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Delta State University Hosts a Mississippi Today Conversation with Andrew Lack and Walter Isaacson

By | Alumni, Community, Faculty/Staff, General, Students | No Comments

CLEVELAND – Delta State University is hosting a Mississippi Today panel discussion Aug. 31 on New Media and Politics featuring NBC News Chairman Andrew Lack and Aspen Institute president and CEO Walter Isaacson.

The conversation between Lack, founder of Mississippi Today, and Isaacson, author of several celebrated historical books, is part of a two-day celebration and outreach to the Delta region about the Mississippi Today story.  Lack and Isaacson will discuss how the rise of New Media has impacted the 2016 presidential election.

Mississippi Today is inviting Delta residents to join in celebrating the news organization’s launch at a no-cost business casual public reception Aug. 30 at the Grammy Museum Mississippi beginning at 6 p.m.

Mississippitoday.org, is a digital-only nonpartisan news site that launched on March 28 and has aggressively and objectively covered state and local government affairs and community issues, as well as Mississippi’s social culture, including sports coverage by celebrated columnist Rick Cleveland. The news operation is committed to covering issues and events across the entire state, including the Delta region.

The panel discussion hosted by Delta State University will be held in the auditorium of E.R. Jobe Hall. The event will begin with coffee and pastries at 8:30 a.m., with the panel discussion beginning at 9 a.m.

Delta State University President William N. LaForge will introduce the panel, which will be moderated by Jim Barksdale, CEO of Barksdale Management. Barksdale serves on the board of Mississippi Today.

Lack, now chairman of NBC NEWS, chose Mississippi for the site of this innovative approach to news coverage largely because of his family ties to the Delta running back through several generations. His great-grandfather was the mayor of Greenville.

“All of us involved in this project have great aspirations for Mississippi’s future, and believe that competitive, world-class journalism is an essential piece of that puzzle,” Lack said.

Isaacson, a New Orleans native, leads the Aspen Institute, a nonpartisan educational and policy studies institute based in Washington, D.C. His most recent book, The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution (2014) is a biographical tale of the people who came up with the great innovations of the digital age. Among his other books are Steve Jobs, Einstein: His Life and Universe and Benjamin Franklin: An American Life.

The Mississippi Today Conversation is free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.deltastate.edu/mstodayconversation.

Access to MississippiToday.org is free and its stories are meant to be shared through social media and with other news organizations. The organization is committed to providing wide-ranging coverage presented by a diverse staff of journalists.

The news venture is co-edited by Fred Anklam Jr. and Dennis Moore, award-winning journalists with long ties to Mississippi who have returned home to help bring this innovative news coverage to the state.

“The chance to do public service journalism in a digital format in my home state made the decision to join Mississippi Today a no-brainer,” Anklam said. “We are already seeing a great response to our reporting efforts from our state residents and those interested in Mississippi.”

Mississippi Today is the public arm of Mississippi News and Information Corp., a nonprofit corporation established in 2014. The launch of Mississippi Today was realized through grants from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Ford Foundation and through the generous support from individual donors, including Lack.

Mississippi Today also is committed to helping develop the next generation of distinguished journalists who reflect the state’s diversity by recruiting exceptional graduates of journalism, communications and public policy programs and by working with current students in the state’s colleges and universities to develop skills that will prepare them for productive careers.

“The team at Mississippi Today is focused on informing residents about state and local government, education and poverty.  Their journalism has the potential to increase civic engagement, by making Mississippians more aware of how government action or inaction affects their lives,” said Karen Rundlet, program officer for journalism at Knight Foundation, the nation’s leading funder of journalism and media innovation.

Support for continued operation of Mississippi Today comes from sponsors, donors, advertising and Mississippians Together, our annual fund that unites readers from different backgrounds who share an interest in meeting challenges facing the state.

For more information, see our events page.

Delta State University President William N. LaForge will deliver the State of the University address Aug. 19 at 10:30 a.m. in the Bologna Performing Arts Center.

Convocation scheduled for Aug. 19

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

Delta State University President William N. LaForge will deliver his State of the University convocation address on Aug. 19 at 10:30 a.m. in the Bologna Performing Arts Center.

The address will serve as a welcome to faculty, staff and the community at the start of Delta State’s academic year. Leading the event with LaForge will be Dr. Charles McAdams, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs.

Heather Robinson, president-elect of the Cleveland-Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce, will provide a community welcome.

