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Dr. Rolando Herts (left to right) with Susie Surkamer, executive director of South Arts, and Malcolm White, executive director of the Mississippi Arts Commission, at "The Future of Arts and Creativity" convening in Washington, D.C.

The Delta Center represents Delta State at National Endowment for the Arts convening

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Dr. Rolando Herts (left to right) with Susie Surkamer, executive director of South Arts, and Malcolm White, executive director of the Mississippi Arts Commission, at “The Future of Arts and Creativity” convening in Washington, D.C.

By special invitation, Dr. Rolando Herts, director of The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State, recently attended “In Pursuit of the Creative Life: The Future of Arts and Creativity in America.” The event was hosted by the National Endowment for the Arts and The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC.

Over 200 artists, industry leaders, educators, scientists, and civic leaders from across the country attended the day-long convening at The Kennedy Center. Participants developed ideas and strategies to enhance America’s creative infrastructure for the future toward making the arts and creative opportunities more accessible to all Americans.

“This event provided opportunities for interdisciplinary idea exchanges in strategic issue areas like economics, technology, and cultivating creative talent,” said Herts. “Our discussions will enhance The Delta Center’s community-engaged programs like the International Delta Blues Project and the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area that connect arts, culture, the creative economy, and people in our region.”

The convening featured keynote speaker Questlove, GRAMMY Award-winning founding member of The Roots and musical director for “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” in a moderated discussion with National Public Radio media critic, Eric Deggans. Facilitated working group discussions were framed by expert panel sessions on how to help creative people and communities thrive now and in the future.

Support for the event was provided by the Ford Foundation, Heinz Endowments, The Henry Luce Foundation, McKnight Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, and Walton Family Foundation.

Travel supplements for invited entities like The Delta Center were provided by South Arts. South Arts is a nine-state regional arts organization based in Atlanta that provides grants, programs and services to artists and arts organizations in the southern United States.

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 serves as the management entity of the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area and is the home of the International Delta Blues Project and the National Endowment for the Humanities “Most Southern Place On Earth” workshops. For more information, visit http://deltacenterdsu.com/.

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Bolivar Medical, Delta State partner on Student Health Center

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Delta State University and the Bolivar Medical Center have entered into a new collaboration that will benefit students, faculty, staff and the community.

In addition to serving the Delta State student body, the O.W. Reily Student Health Center now offers comprehensive health care and wellness services to any Delta State employee or community member who has insurance coverage.

The center is being managed and staffed by BMC personnel and maintains the current staff while adding new positions.

“We’re very excited to partner with Delta State University,” said Rob Marshall, CEO of Bolivar Medical Center. “We believe this agreement can pave the way for a much broader relationship to serve the campus and the DSU community. One of the benefits of working together is that students have easier access to all the services available within our hospital.”

Delta State University President William N. LaForge is also thrilled to bring expanded health care options directly to campus.

“This partnership with Bolivar Medical Center is a great example of town-gown relations,” said LaForge. “We are not only ratcheting up our level of health services for our students, first and foremost, but we are also providing services for our faculty and staff as well as members of the community. I’m thrilled that Rob Marshall and everyone on his team have worked so diligently with our team to make this day come true.”

Services at the O.W. Reily Center include:
-Flu Clinics
-Tobacco Cessation
-Immunization and Travel Clinics
-TB Skin Testing
-Physical and Occupational Therapy
-Sports Medicine
-Diabetes Management
-Laboratory Services
-X-Ray and Imaging Services
-Asthma and Allergy Clinics
-Federal Aviation Administration Physicals

Other services include an after-hours University Health Center Nurse Advice Hotline, access to the Health Care Portal and Worker’s Compensation assistance.

Additionally, the BMC will be the primary caregiver for Delta State Athletics, offering services that include orthopedic physician coverage at home and away games, physicals, and wellness and preventive education programming.

Jamie Rutledge, vice president for Finance & Administration at Delta State, said the partnership will provide a strong financial benefit to the university.

“Transferring this important service to the folks who are in the day-to-day business of healthcare management provides cost savings to Delta State while delivering services to our students, and others, in an enhanced fashion,” he said. “This is a win-win for everybody. In addition, Bolivar Medical Center will offer an extended array of services that were not offered previously, and will also develop specialized programs and services to meet the needs of Delta State students, faculty, staff, and the community.”

