Applications open for B. F. Smith Scholars Program

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The Office of Graduate and Continuing Studies at Delta State University is now accepting applications for the 2018-19 B.F. Smith Scholars Program.

The B.F. Smith Scholars Program provides funding for qualified entering graduate students. The highly competitive GA position, which awards $5,000 plus tuition per semester, is awarded to a limited number of students with a proven record of undergraduate achievement.

The successful applicant will demonstrate a commitment to the Mississippi Delta region in pursuit of a degree related to community and economic development.

”The B.F. Smith Scholars Program is truly an asset to Delta State University and to our graduate students,” said Jeanna Wilkes, coordinator of graduate studies and admissions at Delta State. “The changing landscapes of the Mississippi Delta economy are evident to our leaders, and the program was established to offer recipients direct research and development opportunities — and to engage in economic activities on our campus and in our community. Recipients are expected to serve a graduate internship while attaining their first post-baccalaureate degree, as the B.F. Smith Scholars Program supports the students with a $5,000 stipend plus tuition.”

The application priority deadline is May 1 at 5 p.m., and the final deadline to apply is June 1 at 5 p.m.

For more information, contact Wilkes at, or visit for application and eligibility requirements.

Margaret Tullos Field Symposium returns March 2

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Delta State University’s Department of Social Work presents the annual Margaret Tullos Field Symposium March 2 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Caylor-White Hall.

This year’s theme is “Awareness, Advocacy, Action: What Will You Do with Your Seat at the Table?”

Active and retired social work practitioners, social work students, mental health therapists, and school counselors from across Mississippi, are encouraged to attend.

The conference is named in honor of Professor Emeritus Margaret Tullos, who served as a field education instructor during her long tenure at Delta State. The event is sponsored by the Department of Social Work to offer continuing education credits and to enhance the professional growth and development of social work practitioners throughout Mississippi.

This year, the department will partner with Delta Health Center, Inc. to promote interdisciplinary advocacy for services aiding vulnerable populations.

“This conference is a good opportunity for students, faculty and professionals in the social work field, as it will provide an opportunity for personal and professional growth around key social work issues — poverty and social injustices to eliminate barriers to service,” said Cora Jackson, department chair.

Featured speakers and guests will include:

  • Kathryn Boles (keynote speaker); president and CEO of Valley Area Agency on Aging, and national board president of the AAA Board, Flint, Michigan
  • Dr. Angela Gaddis; chair/associate professor, Belhaven University, Jackson, Mississippi
  • Dr. Isiah Marshall Jr.; associate dean/interim chair of graduate social work programs, Jackson State University, Jackson, Mississippi

The conference fee is $85 and can be paid at registration beginning at 9 a.m. Social work students with proper identification will only be charged $10 for registration.

Activities will conclude at 5 p.m. with refreshments available throughout the day.

Participants will receive five Continuing Education hours awarded by the Mississippi Board of Examiners for Marriage and Family Therapists. Exhibitors will also be on hand with information about local resources.

For details or additional information, contact the Department of Social Work at 662-846-4407 or e-mail


Op-Ed: Dr. Glenn F. Boyce, IHL Commissioner

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State support is critical to sustaining programs that grow Mississippi’s economy
By: Dr. Glenn F. Boyce, Commissioner of Higher Education

Mississippi legislators believe in public higher education in Mississippi. They believe in our mission and support our work. We all know the very difficult decisions they have had to make with limited state revenue and competing priorities. Limited state revenue impacts all state agencies and the services they are able to provide to Mississippi citizens.

Growing the economy, and subsequently state revenue, gives the budget writers more to work with and helps all state agencies, not just the university system. Mississippi Public Universities help grow the economy in a number of ways, including preparing students to enter the workforce, conducting research that helps businesses grow and supporting entrepreneurs as they launch their businesses.

The University of Mississippi has several entities to encourage and support entrepreneurs, whether students, faculty or community members. Innovate Mississippi is committed to assisting technology entrepreneurs and emerging companies to develop business strategies, find funding and help the businesses grow.

Insight Park, a 19-acre research and business park adjacent to the Ole Miss campus in Oxford, provides a dynamic research park where businesses can take full advantage of opportunities for collaborative research and academic resources. The Division of Technology Management aids in the commercialization of technologies and intellectual property developed by UM faculty, staff and student personnel. Last fall, the university hosted the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Panel, highlighting the ways the university supports entrepreneurs and their creative ideas.

The university’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship provides students with the knowledge, skills and experience necessary to become successful entrepreneurs. All of the Center’s offerings help students learn how to create innovative companies that provide valuable services, products and employment. Some of its programs include the annual Edwin C. Gillespie Business Plan Competition, held at the end of the spring semester, the Landshark Tank Pitch Competitions provide an opportunity for students to present their business concept in less than two minutes, and the Rebel Venture Capital Fund, which is an alumni-established non-profit entity created to financially support student start-up business with seed money grants.

A similar program at Mississippi State University, the Bulldog Angel Network, was established by an MSU alumnus to connect entrepreneurs with funding opportunities and allows MSU alumni and others to invest in companies founded by MSU students. It is also a separate entity from the university.

Mississippi State University’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach moved into a new 2,000-square-foot facility in 2016 and has continued to grow. The center now works with 99 entrepreneurship teams representing students from every academic college in the university, up from approximately 30 teams in 2014.

