DMI fundraiser features award-winning singer-songwriters

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Award-winning singer-songwriters Ashley Cleveland, Pam Tillis, Karen Staley and Tricia Walker will be joining forces in Cleveland for a unique evening of songs and stories to benefit the Delta Music Institute entertainment industry program at Delta State University.

The Original Women in the Round will be performing two shows “Bluebird Café style” on Nov. 28 at 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. at the Delta Meat Market in downtown Cleveland.

This talented foursome was the first female “in the round” group at the Bluebird Café, one of the world’s preeminent listening rooms, located in Nashville, Tennessee. Their first show together was in 1988, and they have continued to perform together for selected dates over the years. This “in the round” performance will consist of the songwriters seated in the center of the room, taking turns playing their songs and accompanying each other instrumentally and with harmony vocals.

Ashley Cleveland is a three-time GRAMMY® and two-time Dove Award winner who has released eight critically acclaimed albums. “God Don’t Never Change” features songs rooted firmly in a host of traditions — black spirituals, folks songs, 18th century hymns, gospel blues, and jubilee. The disc was nominated for a 2010 GRAMMY® Award for Best Traditional Gospel Album. Cleveland resides in Nashville with her husband, Kenny Greenberg, and their three children, Rebecca, Henry and Lily.

As the child of Country Music Royalty, Pam Tillis was determined from a young age to find her own way in music as a singer and songwriter. Her album “Put Yourself In My Place” yielded two No. 1 and two Top 5 singles in its first year when the album was certified gold. Tillis followed with three platinum albums on Arista Records. Tillis achieved six No. 1 songs during this time, including “Shake the Sugar Tree,” “Mi Vida Loca,” “When You Walk In The Room,” “In Between Dances,” “Don’t Tell Me What To Do,” and “Maybe It Was Memphis.” Tillis is a two-time GRAMMY award winner, six-time GRAMMY nominee, and a three-time CMA award winner, including Female Vocalist Of The Year in 1994. She is also a proud member of The Grand Ole Opry.

Karen Staley was born in Weirton, West Virginia and was raised in nearby rural Hookstown, Pennsylvania in the Tri-State area of West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio. She is a 30-year veteran of the Nashville music industry and has been involved in every facet of the business, from songwriting and performing to touring, recording and producing. Staley’s songs have been nominated for GRAMMY, Dove and International Bluegrass Awards, and her song “Keeper Of The Stars” won the ACM Song of The Year award and was featured on CMT’s “100 Greatest Country Love Songs of All Time” TV special.

Tricia Walker is a singer and songwriter whose songs are steeped in the passion, pain and grace of the American South. Born and raised in Mississippi, Walker has become one of the clearest voices of her own time and place. Her music has been recorded by Faith Hill, Patty Loveless and Alison Krauss, whose performance of Tricia’s “Looking in the Eyes of Love” earned a GRAMMY award. A recording artist herself, Walker’s CD, “The Heart of Dixie,” thoughtfully captures the songwriter’s view of the South with well-placed lyrics and music reflecting her folk, R&B and storytelling influences.

Eighty-five tickets will be available for purchase for each of the two shows. Tickets are $100 (including DMM buffet-style dinner)  and may be purchased by calling the DMI office at 662-846-4579 between the hours of 8 a.m. to noon Monday-Thursday.

The DMI is an independent center of study under the College of Arts and Sciences at Delta State University, offering a bachelors degree in entertainment industry studies. The focus of the DMI is to provide students with a broad and thorough education in the technological, creative and business areas of the music and entertainment industry. For information, visit

Brooks provides lecture at UN conference in China

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Talbot Brooks (second from right), director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Geospatial Information Technologies at Delta State University, speaks on a panel at a United Nations conference in Beijing, China on Oct. 25.

Talbot Brooks, director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Geospatial Information Technologies at Delta State University, provided an invited plenary lecture at the 7th annual United Nations International Conference on Space-based Technologies for Disaster Risk Reduction in Beijing, China on Oct. 25.

His presentation was titled “Application of Standards for Crisis Response and Risk Reduction” and was delivered to an audience of approximately 150 delegates from 44 nations. Brooks also hosted a plenary session about the latest space-based technologies for disaster risk reduction and participated as a member of the closing panel.

Brooks will be a contributing author for an upcoming United Nations policy paper about the use of space-based technologies, such as satellite imagery and GPS, for disaster risk reduction. He was also asked to present at the UNISPACE +50, a meeting celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first UN conference about the peaceful use of space. This meeting will take place in Vienna, Austria this coming summer (

Brooks has served as a technical advisor for the United Nations since 2008 and participated in technical advisory missions to Vietnam, Mozambique, Laos, Nepal, and the Republic of Georgia.

“Our work with the United Nations is important to DSU from several perspectives,” said Brooks. “First and foremost, dignitaries from the countries I work with have visited campus and interacted with our students. For example, visitors like Jaime Neto, a minister of parliament from Mozambique, toured our lab and participated in a panel discussion about Africa and GIS.

