College of Arts and Sciences

Smith wins gold medal for memoir

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Mike Smith, associate professor of English at Delta State, is the recent recipient of a gold medal at the 22nd annual Independent Publisher Book Awards for his memoir “And There Was Evening and There Was Morning.”

The Independent Publisher Book Awards, also known as the IPPY Awards, is an annual book awards contest conducted to honor the year’s best independently published titles from around the world.

Smith’s memoir-in-essays explores the loss of Smith’s first wife to cancer after the birth of the 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. He examines blended families, remarriage, the efforts to help children find ways to cope with loss, and the influence of spirituality upon bereavement.

Novelist Tony D’Souza said, “Rarely does a book demand so much strength of a reader. Smith is a reflective and precise writer, [who] invites us to walk each step with him as his heart is annihilated.”

Mississippi Poet Laureate, Beth Ann Fennelly, stated, “Smith has written a book for all of us who are dying — which is to say, all of us who are living, and our lives will be the better for having read it.”

Launched in 1996 and conducted each year to honor the year’s best independently published books, the IPPY Awards recognize merit in a broad range of subjects and reward authors and publishers who “take chances and break new ground.” These winners from university and small presses give experimental authors a platform to share their stories, impart wisdom, and speak out against ignorance and prejudice.

IPPY medal-winning books will be celebrated on May 29 during the annual BookExpo publishing convention in New York, with gold, silver and bronze IPPY medallions awarded.

This year’s contest drew 4,500 entries in a variety of categories, and medals will go to authors and publishers from 43 U.S. states, six Canadian provinces, and 12 countries overseas.

The work was published by WTAW Press, an independent publisher of exceptional literary books and builder of literary community.

Learn more about Smith’s book at

Delta State University 2018 Retirement Recognition and Service Awards Ceremony

By | College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business and Aviation, College of Education and Human Sciences, Faculty/Staff | No Comments

Retirees (front, from left): Phyllis Bunn, Management, Marketing, and Business Administration; Rebecca Hochradel, Management, Marketing, and Business Administration; Sheryl Stephens, Management, Marketing, and Business Administration; Cathy Conico, College of Business and Aviation; and Rhonda Boyd, Delta Music Institute. (Back, from left): Duane Shuttlesworth, Counselor Education and Psychology; Vicki Hartley, Teacher Education, Leadership, and Research; Becky Finley, Registrar’s Office; Susan Allen Ford, Languages and Literature; James Brown, Accountancy, Computer Information Systems. Not Pictured: Mose Bailey, Facilities Management; Cheryl Oleis, Student Success Center.


Delta State University honored retiring employees and awarded service pins to others at the 2018 Retirement Recognition and Service Awards Ceremony held recently on the second floor of the H.L. Nowell Union on campus.

Delta State President William N. LaForge, Vice President for Finance & Administration Mr. Jamie Rutledge, and Director of Human Resources Mrs. Lisa Giger presided over the ceremony and presented awards to 10 Delta State employees who have recently retired or will retire by June 2018.

35 Years of Service:  Susan Allen Ford, Languages and Literature

30 Years of Service (from left): Sheryl Stump, Roberts LaForge Library; Barry Bays, Delta Music Institute

25 Years of Service (front, from left): Vicki Bingham, School of Nursing; Moorlin Evans, Facilities Management; Jan Haynes, Family and Consumer Sciences. (Back, from left): Darwaun Hayes, Facilities Management; Joseph Bentley, Chemistry and Physics. Not Pictured: Mike Kinnison, Baseball; Cheryl Oleis, Student Success Center; Helen White, Facilities Management.

20 Years of Service (front, from left): Karen Bell, Interdisciplinary Studies; Christy Riddle, Student Success Center; Polly Cameron, Facilities Management; Lynn Byrd, Accountancy, Computer Information Systems, and Finance; Vicki Webster, Accountancy, Computer Information Systems, and Finance. (Back, from left): Leslie Griffin, College of Education and Human Sciences; Doug Pinkerton, Health, Physical Education, and Recreation; John Alvarez, Health, Physical Education, and Recreation; Thomas Taylor, Family and Consumer Sciences; Rosetta Scott, Facilities Management. Not Pictured: Melissa Joiner, Facilities Management


DSU flute student selected for music internship

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The Department of Music is pleased to announce that senior music education major and flute student Amanda Lutz has been selected to participate in the National Flute Association’s 2018 Convention Intern Program.

