University institutes campus-wide Capstone Project program

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

Delta State University recently announced a new program developed through a university-wide visioning process to promote academic excellence and student success at the institution.

The initiative, called the Capstone Project, aims to increase student learning by providing a Capstone experience for every student in every degree program. Departments across campus have identified a Capstone experience for each of its major programs.

The projects provide students the formal opportunity to connect major themes from their discipline and apply them to their field of study. The desired outcome of the program is that every student will have a capstone experience in their major program to promote reflection and synthesis of key concepts within their major.

“I’m very pleased with the university’s new and revised Capstone Project requirement for every major and every graduate,” said Delta State President William N. LaForge.

LaForge said this new feature would distinguish Delta State in two major ways. First, it underscores and enhances the academic rigor and reputation of the university and its programs. Secondly, it gives Delta State graduates a competitive advantage, including the substantive experience from doing the project, in addition to what they’re able to put on their résumé and discuss in interviews.

“This should make our graduates more competitive for jobs in the marketplace, but also for positions in graduate and professional school,” added LaForge. “The Capstone requirement adds an academic ‘halo’ over our students’ performance and degree that should help them advance in their chosen careers.”

Dr. Charles McAdams, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, said the program would strengthen the overall learning experience at Delta State.

“Another step in Delta State’s commitment to providing the best academic experiences possible is making sure that every degree program has a Capstone experience,” said McAdams. “Experiencing a curriculum can sometimes leave students wondering how all the information they are learning, and skills they are developing, will help them in the next phase of their professional life.”

“Capstone projects are designed to help students synthesize what they have learned to ensure they have achieved the outcomes of their degree,” added McAdams. “Many programs, such as teacher education programs, nursing and social work, have traditionally had field experiences at the end of their program. We have expanded this effort so that now every degree program has some type of Capstone experience within their curriculum.”

McAdams said not many universities have taken this extra step, but Delta State remains committed to providing the most meaningful curriculum possible.

Dr. Leslie Griffin, dean of the College of Education and Human Sciences, said the projects should boost the overall academic experience for students.

“I think the saying that ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’ applies here,” said Griffin. “That is, increasingly, employers and the world-at-large expect graduates to bring understanding of all the nuances of their specialization to bear on the workplace and in life experiences. Capstone courses help learners to contemplate, analyze and synthesize their learning experiences in a manner that achieves this level of understanding and operation, with an eye on outcomes.”

“In the realm of professional practice in education, counseling, and other related fields, Capstone projects ensure that learners bring the skills, knowledge and dispositions they have developed in their programs to bear on the real world through their work in the professional setting — P-12 schools, counseling centers, medical facilities, others, dependent upon the area of specialization.”

Dr. Dave Breaux, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, echoed Griffin’s praise for the initiative.

“Providing students the opportunity to engage in a Capstone experience will allow them to synthesize and integrate material encountered throughout their program of study,” said Breaux. “It should provide a platform for them to demonstrate mastery of the material within their respective disciplines, and give them a leg up on the job market.”

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University to celebrate $3 million pledge from Gertrude C. Ford Foundation

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Delta State University will host a special grant announcement ceremony in honor of The Gertrude C. Ford Foundation, a longtime Delta State supporter that recently provided one of the largest gifts in the university’s history.

University supporters are welcomed to the ceremony March 1 at 2:30 p.m. on the second floor of Ewing Hall.

Gertrude Castellow Ford

The Gertrude C. Ford Foundation, based in Jackson, Mississippi, recently pledged $3 million to the university to support the Center for Teaching and Learning at Delta State.

The foundation, founded in 1991 by Gertrude Castellow Ford, gives to educational and philanthropy projects primarily relating to higher education, children and youth services, and also health and human service organizations.

Thanks to the foundation’s commitment, the Center for Teaching and Learning at Delta State will be funded over the next several years. And in Ford’s honor, the center will be named the Gertrude C. Ford Center for Teaching and Learning. The facility provides Delta State with an opportunity to support the faculty in their efforts to improve student success.

