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College of Arts and Sciences

Math science grant

Math and Science Partnership receives over $1 million in grant renewal

By | Academics, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Education and Human Sciences, Community, Faculty/Staff, Office of Institutional Grants | No Comments

The Math and Science Partnership Program (MSP) at Delta State University was recently selected by the State Board of Education for a new round of grant support to continue its mathematics teacher-training platform.

The major grant funding will come over a three-year period, totaling over $1.1 million. This marks the second three-year grant for the program, which began in 2013. The most recent installment will focus on K-8 mathematics teachers.

MSP, a federal program backed by the U.S. Department of Education, strives to improve teacher quality through partnerships between state education agencies, institutions of higher education and high-need local education agencies and schools in order to increase the academic achievement of students in mathematics and science.

The size of each state’s grant is awarded based on student population and poverty rates. With the funding provided to Mississippi, the MSP is responsible for improving the content knowledge and teaching skills of K-8 mathematics teachers.

The grant provides professional development training through a two-week intensive summer institute at Delta State, three Saturday sessions throughout the school year, a monthly online discussion, and tri-annual observations during the school year.

MSP Project Director, Kathleen Lott, was thrilled with the grant renewal.

“Acceptance to the Math and Science Partnership grant for 2016-2019 is significant and essential to the Delta, as it provides another option to K-8 math teachers for professional learning,” said Lott. “In providing professional development for teachers, the content knowledge of our K-8 students should be boosted. Due to the continued need in the Delta for professional learning in mathematics education, and the desire to improve student mathematics comprehension, the new grant will continue to strive for a successful program and wise use of the grant allocations.”

Robin Boyles, director of the Office of Institutional Grants at Delta State, was an essential figure in developing the most recent grant proposal.

“This is one of several programs that we have here at Delta State in which we utilize grant funds to address community and regional needs,” said Boyles. “By providing professional development opportunities for middle school math teachers, we hope to be able to impact math scores and improve educational outcomes for students in our school systems. It is through projects such as this that we further our commitment to community and regional stewardship in the Mississippi Delta.”

Boyles said others involved in developing the proposal were Lott, Elizabeth Belenchia, Dr. Liza Cope, Dr. David Hebert, Dr. Clifton Wingard, as well as leadership from Dr. Leslie Griffin, dean of the College of Education and Human Sciences, and Dr. David Breaux, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Their leadership will be utilized as a collaborative partnership between the COEHS and the CAS.

“We have a shortage of qualified math and science teachers in the Delta,” said Griffin. “Not a week goes by that we don’t hear from a school district searching to fill such a position. The grant is Delta State’s effort, with support from the Mississippi Department of Education, to prepare teachers who are highly qualified to teach mathematics and science.

“This will be our second three-year award, which speaks to the sustainability of the program and to the outstanding job that the program faculty have done in providing planning and instruction. We are very pleased that the program has achieved this level of sustainability.”

Cope, an assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics at Delta State, said the renewal confirms the serious need for the MSP program.

“In the past, students in Mississippi and particularly the Delta, have earned the lowest scores in the country on these tests,” said Cope. “Therefore, there is a critical need for the work we do with this grant. The fact that this is our second award suggests that our first project was a success.”

Documenting the Blues

Students to document the Delta behind the lens

By | Academics, College of Arts and Sciences, Students | No Comments

Students in photography instructor Will Jacks’ class have kicked off a unique interactive photojournalism project called “Documenting the Blues.”

Throughout the semester, the class will be using the Medium blogging platform to create a publication that shines light on the student experience while they document the region.

“Each week they will have a short assignment designed to get them into the Delta exploring, asking questions and learning more about this place, while also developing their skills with the tools required to tell these stories,” said Jacks. “My hope is that this blog will serve as a living example from start to finish of their improvement in technical skills and thoughts about what it means to live in the Delta.”

Jacks is encouraging the campus and community to follow along by signing up for a free account with Medium. Account holders can even comment on posts and interact with the students.

To learn more about the project and sign up for an account, visit https://medium.com/documenting-the-blues.