Participating interns have the opportunity to learn about the NFA during the four-day annual convention, which will be held in Orlando, Florida in August. Interns work hands-on with the convention director, marketing and development associate, equipment chair and membership manager. In addition, they receive behind-the-scenes experience while at the convention. Interns will also get to network with the greatest flutists, composers and pedagogues from across the globe.

“Amanda is a natural for this highly-selective internship program,” said Dr. Shelley Collins, associate professor of music at Delta State and former NFA board member. “She is a natural problem solver who has worked countless hours in the Department of Music as the assistant director of DSU Flute Day and as the DSU Band Librarian. Amanda will gain valuable experience and knowledge from the NFA convention that will help her in her career as a music teacher, but she needs assistance getting to Orlando. Interns receive paid convention registration and housing, but they are responsible for their own travel expenses and meals.”

To aid in sponsoring Amanda in this educational experience, a tax-deductible donation to the MuSE Fund may be made to the Delta State Foundation by check or online by credit/debit card. Please visit to donate today, and designate your gift for the NFA flute internship.

Lutz, from Horn Lake, Mississippi, is a graduate of Lake Cormorant High School. She is a music education major who plans to teach band and work in the field of music therapy with cancer patients. Lutz is principal flute of the DSU Wind Ensemble, is president-elect of the Mu Phi Epsilon music fraternity, and teaches flute lessons in the community.

The NFA annual convention is attended by more than 3,000 flute performers, composers, scholars, makers and publishers, and features concerts, workshops, and recitals. Founded in 1972, it is the largest flute organization in the world with more than 5,000 members worldwide. Past presidents and board members have included principal flutists of leading American orchestras, top-tier soloists, chamber musicians, and professors at the foremost conservatories and universities.

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Jazz Ensemble students receive scholarships

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Pictured, left to right: Dr. Bret Pimentel, Chris Samuels, Dylan Swain, Kevin Wilson, Jordan Holland and Rogers Varner.


Four members of the Delta State Jazz Ensemble recently received scholarships for their musical contributions, academic achievements, and service to the ensemble.

The recipients were: Jordan Holland (baritone saxophonist and junior computer information systems major from Grenada), Chris Samuels (drummer and sophomore entertainment industry studies major from New Orleans, Louisiana), Dylan Swain (lead trumpet player and junior music major from Crystal Springs), and Kevin Wilson (tuba player and senior entertainment industry studies major from Clinton).

The annual scholarships are made possible by funds raised at the Jazz Ensemble’s Big Band Bash, an evening of classic big band swing music, dining and dancing held at the Cleveland Country Club.

The Big Band Bash was created by Rogers Varner, a community participant in the ensemble’s saxophone section. In 2011, Varner received the Department of Music’s Philanthropy Award for his ongoing work organizing the event.

The scholarships were announced at the ensemble’s spring concert on April 17, and certificates were awarded by Varner and ensemble director Dr. Bret Pimentel, associate professor of music.

Interested parties may contribute to the scholarship fund through the university foundation:

Jazz Ensemble to present concert April 17

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The Delta State University Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of associate professor of music Dr. Bret Pimentel, will present a concert April 17 at 7:30 p.m. in the Jobe Hall Auditorium.

The DSU Jazz Ensemble is a 17-piece “big band” made up of music majors and non-music majors selected by competitive audition. The band is known in the community for its annual Big Band Bash fundraiser, an evening of dining, dancing and classic Swing Era music.

Big band jazz is characterized by tightly-coordinated, high-energy playing from a large horn section made up of trumpets, trombones and saxophones, working in partnership with a powerful, driving rhythm section of keyboards, bass and drums. Individual group members often perform solos that are improvised — composed spontaneously in live performance.

The DSU Jazz Ensemble’s repertoire includes favorites from the Swing Era of the 1930s and 1940s, as well as more contemporary jazz styles from the 1950s to the present.

This concert’s lineup includes new and classic jazz music by great composers and arrangers like Hoagy Carmichael, Woody Herman, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder and Neal Hefti.

The concert is free and open to the public.