Dr. Chris Jurgenson, president of the Faculty Senate, will provide an introduction of new faculty, followed by an introduction of new staff by Christie Rocconi, chair of the Administrative Staff Council.

As is the tradition at each Delta State convocation address, new Student Government Association officers will also be recognized.

LaForge will conclude the ceremony with his address, highlighting university achievements over the last year, along with goals and visions for Delta State’s future.

Tune into the address remotely through live stream. The link for the live stream will be available on the Delta State home page and social media platforms Friday.

Visit www.deltastate.edu to stay updated on university news and event coverage.

Caylor White Walters updates small

$18 million renovations near completion at Delta State science and math facilities

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

With just a few finishing touches remaining, Delta State University’s mathematics and science facility, Caylor-White-Walters Hall, now represents one of the most state-of-the-art higher education facilities in the state.

Thanks to $18 million in capital improvement over the past few years, the building now houses top-notch equipment and laboratories for the Department of Biological Sciences, Department of Chemistry and Physics, and the Department of Mathematics within the College of Arts and Sciences.

Funding for the project came from the State of Mississippi Bureau of Buildings.

The building features laboratories for all areas of sciences including biology, chemistry, physics, DNA technology and anatomy, as well as computer labs and classrooms for mathematics curriculum. It also features a planetarium, making Delta State the only university in the state to host such a facility, and a herbarium, which is home to over 17,000 plant specimens and serves as a scientific and educational resource for researchers around the world.

Other highlights include new SMART Podium interactive displays and projectors, renovated auditoriums, a new Scanning Electron Microscope that can magnify objects 300,000 times their actual size, specialized temperature and humidity controlled rooms for animal care, new instrumentation like the 300MHz nuclear magnetic resonance spectrophotometer, and much more.

Overall, the changes allow for additional teaching and research space. Additionally, new classroom furniture and faculty offices have drastically improved the overall learning environment.

Delta State University President William N. LaForge is thrilled with the endless opportunities the new facilities will provide.

“This is a top quality feature of Delta Sate, and it represents part of what we do best,” said LaForge. “I am so pleased that we are finally nearing completion on this massive long-term renovation project. And we now, very clearly, have a state-of-the-art set of facilities, labs and equipment to serve our students and faculty. With these tools in place, our faculty will now have an enhanced ability to provide top-tier math and science education for our students — which will prepare them for graduate and professional schools, as well as exciting careers.”

Dr. Charles McAdams, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, echoed LaForge’s excitement.

“We look forward to having this important building renovated and updated. It is especially important in the sciences to have a facility that offers the latest laboratory facilities and equipment,” said McAdams. “Our graduates will leave here to go on to medical school, veterinary school, or dental school, or become a science teacher. To be successful in those professions, we owe it to them to provide the most robust and relevant academic experience possible. The renovation and upgrades to the facility will help us make significant strides in achieving this unending goal. I believe it is essential for a university to provide a physical learning environment that is supportive and conducive for teaching and for learning. Caylor-White-Walters is now a place where faculty and students look forward to come and discover the wonders of math and science.”

According to Dr. David Breaux, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, everyone is relieved to see work wrapping up in a building where students and teachers have had to adapt to the construction going on around them.

“With the end of the renovation process clearly in sight, faculty and students are overwhelmed with joy,” said Breaux. “And, as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, I am proud that we are able to offer our students courses in state-of-the-art classrooms and labs. No longer do students have to worry about dealing with broken or outdated furnishings and equipment, but can instead concentrate fully on mastering the material they are being taught.”

Katie Penton, a graduate student majoring in chemistry, appreciates the opportunity to work and study within the updated facility.

“I’ve been here since undergrad, so I’ve been around to see how far everything has come along,” said Penton. “It’s been really neat to see all the new labs, classrooms and equipment. The computer lab will be great with all the new software, and I really like the lab spaces. As a master’s student, I’ll be doing a lot of lab work and using a lot of equipment. Going into my thesis, it’s really good to know I’ll have access to these features and make my project the best it can be.”

One feature that is receiving extra attention is the planetarium, which will provide the perfect setting for astronomy courses, but will also set the stage for learning opportunities across campus and the community.

In addition to the new seats, carpet and other amenities, the renovation also included the installation of the dual projector Digistar 5 planetarium system from Evans and Sutherland, and the professional quality 5.1 surround-sound system from Bowen Technovation. The system not only allows users to move their view of the stars back and forth through time, but it also lets users fly through the solar system to the other planets. As a bonus, it also turns the planetarium into a 3-D digital theater.