The clinic is open Mondays through Fridays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Additionally, the BMC has an after-hours clinic at the Cleveland Medical Mall that is open from 5 p.m. until midnight.

A grand re-opening of the O.W. Reily Student Health Center is scheduled for January 2017.

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

President’s Statement Regarding the Mississippi Flag

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Statement Regarding the Mississippi Flag

William N. LaForge, President, Delta State University

November 3, 2016

Today, I am announcing that Delta State University has lowered the flag of the State of Mississippi, and will retire it to the University Archives.

The discussion about the Mississippi flag on the Delta State campus has continued for well over a year.  The conversation increased this fall when the remaining public universities lowered their flags.

I wish to make it clear that this university is making an institutional decision on this issue because the state government has declined to change the flag.  This is a painful decision in many respects because this is a highly charged emotional issue for many people.  The University finds itself in the untenable position of making a decision that will disappoint some, no matter the outcome.  But in the absence of state action, we are making a decision that I believe is right and just on all levels.

In the spirit of open academic discussion, our various university constituencies — especially our students, faculty, and staff — have given thoughtful consideration to this issue.  As expected, there are differences of opinion and divergent viewpoints. However, my Cabinet and I have carefully weighed the input from all quarters, and it is now my responsibility to speak for the University on this matter.

The objectionable portion of the state flag — the stars and bars — presents a polarizing symbol that is a barrier to progress and improved understanding of our state, our university, and our people.  Delta State recently completed a visioning process, during which we set a course of excellence for the university’s future.  Included in our visioning principles are a number of core values that we promote and embrace, including civility, respect for all, diversity, inclusion, fairness, hospitality, and a welcoming environment that is conducive to the success of our students, faculty, and staff.  We believe that continuing to fly the state flag — with its divisive symbol that sends a confusing message, at best, and that has increasingly become a distraction to our mission — is contrary to our core values and to an accurate understanding of who we are and what we stand for as a university.

In 2015, the University announced its strong support for the adoption of a new flag by the State of Mississippi that would be a symbol of unity rather than one of divisiveness.  But, that change, unfortunately, has not occurred. So, today, I renew Delta State’s support and call for that change.

While taking the flag down is a symbolic act, its removal, nevertheless, underscores the numerous positive things we do on this campus to advance inclusiveness, fairness, and transparency in our various enterprises.

As the state’s most racially diverse university, Delta State is proud of its multicultural heritage and identity.  We are leading conversations and programs of action on the important topics of race relations, the Delta Blues, international business, educational advancement, scientific research, and community engagement — most notably through our signature conferences on those themes and through our outstanding academic programs. Those who study, teach, and work on this campus, as well as those who visit Delta State from around the country and the world — especially our record number of international students — deserve to know that our welcoming community and commitment to inclusiveness are not encumbered by an outdated symbol in the state flag.  And, after a 15-year ban by the NCAA, Delta State University deserves the opportunity to host swimming and other athletic championships that are currently not allowed because of the design of the state flag.

As a public institution of higher learning, Delta State continues to honor and respect its relationship with the people and state that support this university.  That will not change merely because we choose to join our seven sister universities in solidarity in lowering a flag that contains an antiquated symbol that is offensive to so many, and that public universities are not required by law to fly.  Delta State will demonstrate its respect for the state by continuing to inspire its students and educate new generations of thinkers and leaders who will invest in this state’s future.

I am grateful to the Delta State community for engaging in a deliberate, thoughtful, and sometimes difficult conversation about the flag.  It is now time for us to turn our full attention to the more serious matters of teaching, learning, and service at a university that is working hard to guide and educate our students, while also helping to provide vision for the future of the Mississippi Delta and our state.

In a recent court decision involving a legal challenge to the state flag, U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves astutely wrote: “At times there is something noble in standing alone.  This is not one of those times.  The Confederate battle emblem has no place in shaping a New Mississippi, and is better left retired to history.”

In sum, Delta State’s decision to take down the Mississippi flag signals this university’s opposition to the design of the current flag, and sends the message to our state leadership that the time for a new, unifying state flag is long overdue. We look forward to raising a state flag that will represent the New Mississippi.  However, until that new flag becomes available, and as an added measure of respect for the state, Delta State will fly the state’s bicentennial banner that was recently unveiled by the Mississippi Economic Council.

Taking down the state flag on this campus is the right thing to do, and it is in the best interest of Delta State University because we are working to help shape the New Mississippi.

