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Dr. Rolando Herts receives the Georgene Clark Diversity Champion Award from Arlene Sanders, Diversity Committee chair (center) on behalf of The Delta Center, along with staff members (left to right) Patricia Webster, Heather Miller, Lee Aylward and student employees Lydia Haley and Moira Fair. Student employees not pictured include Stephanie Green and Erica Spiller.

Delta Center presented 2016 Georgene Clark Diversity Champion Award

By | Delta Center, Diversity Committee, Faculty/Staff | No Comments

The Diversity Committee at Delta State University recently awarded the 2016 Georgene Clark Diversity Champion Award to The Delta Center for Culture and Learning.

The inaugural Diversity Champion Award was presented to Georgene Clark, retired assistant professor of English. The award was presented to Clark at the 2015 Winning the Race conference where it was announced that the award was being named in her honor. The annual conference promotes conversations between and among individuals and communities about race relations, social justice, diversity and inclusion.

This is the second year that the award has been presented, which was was established by Delta State University’s Diversity Committee to recognize individuals and divisions/departments that have made extraordinary efforts to promote diversity awareness at Delta State and in the broader community.

Dr. Temika Simmons and Dr. Garry Jennings, co-chairs for the 2016 Winning the Race conference, both praised The Delta Center for its commitment to diversity awareness.

“The Delta Center has been an active partner with the Winning the Race conference since it began three years ago,” said Simmons, assistant professor of psychology and recipient of the 2016 Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning’s Award for Excellence in Diversity. “The Delta Center’s ongoing support of the conference, among several other projects and initiatives, is noteworthy and deserves the university-wide recognition that this award embodies.”

“The Delta Center’s collaboration is essential to the success of the Winning the Race Conference. It means that the conference has the support of an organization deeply involved with the culture, history and, most importantly, the soul of the Mississippi Delta,” said Jennings, professor of political science and director of the The Madison Center. “In keeping alive the history of this region, the Delta Center connects the past to our efforts in the present, building hope for justice in the future. This is essential for our work on the Winning the Race Conference.”

Arlene Sanders, instructor of political science and chair of the Diversity Committee, presented the award during the closing session of the 2016 Winning the Race conference.

“For several years, The Delta Center has offered programs that highlight the Mississippi Delta’s rich cultural diversity,” said Sanders. “They offer National Endowment for the Humanities workshops that attract educators from all over the country to learn about the Delta. They manage the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area that offers programs like the Delta Jewels Oral History Partnership about African American church mothers. They direct an international blues project that highlights the global influence of blues music and culture. For these reasons and many more, The Delta Center is most deserving of this award.”

Dr. Rolando Herts, director of The Delta Center, accepted the award on behalf of The Delta Center.

“The Delta Center is honored to receive the Georgene Clark Diversity Champion Award,” said Herts. “For over 15 years, The Delta Center has been promoting appreciation of the Mississippi Delta’s diverse culture and history as part of the American experience. That includes telling inclusive stories involving cultural perspectives regarding race, social injustice, civil rights, regional identity, and even expressions of faith.”

The Delta Center met the following criteria for the award: innovative teaching, educational programming, or activities designed to engender diversity within the classroom and/or curriculum at Delta State; a documented record of committee work, community involvement or outreach to the local community by a campus organization or department or division; and active leadership in promoting cultural diversity at Delta State.

To learn more about The Delta Center, visit http://deltacenterdsu.com/.

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 center serves as the management entity of the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area and is the home of the National Endowment for the Humanities “Most Southern Place on Earth” workshop and the International Delta Blues Project.

Dr. A.H.M. Ali Reza (left to right) will be leading a group of Delta State students on a cultural exchange trip to Poland at John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin. Others attending include Scottie Willis, Katherine Jackson, Maria Clara Belisário, Paxton Stratton and university photographer/writer Rory Doyle.

Students to visit Poland for cultural exchange

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

A select group of Delta State students are gearing up for an exciting cultural exchange with one of the university’s international partners, John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin (KUL) in Lublin, Poland.

Leaving May 9, the group will travel for two weeks under the direction KUL faculty. The trip, coordinated by DSU International Student Services, will mark the first opportunity for Delta State students to visit KUL’s campus, observe classes, learn about college life in Poland, and gain hands-on knowledge of Polish culture.

Delta State President William N. LaForge continues to strengthen the university’s ties with international institutions, an effort he has made a priority since taking office in 2013.

In 2014, LaForge returned to KUL for the fourth time as a visiting professor, each time focusing on various aspects of law and public policy advocacy in America. KUL’s law school is well known for its quality programming.

