Three Mississippi fiction authors to visit campus and community

By | General, Graduate and Continuing Studies, Students | No Comments

The Delta State University Graduate and Continuing Studies Department is hosting a lecture series with three Mississippi authors who highlight the South and Mississippi Delta in their writing. Dean James, Charlaine Harris and Carolyn Haines have all found literary success with their mystery and horror tales.

The trio will be on campus Feb. 28 and provide lectures to students at 9 and 10 a.m. in Jobe Hall. From 1-2:30 p.m., they will participate in a panel discussion with three local scholars — Dorothy Shawhan, Susan Allen Ford and Karen Bell.

Later that afternoon, a book signing and reception will be held at the Delta Arts Alliance in downtown Cleveland from 3-5 p.m. In addition, students, faculty and staff will be able to donate blood at the “True Blood” Drive at the H.L. Nowell Union from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

The following day, March 1, Harris will be the guest reader at 3 p.m. on the Thacker Mountain Radio Show at the Delta Music Institute.

The lecture and panel discussion will focus on the use of place in the writers’ fiction, the importance of contemporary fiction as a literary genre, and the joys and challenges of creative writing. These events will explore genre fiction such as mystery, supernatural and horror as intellectual inquiry and as an increasingly valued form of the literary humanities.

Beverly Moon, Delta State University Dean of Graduate and Continuing Studies, said she is thrilled to host these established authors.

“We will have lots of fun with the various events — the student sessions, panel discussions, the readings, reception, book signing, and of course, the “True Blood” Drive,” said Moon.

Harris, a New York Times bestselling author who has been writing for 30 years, was born and raised in the Mississippi River Delta area. She is known for writing mystery and fantasy novels, with her most popular series being “The Sookie Stackhouse Series.” The urban fantasy series is about a telepathic waitress named Sookie who works in a bar in the fictional northern Louisiana town of Bon Temps.

The first book in the series, “Dead Until Dark,” won the Anthony Award for Best Paperback Mystery in 2001. Each book follows Sookie through her adventures involving vampires, werewolves and other supernatural creatures. The series, which now numbers 11 titles, has been released worldwide.

Sookie Stackhouse has proven to be so popular that Alan Ball, creator of the HBO television series “Six Feet Under,” produced the HBO series based on the books. He wrote and directed the pilot episode for the series “True Blood,” which premiered in September of 2008 and successfully continues in its seventh season.

Professionally, Harris is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, the American Crime Writers League, Sisters in Crime and the International Crime Writers Association. She is a past member of the boards of Sisters in Crime and MWA. She is also a member of Science Fiction Writers of America, Horror Writers Association and Romance Writers of America.

Haines, born in Lucedale, Miss., is a prolific mystery author and former journalist specializing in mysteries set in the Mississippi Delta. Her current mysteries, the “Sarah Booth Delaney Mississippi Delta Series,” is set in the fictional town of Zinnia. The series has won numerous awards, including Best Amateur Sleuth. Her work, “Hallowed Bones,” the fifth in the series, was named in the top five mysteries of 2004 by Library Journal.

Haines teaches graduate and undergraduate fiction writing classes at the University of South Alabama, where she is an assistant professor and fiction coordinator. She was the recipient of the 2010 Harper Lee Award for Alabama’s Distinguished Writer of the Year, and in 2009 she received the Richard Wright Award for Literary Excellence.

James is the author of over 20 books, both mystery fiction and non-fiction. He is a seventh generation Mississippian having grown up in Grenada County. He is a proud double alumnus of Delta State ’80 and ’81. He also holds a Ph.D. in history from Rice University.

James has published articles on library science, the history of science and medicine and mystery fiction. His first book, which he co-wrote with fellow librarian Jean Swanson, was “By a Woman’s Hand.” In all, he has co-authored or co-edited six works of mystery reference and one short story anthology.

He has won the Agatha and Macavity Awards for his non-fiction and has twice been nominated for the Edgar Award for Best Critical/Biographical work. Formerly the general manager of Murder by the Book in Houston, he is currently a librarian in the Texas Medical Center. Writing as Miranda James, he is the New York Times bestselling author of the “Cat in the Stacks” mysteries, as well as mysteries under his own name and the pseudonyms Jimmie Ruth Evans and Honor Hartman.

In James’s series “The Cat in The Stacks,” the main character is a southern gentleman by the name of Charlie Harris. Charlie is a librarian in the town of Athena, based loosely on Oxford, Miss. In an interview with Deborah Crombie, he said of the fictional town of Athena, “I’ve tried to imbue it with the kind of feeling that I remember from my youth in Mississippi, a small — but not too small — town where longtime residents know one another, where there’s a strong sense of community and a sense of history.”

The upcoming author events in Cleveland are free and open to the public and are supported in part by a grant from the Mississippi Humanities Council. For more information, contact the Department of Continuing Education at 662-846-4833.


Civil Rights exhibit comes to archives

By | Archives and Museum, General | No Comments

Delta State University Archives & Museum will be hosting “The Freedom Rides: Journey for Change” traveling exhibit from Feb. 25 through Apr. 14. The display will be held in the main gallery of the Charles W. Capps, Jr. Archives and Museum Building.

According to University Archivist Emily Jones, “The Freedom Rides: Journey for Change” sheds light on one of the most prominent events in Civil Rights history. It embraces the struggles many individuals endured to create a society of equality. The exhibit includes images of the bombing of a Greyhound bus outside of Anniston, Ala., the journey from Montgomery to Jackson, Freedom Riders at the Greyhound bus station in Jackson, Miss., Freedom Riders at the Jackson airport, mug shots, and Freedom Riders going to trial in Jackson.