“I hope this will encourage and inspire the student to continue to develop their creative voices and recognize that some of the best stories they can tell are found right outside their doors,” added Jacks.

For more information on the Delta State University Department of Art, visit http://www.deltastate.edu/college-of-arts-and-sciences/art, or contact 662-846-4720. For updates and announcements of upcoming events, follow Delta State Art Department on Facebook, or join the email list.

"Napoleon’s Wallpaper," by Candace Hicks, opens at the Fielding Wright Art Center Gallery on Thursday from 5-7 p.m.

Art gallerly launches 2016 season Thursday

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Delta State University’s Fielding Wright Art Center’s first exhibition of the year, “Napoleon’s Wallpaper,” by Candace Hicks, opens the season with a public reception Thursday from 5- 7 p.m.

Hicks is a printmaker and book artist based in Nacogdoches, Texas. “Napoleon’s Wallpaper” treats the gallery as a puzzle box to be solved by the viewer — a combination of prints that reveal secret messages when viewed through special colored glasses; kinetic sculptures that reveal clues; puzzles that can be manipulated physically to reveal hidden compartments; and wall texts that guide the viewer from one station to the next —  the exhibition operates like a game.

Hicks uses her background as a book artist to produce the exhibition of objects that look like art, but are actually part of an interrelated narrative puzzle. Books take for granted that viewer participation is necessary to complete the work, and “Napoleon’s Wallpaper” combines a storybook, interactive puzzle, and art exhibit into a room-sized installation. The viewer experiences the immersive quality of reading a mystery novel and solving the clues. It includes many moving parts that invite interaction. It resurrects forms of spectacle from the past — optical illusions and early animation devices — and these forms are employed holistically to present a cohesive story that can only be solved with viewer participation.

“Napoleon’s Wallpaper” refers to an anecdote regarding the cause of Napoleon’s death. According to Hicks, he supposedly died from exposure to arsenic in the dyes used to print his wallpaper. Hicks once read three accounts of this story in the same week and felt like she was receiving a secret, albeit meaningless message from the universe.

Hicks is an assistant professor at Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas. “Napoleon’s Wallpaper” has recently been installed in Houston, Texas. Her work has also been shown in Rochester, New York; Ashville, North Carolina; Decatur, Georgia; Denver, Colorado; New York City; Moscow, Russia; Vilnius, Lithuania; Budapest, Hungary; and more.

The exhibit will run from Jan. 14 through Feb. 26.

The FWACG is open Monday-Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Fridays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The gallery is closed weekends, holidays and during semester breaks.

For more information on the Department of Art, visit http://www.deltastate.edu/college-of-arts-and-sciences/art/or contact 662-846-4720. For updates and announcements of upcoming events, follow Delta State Art Department on Facebook, or join the email list.

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Levitt AMP returning to campus and community in 2016

By | Academics, College of Arts and Sciences, Community, Delta Music Institute, Faculty/Staff, Students | No Comments

For the second year in a row, Delta State University has been selected to host the Levitt AMP Grant Awards, a 10-week series of concerts created in 2014 by Levitt Pavilions and the Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation.

Levitt AMP brings the joy of free, live music to people of all ages and backgrounds living in small to mid-sized towns and cities, transforming neglected public spaces into thriving community destinations.

The grant provides a $25,000 matching fund to provide the free outdoor concerts featuring a diverse lineup of professional musicians. The Delta Music Institute at Delta State will once again take the lead on this unique platform. The schedule will kick off in the fall season, and dates and artists will be announced at a later date.

Like last year, the Green Space on the Crosstie Walking Trail in downtown Cleveland will act as the venue for the 10 performances. The space offers an ideal destination where the entire community can gather to celebrate the Delta’s rich musical legacy and the historic launch of GRAMMY Museum Mississippi, opening on Delta State’s campus in March.

Cleveland amassed enough online voting support to bring the series back to town, an opportunity that will be provided to only 14 other communities across the nation.

Robin Boyles, director of the Office of Institutional Grants at Delta State, took the lead on the grant application last year, and worked hard to secure the series again in 2016.

