Delta State to play host to Cellular South Ferriss Trophy presentation, May 21

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Michael Rubenstein, Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum Executive Director; Dave “Boo” Ferriss, Cellular South Ferriss Trophy namesake; and Hu Meena, President of Cellular South.    

He’s beaming, as he stands in front of the beautifully sculpted trophy bearing his resemblance. “We’re coming home,” Dave “Boo” Ferriss laughs, as the baseball legend again points to the trophy.

This year, for the first time since its inception, the Cellular South Ferriss Trophy presentation will be made in Ferriss’ hometown of Cleveland, inside the Bologna Performing Arts Center (BPAC) on the campus of Delta State University, Monday, May 21 at 7:00 p.m.

Traditionally held in Jackson inside the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum each May, this year’s road telecast marks the first time the trophy presentation has been made outside of the State’s capital since its inception in 2004.

“Cellular South encouraged us to make the move and Delta State and the Cleveland Chamber of Commerce were happy to have us, so it made a lot of sense,” Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum Executive Director, Michael Rubenstein explained. “We are excited to be taking the show on the road, and know we will be supported well in the Delta area.”
Delta State University President, Dr. John M. Hilpert offered of the move, “We are honored to play host to such an exciting event. We look forward to welcoming the top three collegiate baseball players in the state to our campus.
“Delta State is so fortunate to have Coach Ferriss as a member of our Delta State family,” Hilpert continued. “The Cellular South Ferriss Trophy is a fitting tribute to his great career in college baseball.”
Cleveland Mayor, David Work is equally excited by the move. “We were thrilled to hear we had won the bid to host the Cellular South Ferriss Trophy presentation. Cleveland has long had a tremendous history of baseball and with Coach Ferriss being one of our residents, it seems like a very natural fit. We welcome all involved with this prestigious event to our town and hope you enjoy your time in Cleveland.”

The move also allows baseball enthusiasts the opportunity to tour Delta State’s museum dedicated to the career of its long-time head baseball coach, Dave “Boo” Ferriss. “Inning by Inning: A Life in Baseball” chronicles Ferriss’ illustrious career from his early days at Shaw High School, to a young man at Mississippi State, to the height of his career with the Boston Red Sox, to his days at the helm of his beloved Delta State program. The museum is scheduled to be open Monday, May 21 from 3 – 6 p.m. and Tuesday, May 22 from 9 a.m. – noon.
For those purchasing tickets to the Cellular South Ferriss Trophy presentation, they will be entered into a drawing to have a guided tour of the Museum with Coach Ferriss, as well as lunch with the baseball legend.
Three winners will be chosen at random and announced during the broadcast. Winners may invite five other people to accompany them for the tour and lunch.
“Anyone that has had the pleasure or privilege to spend more than five minutes with Coach Ferriss knows what a wonderful man he is,” offered Judson Thigpen, Executive Director of the Cleveland-Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce and former Statesmen player for Ferriss. “He is a charismatic storyteller with a memory for detail that is absolutely awe-inspiring.”
Rubenstein concurred, adding, “This is an once-in-a-lifetime experience. Coach Ferriss is a true jewel for the state and the game.”
Presented annually to the top collegiate baseball player in Mississippi, the Cellular South Ferriss Trophy presentation will be televised live statewide from the BPAC by Mississippi Public Broadcasting.  Former ESPN analyst and current Cincinnati Reds broadcaster Jeff Brantley will host the telecast.
Finalists for this year’s trophy are set to be announced, Monday, May 14.

A reception will precede the presentation. For ticket information, please contact the Museum at 1-800-280-FAME (3263), 601-982-8264 or Ticket forms are also available at the Cleveland-Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce in Cleveland.
All proceeds benefit the private non-profit Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame & Museum and support is tax-deductible to the full extent allowed by law.  For more information about the Cellular South Ferriss Trophy, please visit

Delta State preps for Saturdays commencement exercise

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Daniel Hawthorne (at left), a graduating senior of Columbus, is fitted for his graduation gown by Hazel Hilley-Carter, Delta State’s Registrar’s transcript clerk.

Delta State University is preparing to graduate one of its largest classes in the history of the University this Saturday, May 12, as over 540 students will collect degrees as part of the 80th Spring Commencement service. Scheduled for 10 a.m. inside Walter Sillers Coliseum on campus, the University will also be awarding honorary degrees to two leaders in the field of higher education – Dr. James (Jim) T. Rogers and Dr. Patricia (Patsy) A. Thrash.