In fiscal year 2017, the center received $5.52 million in grants to spur innovation among students, U.S. armed services veterans and MSU researchers. These grants include a $495,300 National Science Foundation grant to create an I-Corps site at MSU to help the university broaden the economic reach of its research and innovation by providing infrastructure, advice, resources, networking opportunities, training and modest funding to enable groups to transition their work into the marketplace. MSU also received a Small Business Administration grant of $4.3 million over five years to provide online “Boots to Business” training to assist veterans with starting and growing businesses.

At the University of Southern Mississippi, the Trent Lott National Center for Economic Development and Entrepreneurship provides outreach services through the Mississippi Defense Diversification Initative, the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Sport Management, the Center for Logistics Trade and Transportation, Mississippi Polymer Institute, the Southern Entrepreneurship Program and the USM Small Business Development Center.

Southern Entrepreneurship Program (SEP) is a service of the University of Southern Mississippi College of Business that provides business development and opportunity recognition skills to students and educators in Mississippi high schools. Established in 2007, the program enhances existing classes, curricula and clubs through regional, virtual and statewide events and training opportunities. Now working with more than 50 high schools, SEP trains more than 500 high school students and educators annually, reaching more than 3,500 aspiring entrepreneurs since its inception.

When asked about the mission of the universities, many Mississippians picture the student in the classroom, which is certainly at the core of our mission. However, the full scope of our mission is much larger and encompasses much more, including these entrepreneurship programs that are all designed to help Mississippi businesses succeed and grow Mississippi’s economy. Strong state support and funding are critical to sustaining these programs and helping universities fulfill their mission of teaching, research and service.

Byrd named Mississippian of the Year

By | Academics, College of Business and Aviation, Faculty/Staff, Students | No Comments

Lynn Byrd, instructor of computer information systems at Delta State, was recently honored as the Mississippian of the Year by the Association of Information Technology Professionals chapter based in Jackson, Mississippi.

The prestigious award has previously been given to Mississippi leaders such as former Governor William Winter and Hu Meena, CEO of C Spire.

AITP aims to benefit those involved in the IT realm, both in business and education. The organization currently sponsors two student AITP chapters — at Delta State and the University of Mississippi — and serves as an important bridge between the academic and business sectors for students.

“I am truly humbled and delighted to be chosen as the Mississippian of the Year for the Jackson Chapter of the Association of Information Technology Professionals,” said Byrd. “I really enjoy working with the student chapter of AITP at Delta State and was extremely surprised when I learned that I was the recipient of such a prestigious award.”

Byrd serves as one of the faculty advisors for the Delta State chapter of AITP, where she organizes several programs that help students recognize the importance of their profession. She helps students prepare for a job market that is expected to increase at a rapid pace over the next several years. Monthly chapter meetings are also scheduled to help students network with professionals working in the field.

In addition, Byrd helped guide the student chapter as they hosted a technology conference, Connecting People with Technology, which enabled them to exercise leadership skills and collaborate with working professionals.

Byrd has been working at Delta State since 1998 and graduated from the institution with both a bachelors and masters degree in business administration in 1992 and 1997 respectively.

“Teamwork is so important when it comes to working in the technology field,” added Byrd. “I am truly honored to be recognized, but I certainly could not do what I do by myself. I am blessed to have colleagues in the Computer Information Systems Department and the College of Business to support me and the students in this organization.”

Byrd, center, receiving her award.

Steven Waite, president of the Jackson chapter, had high praise for Byrd.

“There is no greater advocate for current, former and future Information Technology students at Delta State,” said Waite. “She understands the importance of networking with others in and out of the classroom, and using those relationships to create opportunities. Lynn challenges her students to leave their comfort zone and become leaders.”

“Lynn’s legacy to Mississippi are the technical, professional and personal skills her students carry forth into the world,” added Waite. “They are grounded individuals who understand where they came from and where they are going. As Lynn epitomizes Mississippi’s core values, while preparing its students to be leaders who can navigate the technological challenges of the future, the CompTIA-AITP Jackson Chapter is privileged and proud to celebrate Lynn Byrd as our 2017 Mississippian of the Year.”

Dr. Billy Moore, dean of the College of Business and Aviation at Delta State, said Byrd is extremely worthy of the recognition.

“Ms. Byrd is committed to the success of our students and the enhancement of the IT industry,” said Moore. “Teaching and professional service are Ms. Byrd’s passion and expertise. Her dedication to both is aligned with her actions. She works tirelessly to expose our students to career opportunities by connecting them with IT professionals. One of the highlights of the AITP awards banquet was witnessing the admiration and appreciation our students exhibited towards her.”

Learn more about Delta State’s College of Business and Aviation at



Applications open for McNair Research Scholars

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The Office of Graduate and Continuing Studies at Delta State University is now accepting applications for the spring 2018 cohort of McNair Research Scholars.

The Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program was established in memory of astronaut-physicist and Challenger crew member, Ronald E. McNair.

The McNair Research Scholars program is administered through the Office of Graduate and Continuing Studies at Delta State. The program is one of eight federal TRIO programs funded by the U.S. Department of Education. TRIO outreach aims to improve student programs designed to identify and provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The goal of the McNair cohort is to increase the attainment of doctoral degrees by students from underrepresented segments of society.

The application deadline is Feb. 21 at 4:30 p.m.

Scholars will benefit by:
-oppportunities for research and scholarly activities
-paid Summer research internships
-seminars and workshops to prepare participants for doctoral study
-intrusive academic advising and counseling
-assistance in preparing for and applying to graduate and doctoral programs, and securing financial assistance
-career counseling and exploration
-financial literacy and planning
-increased access and exposure to STEM coursework and careers

For more information, contact project director Wendolyn Stevens at, or visit for eligibility requirements.