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DSU Day brought in 170 future Statesmen prior to this year's Pig Pickin' festivities.

DSU Day attracts large number of recruits

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

The recruiting staff at Delta State University continues to work hard at shining light on the institution’s top-notch opportunities.

Their efforts were on display at DSU Day, a major recruiting event on campus that kicked off prior to this year’s Pig Pickin’ festivities.

On the heels of a three-year enrollment increase at Delta State, campus representatives welcomed 170 future Statesmen, along with over 130 additional guests to the first campus preview day of the year.

To begin DSU Day, faculty and staff from approximately 30 academic and student-related departments spoke with guests at an academic fair.

In the courtyard next to the legendary Margaret Wade statue, students heard from campus leaders including President William N. LaForge, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Charles McAdams, Chief of Police Lynn Buford and Student Government President Allie Rose Parker.

A group of student recruiters known as the Delta Diplomats and faculty members guided tours around campus. Stops included the H.L. Nowell Student Union, Roberts-LaForge Library, Foundation Hall, Wyatt Gymnasium and the recently remodeled Roy L. and Clara Belle Wiley Planetarium.

Students were informed about the admissions process and financial opportunities before participating in Pig Pickin’ activities and attending the Statesmen football game.

According to Caitlyn Thompson, director of recruiting, feedback from participants has been positive, and the staff is looking forward to working with each student on enrollment.

“DSU Day provides an opportunity for the students to see themselves as a Statesman. They get to breathe Delta State air and experience campus first-hand,” said Thompson. “The attendance numbers for this year are encouraging and exciting. The more students that we can bring to campus, the better. The personal connections that incoming students will make with students, staff and faculty are will help make their transition to Delta State easy. Our green and white community guides students on a daily basis to a successful life after college completion. Excellent programming coupled with affordability make up the duo of diligence that Delta State maintains.”

Among many other efforts to attract future Statesmen, recruiters are attending college fairs, holding campus visits at high schools and community colleges, meeting with counselors, and communicating with prospective students. Delta Diplomats are guiding multiple tours of campus on a daily basis.

Like previous years, President LaForge is visiting students in their schools to speak about opportunities at Delta State. This effort continues as part of the recently-branded Student To Statesman tour.

The Delta State community continues to provide support throughout the year to recruit new students through many methods, including academic representation, communication with prospective students and quality programming.

For more information on the admission process, scholarships, or to get in touch with a recruiter, visit www.deltastate.edu/admissions, or call 662-846-4020.

Institutional effort leads to retention increase

By | Academics, Faculty/Staff, President, Student Success Center, Students | No Comments

Delta State University continues to exhibit increases in institutional retention rates thanks to a campus-wide effort.

A comparison of data between Fall 2014-15 and Fall 2015-16 shows an increase in three major categories:

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Improving retention at Delta State has been at the forefront of the agenda for Dr. Charles McAdams, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs.

“Helping students succeed is at the heart of what we do at Delta State University. We are committed to implementing strategies to help students create a path and to stay on a path to degree completion,” said McAdams. “Completing a degree is the most important step a student can take to make sure he/she can enter their chosen career path and fulfill their professional aspirations.”

McAdams believes the positive retention rates are a result of the university’s redesigned First Year Seminar program, increased use by faculty and staff of the S.O.S. Early Alert program, and most importantly, the increased collective awareness to reach out to students who may be struggling.

“Earlier this fall, we announced new initiatives that will increase our retention efforts and hopefully build upon the success we have experienced,” added McAdams. “The new initiatives we have put into place this fall that we hope will help with this year’s freshmen class are 15 is Full-Time, Academic Maps and Meta-Majors. It is essential that all degree-seeking undergraduate students enroll for a minimum of 15 hours each semester in order to graduate in four years. We also encourage our students to seriously consider taking at least one class each summer to help them stay on track to graduate on time.”

Additionally, there is now an academic map for each major listing the specific courses students need to complete their degree. Courses are listed by semester in order to make planning and registration easier. Academic Maps are located at http://www.deltastate.edu/academic-affairs/academic-maps.

Meta-Majors features a cluster of courses in four broad areas for undecided students to make certain all the courses they take in their first year will count towards a degree in the area they have selected. These Meta-Major choices are provided to undecided students in Academic Advising Services in the Student Success Center.

