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Academics

Delta State receives $1.15 million federal McNair award

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Delta State University recently received notice of a major $1.15 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education for the Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program.

This coveted McNair award will provide funding over the next five years for Delta State to increase the number of advanced and doctoral degrees in typically underrepresented groups and from disadvantaged backgrounds. Each year, 25 undergraduate participants will be selected and designated as Delta State McNair Research Scholars, and their academic progress will be directly enhanced with support services and resources.

Emphasis will be placed on recruiting students from 10 STEM majors at Delta State and affiliated associate degree programs at Coahoma Community College and Mississippi Delta Community College. One of eight federal TRIO programs, the McNair funding prepares eligible participants for doctoral studies through research and other scholarly activities.

“We are excited to be a participant in the McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program,” said Dr. Charles McAdams, Delta State provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. “This federally funded program takes our retention efforts to the next level by focusing the students’ sights on completing a graduate degree while still on a path to complete their undergraduate degree. This program holds great promise for our students and for the state of Mississippi.”

Heather Kovarcik Miller, Delta State’s director of Institutional Grants, is thrilled with the grant.

“This award is highly competitive, and we at Delta State are elated to have this grant proposal funded, which is the first McNair award ever for our university,” she said.

Those who worked with Miller to secure the grant included: Wendy Stevens, graduate recruiter; Jon Delperdang. Hearin TFA Graduate Fellow; and Dr. Beverly Moon, dean of Graduate and Continuing Studies.

“The opportunities that open up for our students due to this funding are extraordinary,” said Moon. “Plus, we will be able to provide support to faculty members who will serve as mentors for these students. The faculty will help shepherd the selected students through junior and senior years at the university. The support for the McNair scholars will also continue on into their graduate programs as we track their successes.”

Follow all Delta State news at www.deltastate.edu.

 

Biology credits available for new course in Bangladesh

By | Academics, College of Arts and Sciences, Faculty/Staff, International, Students | No Comments

Dr. A.H.M. Ali Reza, associate professor of biology at Delta State, is leading another international field course this winter in his homeland of Bangladesh.

The new three-credit study abroad course will take place during the winter intersession Dec. 11-23 and is open to students from any major. Community members are also welcome to sign up for the trip. The official name for the class is BIO 492: Tropical Field Biology.

The two-week field experience will provide hands-on practice in the ecology and conservation of unique wildlife species in two highly biodiverse ecosystems — Lawachara National Park, a tropical evergreen forest in northeastern Bangladesh, and the Sundarbans Reserved Forest, the world’s largest mangrove forest in southwestern Bangladesh.

“The overall objective of the course is to introduce students to tropical wildlife and their habitats, taxonomy, natural history and biogeography, with an emphasis on the conservation challenges and prospects faced by these animals,” said Reza. “Best of all, students will be offered truly unique field experiences not available in a traditional classroom.”

Additional topics covered will include wildlife monitoring, evergreen forest ecology, mangrove forest and estuarine ecology, and applied conservation biology. During the course, theory will be delivered through lectures and in-house discussions, followed by hands-on activities to practice field methodologies.

The fee for the course is $2,600 and includes the following:

  • Food and lodging for the entire course
  • Round-trip travel to Sundarbans Reserve Forest and Lawachara National Parks within Bangladesh
  • Experienced instructors and field equipment

The course fee does not include:

  • International travel to and from Dhaka, Bangladesh
  • Travel or health insurance (proof of health insurance is required for course attendance)
  • Rubber boots, binoculars, flashlight and insect repellent (all of which are required to take this course)

Reza said those interested in attending should explore potential scholarship opportunities at https://fieldprojects.org/participate/courses-2/scholarships/. The deadline for scholarship applications is Oct. 15.

For more information, visit https://fieldprojects.org/course/bangladesh/. For questions and trip information, contact Reza at areza@deltastate.edu.

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Faculty to be recognized for new books

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Delta State University Provost Dr. Charles McAdams invites the public to a faculty book signing and celebration Oct. 11 at 3 p.m. in the Student Union room 302A.

Faculty to be recognized include Dr. Brent Pimentel, Mike Smith and Andrew Wegmann.

McAdams started the recognition program in the spring of 2015 to recognize faculty authors from the previous academic year. The first recipient of this recognition was Dr. Ethan Schmidt for his book, “The Divided Dominion: Social Conflict and Indian Hatred in Early Virginia.”