Many of the images were taken from the original film footage in the WLBT News Film Collection. A DVD of the original footage is included in the exhibit.

The display is part of the Mississippi Department of Archives & History traveling exhibits program. This program includes individuals of different cultural backgrounds journeying through the Deep South attempting to change practices that were legalized by the United States judicial system.

“I am also thrilled to be working with the university’s diversity committee in promoting its upcoming conference,” said Jones. “As with every exhibit we host, I hope that this provides an opportunity for reflection and thought on the impact of the Civil Rights movement in our community.”

“The Freedom Rides: Journey for Change” was sponsored by the following organizations: the MS Department of Archives & History, the Foundation of MS History, MS Humanities Council, MS Historical Records Advisory Board and the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

The museum and exhibit are open to faculty, staff, students, researchers and the general public. For more information, visit


Dynamic math and science program hosted on campus

By | Academics, General | No Comments

Delta State will host Tech Savvy, a conference sponsored by the American Association of University Women (AAUW), for young girls on March 1 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tech Savvy is a national pilot program designed for girls to experience firsthand how science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields can lead to exciting careers.

The workshop is geared toward girls in grades six to nine. A $5 fee includes breakfast, lunch and t-shirt for participants. Special sessions for parents and family will also be held for college and career path guidance. Girls and parents can register online or find printer-friendly registration forms at The deadline for registration is Feb. 13.

The Mississippi Tech Savvy conference is one of 10 pilot programs nationwide. The pilot program, which furthers AAUW’s commitment to widening the pipeline for women in STEM, is funded in part by grants from the Praxair Foundation.

President of the Cleveland Branch of AAUW Dr. Glendscene Williams is coordinating the conference.

“First Lady Michelle Obama said we need all hands on deck to remove the hurdles for women and girls if we want to be more innovative and educated than the rest of the world, so Delta State University is putting all boots on the ground and bringing Tech Savvy to the Mississippi Delta. The question of where are the girls will no longer be,” said Williams.

The structure and activities of Tech Savvy support and further the goals and best practices described in AAUW’s highly acclaimed and influential research report “Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.”

“Tech Savvy is a crucial program to prepare and empower the next generation of girls to enter into these fields and increase our nation’s science and technology talent pool,” said AAUW Executive Director Linda D. Hallman, CAE. “Women benefit from highly stable, well-paying jobs, while the STEM industry gains diverse perspectives. It’s win-win for the American economy.”

To find out more information, register for the event or donate to the conference, please visit or call 662-846-4233.

KIPP Delta High School visits history department

By | Academics, College of Arts and Sciences, General, President, Students | No Comments

The Delta State University Division of Social Sciences and History hosted over 40 students from the KIPP Delta Collegiate High School from Helena, Ark. today.

The KIPP model — Knowledge Is Power Program — is a national network of free, open-enrollment, college-preparatory public charter schools with a track record of preparing students in underserved communities for success in college and life.

The school reached out to Delta State hoping to expose students to history classes at the university, and the department proudly gave them a taste of academics on campus.

“We wanted to go all out after KIPP contacted us about the visit,” said Dr. Ethan Schmidt, assistant professor of history. “These are local students and we wanted to give them a nice introduction to Delta State. Maybe when they’re applying to colleges they’ll reflect on their visit and think about the great things our university has to offer.”

The morning began with a breakfast on arrival, followed by a warm welcome from faculty and administration from the social sciences and history department and President William N. LaForge.

“We are very impressed you are here today and showing interest in Delta State as your possible university of choice,” LaForge told the group. “Our goal, from the day you step foot on this campus, is to cultivate you through the process to graduation. I want to be the guy that hands you the diploma.”

The students spent the rest of the day getting a firsthand experience of college life. They were invited to attend actual history courses and sit among current Delta State students in classes that covered topics such as world history, U.S. history since 1877 and modern France. History chair Dr. Chuck Westmoreland provided a special lecture on the Civil War, available only to visiting students.

David O’Donnell, KIPP history teacher, was thrilled to enrich his students with the Delta State experience.

“For a lot of our students, they are first generation college students,” said O’Donnell. “The more opportunities they get to go to colleges and see what different colleges are like – that’s really important for making sure they’ll go to college after high school. We are thankful to be at Delta State today and learn more about this institution.”

Students were also treated to a lunch and meet-and-great session with faculty and admissions staff at the student union.

To learn more about KIPP Delta Collegiate High School, visit



Updates on GRAMMY Museum Mississippi – a First Tuesday program

By | College of Arts and Sciences, Delta Music Institute, General | No Comments

Delta State University’s Department of Art, along with The Delta Music Institute, will present a First Tuesday program on Feb. 4 from 12:10-1:00 p.m. in Studio A at the DMI. The program will provide an update on GRAMMY Museum Mississippi.

Attendees are encouraged to bring a brown bag lunch and join Tricia Walker, DMI director; Allan Hammons, project consultant for GRAMMY Museum Mississippi; Lucy Janoush, president of Cleveland Music Foundation, Inc.; and Judson Thigpen, executive director of the Cleveland-Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce. The event will feature a PowerPoint presentation and Q&A about the exciting museum news, opening on the Delta State campus in the fall of 2015.

First Tuesday is sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences, Art Department and the First Tuesday Committee. Scheduled for the first Tuesday of each month during fall and spring semesters from 12:10-1:00 p.m., the program features lectures, readings and presentations representing diverse perspectives in the arts and humanities. Events are free and open to the public. For more information, please call 662-846-4720.