Delta State sets Provost Search timeline, appoints Search Committee

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The timeline is admittedly “aggressive,” Delta State University President, Dr. John M. Hilpert acknowledges, as the University officially announced this morning both its search timeline and committee to find the next Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.

“Our intended schedule calls for the appointment of a new Provost by Thanksgiving,” he continued. “The timing could change, of course, as the realities of the search unfold, but the determination to find the right person will not change.”

Dr. Phyllis Bunn, President of the Faculty Senate for the 2007-08 academic term and long-time College of Business professor, will chair the Search Committee. She will be joined in her work by:


  • Tracy Mims – College of Arts & Sciences
  • Dr. Rie Somlai – College of Arts & Sciences
  • Dr. Darry Hardy – College of Business
  • Dr. Jenetta Waddell – College of Education
  • Dr. Scott Hutchens – College of Education
  • Vicki Bingham – School of Nursing
  • Jeff Slagell – President’s Cabinet/Academic Council
  • Dr. Tyrone Jackson – Academic Support Staff
  • Deborah Brick – Student Government Association
  • Rori Herbison – Administrative Staff Council
  • Dr. Jackie Thigpen – Community
  • Greg Redlin – Ex-Officio (Staffing to the Committee)

The committee will hold its first meeting next week with advertisements for the position to be placed by Monday, Oct. 1. The committee will begin to review and narrow the candidate pool by Monday, Oct. 22. On-campus interviews are slated for Nov. 5 – Nov. 12, with the preferred candidate to receive an offer by Monday, Nov. 19.

“Our search will be broad-based and thorough,” Hilpert promised. “The Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs is a key position for the future of Delta State University. We exist, after all, as an academic enterprise, and we must have a leader in this area who can balance effectively issues of quality, development, responsiveness to external realities and advocacy for faculty concerns.”

The Provost position was originally left vacant in March 2007 with the resignation of Dr. John Thornell. After 30-plus years of service to Delta State, Thornell accepted a similar position in North Carolina.

Delta State’s Presidential Cabinet opted to postpone a search for Thornell’s replacement until the fall semester, reasoning, “If we were to begin the search process in March, our best case scenario would have been to have final candidates on campus in May or June. That timing would have made it difficult for many of the faculty and others in our organization to participate.”

In the interim, Dr. Billy C. Moore, Dean of the College Business, is serving as Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.


Delta State faculty chosen for research funding

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Research proposals by 10 Delta State faculty members related to the 2006-07 University-wide theme of “Health and Wellness in the Delta” have been selected for emphasis and funding. A total of $10,000 was dispersed to fund 12 research proposals.

Dr. Thomas W. Taylor, associate professor of family and consumer sciences, has proposed a pilot study to determine the extent of stress in 8th graders in a Mississippi Delta school.

Taylor’s statement of research states: It is important for teens to learn to deal with stress because it will influence how they will manage as adults. Stress can effect how well students do in school and will have a direct influence on test performance. This pilot study will determine the stress levels and sources of stress within an 8th grade Mississippi Delta middle school. This research can lead to the implementation of programs to help these teens learn how to cope with the stress they are experiencing.

Taylor was awarded $300 to conduct his research

Draughon McPherson, adjunct instructor in family and consumer sciences, has proposed creating “nutrition tool kits.”


These tool kits, created by Delta State University students enrolled in Child Nutrition class in collaboration with Dr. Kathy Davis and the Leaders of Delta Health & Wellness, will be distributed to 4th and 5th grade classes in the Cleveland School District. The kits contain lesson plans and materials to teach nutrition lessons. The 4th and 5th grade teachers will be surveyed regarding their perceptions of the tool kits and the classes’ acceptance of the information presented.                                            

McPherson was awarded $299 to create and distribute the nutrition tool kits


Dr. Kathy Davis, assistant professor of family and consumer sciences, has also made a research proposal using the “nutrition tool kits.”


Davis’ proposal adds that in an attempt to increase the children’s intake of fruit and vegetables, as a component of several nutrition lessons, the nutritional tool kits will include Wal-Mart gift cards for the teachers to use in purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables.

Davis was awarded $276 for her proposal.


Dr. Jeannie Falkner, assistant professor of social work, has proposed “Wellness Wednesday.”

In an effort to promote health and wellness on the DSU campus, the social work department has organized an informal lunch group that shares health lunches, recipes and promotes walking. The “Wellness Wednesday’s” group proposes to tour the grocery stores to read labels, invite guest speakers, host demonstrations on Pilates and yoga, plan a trip to “Wild Oats” organic/health food grocery in Memphis and purchase t-shirts and pedometers for participants.

Falkner was awarded $850 for her “Wellness Wednesday” proposal.

Dr. Yasuhiro Kobayashi, assistant professor of biology, has submitted two research proposals that have been accepted.

The first of Kobayashi’s research proposals deals with the assessment of blood cholesterol and glucose level in students living in the residence halls of Delta State and its correlation with their eating habits.The research will also to determine whether choices of food available on-campus are enough for students to maintain a healthy lifestyle.


Kobayashi’s other research calls for a measurement of dichloro-diphenyl- trichloroethane (DDT) level in channel catfish and common buffalo harvested from selected watersheds in Steele Bayou.

The objective of this proposal is to determine whether fish harvested from Lake Washington are not contaminated with unsafe concentrations of DDT and are safe to eat. The project will be conducted in collaboration with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and the Fisheries Division of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks. The project calls for using channel catfish and buffalo as target species because these specie are either popular as a game fish and food (channel catfish) or commercially important (buffalo). The level of DDT will be measured from various parts of the fish by using commercially available test. The result of this project will have a great impact on the health and food safety of residents in the Mississippi Delta because DDT affects development of nervous system and reproductive system in fetuses and infants.