Dr. Belle Wheelan, current President of the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, will deliver the keynote address.
Every graduate will be issued six tickets for family and friends, and tickets are required for entry. Any audience overflow will be accommodated in the Jacobs Conference Center in Ewing Hall on campus, where family and friends will be able to view the ceremony on a projection screen.

Delta State commencement exercise set, Regional Accrediting Body President to keynote

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Dr. Belle S. Wheelan

With three either former of current leaders of regional accrediting bodies on the day’s program, accreditation seems to be the central theme of Delta State University’s 80th Spring Commencement service. To be held Saturday, May 12, at 10 a.m. inside Walter Sillers Coliseum on the campus, Delta State’s graduation will feature Dr. Belle S. Wheelan, President of the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, as the keynote speaker.

The Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools is the recognized regional accrediting body in the 11 U.S. Southern states (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia) and in Latin America for those institutions of higher education that award associate, baccalaureate, master’s or doctoral degrees. The Commission on Colleges is the representative body of the College Delegate Assembly and is charged with carrying out the accreditation process.
The first African-American and first woman to serve as President of the Commission, Wheelan’s distinguished career spans 32 years and includes the roles of faculty member, chief student services officer, campus provost, college president and Secretary of Education. 
She received her bachelor’s degree from Trinity University in Texas (1972) with a double major in psychology and sociology; her master’s from Louisiana State University (1974) in Developmental Educational Psychology; and her doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin (1984) in Educational Administration with a special concentration in community college leadership. 
Over her career, she has received numerous awards and recognition including four honorary degrees; the Distinguished Graduate Award from Trinity University (2002) and from the College of Education at the University of Texas at Austin (1992); “Washingtonian Magazine’s” 100 Most Powerful Women in Washington, D.C. (2001); and the AAUW Woman of Distinction Award (2002).
Wheelan holds and has held membership in numerous local, state and national organizations including Rotary International; Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.; the American College Testing, Inc., board of directors; American Association of Community Colleges’ board of directors; and the President’s Round Table of the National Council on Black American Affairs.
Delta State University is expected to graduate over 500 students during its spring commencement ceremony.
The commencement ceremony is not open to the public, as seating is limited and reserved to the graduates’ families and friends only. Each graduate has been allotted six tickets.
However, in an effort to accommodate overflow possibilities, Delta State has arranged for extra seating in the Jacobs Conference Center in Ewing Hall on campus. Attendees will be able to view the ceremony through a live-broadcast feed to the auditorium. 

For more information on Delta State’s 80th Commencement exercises, please contact University Relations at (662) 846-4675.


Delta Music Institute to offer summer camp for aspiring musicians, application deadline June 1

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The Delta Music Institute on the campus of Delta State University will be hosting its first DMI Summer Camp from July 15-21 on the DSU campus in Cleveland, Miss. The camp is the newest addition to the Janice Wyatt Mississippi Summer Arts Institute program.

The DMI Summer Camp is a six-day interactive experience for high school students ages 15-18 to explore three music career tracks that will be integrated together, culminating in a recording and showcase performance. College faculty, music industry professionals and specialists will provide hands-on instruction grounded in both academic and real-world applications. The curriculum will cover the creative process and technical aspects of songwriting, performing and recording.
DMI Director Tricia Walker wants to encourage students in their creativity. “Growing up in a small Mississippi town, I had the support of my community and my teachers in following my dreams, which were musical in nature. Those dreams took me to a major music center where I spent over 25 years as a singer/songwriter, musician, publisher, and producer; and because of music, I’ve had the opportunity to travel places all over the world. Through the DMI Summer Camp, we want to help equip and encourage young musicians and performers to follow their dreams.”
Some of the topics covered in the camp will be studio recording techniques, MIDI, music theory, songwriting, and performance. Daily instruction will be held in the Delta Music Institute which houses the DMI recording studio, featuring Mississippi’s only Digi Design ICON console, and the DMI Pro Tools lab, which includes 15 digital audio workstations with Digi 002 Factory interfaces. Final performances will be held in the Bologna Performing Arts Center on campus.
An application form with guidelines for submitting audition materials may be downloaded from the DMI website at The deadline for submitting materials for this year’s camp is Friday, June 1. For more information, please call the DMI office at (662) 846-4579.
The Delta Music Institute is a first step towards a broad program in Media Arts Production. It began with a generous donation by Fred Carl of the Viking Range Company in 2003. The focus of the DMI is to provide students with a broad and thorough education in the technological, business, and creative areas of the music industry.