Aaron Francois, Christopher Phillips, Dr. Yongqin Zhang

MAS-GIT students and faculty represent DSU at state conference

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Dr. Yongqin Zhang, assistant professor and director of the MAS-GIT program in the Department of Biological Sciences, and three MAS-GIT students recently gave presentations at the fourth Mississippi Geospatial Conference held at Long Beach on Oct. 20 and 21.

MAS-GIT student Kory Iman received the student poster award.  His research, “A Geospatial Method to Develop Infrastructure of Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Stations,” demonstrated the geospatial applications in transportation analysis.  He used multi-factor analysis to identify optimal locations for installing EV charging stations for the walking public, and gave the government some spatial considerations and guidance for transportation planning.

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Kory Iman

Iman was not able to show up in the conference due to a training session in Washington D.C. Dr. Zhang brought the award of a $50 check back on behalf of Iman.

The other two MAS-GIT students Aaron Francois and Christopher Phillips gave presentations titled “Study of the Zika Virus using Disease Mapping and Ecological Niche Models” and “Determining Species of Greatest Conservation Need Occurrence in the Yazoo River Drainage, Mississippi,” respectively. Dr. Zhang gave a presentation titled “Investigating the Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on Natural Gas Production and Vegetation Change through Remote Sensing.” Their research utilizes GIS and remote sensing technologies in vegetation and natural gas production analysis, mosquito disease mapping and modeling, and fish species and habitat analysis.

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Dr. Zhang

“As the advisor, I am so proud of these MAS-GIT students for their excellent research ability and motivation in applied research using GIT. All of them represented DSU so well. This brings up the reputation of our master’s program.” said Zhang.

Delta State University launches nationally-recognized faculty program

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Delta State University has joined a growing national initiative to dramatically expand the use of evidence-based teaching practices shown to promote college student completion and success.

University educators have launched a new, national certificate program in Effective College Instruction offered through the Association of College and University Educators (ACUE) and endorsed by the American Council on Education (ACE). The new partnership builds on recent student success achievements and a deepening commitment to the University’s core values of embracing civility, inclusion, and diversity.

“Instructional excellence is key to our students’ success, both in their studies here on campus and for their careers after graduation,” said Charles McAdams, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Delta State. “This partnership with ACUE recognizes the role that effective instruction plays in promoting critical thinking skills and supports Delta State’s mission to ensure all of our students succeed.”

The Office of Academic Affairs will implement a customized faculty development program that includes ACUE’s course in Effective Teaching Practices. ACE, as part of its nearly century-old mission to improve access to postsecondary education and help institutions enhance student outcomes, is collaborating with ACUE to dramatically expand the use of effective teaching practices in higher education.

“ACUE’s program offers higher education institutions a scalable, extensive opportunity to support instructors through tools and techniques proven to help students succeed,” said ACE President Molly Corbett Broad. “ACE and ACUE have an important shared goal to expand dramatically the use of effective teaching practices to benefit students, faculty, and institutions.”

Delta State University’s new program will focus on the research-based teaching techniques shown to make classrooms more engaging, civil and embracing of diversity. Research shows that students learn more, persist in their students, and complete their degrees with access to evidence-based instructional practices.

“The research is clear: High quality instruction helps students learn more and complete their degrees,” said Penny MacCormack, Chief Academic Officer at ACUE. “We are honored to partner with Delta State University as they work to provide the highest quality learning experiences for their students.”

Faculty members who complete the program will earn badges and a Certificate in Effective College Instruction endorsed by ACE. ACUE’s comprehensive services also include exclusive access to an online Community of Professional Practice designed to sustain development and connect educators from around the country.

ACUE’s program was developed with colleges and universities nationwide. Course modules feature videos of classroom demonstrations with award-winning college faculty and interviews with the nation’s leading subject matter experts. Since ACUE and ACE announced the collaboration in March, institutions across the country have recognized the value of providing this support and are making effective instruction central to student success. To date, over 1,800 faculty members have learned about and are implementing evidence-based approaches.

About ACUE

ACUE partners with colleges and universities to make effective instruction central to their student success agendas. Founded by leaders in higher education, ACUE fulfills this mission by helping institutions implement faculty development resources that are scalable, research-based, and of the highest quality. ACUE’s online modular course of study leads to a first-of-its-kind Certificate in Effective College Instruction endorsed by the American Council on Education. For more information, visit http://acue.org.