Finally, this January, faculty will have access to a new software tool, CRM: Advise, which will make it easier to stay in touch with their advisees and to reach out to those students who may need extra help in their classes.

McAdams said much credit should also be given to Dr. Christy Riddle and her staff in the Student Success Center.

“Our approach is two-fold. We focus on big picture items, such as First-Year Seminar and academic maps, but we also focus heavily on one-on-one interaction with students,” said Riddle. “Since Delta State is a small university, our faculty, staff and Student Success team know our students. As the saying goes, ‘DSU students are not just a number,’ but individuals with potential for success. Our efforts are based upon the experiences and attributes of our students, not simply a cookie cutter, off-the-shelf approach.”

Riddle said her staff would continue to focus on data analysis, proactive academic advising and increased promotion of pre-registration.

“Knowing exactly who is leaving Delta State will help us establish targeted programs and initiatives to assist the students and encourage them to stay here,” she said. “Involving academic advisors in the retention of students is key. Efforts are underway to strengthen and enhance proactive academic advising beyond simply helping students select their classes. Additionally, pre-registration is a way to get ahead of the game. In late October, we will launch an awareness campaign to stress the importance of pre-registration. That way, when pre-registration arrives in November, students are ready to select classes for the spring semester.”

Delta State University President William N. LaForge was also thrilled with the upward tick in retention.

“I’m extremely pleased to see the percentage increases that we have experienced in retaining students at Delta State,” said LaForge. “These are terrific numbers because they represent the reality of Delta State programs that are helping our students develop a path to success — meaning graduation. We, as a university, are doing a much better job of helping our students be successful and stay in school.

“This retention improvement is a huge factor in our overall enrollment numbers. The enrollment status of any university is a combination of recruitment, the first ‘R,’ and retention, the second ‘R.’ These two factors have to work together as a formula to build enrollment. The statistics are bearing out the hard work that our faculty, staff, business services and our Student Success Center are all combining to offer to keep our students on the path to graduation. This is extraordinary news for Delta State.”

Follow all university news at www.deltastate.edu.

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GIT Center to host international speakers for discussion on climate change and disaster relief

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

Delta State’s Center for Interdisciplinary Geospatial Information Technologies (GIT Center) is hosting its second annual conference on disaster relief.

This year’s event is titled “A Panel Discussion on Climate Change and Disaster in the Developing World: Perspectives From Africa and Asia.”

Students, faculty, staff and the community are invited to attend this free event Oct. 5 from 7-9 p.m. in the Baioni Conference Center in Broom Hall.

The impressive panel features speakers from Vietnam, Mozambique and a United Nations member from China. Talbot Brooks, director of the GIT Center, will moderate the discussion. Panelists will discuss the challenges faced every day in their nations and their struggle to become more resilient.

“The event will focus on developing nations being particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change and disaster,” said Brooks. “Their populations, economies and physical environments are often fragile, and due to scarcity of resources, less able to respond to and recover from crisis than those of the developed world.”

It is not only in our national interest to support stability in these regions, but a moral obligation,” added Brooks. “For example, the U.S. does $38-43 billion in trade with Vietnam each year, and a substantial loss to their manufacturing base due to a crisis would have a significant and direct impact on our economy.”

The speakers include:

-Dr. Quang Hoai Tran, vice director, Water Resources Institute of Vietnam
-Dang Quang Ming, director, Disaster Management Center of Vietnam
-Dr. Teresa Abeu, deputy general director, National Institute for Disaster Management of Mozambique
-Alfredo Magumisse, parliamentarian and member, Committee on Agriculture, Economy and Environment, Parliament of Mozambique
-Jaime Neto, parliamentarian and Member, Committee on Agriculture, Economy and Environment, Parliament of Mozambique
-Teixeira Almeida, director for Manica Province, National Institute for Disaster Management of Mozambique
-Jiayi Sun, United Nations Office for Outter Space Affairs, Beijing, China

 Learn more about the event at: http://www.deltastate.edu/artsandsciences/geospatial-information-technologies/explore-the-center/events/perspectives-from-africa-and-asia/.

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“Boo” Mitchell, Cedric Burnside to headline third annual blues conference

By | Academics, Community, Delta Center, Faculty/Staff, General, Students | No Comments

The Third Annual International Conference on the Blues promises to bring legendary entertainment and academics to Delta State University from Sunday, Oct. 2 through Tuesday, Oct. 4, including GRAMMY award-winner and Royal Studios owner Lawrence “Boo” Mitchell and GRAMMY nominee and four-time Blues Music Award winner Cedric Burnside.