“Knowing how the concert series impacted the Cleveland community last year made it personally challenging for me to do all that I could to develop a quality application that the Levitt Foundation could support for a second year,” said Boyles. “This second grant would not have been funded if not for the great work of the DMI in producing the series, and the incredible support of the city of Cleveland, the Cleveland Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce, and the Cleveland community. The enthusiasm, community support and the strong partnerships is what has made this successful.”

Boyles was quick to point out that this is a matching grant, meaning that in addition to the $25,000 provided by Levitt, it is expected that the community also contributes financial resources.

“We are required to raise an additional $12,500,” she said. “We are seeking sponsors and will be announcing sponsorship packages in the next few weeks. If you or your business is interested in being a sponsor, please contact Tricia Walker of the DMI at twalker@deltastate.edu or 662-846-4579.”

Walker and fellow DMI instructors are credited with guiding their students in making last year’s lineup a success. DMI students will once again play a major role in the production process — from securing talent, to providing sound and lighting at the concerts.

Amber Foster, a DMI entertainment industry studies graduate in December, produced the 2015 series lineup for her senior project. In the role, she booked, organized and managed all 10 concerts.

“It’s so exciting as a senior to be able to take on a project like this,” said Foster. “For an entertainment industry student, this is the kind of experience we dream of and hope to have. Although, it is a huge responsibility to take on something like this when you have other classes, work, etc. It was so much fun.”

Foster now serves as the administrative assistant/patrons coordinator at the Bologna Performing Arts Center on campus, and she looks forward to supporting the 2016 Levitt campaign in any way she can.

“I’d like to give a huge shoutout to the community, sponsors, partners, voters and volunteers who made it happen,” she added. “Music is moving our community forward, and its only going to get better.”

The concert series will reflect three goals defined by Levitt Pavilions — to amplify community pride and the city’s unique character; enrich lives through the power of free live music; and illustrate the importance of vibrant public places.

In addition to Levitt AMP, Levitt forms the only national network of nonprofit outdoor music venues, each presenting 50-plus free concerts every year. Within the region is the Levitt Shell (http://www.levitshell.org) in Memphis, Tennessee. Learn more about locations and impact: http://www.levittpavilions.org.

Stay tuned to www.deltastate.edu for lineup updates and sponsorship news. Learn more about Levitt AMP at http://grant.levittamp.org.

Dr. Ronald Brister, former geology and paleontology curator of the Memphis Pink Palace Museum, recently donated his large rock collection to the Delta State University environmental science program.

Environmental Science program receives large rock collection

By | Academics, College of Arts and Sciences | No Comments

During the Fall 2015 semester, Dr. Ronald Brister, former geology and paleontology curator of the Memphis Pink Palace Museum, donated the Ron Brister Petrology Collection to enhance Delta State University’s environmental science program.

The rock collection consists of 252 different igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks from around the world. Each specimen is housed and labeled in a Wards plastic specimen tray. Additionally, nearly all the specimens possess locality information.

“The specimens are housed in a rolling cabinet that Dr. Brister constructed of birch veneer plywood,” said Dr. Nina Baghai-Riding, professor of biology and environmental science at Delta State. “The value of the collection is over $3,000 based on the Wards Classic North American Rock Collection and the Wards Petrology Collection.”

Brister is familiar with Baghai-Riding’s research and with the environmental science program offered by Delta State. In the past, he helped Baghai-Riding coordinate a trip for Bolivar County 4-H participants to the Coon Creek Science Center in Adamsville, Tennessee. The students were able to excavate, prepare and acquire assorted Cretaceous marine fossils of clams, oysters, mosasaurs and more.

Brister said he was thrilled to donate the petrology collection for teaching purposes. In an email to Baghai-Riding, Brister stated that he had the greatest admiration and respect for the work that she has done for the university.

Brister has often displayed a table next to Delta State’s exhibit at the annual Memphis Mineral, Fossil, and Jewelry Show held during the last weekend in April. Baghai-Riding and her husband have promoted the university’s environmental science program at the event for the past decade.

Delta State is the only Mississippi institution that offers a Bachelors of Science degree in environmental science. For more information about the degree program, contact Baghai-Riding at nbaghai@deltastate.edu or 662-846-4797.