Kobayashi was awarded $1,025 for his research of cholesterol and glucose levels in students project and $2,725.00 for his DDT levels in fish study.

Dr. Mary Lenn Buchanan, professor of music, has received approval for her research on health issues that affect voice and classroom teachers.

Informal research will begin on health issues which affect students of applied voice and classroom teachers. The dissemination of the research results could be presented in the form of class/workshop discussions to enlighten students and other interested individuals on intelligent care of their voices. It would also allow Buchanan to be better equipped to recognize vocal problems and suggest the proper approach to solving those situations. This information could also be shared with voice colleagues.

Buchanan was awarded $403.17 to conduct her research.

Dr. Eric Blackwell, assistant professor of biology, received funding to conduct his research concerning the assessment of atrazine contamination in the watershed around Cleveland and its effects on the development of frogs and mosquito fish.

The objective of this proposal is to determine if water samples colleted from different sources near Cleveland affect survival and development of mosquito fish and two species of African clawed toads. The study will be conducted as a part of a class project for Ecology and Development Biology.

Blackwell received $1,621.83 to conduct his research.

Dr. John Green, assistant professor of sociology and community development and director of Institute of Community Based Research, proposed research is titled “Understanding Social Change through Food Production, Consumption and Nutrition in Mississippi and Jamaica University Students.“

This pilot exploratory study will investigate social change processes through examination of food production and consumption practices and how these relate to overall nutrition. Four focus group interviews will be conducted in Mississippi (2) and in Jamaica (2). This cross-cultural comparison will be used to assist with construction of a larger research project to access globalization, food and health, by comparing Mississippi and Jamaica.

Green received $300 to conduct his research.

Dr. John Alvarez, associate professor of health, physical education and recreation, has submitted two research proposals and has received approval on both projects.

Alvarez’s first research is titled “Effect of Foam Rolling on Lower Body Range of Motion.”

To complete this research several training videos will be purchased for students to learn proper training techniques for foam rolling. Foam rolls will be purchased and the students will be compared before and after effect of foam rolling on lower body flexibility.


Alvarez’s second research project is called “Effect an Extrinsic Reward System on Weight Loss.”

For this research, Alvarez would buy prizes for weight loss group participants to see if it increases their weight loss over a 12 week period.


Alvarez was presented $300 for each of his proposals.


Alvarez and Green teamed with, Dr. Chuck Smithhart, assistant professor of chemistry, for a research proposal entitled “Exploratory Study of Health among Delta State University Students.”


This study seeks to document and explore the relationships between students’ background, health behaviors and health perceptions. This information will be used to identify patterns at this point in time, and it will also provide a baseline for future comparison to determine if students’ health and well-being improves through various DSU interventions.


Alvarez, Green and Smithhart were awarded $1,600 to conduct the research.



Delta State honors long-time supporter, Robert E. Smith

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(L. to R.) Eddie Willis and Dr. Libby Carlson with Robert E. Smith (center) and the two of the nine recipients of the Robert E. Smith Nursing Scholarships, Holly Brassel, of Sumner, and Megan Tubertini, of Greenville.

Robert E. Smith of Cleveland, a long-time supporter of Delta State University, was recently honored for a $55,000 contribution to the University. Smith generously contributed $30,000 towards the Robert E. Smith School of Nursing Scholarships and $25,000 to the Wesley Foundation.

“Mr. Smith has supported the Wesley at Delta State in many ways that have allowed the ministry to reach greater potential and new heights,” Eddie Willis, Director of the Wesley Foundation, offered. “It has been his wish that college students be given the opportunity to grow closer to Christ while at Delta State.”

Smith’s most recent gift assisted in the purchase and removal of the Jacob House that sat on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Court Street adjacent to the Wesley Foundation Student Center. Willis adds, “Mr. Smith did this to help us expand our boundaries and have a presence directly across the street from the campus.

This is not the first gift Smith has given to the Wesley Foundation. “Mr. Smith has been a faithful supporter of the Wesley Foundation for many years, helping United Methodist students with scholarships, setting up an endowment for the organization and serving as a lifetime member of the Wesley Foundation Board of Directors.” Willis continued.

Reed Abraham, Director of Development for the Delta State Foundation Inc., reported, “In addition to his very generous gift to the Wesley Foundation, Mr. Smith has endowed six scholarships benefiting the University’s School of Nursing. Additionally, he has named the University and the Wesley Student Foundation as a beneficiary to a Charitable Remainder Trust.

Dr. Libby Carlson, Dean of the School of Nursing, explained, “Nine students have benefited from Mr. Smith’s generosity. The majority of our students need financial assistance, and his generosity helps them to become nurses, whereas they may not have been able to.

Enrollment in the Delta State University School of Nursing has grown in three years from 60 students to 200 students. “Mr. Smith’s scholarships and his thoughtfulness in naming the School as a beneficiary to his estate will help us address the critical nursing shortage in the Mississippi Delta,” Carlson contended.

In making the gifts, Smith offered, “I hope the Wesley Student Foundation’s endowment and the School of Nursing Scholarships give encouragement and opportunities to worthy young people in preparing themselves for a better life and opportunities to better serve their community and country.”

“I commend Robert for making such a generous gift to support two causes that are dear to his heart. He is truly a kind and giving person,” Dr. John M. Hilpert, Delta State President, lauded.