“Working with the UN has also helped us develop new funding opportunities that are now starting to mature and translate into grants. We were invited to bid on a contract with the Singapore Land Authority earlier this year, and through a senior-level contact made at this last meeting in China, we will submit a proposal to the UN World Food Program to develop a flood severity rating using GIS. Lastly, we are consistently the only U.S.-based university invited to participate in meetings and technical advisory missions focusing on the application of geospatial technologies to crisis and emergency response. It’s something we can be truly proud of and part of what President LaForge means when he talks about creating ‘signature programs.'”

Students from Delta State’s  GIT Center students will also join Brooks this coming year for return visits to Vietnam and Mozambique, as well as a new mission to Sri Lanka.

Learn more about opportunities at Delta State’s Center for Interdisciplinary Geospatial Information Technologies at

The mission of the center is to provide geospatial services, accessible education and training, and institutional knowledge for geospatial information technologies to the widest possible audience, and particularly, the mid-Delta region.

Tibbs to present Humanities Council lecture

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Dr. Clint Tibbs, associate professor of philosophy, will present his Mississippi Humanities Council Teacher Award lecture Nov. 7 at 6 p.m. at the Wright Art Center on the campus of Delta State.

Tibbs’ lecture is titled “The Truth is Out There: Teaching the Paranormal, Ancient Greek & Biblical Hebrew at a Small Rural University.”

The event is free and open to the public. The presentation is made possible through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to the Mississippi Humanities Council.

“The paranormal is often scoffed at without much reflection or fair criticism,” said Tibbs. “The physical scientists should be at the forefront of studying paranormal phenomena because they occur in the physical world. The Bible is one of the most paranormal pieces of literature of all time, and studying it in its original languages, Hebrew and Greek, allows students to see, more than English translations, what the original author may have had in mind. Learning to read the Bible in the original languages empowers students to understand one of the most influential texts in history just as the great translators and scholars of the past may have, like Erasmus and Luther.”

Tibbs was nominated by his peers to received the Mississippi Humanities Council award.

“I was quite surprised to be awarded this year’s Mississippi Humanities Council Teacher Award,” he said.

Tibbs’ research interests include Biblical studies, early church history, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, the Scientific Revolution, the history of science, theories of consciousness, and the interface between science, religion, philosophy and the paranormal.

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Wingard named mathematics Teacher of the Year

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Dr. Clifton Wingard, chair of the Department of Mathematics at Delta State, was recently named Teacher of the Year at the college level by the Mississippi Council of Teachers of Mathematics (MCTM).

MCTM is the professional organization for all persons responsible for the teaching of mathematics in Mississippi. Its membership includes teachers and other professionals who work with the teaching of mathematics, from kindergarten through senior college.

“It is a great honor to be named college Teacher of the Year,” said Wingard. “To have been nominated for this award is very special. I am grateful for the teachers that I have had. Not only did they teach me the course content, but they also provided motivation to learn and do more. I hope that I do the same for my students.”

Wingard said mathematics is an important piece in the education system because it is an integral part of almost every discipline.

“People use mathematics in their daily lives,” he said. “It is imperative that we train people to teach mathematics to the coming generation and also to educate the people who will be applying it in their careers.”

Wingard’s areas of expertise include algebra, trigonometry, calculus and discrete mathematics.

“Dr. Wingard cares deeply about his students but also the elementary and secondary students in the state of Mississippi and across the nation,” said Kathleen Lott, project director of the Delta Math Science Partnership Institute housed at Delta State. “He continually assesses how the teacher education programs at Delta State can be improved and enhanced to produce quality teachers. He works hard to assist his students in not only knowing the ‘whats’ but also the ‘whys’ He teaches from a standpoint of conceptual understanding and challenges his students to problem solve.”

Learn more about MCTM at

Explore opportunities available in the Department of Mathematics at

Delta State receives $1.15 million federal McNair award

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Delta State University recently received notice of a major $1.15 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education for the Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program.

This coveted McNair award will provide funding over the next five years for Delta State to increase the number of advanced and doctoral degrees in typically underrepresented groups and from disadvantaged backgrounds. Each year, 25 undergraduate participants will be selected and designated as Delta State McNair Research Scholars, and their academic progress will be directly enhanced with support services and resources.

Emphasis will be placed on recruiting students from 10 STEM majors at Delta State and affiliated associate degree programs at Coahoma Community College and Mississippi Delta Community College. One of eight federal TRIO programs, the McNair funding prepares eligible participants for doctoral studies through research and other scholarly activities.

“We are excited to be a participant in the McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program,” said Dr. Charles McAdams, Delta State provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. “This federally funded program takes our retention efforts to the next level by focusing the students’ sights on completing a graduate degree while still on a path to complete their undergraduate degree. This program holds great promise for our students and for the state of Mississippi.”

Heather Kovarcik Miller, Delta State’s director of Institutional Grants, is thrilled with the grant.

“This award is highly competitive, and we at Delta State are elated to have this grant proposal funded, which is the first McNair award ever for our university,” she said.

Those who worked with Miller to secure the grant included: Wendy Stevens, graduate recruiter; Jon Delperdang. Hearin TFA Graduate Fellow; and Dr. Beverly Moon, dean of Graduate and Continuing Studies.

“The opportunities that open up for our students due to this funding are extraordinary,” said Moon. “Plus, we will be able to provide support to faculty members who will serve as mentors for these students. The faculty will help shepherd the selected students through junior and senior years at the university. The support for the McNair scholars will also continue on into their graduate programs as we track their successes.”

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