John Lewis, a board member for the foundation, said the funding would go a long way in developing quality faculty at Delta State.

“Our investment here is really on the faculty level at Delta State,” said Lewis. “We can build buildings, and we can do a lot of things — but at a school, especially Delta State, the attraction is the faculty. The faculty is what makes the school go. I, along with my fellow board members Cheryle Sims and Gayle Papa, think the individual attention to the faculty makes this a worthwhile investment for us.”

Delta State University President William N. LaForge said the foundation’s support would make a significant long-term impact at the university.

“The gift from the Gertrude C. Ford Foundation in support of our Center for Teaching and Learning is a gift that will continue giving,” said LaForge. “It has transformational value because it’s going to help support a very important function at Delta State that will affect our students, potentially forever.”

“This donation is a major statement by a major foundation, of support for and confidence in Delta State,” he added. “We are very grateful for that. They are going to see their good work in action here. The $3 million gift will serve the purpose of making sure we can continue this great program on campus.”

Dr. Gray Kane, director of the Gertrude C. Ford Center for Teaching and Learning, said the center is an essential facility to improve overall learning at Delta State.

“The Gertrude C. Ford Center for Teaching and Learning is a hub for faculty development at Delta State,” said Kane. “It promotes a culture of self-development, collaboration and innovation in support of student success. The center provides faculty and chairs with resources, facilitated conversations, workshops, programs, networking opportunities, and individual consultations centered on topics such as online, hybrid, and face-to-face teaching, advising, mentoring, leadership, curriculum mapping, assessment and scholarship.”

“The faculty are experts in their disciplines, but outside the College of Education, very few have studied teaching, mentoring, course design, curriculum design or other facets of their profession,” added Kane. “This gift from the Gertrude C. Ford Foundation will fund opportunities to interconnect the faculty for knowledge transfers, collaborations, and innovations that can lead to student success both inside and beyond the classroom.”

For more information on the center, visit

To learn more about the Gertrude C. Ford Foundation, visit

The public grant announcement ceremony on March 1 will celebrate one of the most significant pledges in the university’s history. Delta State supporters are welcome to the ceremony and to view The Gertrude C. Ford Center for Teaching and Learning.

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Dabney appointed to Registrar and Director of Institutional Research and Planning

By | Academics, Faculty/Staff, Registrar | No Comments

Effective Feb. 1, Delta State University announced the appointment of Emily Dabney as the Registrar and Director of Institutional Research and Planning.

Previously, Dabney served as the director of Institutional Research and Planning for two and a half years, and she will continue to direct the department in addition to her new Registrar role.

“I am excited and honored to have the opportunity to serve the university in the position of Registrar,” said Dabney.

“My immediate goal is to learn as much as I can, as quickly as I can, while still fulfilling my Institutional Research duties,” added Dabney. “My longer-term goals include working with the great staff of the Registrar’s office to leverage my experience in making the registration and graduation experience smoother for students, faculty and staff.”

Dr. Charles McAdams, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, said Dabney has demonstrated great technical skill and finesse in increasing the accuracy of a broad array of institutional data for internal and external use.

“She is also adept at identifying best practices and structural improvements that will serve us well as we seek to bring greater capacity and efficiencies to the Registrar’s Office,” said McAdams. “Coupled with her ability to work positively with others, I am confident she will serve Delta State well as both Registrar and Director of Institutional Research and Planning.”

Additionally, Dabney is an attorney and practiced law for several years before moving into the field of litigation technology. In that field, she was the production and project manager and a consultant for a company that designed and produced databases for the management of large, complex litigation cases. Her largest case there exceed 900,000 documents and records.

Dabney received her Bachelor of Science in mathematics from Mississippi State University and a Juris Doctor degree from Washington and Lee University.

For more information on the Registrar’s Office at Delta State, visit

Delta State named to Phi Theta Kappa 2018 Transfer Honor Roll

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Delta State University recently received the prestigious designation of being named to the Phi Theta Kappa 2018 Transfer Honor Roll, which identifies the top four-year colleges and universities creating dynamic pathways to support transfer students.