The conference, which is still open for registration, brings together Blues scholars, historians and fans from all over the United States in the heart of the Mississippi Delta, a place known as the epicenter of Blues music and history.

Among the highlights of this year’s International Conference on the Blues:

  •  ‘Blues on the Grounds’ at Historic Dockery Farms featuring music by Jake and the Pearl Street Jumpers;
  • a keynote address by Lawrence “Boo” Mitchell;
  • a conversation and an outdoor concert in downtown Cleveland with Cedric Burnside;
  • a presentation by GRAMMY winner Dr. David Evans, leading specialist in Blues, American folk music, and popular music
  • events highlighting Blues music songwriters and performers including ‘Blues in the Round’ sponsored by Visit Mississippi;
  • and brunch on the front porch of GRAMMY Museum Mississippi

Visit here for a complete schedule of events, or here for a complete list of presenters.

“Once again, the International Conference on the Blues is advancing partnerships and engaging diverse populations toward enhancing the educational and cultural climate at Delta State and in the broader community,” said Dr. Rolando Herts, director of The Delta Center for Culture and Learning, “We appreciate the involvement and support of various local, statewide, and national organizations including the Robert M. Hearin Foundation, the Dockery Farms Foundation, Entergy, Visit Mississippi, Nehi Bottling Company, GRAMMY Museum Mississippi, Bridging the Blues, Levitt AMP Series, and others that are making this great conference possible for a third year.”

The third annual conference is part of the International Delta Blues Project, which is funded by the Robert M. Hearin Foundation and is based at The Delta Center for Culture and Learning. The conference is being managed by a team of campus and community collaborators including the Delta Music Institute, the Department of Music, the Division of Languages & Literature, the Office of Institutional Grants, and Cleveland Tourism.

“I always marvel at the variety of scholars that our conference attracts,” said Dr. Shelley Collins, a professor in the Department of Music and co-chair of the International Conference on the Blues. “Either our presenters are alums of these schools, graduate students at these universities, or teach at the following institutions: The University of Pittsburgh, University of Washington, Alcorn State University, BYU, Vanderbilt University, University of California Berkeley, Stanford University, Marist College, the University of Memphis, the University of London, the University of Oregon, Stanford University, The University of Idaho, Washington State University, The Ohio State University, and Loyola University of New Orleans. We will even have a participant coming in from Singapore, which gives you an idea of how globally influential the Blues is.”

Lawrence “Boo” Mitchell began working with his father, producer and Royal Studios founder Willie Mitchell, at a young age, accumulating rare credits and abilities. His own career began at age 17 when he played keyboard on one of Al Green‘s gospel albums which later won a Grammy Award. In the early 90’s he began a role as a producer and engineer with credits on albums by artists such as John Mayer, Rod Stewart, Anthony Hamilton, Solomon Burke, William Bell and Cody Chestnutt, among others. After Willie’s death in 2010, Boo and his brother Archie continued their father’s legacy as owners of Royal Studios while maintaining their roles as producers and engineers. In 2016 his work as engineer / mixer on Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ hit “Uptown Funk” was recognized with a GRAMMY award for Record of the Year.

“Personally, Mr. Boo Mitchell defines cool for me,” said Don Allan Mitchell, co-chair of the conference. “I’ve met him on a couple of occasions, and he is so modest about his work. It still blows my mind when I see the clips of him on the GRAMMY stage with Bruno Mars. His keynote speech may well be his first formal academic address on the importance of the Blues in the American tradition, but I know he’ll perform like the consummate professional he is, with a quiet-spoken confidence and a wry sense of humor. It’s great to have him back in Cleveland.”

Grammy-nominee Cedric Burnside was born and raised around Holly Springs, Mississippi. He is the grandson of legendary R.L. Burnside and son of drummer Calvin Jackson. This four-time winner of the prestigious Blues Music Award’s Drummer of the Year (2010-2014) is widely regarded as one of the best drummers in the world and has begun to make a name for himself as a traditional blues guitarist as well. In addition to his grandfather R.L, Cedric has also played and recorded with countless musicians, including Junior Kimbrough, Kenny Brown, North Mississippi Allstars, Burnside Exploration, Widespread Panic, Jimmy Buffett, T Model Ford, Bobby Rush, Honey Boy Edwards, Hubert Sumlin, Galactic, Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears, and The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, among many others. In 2006, he was featured in Craig Brewer’s critically acclaimed feature film Black Snake Moan, playing drums alongside Samuel L. Jackson. (The film is a loose tribute to R.L. Burnside, and gives many nods to the late bluesman.) The Cedric Burnside Project’s latest album, Descendants of Hill Country, was nominated for a Grammy for Best Blues Album of the Year.

