Community and campus bond through welding

By | College of Arts and Sciences, General | No Comments

Teaching youth a valuable skillset is the goal of Delta State’s new sculpture professor, Michael Stanley.

Stanley, who began working for the university in August, recently completed his inaugural six-week introduction to welding course offered to local high school students. Well versed in metal fabrication, Stanley felt it was imperative to provide a meaningful and alternative after-school opportunity for area students.

Impressively, he has agreed to maintain and grow the program completely on a volunteer basis — an undertaking he was not asked or pressured to take on. Thanks to support from the Delta Arts Alliance and anonymous donors providing materials, the class operates on a very minimal budget.

The initial group was composed of six students from the Cleveland School District who met once a week for a two-hour session. And despite volunteering his time outside of his university workload, Stanley wants to see the program expand and begin offering lessons multiple times throughout the week.

Working for Delta State, he is able to teach the course in the back of Holcombe-Norwood Hall, where students utilize some of the machinery already on campus.

“They are developing a skill that is really needed in America today. A person working with their hands is a skill getting lost in our culture now,” said Stanley. “We ship so many things overseas that we don’t make much anymore — and specifically through welding and metal fabrication.

“I always felt if I ever had the opportunity to do a program like this it would be successful in the community. There’s a lot of need for welders in the area and across the country.”

Partnering with the DAA and making use of the art department’s workspace, the program has already gotten off to a thriving start. The six initial students have been very responsive and have all shown interest in taking the class again when it restarts in late January.

“It gives them something to do one day a week after school and it’s keeping them occupied and engaged,” he said. “They’re meeting people outside their normal cliques and learning about teamwork, craft and the linear thinking that happens when you’re working in a trade. They’re learning to make a product that is sellable and usable.”

Along with the mental and physical challenges of welding, they also learn about its related science and history. By the end of the program, students are skilled in various cutting, grinding and welding techniques.

Projects are collectively created as pairs of students rotate to different stations, each playing a hand in the final product. The first session ended with functioning tables, which even drew interest from a potential buyer at a recent DAA event.

While the students don’t receive a formal welding certificate at the end of the course, it does provide them the needed practice and opportunity to pursue welding as a career. “They’ll have the knowledge already and pass the certification on the first try,” said Stanley.

Another bonus with the program is the community partnerships it has already started to form.

“This shows that Delta State is part of the community and not an autonomous unit outside of it,” said Stanley. “I think it’s really important to invest in Cleveland and the Delta. Doing so gives kids a glimpse at higher education and lets them know it’s obtainable and feasible for them to go to college.

“We have to be invested in our community because without students a school won’t survive. Everybody thrives because of these relationships and the stronger the Delta becomes.”

If the platform continues to grow, as Stanley anticipates, additional support will be needed. Assistance can come through equipment and material donations, a larger working space, or even picking up and dropping off students on class days.

Those interested in taking part, either as a student or supporter, contact DAA Executive Director Rori Herbison at 662-843-3344 or Stanley at

Fall Commencement celebrated Saturday

By | Academics, General | No Comments

Delta State University will celebrate the 2013 Fall Commencement ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday inside Walter Sillers Coliseum. The institution, friends and family will come together to recognize the accomplishments of over 370 graduates.

The Office of the Registrar released preliminary graduation totals at: one doctoral degree, 15 educational specialist degrees, 180 master’s degrees and 177 bachelor’s degrees. The degrees are awarded through the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Business, the College of Education and Human Sciences and the Robert E. Smith School of Nursing.

The keynote speaker for the event is Debra Allen, currently in her 19th year as a faculty member in the Robert E. Smith School of Nursing. Along with serving in the faculty senate and various other committees, Allen is an advisor to the Delta State University Student Nurses Association. She is the vice president of Mississippi Nurses Association, has served as the past chair of the MNA nominations committee, delegate to the American Nurses Association and various other MNA and Mississippi Nurses Foundation committees throughout her career.

Delta State President William N. LaForge will provide introductions while presentations of candidates and degrees will be lead by new Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Charles McAdams.

McAdams strums new note as Provost

By | Academics, General, President | No Comments

Delta State University’s new Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Charles McAdams, is ready to get everyone on the same sheet of music.
The former music professor and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Northwest Missouri State University is adrenalized to be at Delta State, a position he officially began this week.
“It’s been great so far — everyone is so nice and welcoming,” said McAdams. “The people are very gracious here and I knew that would be the case based on the proud traditions at Delta State.”
McAdams previously served as dean at NMSU since 2004 and chair of the Department of Music at the University of Central Missouri. He also held leadership roles at various professional organizations, including vice president of the Missouri Association of Departments and Schools of Music, 2002-2004; vice president of the College-University Division of the Missouri Music Educators Association, 1998-2000; and state chair for the Missouri Chapter of the Society for Music Teacher Education.
Beyond music, McAdams said he understands the significance of the Provost position and the accountability he will hold with his new title.
“The Provost position is a critical academic office and a great responsibility,” he said. “In essence, academics are the central focus of the university and I take that very seriously. I recognize and respect the important role faculty and staff play in providing education for the students.
“Delta State has such fine traditions and I look forward to working with the people here to help bring the university to the next level of academic excellence.”
President William N. LaForge is also thrilled to be working alongside a new administrator with an extensive education background.
“Dr. McAdams will bring to Delta State a wealth of experience in higher education, a strong commitment to academics and our faculty, and a vision of excellence that will fit perfectly with this university’s mission for the next several years,” said LaForge in a previous article.
While McAdams is not originally from Mississippi, he said it would be an easy transition because his childhood was spent in Tennessee. His mother is a native of the state, growing up in Water Valley and Drew.
“The location was a big draw in coming here since I’m from the South. I think I’ll be very comfortable because in many ways Delta State is very similar to the previous two universities I worked at — small regional public campuses.”
He and his wife Carol also look forward to exploring the area and getting involved with the community. Carol is semi-retired and has a strong passion for quilting. Along with music, McAdams enjoys traveling and photography.
Above all else, McAdams said striving for academic excellence would take a team effort — commitment from faculty, staff, administration and students.
“We will look at the things needed to improve Delta State and what it will take to bring more students here. We hold a serious responsibly to create an environment where the students feel supported and encouraged to learn.”