Delta State is one of just 112 institutions nationwide selected to receive this honor.

Open to all regionally accredited baccalaureate degree-granting institutions, Phi Theta Kappa’s Transfer Honor Roll recognizes excellence and success in community college transfer pathway development.

To be considered, participating institutions complete an application detailing their community college transfer programs. Applications are evaluated in the areas of scholarship and financial aid, admissions outreach, student support services, and student engagement opportunities.

Dr. Charles McAdams, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, said Delta State would continue its efforts to welcome transfer students.

“Delta State is proud to be recognized for our work in making DSU an easy choice for Phi Theta Kappa students,” said McAdams. “These honor students help make our campus in part because of their engagement on campus and because of their drive for excellence. We work hard to make sure the transition for transfer students is as smooth as possible and help put transfer students on a path to completing their bachelor’s degree.”

McAdams said that each academic program at Delta State has developed an academic map to help students navigate through their degree requirements.

“Our academic advisors stand ready to work with students to help them determine how to complete their degree in the most efficient manner,” he said.

Phi Theta Kappa President and CEO, Dr. Lynn Tincher-Ladner, said the recognition program reflects the growing importance of recognizing and responding to the needs of community college transfers and promoting and sharing best practices for transfer success.

“Increasingly, students of all ages and achievement levels are choosing the community college, not only as their first step, but also their first choice in the pursuit of a quality, affordable bachelor’s degree,” Tincher-Ladner said. “These students are scholars, leaders, and global citizens, and it has been shown over and over that they do as well as students beginning college at a four-year college or university.”

Transfer Honor Roll colleges will be recognized at PTK Catalyst 2018, Phi Theta Kappa’s annual convention, in Kansas City, Missouri, on April 19-21, 2018.

The mission of Phi Theta Kappa is to recognize academic achievement of college students and to provide opportunities for them to grow as scholars and leaders. Learn more at For more information about the Transfer Honor Roll program, visit

To learn more about transferring to Delta State, visit or contact the Office of Admissions at 662-846-4020.

Honors Program to launch visiting lecture series

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Delta State University’s Honors Program will host its inaugural Honors Forum Visiting Lecture Series event Feb. 19 at 7 p.m. featuring author Ann Fisher-Wirth and photographer Maude Schuyler Clay.

The new university-wide series will focus on cultural, social and academic issues of the university and community.

“Mississippi: An Evening with Ann Fisher-Worth and Maude Schuyler Clay” will take place in Jobe Auditorium and is free and open to the public. A reception will follow the event.

Wirth and Clay will be presenting on their newly-released collaboration, “Mississippi,” a collection of 47 poems and 47 color photographs that explore the history, culture and ecology of the state.

“The Honors Program is delighted to welcome poet Ann Fisher-Wirth and photographer Maude Schuyler Clay for our first Honors Forum event, an evening discussion of their important work,” said Mike Smith, Honors Program director and associate professor of English at Delta State. “The Honors Forum seeks to bring to campus important voices of our city, region, nation and world, fostering a culture of openness and engagement, and creating opportunities for dialogue between our students and the communities we call home. All events, of course, are free and open to the public.”

As described by the authors, the state of Mississippi suffers from severe environmental degradation that cannot be separated from its history of poverty and racial oppression. Yet, the state also possesses great natural beauty and a rich and complex culture, one interwoven from the many voices that have made up its identity.

“Mississippi” explores both this degradation and this beauty. The poems are explorations of voice in its Mississippi plenitude and variety, honoring the voices, no matter whose they are, whether white or African American, and exploring the rich orality of Mississippi culture. With one exception, the beautiful, haunting photographs do not depict people, but, rather, swamps, fields, trees, lakes, empty chairs and dilapidated buildings. They work with the poems to offer the spirit of place.

Learn more about the book at

For additional information on DSU Honors Program initiatives, or the inaugural Honors Forum Visiting Lecture Series, contact Smith at