“The astronomy classes will of course use the planetarium, but one long-term goal is to use the planetarium as an instructional tool for other subjects,” said Dr. James Gerald, assistant professor of physics. “Dr. Adam Johanson helped a student with a project this summer to build 3-D models of molecules and display them on the dome. The priority of the planetarium will be teaching astronomy, but we will also have public outreach through shows. We look forward to collaborating with other departments across campus to create new content, and watch for us to start having shows for the public this fall. This will help us broaden the educational mission of the planetarium.”

In April of 2016, the COAS established a two-year campaign to build a program called Integral Funding for Science Education, or InFuSE. The goal of InFuSE is to raise funds to support science education and research for Delta State students of all ages, and to increase the involvement of alumni and the community in science education.

“Science education, especially hands-on, is quite costly. In order to keep up with industry standards, we need to have current equipment to prepare our students to go into the workforce or to continue their educational careers through graduate education,” said Darlene Breux, Academic Affairs development officer. “Funding will also help the departments in their outreach efforts to support the community. It is necessary to be able to support summer STEM camps for K-12 students. In increasing STEM students, especially here in the Delta, it will help our community grow.”

Dr. Rose Strahan, who served as a mathematics faculty member at Delta State for over 40 years, has also kick started an effort to support mathematics students. She initiated the Rose Strahan Scholarship for Mathematics, which is used to support one deserving student in mathematics. She is also a donor to the Mathematics Fund, which provides funding to assist the department in its teaching, research and faculty development needs.

For more information on giving to InFuSE or one of the mathematics funds, visit the Delta State Foundation website at http://www.deltastategiving.org, and search for Instrumental Funding in Science Education, the Rose Strahan Scholarship for Mathematics, or the Mathematics Fund. You may also contact Darlene Breaux for assistance at dhbreaux@deltastate.edu or 662-846-4013.

Michael Lipford

Lipford named director of Student Development

By | Faculty/Staff, Housing, Students | No Comments

Micheal Lipford will begin his new role as director of Student Development at Delta State on Sept. 1. Lipford has worked as Delta State’s assistant director of Housing and Residence Life for more than seven years. Additionally, he is currently serving as advisor to the National Pan-Hellenic Council and Order of Omega and director of Multicultural Affairs. 

Lipford, a native of Coldwater, Mississippi, is excited to begin this new role on campus.

This new journey will allow me yet another avenue to reach students and to make a positive impact on their lives,” said Lipford. “Housing and Residence has been such a big part of my life for so many years starting with my undergraduate years. It’s definitely a bittersweet moment, but I’m excited about this new role and the opportunity to advance my career in Student Affairs.”

Under the leadership of Dr. Vernell Bennett, Delta State’s new vice president for Student Affairs, Lipford will be assisting in the efforts to increase student engagement.

I believe Michael’s institutional knowledge and strong rapport with the students will serve him well in this position,” said Bennett. “As the director of Student Development, he will play an instrumental role in increasing student engagement and developing collaborations across the campus and in the community. His high energy work ethic and passion for student success will serve him well as he seeks to engage and support our students.”

Lipford graduated from Delta State in 2006 with a degree in real estate/insurance, and he completed his MBA at Delta State in 2010.

Cheryl Ballard

Ballard honored as Employee of the Month

By | Academics, Faculty/Staff | No Comments

The Delta State University Staff Council recently honored Cheryl Ballard, administrative secretary for the Office of the Provost, as the July 2016 Employee of the Month.

Ballard, a Cleveland native, has been working in the Provost’s Office for 17 years and has served as administrative secretary for 14 years.

“I’m very appreciative to be honored as Employee of the Month,” said Ballard. “I don’t think I deserve it, but I appreciate it.”

Ballard is also a recent graduate of Delta State after obtaining a degree in management in May of 2016.

Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her new grandson, who is 13 months old.

Each Employee of the Month winner receives a plaque, monetary award, an engraved insulated coffee mug, a free parking decal courtesy of the Campus Police Department, a box of treats from The Sweetery, a parking spot of their choice, marquee announcement and website recognition.

For an archived list of previous winners, visit http://www.deltastate.edu/about-dsu/administration/staff-council/staff-council-employee-of-the-month/employee-of-the-month-archives/

Delta State’s Staff Council serves as a liaison between the administration and the staff to provide a formal process for staff to discuss issues involving university policies and procedures and to forward ideas, recommendations and opinions to the president.