“Publication of a book represents a milestone in an academic’s career,” said McAdams. “Writing and publishing a book takes a considerable amount of time and effort. Celebrating this achievement is a way to recognize faculty for this work and achievement, and it sends a message to students that scholarship in one’s chosen field is valued. All research conducted by faculty demonstrates for our students what it means to be engaged in our discipline, and it underscores the expertise of our outstanding faculty.”

Pimentel, associate professor of music, published “Woodwind Basics: Core Concepts for Playing and Teaching Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon, and Saxophone.” The book is a fresh, no-nonsense approach to woodwind technique. It outlines the principles common to playing all of the woodwind instruments and explains their application to each one.

Mike Smith, associate professor of English, published “And There Was Evening and There Was Morning.” The work tracks the loss of Smith’s first wife to cancer after the birth of their second child, offering a portrait of marriage, family and tragedy. In honest and at times darkly comic terms, Smith documents the strange set of coincidences between his first wife’s illness and his stepdaughter’s similar battle the year his second marriage began, and examines blended families, remarriage, helping children find ways to cope with the loss of a parent, and the influence of spirituality upon loss.

Andrew Wegmann, assistant professor of history, published “U.S. History: A Top Hat Interactive Text.” The work is the first and only full-length, truly interactive textbook on the market. It combines a detailed, peer-reviewed narrative history of the United States with interactive maps, videos, images and review questions based on Bloom’s Taxonomy. It provides students different ways to engage the material, all of which was written using the most up-to-date scholarship as well as original research. As a result, the book exposes students to active and evolving scholarship in a form that targets understanding rather than memorization.

Follow all Delta State news at www.deltastate.edu.

 

University celebrates new Student-Athlete Academic Support Lab

By | Academics, Student Success Center, Students | No Comments

Delta State gathered for a special celebration Sept. 29 to introduce the remodeled and upgraded Academic Support Lab, the home of the new Student-Athlete Academic Support Services program in partnership with the Mississippi Department of Human Services.

Lab staff, President Willam N. LaForge and Provost Dr. Charles McAdams provided remarks at the ceremony, and attendees were welcomed with a BBQ luncheon.

Funding for project renovation was provided by MDHS to launch the Student-Athlete Support Services program. The lab, which opened last semester, now hosts over 320 students each week who receive academic support. Additionally, the program will offer academic coaching and programs aimed at increasing student-athlete retention rates. MDHS has contributed funding for the partnership through 2017 with the possibility of renewed funding in coming years.

The lab includes peer tutoring in a variety of general education courses and 32 wireless touch-screen computers, learning stations, and large screen projection computers for group work. The renovation provides a state-of-the-art study center for students.

“I am very excited about this program as it will enable us to provided targeted efforts to increase the academic success of our student-athletes,” said McAdams, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs. “Helping students stay in school and complete their degree is a major priority for us. Athletes often have challenges that non-athletes do not have. This initiative is designed to help student-athletes make good academic decisions and lifestyle choices.”

Tricia Killebrew, project director, is thrilled with the upgrades.

“The Academic Support Lab now gives student-athletes an opportunity to prepare for academic challenges in an environment conducive to learning,” said Killebrew. “The program offers a wide range of services, including academic counseling, collaborative learning spaces, tutorial services in general education and prerequisite subjects, interactive study tables, opportunities for career planning and personal development, and advisement on current NCAA, Gulf South Conference, and university rules and regulations.”

Dr. Christy Riddle, executive director of Student Success Center, also played a leadership role in making the renovation possible. The SSC was established in 2012 to address retention and the challenges many students face during their academic career.

“Since the updated Academic Support Lab opened in August, we have had more than 320 students visit per week, an increase from an average of 100-150 visits per week in previous years,” said Riddle.

The partnership with MDHS led to the birth of the Student-Athlete Academic Support Services program, but the lab also provides free peer tutoring to all Delta State students in a variety of general education courses. Services are available 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Fridays.

For more information on the Student-Athlete Academic Support Services program, contact Killebrew at 662-846-4654 or tkillebrew@deltastate.edu.

“Take Me To The River: Live” educates Arkansas State and Delta State students

By | Academics, College of Arts and Sciences, Delta Center, GRAMMY, Students | No Comments
Arkansas State University public administration student team at GRAMMY Museum Mississippi with the International Delta Blues Project banner featuring Delta State’s Blues Okra.

 

The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State recently hosted a group of public administration students from Arkansas State University of Jonesboro, Arkansas.

Their visit coincided with GRAMMY Museum Mississippi’s “Take Me To The River: Live” program, partially sponsored by The Delta Center’s International Delta Blues Project, in order to learn how cultural heritage is an effective tool for educating and engaging diverse communities.

