After a national search, Delta State University’s Delta Center for Culture and Learning has found a replacement for retiring director Dr. Luther Brown.
Dr. Rolando Herts, who conducted his dissertation research at Rutgers University in New Jersey, will follow Brown, who served at Delta State for 14 years. Herts will begin his duties August 18.
“It is a tremendous honor to be selected by Delta State University and community leaders from throughout the Mississippi Delta region to direct the Delta Center for Culture and Learning,” said Herts. “The Mississippi Delta is where I began my teaching career, and it’s also where I spent formative years of my youth witnessing how education, community prosperity and pride of place are intertwined.”
Herts’s research has focused on roles of universities with tourism planning and development as an emergent form of community engagement and place making.
Originally from Little Rock and Eudora, Ark., Herts has years of experience working in the Delta region. After completing undergraduate and graduate programs at Morehouse College and the University of Chicago, he returned to the area to teach second grade in Indianola with Teach For America.
Soon after, he assumed directorship of TRIO Student Support Services at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.
“For over two decades, I have been a student, administrator and faculty member in geographically diverse university settings in both urban and rural communities, including Atlanta, Chicago, Newark and the Mississippi Delta region,” said Herts.
The Delta Center also serves as the management entity for the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area, an area acknowledged by Congress in March 2009.
“During a conversation with Dr. Brown, I learned about the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area,” said Herts. “I have been following its development ever since and have met with several other stakeholders about the MDNHA over the years — including Kappi Allen, Webster Franklin, Frank Howell, Ann Shackelford and Shirley Waring.”
Recognizing that the Delta is a unique landscape with a distinct culture that is unusually rich in heritage stories, efforts began in 2003 to organize partners to promote National Heritage Area designation.
Delta State Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Charles McAdams, said he’s thrilled to have Herts as the new DCCL leader.
“I am very excited to have Dr. Rolando Herts join us as the director of the Delta Center for Culture and Learning,” said McAdams. “Dr. Herts has an impressive academic record, significant experience in university/community partnerships and a love of the Delta.
“His dissertation work explored the relationship between public universities and local tourism planning and development. These are the exact issues we are working on now at Delta State, Cleveland and Bolivar County.”
The search committee, comprised of representatives from Delta State and the MDNHA board, believe Herts has the enthusiasm, personality and vision to build on the success of the Delta Center.