education opportunities.

The Woodall Conference has grown to welcome approximately 300 attendees a year. Participants drive in from Mississippi, Tennessee and Louisiana. The presenters are private practitioners, state professionals, and faculty members from 10 universities and colleges.

“We are proud to represent Delta State each year with our Woodall Conference,” said Dr. Cat Vincent, counselor education instructor and conference coordinator. “It’s an honor to be able to bring excellence in continuing education to our region.”

The keynote presenter will be Dan Buchner, the founder and principal of ‘praktikel, and inventor of the car back-up camera and Swiffer. praktikel is an innovative company that has taken on all kinds of problem-solving issues, including the field of counseling. Buchner will be presenting “Six Practical Tips for Innovation.”

“Many of our attendees have begun their careers with a degree from Delta State, and we are happy to continue their education as we contribute to these professional developments of helping professionals across the state Mississippi,” said George Beals, program coordinator and assistant professor in counselor education.

View the conference website at http://buytickets.at/deltastateuniversitycounseloreducation/140851. For more information, contact Vincent at cvincent@deltastate.edu.

Baghai-Riding contributes to Geological Society of America meeting

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Searching for diamonds in Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas.


Dr. Nina Baghai-Riding, professor of biology and environmental science at Delta State, contributed to the Geological Society of America South-Central Section Meeting in Little Rock, Arkansas, March 11-14.

Baghai-Riding was one of several co-authors of the presentation “Confirming Quaternary Displacement Rates on the Meeman-Shelby Fault and Joiner Ridge Horst, Eastern Arkansas.” The study looked at fossil spores and pollen from seven intervals to determine ancient paleoenvironments and geologic age.

Several Delta State environmental science students, including Helen Simmons, Anna Scott and Wilsonya Mitchell, contributed to the research.

As part of the conference, Baghai-Riding also participated in a trip to the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas. Diamonds have been discovered in the area for more than a century, including 28 that are over 10 carats.

Contact Dr. Nina Baghai-Riding (nbaghai@deltastate.edu) for more information about the environmental science program at Delta State University.

Campus Update from President LaForge

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By: Delta State President William N. LaForge

Greetings Colleagues and Students!

Welcome back from Spring Break, and happy “soon-to-be” spring this week!

Thanks to our hard-working colleagues in Facilities Management and good progress with major projects, the campus is looking great.  The Quad is DSU green, flowers are popping up around campus, and we are anticipating the reopening of Zeigel Hall soon, as well as the dining hall and Statesmen Boulevard later in the year.

We are in the midst of a very good year and productive semester, with spring-to-spring enrollment numbers up eight percent, and a six percent increase in the retention of first-time, full-time freshmen.  We received the coveted designation as a “military-friendly” school, and, in the area of community outreach, we rolled out the Local Government Leadership Institute that will assist Delta municipal and county leaders in building skill sets that will enable them to run their communities more effectively.

The academy has implemented our two new requirements for all graduates — participation in upper-division courses that provide enhanced writing experiences, and the completion of a capstone project as a requirement for graduation.  This boost in academic requirements should make our graduates more prepared and competitive as they move on to jobs and/or graduate or professional schools, as well as ratchet up Delta State’s academic reputation in the eyes of the public and student prospects.  Additionally, our Student Success programs are providing superb services to our students, and making a difference in the academic progress of students across the spectrum of disciplines.

We started the month of March with the announcement of the Gertrude Ford Foundation’s $3 million pledge in support of our Center for Teaching and Learning, our internal professional development program for faculty.  Be on the lookout for more major gift announcements in the near future that will support scholarships and other vital programs on campus.

The next two weeks promise to be Delta State’s version of non-basketball “March Madness!”

On Wednesday of this week, FedEx founder and CEO, Frederick W. Smith, will be our distinguished lecturer at the spring Colloquium in Jobe Hall at 6pm.  There will be a reception for him — and you — immediately following.  He will also meet with student leaders the next morning.

On Thursday evening, the BPAC hosts the legendary Gladys Knight.  At this point, tickets may only be available from scalpers! J

Next week features the 5th annual Winning the Race Conference, and the 13th annual International Business Symposium.  I hope you will make every effort to attend both programs.

Our baseball, softball, golf, and tennis teams are all in full action, so come out to support them when you can.  And, a shout-out is due to Statesmen basketball for going to the conference championship finals, and to men’s and women’s swim-dive for their outstanding showing at the NCAA national meet last week.

We are pleased to report that we have a record number of international students enrolled — 134 — from 48 countries.  Efforts are underway to bolster our international programs abroad for students and faculty.  We have formal relationships now with universities in Poland, Bulgaria, Russia, and Korea, and a DSU delegation is in China now working with seven universities on student exchange and recruiting opportunities.

In April, look for specifics about this spring’s campus forums we will host for students, faculty, and staff, respectively.  These forums will be live opportunities to hear about and discuss current campus activities and plans for the future.  Our annual Go Green Weekend for student recruitment is slated for April 27th and 28th, and will provide an opportunity for us to welcome prospective students to campus.

In early April, we should be able to report to you the results of the current state legislative session.  We are hopeful that we will be able to secure increased operational dollars for the university, as well as bond authority to fund campus infrastructure improvements.

As we approach spring graduation on May 5th, I am pleased to announce that our commencement speaker will be Dr. Glen Jones, President of Henderson State University (Arkansas) and President of the NCAA Division II Presidents Council.  And, we will bestow an honorary doctorate on music legend Mavis Staples.