Led by Peggy Wright, director of the Delta Studies Center at ASU, the group included master’s-level graduate students from the Arkansas Delta, Seattle and Saudi Arabia. The students are learning about the importance of communications in community engagement and economic development.

“We appreciate being so warmly received by everyone at Delta State and the GRAMMY Museum during this valuable learning experience,” said Wright. “Dr. Herts [director of The Delta Center] and I were in the Delta Regional Authority’s Delta Leadership Institute Executive Academy together, where I learned more about The Delta Center and Delta State. Site visit exchanges among leadership network colleagues represent a strategic opportunity for our students to gain professional insights, exposure to networking, and knowledge of the Delta’s culture. We look forward to visiting again.”

“The trip to Delta State University and the Mississippi Delta truly opened my eyes,” said ASU student Ali Alghofaili. “While visiting the GRAMMY Museum and hearing the musicians interact with local youth, I saw that they all focused on education, communication, and passing on the Delta’s musical history. The beautiful landscape reminded me of the Al-Qassim region of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Al-Qassim region is well known for its agriculture just like the Delta region. This trip helped me to see the importance of understanding culture when serving the public, which is what I will be doing when I graduate in December.”

Delta State University media students pose after a conversation with GRAMMY Award winning Blues legend Bobby Rush.

“Take Me To The River: Live” also served as an experiential learning opportunity for a group of students enrolled in the Digital Media Arts program, a degree in the Depertment of Art at Delta State. The students documented the concert through photography and videography. They also had a group conversation with GRAMMY Award-winning blues legend Bobby Rush.

“Meeting Bobby Rush was amazing,” said Ashliegh Jones, a senior art major from Vicksburg. “My mother and grandmother have listened to his music for years, but have never been to a concert. They were thrilled that I was able to do so, and also to have a one-on-one conversation with him where he encouraged me to keep working hard, and if I do, perhaps one day I might be hired to be his photographer. That was a really cool thing to hear.”

The Delta Center joined forces with GRAMMY Museum Mississippi to host “Take Me To The River: Live.” The program was an official bicentennial project made possible by a grant from the Mississippi Humanities Council through support from the Mississippi Development Authority.

The event was also supported by The Delta Center’s International Delta Blues Project. The program served as a pre-event for the upcoming International Conference on the Blues at Delta State University and as an educational Blues Leadership Incubator event for students and the broader community.

“We are pleased that Ms. Wright and her students chose The Delta Center and ‘Take Me To The River: Live’ as a case study. We also were impressed that Delta State students were involved in documenting the concert as part of Will Jacks’ class,” said Dr. Rolando Herts, director of The Delta Center. “Cultural heritage offers powerful ways to bring people together to communicate and understand our shared stories. It also has become a vehicle to educate and prepare students for career opportunities.”

The students joined hundreds of residents and visitors who visited GRAMMY Museum Mississippi that day for the Take Me To The River program.

Delta State students documenting GRAMMY Award winner William Bell’s performance during the Take Me To The River: Live concert.

The program included a morning panel discussion featuring music legends discussing the importance of music and art in the world today; an afternoon conversation with GRAMMY-winning Blues artist Charlie Musselwhite reflecting on the life of Mississippi blues legend John Lee Hooker; and a night-time live performance experience based on the award-winning film and record, “Take Me To The River.” Senator Willie Simmons also hosted a post-concert meet-and-greet the artists reception at his famed soul food restaurant, The Senator’s Place.

Hundreds attended the concert on the museum’s front lawn featuring GRAMMY Award winners William Bell, Bobby Rush and Charlie Musselwhite, backed by GRAMMY Award winner Boo Mitchell, the Hi-Rhythm Section and the Stax Academy Alumni Band. The concert included special appearances from two Memphis-based rappers, Academy Award winner Frayser Boy and Critics Choice Award winner Al Kapone. Remarks from GRAMMY-nominated filmmaker Martin Shore and GRAMMY Trustees Award-winner Al Bell provided important historical and social context about the film and Stax Records.

The film “Take Me To The River” connected multiple generations of iconic Memphis and Mississippi Delta musicians to record a historic new album and re-imagine the utopia of racial, gender and generational collaboration of Memphis in its heyday, including Stax and Hi Records. In October 2016, The Delta Center and GRAMMY Museum Mississippi hosted a sold out public screening of the film which included a live performance on the Sanders Soundstage.

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