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Caston returns as interim VP for Student Affairs

By | Faculty/Staff, President, Students | No Comments

Delta State University President William N. LaForge announced Tuesday that Dr. E.E. “Butch” Caston will serve as interim vice president for Student Affairs, effective July 1.

LaForge announced the appointment through a campus-wide email in anticipation of Dr. Wayne Blansett’s retirement on June 30. Blansett served the university for 40 years.

“Dr. Caston is well known to the Delta State family, and his devotion and commitment to Delta State are legendary,” said LaForge. “He served as Delta State’s dean of the College of Education from 1989 until his retirement in 2002.

“He returned to the university in 2013 at my request to serve as interim vice president for Academic Affairs and provost, and he had a tremendous impact on the academy during that stint.”

Caston previously served as the interim provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Mississippi University for Women in 2011-12.

“I ask you to join me in welcoming Dr. Caston back to campus as he agrees to come out of retirement one more time to serve the university he loves,” added LaForge.

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Delta Center speaks to Leland Rotary

By | Delta Center | No Comments

The Delta Center for Culture and Learning was recently asked to be a guest at the Leland Rotary Club. Dr. Rolando Herts, director of the Delta Center and the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area, gave the audience an update on the MDNHA and its new Passport Program.

Delta Center staff members Lee Aylward and Heather Miller briefed the group on how the MDNHA Passport Program is working to bring tourists to the Delta region.

The Delta Center then delivered passport stations to two Leland locations that have elected to take part in the program — the Kermit the Frog Museum and the Highway 61 Blues Museum.

The MDNHA sponsored the initial placement of one passport station in each of the Delta’s 18 counties. In Washington County, where Leland is located, the first passport was placed at the Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau. Leland is the first municipality in the Delta to sponsor its own participation in the program by purchasing passport stations.

“The Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area is pleased that Leland has taken the initiative to sponsor passport stations in their community through these iconic museums,” said Herts. “All MDNHA municipalities have the same opportunity to participate in the Passport Program. When done in a strategic way, participation in the program can encourage increased visitor activity, including local dining and shopping, as well as positive word of mouth about community attractions.”

Photos of the Leland passport stations will be included on the official list of MDNHA Passport Program locations, available at

Delta-based municipalities, businesses, cultural attractions, heritage sites, or other organizations that are interested in participating in the Passport Program should contact The Delta Center regarding the application process. For more information, call 662-846-4311 or email Heather Miller at

First Okra Scholars announced

By | Academics, Students | No Comments

In 2014, the U.S. Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education announced funding to launch the First in the World program. Proposals were submitted by 459 higher education institutions across the United States. Delta State University was one of only 24 institutions selected and the only institution in Mississippi to receive funding. The university received a four-year, $1.6 million grant to implement Okra Scholars.

Okra Scholars are an exceptional group of students who are motivated and committed to completing their college degree. The program was established to assist freshmen with turning their dream of attaining a college education into reality. The inaugural group of 56 students were recently honored for their selection.

“Okra Scholars works to increase the retention, engagement, on-time graduation and employability of DSU students by incorporating innovative learning strategies into four-year personalized learning pathways,” said Matthew Harris, program associate. “We focus on the entire student life cycle by creating a personal path that builds upon a foundation of services.”

At each stage of the cycle, students engage in specific activities that accentuate college development, including, but not limited to: tutorial services, a collaborative learning lab, learning community classes, study skills workshops, professional development courses, internships and part-time employment opportunities.

Students eligible to participate in Okra Scholars are freshmen who meet one of the following eligibility requirements: ACT score of 17-21, resident of the Mississippi Delta, a first-generation college student or Pell-Grant eligible.

Each academic year, a new group of freshmen will join the program utilizing returning Okra Scholars as peer mentors. The scholars commit to completing their degree and are assigned a faculty mentor to help guide them throughout their time as a student.

Faculty mentors support holistic development throughout the student life cycle — from the first year up to graduation — while creating constructive learning environments that coincide with each of the three project components of academic success, career development and cultural competency.

Beginning at Delta State’s Summer 2015 Freshmen Orientation, program officials will recruit a new group of scholars for the 2015-2016 academic year. Interested incoming freshmen are encouraged to apply for participation no later than Aug. 1, 2015. Students selected for participation will attend an orientation at the beginning of the fall semester.