Finally, I continue to enjoy the opportunity to meet with faculty and staff through my departmental visits and periodic luncheons.  It is refreshing to learn about all of the good things our professionals on campus are doing for our students and the university.

Thanks to all of you in the Delta State family for making this university a great place to live, work, and learn.

Onward and Upward!

Very best regards,

Bill LaForge

TFA Graduate Fellow to host microgrant dinner in Jackson

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Jacksonians interested in bettering their community will gather at Cathead Distillery March 22 at 6 p.m. to kick off Citizenville’s inaugural JXN Gumbo event series.

The series’ executive director is JJ Townsend, who is also taking part in Delta State University’s TFA Graduate Fellows program. The program is a collaboration between Delta State and Teach For America. The fellowship’s role is to retain TFA alumni in Mississippi by offering the opportunity to continue their education in graduate school at Delta State and to nurture their passion for enhancing the state.

JXN Gumbo will let attendees enjoy a bowl of gumbo and listen to neighborhood entrepreneurs pitch ideas. All of the participants will get feedback from neighbors, and one winner will take home the money raised.

“Citizenville is a nonprofit online platform to crowdfund community ideas, and JXN Gumbo is the face-to-face side of the platform,” said Townsend. “Our mission at CitizenJXN.org is to promote community-driven project ideas through crowdfunding, creativity, collaboration, democracy, trust and fun. Although we’re also an online platform, JXN Gumbo is a perfect way for us to crowdfund community ideas while engaging with folks in person.”

Each presenter will have four minutes to share their idea and answer four questions from the audience. The audience will then vote to choose the best idea. At the end of the night, the ballots are counted and a winner is chosen. Winners collect the money from gumbo sales, launch their projects, and attend a future JXN Gumbo dinner to report their project’s progress.

There are opportunities for interested community organizations and leaders to pitch at the event. To sign up to pitch, visit citizenjxn.org/jxngumbo. For attendees, tickets will be sold at the door for $5. Attendees are encouraged to pre-order tickets online at citizenjxn.org/jxngumbo.

Founded in 2017, and based in Jackson, Citizenville is committed to unleashing the full potential of citizen ingenuity and catalyzing collective power to fund and implement new local solutions to entrenched problems.

Cathead Distillery is located at 422 South Farish Street in Jackson, and continues to grow its popularity and distribution throughout the southeastern region of the U.S. It was founded in 2010 by Austin Evans and Richard Patrick.

For more information on Delta State’s unique TFA Graduate Fellows program, visit http://www.tfafellows.com/home-1.

National Humanities Alliance recognizes Delta Center’s “Most Southern” as exemplary program

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“Most Southern” Institute participants view a Mississippi Blues Trail marker in Scott, Mississippi.


The National Humanities Alliance recently recognized The Delta Center for Culture and Learning’s “Most Southern Place on Earth” Institute as a one of a select group of high-impact programs funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

“Most Southern” is featured on the alliance’s NEH For All website, www.nehforall.org, which highlights impacts of the NEH across the United States.

“It is our great privilege to feature the Delta Center on NEH for All, a website that showcases outstanding NEH-funded work in every state,” said Dr. Stephen Kidd, executive director of the National Humanities Alliance. “The National Endowment for the Humanities funds thousands of projects across the country. Among these, the Delta Center’s work with The Most Southern Place on Earth is truly exemplary.”

On the website, “Most Southern” is noted for having impacts in several key measurement areas, including Enriching K-12 Education; Providing Lifelong Learning Opportunities for Diverse Audiences; Facilitating Community Dialogue; Fostering Local Tourism Economies; and Promoting Civic Education.

The alliance also notes that “Most Southern” is part of the Delta Center’s larger work managing the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area.

“Through Most Southern, The Delta Center attracts K-12 educators from throughout the country to the Mississippi Delta,” said Dr. Rolando Herts, director of The Delta Center and executive director of the MDNHA. “They spend a full week here learning about the region’s diverse cultural heritage, and they take those lessons home to their school communities. These educational and cultural heritage tourists become heritage area ambassadors who tell our stories nationwide. Some of them even come back with student groups and family members.”

Summer 2018 will be the ninth year that the NEH has funded “Most Southern.” Total funding received since the program’s inception is over $1.5 million.

Over 500 K-12 educators have completed the workshops. The program continues to generate considerable demand among the nation’s top K-12 educators, including award-winning principals, librarians, and National Board Certified teachers. This month, The Delta Center received over 300 applications competing for 72 slots to participate in the June and July 2018 sessions.

“The Delta Center has brought hundreds of K–12 teachers to the Mississippi Delta and provided them with an intellectually-rigorous educational experience that helps them understand and become ambassadors for the region’s rich cultural heritage,” said Kidd. “By helping newcomers explore the region’s cultural heritage sites, the Delta Center boosts its local economy. At the same time, the quality teaching practices the Delta Center fosters have had a deep impact on schools across our nation.”

The National Humanities Alliance Foundation advances the humanities by conducting and supporting research on the humanities and communicating the value of the humanities to a range of audiences including elected officials and the general public. For more information, visit https://www.nhalliance.org/.

The mission of The Delta Center is to promote greater understanding of Mississippi Delta culture and history and its significance to the world through education, partnerships and community engagement. The Delta Center serves as the management entity of the MDNHA and is the home of the International Delta Blues Project and the NEH “Most Southern Place on Earth” Institute. For more information, visit http://deltacenterdsu.com/.