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.


Delta State named College of the Year

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Delta State has been named Mississippi Blood Services’ College of the Year for 2013. The donor busses visited campus 11 times this past year, accepting a total of 413 donations from the Delta State community.

Delta Representative for Mississippi Blood Services, Dawn R. Woods, nominated Delta State for the award after she saw an improvement in participation on campus from previous years.

“It has been my privilege since coming on board with Mississippi Blood Services to see such a turnaround with the selfless donations from the students, faculty and staff at Delta State University,” said Woods. “In 2012, there were 3 blood drives with donations totaling 91 — whereas the year of 2013 saw 11 drives that on average touched 1,239 lives. It is a wonderful testament to all on the Delta State campus and those associated with the university, and that is why I felt Delta State University should be nominated for College of the Year.”

Student Government Association President Sydney Hodnett appreciates the support from the Delta State community in the blood drives.

“It’s awesome to see the student body donate to such a great cause. Being presented this award, with the size of our university, shows how dedicated each one of our students truly are,” said Hodnett.

There has been one blood drive on campus so far this spring semester, and Delta State hopes to hold several more.

“Someone needs blood every two seconds,” added Woods. “Help us make 2014 just as successful by setting up a blood drive. Contact me at to schedule a blood drive.”

The award was presented at the annual meeting in Jackson by Dr. William A. Rock, Jr., director of the clinical lab at University Medical Center, and David Allen, president and CEO of Mississippi Blood Services. Raybon greeted over 100 attendees at the reception and meeting.

“I could not be more thrilled and excited that the award went to this university. I have seen firsthand what can happen when everyone comes together because they understand how vitally important the need for blood throughout our state is,” said Woods. “Thank you so much Delta State University. You have made the difference in life and death.”

Keep up with blood drives held on campus through the university calendar at


Howell attends NYC arts conference

By | Bologna Performing Arts Center, Faculty/Staff, General | No Comments

Laura Howell, executive director of the Bologna Performing Arts Center on the campus of Delta State, recently took part in an intensive leadership seminar in New York City.

The Emerging Leadership Institute, held Jan. 10-14, provided Howell the opportunity to engage in professional networking, exchange ideas in a confidential environment and reflect on her role with the BPAC.

The ELI conference is specifically designed for arts professionals, including presenters, managers, artists, agents, artistic company managing directors, marketing directors, arts council personnel and other related positions in the performing arts industry.

The seminar operates under the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, an organization that the BPAC is a part of.

“It was a valuable series of different sessions that focused on leadership styles and how to create your own toolbox of leadership skills,” said Howell. “It was also a great networking opportunity with other professionals in similar positions across the country.”

Howell said the conference allowed her to reflect on her role as executive director, as well as the BPAC’s impact on campus, the community and across the region.

To learn more about the impressive opportunities at the Bologna Performing Arts Center, visit

Staff Council hosts Employee of the Month luncheon

By | Faculty/Staff, General, Staff Council | No Comments

The Staff Council Incentives and Recognition Committee hosted a successful luncheon today to honor the Employee of the Month (EOM) recipients for 2013. The annual event takes place each January in the Simmons Room of the Hugh Ellis Walker Alumni-Foundation House.

The Staff Council of Delta State University takes great pride in recognizing the exceptional service among its staff, and the EOM program continues to see growth thanks to the support of the campus community.

EOM distinction is given to a staff member who has provided service that is considered over and beyond those duties outlined in his or her job description. Nominations are submitted by colleagues on campus.

2013 winners include: Kimberly Cooley, January; Chris Gaines, February; Kirk Mansell, March; Dianne Serio, April; Michael Kemp, May; Lee Rowland, June; Donald Bradshaw, July; Justin Chandler, August; Gloria Hudson, September; Laura Walker, October; De’Andrea Eason, November; and Patsy Burchfield, December.

Each winner receives a plaque; monetary award; Wal-Mart gift card from the Student Government Association; 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; two Okra gift cards (one from Athletics and one from a private donor); marquee announcement; and website recognition.

Dr. James Robinson and Bert Herbison

Dr. James Robinson, a semi-retired professor in the history department, also sends flowers to all the ladies who receive EOM recognition.

The program has developed greatly for more than a decade thanks to ongoing financial donations from Robinson. Through his support, the luncheon is made possible each year.

Robinson, who graduated from Delta State in 1966, never stops brainstorming ways to give back to his beloved university.

“The program was already in place when I first donated, but it was something I wanted to contribute to as a way to say thanks to all the wonderful people we have at Delta State,” said Robinson. “I’m happy to see how much it’s grown and that the staff continue to be recognized.

“This shows that Delta State truly is a family.”

Also honored at this year’s luncheon was Bert Herbison, chair of the Incentives and Recognition Committee for the past nine years. Herbison has worked at the university for 24 years and will be retiring at the end of the year.

“The Employee of the Month program has been my ‘baby’ while at Delta State,” said Herbison. “It’s bittersweet attending my last luncheon, and I’m going to have a hard time giving it up when I retire.”

Herbison said working with Robinson to develop the program has been a true privilege.

“Words can’t describe what an honor it has been to work with a man who is so hardworking, caring and selfless when it comes to others — staff in particular,” said Herbison. “He constantly is looking for ways that we can honor our staff.”

Robinson’s support has also made other programs from the Incentives and Recognition Committee possible — such as the Smile On You award, which is a $25 gift certificate to a local restaurant that a staff member unexpectedly receives in the mail, and the “Take A Break” gift card from Aramark that can be used on campus at one of their facilities for a coffee, smoothie or snack. Quarterly birthday parties are also held for staff along with mailed birthday cards.

In October of 2013, Robin Boyles, Staff Council chair, and fellow council members attended the Mississippi Association of Staff Council Organizations meetings in Hattiesburg. Boyles quickly learned Delta State’s EOM program stands superior against the other Mississippi institutions in the Institutions of Higher Learning system.

“Meeting with other Staff Council officers affirmed for me that our Staff Council here at Delta State is an active and integral part of our campus,” said Boyles. “We clearly have the most structured and comprehensive Employee of the Month program in Mississippi and that is primarily due to the contributions of Dr. James Robinson and the dedication of Bert Herbison and the Incentives and Recognition committee.”

For an archived list of previous EOM winners, visit
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.