Virginia Thompson collection highlighted by Mississippi Digital Library

By | Archives and Museum, General, Uncategorized | No Comments

Documenting letters from American war heroes with ties to Delta State is just one of the many things University Archivist Emily Jones has been up to lately.

Jones and graduate assistant Jessica Tubbs spent over 300 hours uploading the entire collection of letters sent to campus during World War II from former student-soldiers.

The compilation is titled the Virginia Thompson collection because most of the letters were addressed to Thompson, who served as the secretary to Delta State President William Kethley.

The assortment was recently featured on the website of the Mississippi Digital Library,, and in its email newsletter. The site is dedicated to the state’s rich abundance of cultural and historical resources held by institutions and repositories.

“We have finally finished digitizing and have uploaded the entire Virginia Thompson collection,” said Jones. “Jessica created the metadata to make this collection searchable online.”

Throughout the process, Tubbs found numerous side stories that remind readers these letters are just moments in the lives of former student-soldiers. An example of Tubbs’ archiving is available at:

For the past three years on Veterans Day, volunteers have lent their voices to these letters at a public reading at the Capps Archives & Museum building on campus. Only a mere handful of letters from the enormous collection are read.

Jones said selecting which letters to read is akin to choosing a favorite friend to invite to lunch.

“It’s a hard decision. I’m just thrilled that the entire collection of letters are available for family members, alumni and all of our other friends to review at their leisure,” said Jones. “As we look to celebrate 90 years at Delta State, remembering and celebrating the gift of freedom secured by those who fought and served in the war effort will be made that much easier now that this collection is online.”

Jones added that she hopes the increased public access to the Virginia Thompson collection will encourage others in the Mississippi Delta to deposit their materials with the Delta State University Archives.

For more information, visit

Five Delta State presidents

More than half of presidential history

By | General, President | No Comments

Amidst all the energy and excitement during the inauguration week of Delta State University President William N. LaForge, one quick gathering brought together more than half of the university’s presidential history.

The five living Delta State presidents managed to assemble on Nov. 1 for a private portrait following the Delegate’s Breakfast, shortly before LaForge was officially honored as the institution’s eighth president.

In order of service, Dr. Aubrey Lucas, Dr. Kent Wyatt, Dr. David Potter, Dr. John Hilpert and LaForge came together for the five presidents photograph.

“At the institutional level, it was a wonderful tribute to Delta State to have the four previous living leaders here to join in as we celebrated excellence,” said LaForge. “The photo was a unique moment because so much of the history of Delta State was encapsulated in one space and one moment in time.”

Hilpert, who passed the torch to LaForge after leading the green and white for 10 years, said he was thrilled to be associated with the presidential past and present.

“I enjoyed seeing colleagues who also served as presidents of Delta State,” said Hilpert. “During our years of service, each of us met particular challenges and mined unique opportunities. Events prompted our decisions, and the efforts of the university community led to any and all successes.

“I join everyone in well wishes for the future.”

Potter, who served from 1999-2002, said Delta State’s future is bright in the hands of its new leader.

“I think the board made an excellent choice in President LaForge,” said Potter. “He knows the institution and its place in the Delta community, has an impressive statewide network of relationships from his years in D.C., and has strong academic credentials as well.

“In his inauguration speech, he articulated a strategy for development of the university that is right on target given the challenges Delta State faces — a remarkable understanding of the issues given the short time he has been in office.”

Wyatt (1975-1999), who remains a constant figure of support to the university, was reminded of the distinct connection the five share.

“It was very special for me coming together like that because I have served with all four of them,” said Wyatt. “I was an administrative assistant for Aubrey Lucas, and of course, served as President Emeritus with David Potter, John Hilpert and now, Bill LaForge.

“I feel fortunate to have become friends with this distinguished group of gentlemen, each providing unique leadership to Delta State.”

Wyatt added that the highlight of inauguration week was witnessing the official investiture and seeing LaForge take the realms of the beloved institution.

“I look forward to lending my voice in support of President LaForge’s quest for excellence in all of Delta State’s endeavors.”

For Lucas, who served from 1971-1975, convening for the photo provided a humorous realization.

“I’m getting older — all of them arrived at Delta State after I was there,” joked Lucas. “Being together gave me a sense of history and also reminded me, that through the years, Delta State has been blessed by the people of the institution who have wanted to serve it well.”

According to LaForge, it is his true honor to follow in the footsteps of the group’s great commitment. All of the past presidents have been faithful advisors in his transition.

“There are three moments that stick out as highlights during inauguration week,” said LaForge. “The first being when the picture was taken. I think it gave all of us a sense of pride by representing generations of leadership at Delta State.

“Second, when we were robing. Each of them came up to me to wish me well before the ceremony. And third, looking over at them all together on stage just after my investiture — it made me realize what a responsibility this is, and I thank them for their guidance.”

While it was just a brief occasion during the hectic inauguration schedule, the portrait brought all five leaders together for a notable presidential moment in Delta State history.

“It was extremely special to have all of them here for inauguration,” said LaForge. “They showed flags of unity and solidarity — as the Delta State family always should.”