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LaForge among first to sign NCAA Presidential Pledge

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

Delta State University President William N. LaForge, a member of the NCAA Division II Presidents Council, became one of the first in the nation to sign the new NCAA Presidential Pledge.

LaForge was fully supportive of the diversity and inclusion initiative that commits schools to achieving ethnic and racial diversity and gender equity in college sports hiring practices.

The pledge was endorsed earlier this month by the highest governing body of each NCAA division and approved by the Board of Governors.

“I am pleased to sign this pledge that commits Delta State to achieving ethnic and racial diversity and gender equity in our college sports hiring practices,” said LaForge. “This is really a no-brainer for Delta State, because it’s a reaffirmation of what we’re already doing.

“I’m proud of our inclusive approach to our hiring processes across the board, especially in athletics. This is an important area for Delta State, and for me as president — but also because I’m serving as president of the Gulf South Conference and as a member of the NCAA Division II Presidents Council.”

Ronnie Mayers, Delta State’s director of athletics, echoed LaForge’s praise for the pledge.

“Fairness and equality are hallmarks of intercollegiate athletic competition, and I am proud to be part of an organization that upholds and protects these principles,” said Mayers. 

The NCAA pledge states:

Consistent with our mission and values, our institution, a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, pledges to specifically commit to establishing initiatives for achieving ethnic and racial diversity, gender equity and inclusion, with a focus and emphasis on hiring practices in intercollegiate athletics, to reflect the diversity of our membership and our nation.

We recognize and value the experiences individuals from diverse backgrounds bring to intercollegiate athletics. To that end, we will strive to identify, recruit and interview individuals from diverse backgrounds in an effort to increase their representation and retention as commissioners, athletics directors, coaches and other leaders in athletics. As part of this commitment, we will also engage in a regular diversity, inclusion and equity review to inform campus policy and diversity initiatives.

We understand this to be a collective responsibility we owe to student-athletes, staff, our athletics programs and the entire campus community.

In the coming months, presidents and chancellors who have signed the pledge will receive a toolkit with best practices and other resources to assist their schools’ ongoing diversity and inclusion efforts.

To view all the institutions participating in the pledge, visit http://www.ncaa.org/about/resources/inclusion/ncaa-presidential-pledge.

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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/

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Art Department faculty showcase work

By | Community, Faculty/Staff | No Comments

Delta State University’s Art Department invites the public to a reception celebrating the opening of its annual faculty exhibition on Thursday, Sept. 29, from 5 to 7 p.m.

DSU’s art faculty are practicing artists, designers, and filmmakers who regularly exhibit in venues across the nation. The annual faculty exhibition, held at the Fielding Wright Art Center, offers the campus and the community an opportunity to view new work created by these artists.

Participating artists are Amy Cannestra, Will Jacks, Ky Johnston, Ron Koehler, Michaela Merryday, Jon Mark Nail, Cetin Oguz, Kim Rushing, Mollie Rushing, Michael Stanley, and Natalie Tyree.

Ron Koeher, Chair of the Art Department, creates figurative stories that play with perception and reveal his wonderful sense of humor as in his sculpture “Mr. Brickman Loves His Friends.” Mr. Brickman is a brick column sculpture surrounded by his brick friends and birds entirely made of wood. Koehler who is known for his endlessly inventive interpretations of brushes has a fascination with tools as well as with how things are made. He recently started to investigate the ordinary hammer which resulted in a set called “Ten Hammers.” These objects are created from wood and the heads of the hammers are painted with a graphite patina that gives them a metallic-look.

Amy Cannestra’s work, shifting between video, sculpture, performance, and digital arts, probes and breaks down the body. Humanizing object and objectifying human by bringing the things we hide to the forefront, putting the uncomfortable out in the open. Her work uses horror, sex, and humor to question our culture’s obsession with body and perfection.

Ky Johnston’s new work presents a reflection on his roots in pottery and a continued attempt to blend influences from various sources into functional pottery. In this work he is exploring functional forms, mostly from the wheel, sometimes altered or stretched, often cut or faceted. The glazes use common materials including various clays, wood ash, and some raw pigments and are fired with gas. His goal is to allow the materials, processes, and long history of the craft to play a big role in the end result.

Michaela Merryday has explored furniture design and the possibility of combining wood furniture and felt in the past year. The work presented here combine her interest in minimalist design and multi-functional furniture.

Jon Mark Nail is a film maker, whose work explores Mississippi, its culture and its mythos. He is fascinated by what he calls Mississippi’s idiosyncrasies. Nail sees Mississippi as “a land steeped in contradiction: a land that is at once lush and barren, a society known for its gentility as well as its savagery, a prideful people and a shamed people.” His work explores the themes of hope and despair, great promise and dreadful demise, love and death, honor and collapse.

Cetin Oguz is an abstract painter who is interested in the process of painting. According to the artist, he is preoccupied with “the process which occurs naturally and defines the space and the process which suspends the intellect within the void of its activity. The natural markings, scratches, layers, and lines are kept and reworked in the present as though to reveal more of the past. ”

Kim Rushing, who just published a book of a series photographs he had taken at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, MS, twenty years ago, has been thinking a lot about how his approach to image making has changed over the years. For this exhibition he selected a series of photographs from various periods of his career that he still finds exciting.

Mollie Rushing is a textile artist whose quilts use pattern and color to create the illusion of texture and space.

Michael Stanley’s sculptural work in this exhibition is a continuation of his interests in media, process, form, and function. There are examples of rigid materials and soft materials, examples of slow processes and fast processes, examples of familiar and unfamiliar form, and examples of varying degrees of function. The freedom to move between media, process, form, and function is a key aspect of his creative process and nurtures his compulsion to create.

DSU’s Annual Faculty Exhibition will be on view until Oct. 27. The gallery is open Mondays through Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Fridays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For more information, please contact the Art Department at 662-846-4720.

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I.D.E.A. lunches open to campus

By | Academics, Diversity Committee, Faculty/Staff, QEP, Students | No Comments

Sponsored by Delta State’s Quality Enhancement Plan and the Diversity Committee, two I.D.E.A. lunches will be open to students, faculty and staff this month.

I.D.E.A., which stands for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Advocacy, aims to improve cultural competency on campus through communication, collaboration and engagement.

The sessions are designed to engage students in rational and critical discussions in regards to the impact of labels on individuals and groups in society,” said Dr. George Beals, assistant professor of counselor education and member of the Diversity Committee.

The free lunches, open to the first 40 registrants, will take place on the second floor of the Student Union.

Lunch schedule:
– Sept. 19 from 12-1 p.m. – “What’s in a Label?”
– Sept. 20 from 12:15-1:15 p.m. – “What’s in a Label?”

To register for a lunch session, complete the form at https://deltastateqep.wufoo.com/forms/z1bmidsg0jzw82o.

For more information, call 662-846-4170, or contact Johansen at mjohansen@deltastate.edu or Wendolyn Stevens at wstevens@deltastate.edu.

Learn more about the QEP at http://www.deltastate.edu/academics/institutional-research-and-planning/sacs-2014-reaffirmation/quality-enhancement-plan-2014/. Learn more about the DSU Diversity Committee at http://www.deltastate.edu/about-dsu/administration/diversity-committee/.