Burnside will perform an outdoor concert Monday night, and Monday morning will be interviewed by Don Allan Mitchell.

“Because of the GRAMMY-nomination, Mr. Burnside is in high demand as a performer this year, and I look forward to talking to him about his life on the road, and how the GRAMMY-nomination has influenced his career trajectory,” said Mitchell. “Hill Country Blues is a cousin of Mississippi Delta Blues, so it will be interesting to discuss the cross-influence with him. The International Conference on the Blues-sponsored Levitt Amp Performance on Monday night will be a great opportunity for our students and fellow Clevelanders to get their ‘full tilt boogie’ on. ”

This year’s conference promises to build on the vision established for the event when it began two years ago, and is a key component to Delta State’s pursuit of building a premiere curriculum around the art, culture, history and heritage of the Mississippi Delta.

“I am looking forward to the renewal of this fall signature conference on the blues, because it reinforces Delta State’s claim as the academic center of the blues,” said Delta State University President William N. LaForge. “It’s always exciting to hear the presentations and performances that highlight our conference. I know this October’s schedule, like those in the past that have been so successful, will not disappoint. I look forward to participating with all the visiting blues scholars and our faculty, staff and students during what will certainly be a wonderful program.

For more information, please contact Mitchell and Collins at blues@deltastate.edu.

The mission of The Delta Center is to promote greater understanding of Mississippi Delta culture and history and its significance to the world through education, partnerships and community engagement. The Delta Center is the home of the International Delta Blues Project and serves as the management entity of the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area. For more information, visit http://www.deltastate.edu/academics/delta-center-for-culture-and-learning/

The Chick-fil-A Leader Academy Kickoff returns to Delta State Sept. 21.

Chick-fil-A Leader Academy returning to campus

By | Academics, Chick-Fil-A, Community | No Comments

The Chick-fil-A Leader Academy Kickoff event returns to Delta State Sept. 21, bringing 500 Mississippi high school students and administrators to campus.

This event begins the year-long Chick-fil-A Leader Academy, a program to be held in over 15 Mississippi high schools, that teaches leadership skills and empowers students to put those skills into action.

A major goal of the Leader Academy is to inspire students to remain in school and become leaders within their communities. Students will take part in monthly leadership labs at their schools and complete several service projects in their community.

The kickoff will include multiple events and is an integral aspect of the students’ initiation into the academy.

Beginning with an assembly at the Bologna Performing Arts Center, the students will receive detailed information on expectations and goals, and will hear direct testimonials from schools that have participated in the past.

The major service event will follow, as students will take part in their first Impact Project of the year, sponsored by Feeding Children Everywhere. Students will pack over 100,000 non-perishable meals to feed needy children in the Delta and beyond.

Elizabeth Joel, coordinator of Continuing Education at Delta State, has worked closely with Chick-fil-A throughout the year to plan the one-day event.

“We are excited to start our second year partnering with Chick-fil-A and Feeding Children Everywhere,” said Joel. “The Delta State campus will be overflowing with bright young leaders on September 21. It is our hope that our Delta State family and campus will impact their lives and this program.”

She added it is a wonderful opportunity for Delta State to host over 500 students who are the future community leaders.

“We want to demonstrate how important community involvement is at Delta State, in hopes these students will bring their developed, compassionate leadership skills back to us when they attend college,” she said.

In addition to hosting the kickoff event, Delta State departments and student organizations will attend the leadership labs in the high schools over the next year to serve as mentors, especially in the area of community involvement, social issues and thoughtful leadership.

The Leader Academy is funded completely by Chick-fil-A stores throughout Mississippi. A team of Mississippi Chick-fil-A operators are spearheading the project. They will work closely with registered high schools as they complete their monthly leadership labs and multiple service projects for their communities.

Learn more about the program at https://chickfilaleaderacademy.com.