“Delta State’s exchange partnership with KUL is a wonderful opportunity for our students to become acquainted with another educational system, with programs at another university and with the people of Poland,” said LaForge. “International partnerships like this afford our students an opportunity to broaden their horizons, see the world, and be better prepared for the global economy, which will greet them upon graduation.”

President LaForge discusses Poland with students.

President LaForge discusses Poland with students.

KUL is one of several universities abroad with which Delta State has signed a memorandum of understanding to further develop international exchanges. Delta State hosted a group of KUL faculty and students in October 2015.

Students attending the trip include: Scottie Willis, a senior from Byram, Mississippi; Katherine Jackson, a junior from Cleveland, Mississippi; Maria Clara Belisário, a junior from Belo Horizonte, Brazil; and Paxton Stratton, a freshman from Fort Worth, Texas. The students recently had the opportunity to meet with President LaForge to discuss expectations for the exchange.

Willis is looking forward to his first experience abroad — a trip he knows will be full of opportunities.

“I’m entering my last semester at DSU this fall, and as President LaForge put it to me recently, ‘You’ve had a good run here.’ But my run isn’t quite over yet,” said Willis. “I plan to go into education after graduation, and I know that going to Europe will definitely give me a ‘real life’ perspective when teaching about it. I hope that my participation in this cultural exchange will encourage current and future students to see that there are life-changing opportunities here at Delta State, and they just have to take advantage of them.”

Belisário, an international student at Delta State, is also looking forward to experiencing Polish education and culture.

“I will be in contact with different students and teachers who are in the same area as me, and I’ll be expanding my knowledge and vision,” said Belisário. “I will be able to interact and learn in some of their classes, and see perspectives and ideas about different issues that can help me in my major. I will use and share all of that when I return to DSU. Contact with another part of the world is one of the best opportunities as an international business major. I am really proud to have this opportunity.”

Dr. A.H.M. Ali Reza, assistant professor of biology at Delta State, will lead the group as the university’s international partnership liaison.

“I’m thrilled that we are bringing such a strong group of students to KUL,” said Reza. “This will be a great opportunity for us to get an understanding of Polish culture and KUL’s university environment. KUL faculty members have gone above and beyond to help us plan this trip.”

Dr. Christy Riddle, executive director of International Student Services and the Student Success Center at Delta State, added that the university will continue to strengthen ties with its partner schools.

“We are very excited to offer the Poland trip,” said Riddle. “These international partnerships offer the opportunity for our Delta State faculty and students and their faculty and students to travel, teach and study abroad through various exchange programs. It’s is a win-win for Delta State because the students traveling abroad gain a greater understanding of global issues, and it also exposes our on-campus students to other cultures.”

Along with KUL, Delta State has been developing exchange programs with Perm State University in Perm, Russia and The University of National World Economy in Sofia, Bulgaria, both schools at which LaForge has taught. Delta State is also in the process of developing partnerships with two additional international universities.

Follow all trip updates at www.deltastate.edu.

Former Delta State biology professor, Dr. James Steen (left of center with book), recently donated his 20-year project, “A Selected Chronological Bibliography of Biology and Medicine.” Joining in the celebration were (l to r): Emily Jones, university archivist; Dr. Ellen Green, chair of Biological Sciences; Dr. Charles McAdams, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs; Ann Steen, Steen’s wife; President William N. LaForge; Dr. David Breaux, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences; and Jeff Slagell, dean of Library Services.

Steen donates 20-year project

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

Former Delta State University biology professor, Dr. James Steen, recently made a heartfelt donation of his 20-year project, “A Selected Chronological Bibliography of Biology and Medicine.”

The four-volume bibliography that Steen self-published in 2015 celebrates the secondary authors and laboratory technicians who are responsible for the great labor of discovery in the fields of biology and medicine. The work includes 2,875 pages, 21,457 references, 8,097 first authors cited and 2,632 journals cited.

Steen a Delta State graduate in 1962, taught in the Department of Biological Sciences for 30 years. He recently donated the hard copies of his compilation to Delta State University President William N. LaForge.

The university will now house the hardcover copies, and an online edition is available at http://ntweb.deltastate.edu/jtift/scbm/scbm-1.html.

“It’s a wonderful feeling to see this come to fruition,” said Steen. “I appreciate the university being gracious enough to receive this and put it in their collection. I wish to express my gratitude to Dr. Tiftickjian, my friend and former colleague at Delta State University. John formatted and placed my book on the DSU server, thereby allowing easy access to anyone wishing to search it.”

Steen started the project primarily for students, providing them a guiding source throughout their research. And Steen said he’s not fully done with it, as he and Tiftickjian will continue to update the information online.

LaForge could not be more thrilled to add the work to the Delta State library.

Dr. James Steen (left) with President William N. LaForge.