This year’s recipients are:

Lake Village, AR- Caleh Trexler

Springdale, AR- Taylor WyattBelzoni, MS- Talauntra Bullock

Brandon, MS- Austin Hartz

Bruce, MS- Linesha Miller

Duncan, MS- Eurekia Beasley

Canton, MS- Lynn ArmonCleveland, MS- Tia Brown, Diamond Jackson, Michael Long, David Mullen, Gregory Peacock, Terry Winston

Clarksdale, MS- Ashley Keller, Kimberly Molina, Bryson Stubbs

Columbus, MS- Carlius Bankhead, Brenesha Smith

Como, MS- Ladarius Gates

Courtland, MS- Sabrina Beard

Duncan, MS- Eurekia Beasley

Dundee, MS-   Tristan Ainsworth

Eupora, MS- Chance Cooper

Greenville, MS-Ladarrien Evans, Keuna

Hodges, Rickeita Marsalis, Quaneisha Murray

Grenada, MS-  Ahmad Lewis

Hattiesburg, MS- Akira Griffin

Hernando, MS-Benjamin Buckhalter, Brittany McClendon

Horn Lake, MS- Amanda Lutz, Madison Wahlstrom

Houston, MS- Paige Griffin

Hollandale, MS- Kenya Lindsey, Maggie Turner

Indianola, MS- Tyeshia Price

Lambert, MS- Chaketha Gilliam

Metcalfe, MS- Denzell Breedlove, Tiffany Ezekiel

Nesbit, MS- Annie Casey

Olive Branch, MS- Skylar Kuehn

Oxford, MS- Harrison Hopper

Pope, MS- Dana Rico

Prentiss, MS- Tykia Barber

Rosedale, MS- Quenita Drummer

Rolling Fork, MS- La’Quita Minor

Sardis, MS- Jordan Pullen

Southaven, MS- Jacob Ludlam, Matthew Talbert

Tupelo, MS-Aarion Edwards

Tutwiler, MS- Imani Scott

Water Valley, MS- Catherine Tollison

Garden City, NY- TeNeal Colbert

Bartlett, TN- Lane Hylander

Somerville, TN- Anjelica Rivers

Memphis, TN-  Sydnee Williams


Okra Scholars is a division of the Delta State University Student Success Center and is located in the H.L. Nowell Student Union. For more information, contact Matthew Harris at or 662-846-4501.

90th anniversary of Delta State Teachers College

By | Academics, Archives, Archives and Museum | No Comments

Delta State Teachers College welcomed its first students to campus for a summer institute 90 years ago today. The students at the institute were teachers taking review work for certification purposes.

Delta State Teachers College was not officially in operation, but members of the institute faculty included some who would be on the regular college staff in September, with President James W. Broom as the director.

The faculty for the institute included James W. Broom, director; J.C Windham, local director and algebra instructor; William Marion Kethley, education and history instructor; Callie Maffett, primary methods and supervisor of play instuctor; Annie Caulfeild, English instructor; Albert Leon Young, social sciences and general sciences instructor; B.P. Brooks, plane and solid geometry and hygiene instructor; G.B. Sanders, review work instructor; and Jane Figg, history and physical education instructor.

The summer normal was not part of the regular school and provided no credit toward a degree at Delta State. Delta State Teachers College opened its doors officially on Sept. 15, 1925.

“With another class of Teach For America students visiting campus, it seems timely to celebrate this anniversary,” said Emily Jones, university archivist. “Since before the doors officially opened as an educational institution, Delta State teachers were reaching out to the community to ensure students had the best possible education accessible.”

Literacy Institute hosted on campus

By | College of Education and Human Sciences, Faculty/Staff, General | No Comments

Delta State University’s College of Education and Human Sciences is hosting the 11th Literacy Across the Curriculum: Institute for Teachers of Grades 6-12 (LACI) June 1-26 this year. The Institute is designed to enable teachers in middle and secondary schools to effectively incorporate the teaching of literacy skills in their respective content areas.

LACI’s curriculum will be rigorous and broad in scope to enable both new and experienced teachers to attain highly qualified status according to the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Participants will gain skills regarding the Mississippi Curriculum Frameworks, test blueprints provided by the Mississippi Department of Education, College and Career Readiness Standards, national standards, MSTAR, data driven instruction and performance based assessments.

Teachers from across the state of Mississippi will attend the 22-day institute, which is provided through the support of the No Child Left Behind Act: Improving Teacher Quality State Grant.

The administrative staff for 2015-2016 includes Dr. Merideth Van Namen, director, Dr. Levenia Barnes, instructor, and Pat Kirkpatrick, instructor. Please contact Namen at or 846-4412 for more information.