Delta State University mourns veteran professor’s passing

The collective Delta State University community is reeling with the devastating news of the passing of Dr. Cheryl Cummins on May 19.

Cummins passed away in a car accident in Leland, Mississippi. Cheryl’s husband, Mark, was airlifted from the scene and is recovering at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson. Mark is an aircraft repair technician and inspector in Delta States’ Department of Commercial Aviation.

Police reports indicate that the Cummins’ were struck head-on by a vehicle that was traveling in the wrong lane.

“The Delta State University family is grieving the loss of Dr. Cheryl Cummins,” said Delta State University President William N. LaForge. “She had been actively involved with Delta State since her time as an undergraduate student in the 1980s, to her most recent role as the head of our Field Experiences program in the College of Education and Human Sciences. We are praying for a full recovery for Mark, who is also a member of the Delta State family, employed in our Commercial Aviation department, and have offered our assistance and support to their daughters, Kellie and Hayley, who are students at Delta State.”

Cummins was the Director of Field Experiences and professor of teacher education in the College of Education and Human Sciences at the university. She began working at the school in 1996 as an adjunct faculty member in elementary education.

In her role as Director of Field Experiences, she guided countless Delta State education majors as they took on their student-teaching roles.

“The legacy Dr. Cummins leaves through her varied roles in Teacher Education is manifested through the teachers she prepared and supported,” said Dr. Leslie Griffin, dean of the College of Education and Human Sciences. “Her dedication to Delta State began in her undergraduate years and extended through a 21-year career in the College of Education and Human Sciences. “Dr. Cummins’ genuine caring and ability to consider the needs of students while guiding them to implement best practices in education — this is what made her the ideal person to direct their teaching experiences and prepare them for schools. We will never get beyond the ‘missing’ of this special colleague, but will endeavor to keep her memory alive through fidelity to the ideals she lived by.”

Griffin said the college established the Cheryl Jackson Cummins Memorial Scholarship in her honor. Contributions can be made at

In addition, the Faculty Senate and Staff Council at Delta State have set up a donation account at Renasant Bank under the Cheryl and Mark Cummins Fund. Details for an online donation link will be announced at a later date.

“Dr. Cummins was a very knowledgeable and giving person who always made time to help a student or a colleague,” said Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Charles McAdams. “She was held in the highest regard by her many colleagues across campus due to her expertise in teacher education and the caring manner she treated people each and every day. She exhibited the perfect balance of character, competence and compassion, and she contributed in many important ways to the operations of the College of Education and Human Sciences. She will be greatly missed.”

Cummins received her bachelor’s degree from Delta State in elementary education in 1988, and she received her master’s degree from Delta State in elementary education in 1989. In 1996, she received her doctorate from the University of Mississippi in curriculum and instruction.

“Cheryl was one of the kindest people that I have ever worked with,” said Jamie Rutledge, vice president for Finance and Administration at Delta State. “She did so much for the university and our community without ever asking for praise or credit. The university and everyone that knew her has lost a close and dear friend. Our prayers are with her entire family.”

Funeral services will be announced at a later date.

The Campus Counseling Center is providing counseling services to members of the Delta State family seeking assistance with the grieving process.

In keeping with university protocol, Delta State will lower the university flag on the day of Dr. Cummins’ service.

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