Dr. James Steen (left) with President William N. LaForge.

“We very much appreciate your contribution to your university. This is a wonderful compilation of work you put together, and it’s truly a labor of love,” said LaForge. “The volumes that you have here represent a lot of time — from the heart and the mind. Thank you for bestowing this on our university.

“It’s the students who will benefit most from this great work you have contributed.”

Dr. Charles McAdams, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, was also grateful for Steen’s donation.

“Let me just echo the thanks from President LaForge,” said McAdams. “It’s this type of bibliographic information that is extremely valuable for students as they begin their journey down a research path.”

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

James E. Rutledge Jr.

Delta State names Rutledge VP for Finance and Administration

By | Community, Faculty/Staff, President | No Comments

Delta State University President William N. LaForge has named alumnus James E. Rutledge Jr. as vice president for Finance and Administration at Delta State University.

Rutledge, an accounting graduate from Delta State in 1984, has served as the university’s comptroller since 2009. He is a Certified Public Accountant with more than 30 years of government and finance experience.

Previously, he worked as the CFO for the Greenville Public School District and as the business manager for the South Delta School District in Rolling Fork.

Rutledge will take office May 1, pending IHL Board approval. He is replacing Steven J. McClellan.

“I feel so honored that I have been offered the position of vice president for Finance and Administration,” said Rutledge. “The overwhelming support from my co-workers and colleagues across the university and the community during this search process has been very humbling. To see the people that you work with everyday show their strong support and encouragement is what Delta State University is all about.

“I look forward to working with the president, other vice presidents and the entire DSU staff with the one goal of making Delta State University even greater.”

LaForge is thrilled to add Rutledge to the university’s leadership team.

“I am pleased to name Jamie Rutledge to this important position at Delta State,” said LaForge. “He has earned his way to this cabinet-level role through hard work, dedicated professionalism and loyalty to his alma mater. I welcome him to our leadership team and look forward to working with him for many years.”

At Delta State, Rutledge has worked collaboratively with former vice presidents for Finance and Administration to develop, prepare and distribute annual operating, auxiliary and plant fund budgets to other vice presidents, directors and department heads.

Rutledge is a member of the Mississippi Society of CPAs, American Institute of CPAs, Southern Association of College and Universities Business Officials and the Cleveland Exchange Club Board of Directors. Additionally, he serves as the treasurer for the First Baptist Church of Cleveland.

A selection committee, chaired by Dr. Charles McAdams, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, was formed in order to guide the national search for the position. Finalists recently visited the Delta State campus and spent time meeting with various groups including the President’s Cabinet, Academic Council, division directors and the search committee, along with addressing open forums attended by faculty, staff and students.

Along with McAdams, search committee members included: Allie Rose Parker, David Hebert, Deborah Cox, Greg Korb, Judson Thigpen, Julie Jackson, Kelvin D. Davis, Kim Pongetti, Lisa Giger, Lynn Byrd, Marilyn Read and Nicholas Walters.

“I am very grateful to Dr. McAdams and the search committee for their hard work and for the time and dedication they committed to this search,” LaForge said.

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

Dr. Vicki Bingham

Bingham named dean of RESSON

By | Academics, Faculty/Staff, School of Nursing | No Comments

Delta State University recently announced the promotion of Dr. Vicki Bingham to the position of dean of the Robert E. Smith School of Nursing.

Bingham, who has served as chair of the department for 12 years, will take over as dean effective July 1.

“I feel very honored and grateful to be offered the dean’s position,” said Bingham. “I believe my current role as chair of academic programs has helped prepare me. Furthermore, Dean Lizabeth Carlson has been an amazing leader and mentor during my tenure as chair. I am excited to lead the Robert E. Smith School of Nursing in future endeavors to promote nursing education and the health care needs of our communities.”

Bingham said she looks forward to expanding the success of RESSON’s nursing programs, working with nursing alumni to become more involved, and strengthening partnerships with the community and health care facilities at the local and state levels.

“We offer outstanding nursing programs because the faculty members are highly qualified in their practice areas, and staff members are very supportive,” added Bingham. “We care about our students and are devoted to providing them with a high quality education.”

Delta State Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, Dr. Charles McAdams, said Bingham is a perfect fit for the role.

“Her administrative experience, coupled with her passion for nursing and Delta State University, convinced me that she will make a wonderful dean,” said McAdams. “I know that she cares a great deal for students and the health care profession, and I have every confidence that she will lead the School of Nursing to great heights in the years ahead.”

Bingham is married to Cleveland Police Chief Buster Bingham. Both are graduates of Delta State and have been members of the community for 32 years.

Learn more about RESSON at http://www.deltastate.edu/school-of-nursing.