Delta State alums Rogers, Thrash to be awarded honorary degrees at University’s May commencement

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Patricia Thrash

James Rogers

Delta State University will be celebrating its 80th Spring Commencement, Saturday, May 12 at 10 a.m. inside Walter Sillers Coliseum on campus. As part of the exercises, the University will be awarding honorary degrees to two leaders in the field of higher education – Dr. James (Jim) T. Rogers and Dr. Patricia (Patsy) A. Thrash.

Both Delta State graduates, Rogers and Thrash will be receiving the fourth-
and fifth-ever honorary degrees presented by Delta State. Each will receive a Doctor of Humane Letters degree, for which they were unanimously approved by the Institutions of Higher Learning’s Board of Trustees.

The pair has dedicated nearly their entire lives to the advancement of higher education, having served a combined 96 years. Until their retirements, they sat atop two of the nation’s six accrediting agencies in higher education.

“It is amazing that one institution produced two of the most important higher education leaders in the nation,” said Dr. John M. Hilpert, Delta State University President. “Regional accreditation is the critical certification of quality that a university must achieve. At one time, these two Delta State graduates led regional associations that accredit institutions in 30 of the 50 states.

“We are proud of these two successful alumni and thrilled that we can honor them at our Spring Commencement. Furthermore, we are proud of the history of quality education at Delta State University,” he concluded.

A 1955 graduate of Delta State, Rogers earned his bachelor’s degree from Delta State in biology. Following five years of service to the United States Navy, he continued his education at New Orleans Seminary and Florida State University. Rogers served as Dean of Students at Pensacola Junior College before accepting a similar position with Armstrong State College
in Georgia.

In 1970, he advanced to the rank of President at Brenau College in Gainesville, Ga., where he oversaw the complete modernization of the 100-year-old institution in all facets of its operation, including curriculum, faculty, admissions, learning resources, student services and development. He would remain in that position for 15 years. 

The final stop in his distinguished career was as Executive Director for the Commission of Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools – a post he would hold until his retirement in June, 2006. During his tenure, Rogers engineered the implementation of standards on institutional effectiveness adopted in the late 1980s for higher education institutions in the 11 states of the southeastern region and worked with the membership and the Commission’s leadership and staff to institute comprehensive changes in accreditation standards, placing a renewed and in depth emphasis on student learning.

Upon his retirement John T. Casteen, III, president of the University of Virginia, offered, “Dr. Rogers’ retirement will bring to an end one of the most significant careers of our era in higher education. He has brought integrity, fairness, and a profound dedication to quality to the process of improving our colleges and universities.”

Quite similarly, Thrash graduated with honors from Delta State in 1950 with a degree in English. A  Boyle native, she also has a master’s and doctorate degree from Northwestern University and a certificate from Harvard University’s Institute for Educational Management. Her academic fields are English, Counseling, and Higher Education.

Before joining the Commission staff, Thrash served with distinction as a faculty member and administrator at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, for 19 years. As Dean of Women for 10 years, she was a leader in the student personnel profession, contributing to professional journals and serving as President of the National Association for Women Deans, Administrators, and Counselors.

In 1972, she joined the staff of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, one of the oldest of the regional accrediting associations; and the largest, serving more than 950 institutions in a 19-state region that includes Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. She was named Executive Director of the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education in 1988, the first woman to head a regional accrediting agency.

As Executive Director she provided staff leadership for the Commission in formulating and carrying out policy for the evaluation and accreditation of more than 950 institutions in the 19-state North Central region and in developing programs and publications to encourage institutional improvement. During her tenure, the Commission was deeply involved in the evaluation of non-traditional institutions, the emergence of assessment of educational effectiveness as a critical component of the evaluation process, and an emphasis on both access and excellence in higher education. The Commission increased the involvement of all member institutions in the self-study, evaluation and accreditation process and expanded the number of women and minorities in its Consultant-Evaluator Corps.

When she retired on January 1, 1997, after 24 years of service, Thrash was named Executive Director Emeritus of the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education and recognized as an honorary member of the North Central Association. Vincennes University in Indiana, Drake University in Iowa and Adrian College in Michigan awarded her honorary degrees in 1997 and 1998. She is listed in Who’s Who in America.

All the while, Thrash continued to support Delta State University, crediting her undergraduate experience as a major force in her personal and professional development. She was named an outstanding alumnus in 1970, commencement speaker in 1991 and gave the Academic Honors Day address in 2002. She served as a member of the Delta State University Foundation Board of Directors from 2001-03. In 1997, she endowed the Weaver Betts Cotton Scholarship in memory of her mother. The scholarship is awarded annually to an outstanding junior or senior woman majoring in English.

State is expected to graduate over 500 students, as part of its 80th commencement exercise.

Every graduate will be issued six tickets for family and friends, and tickets are required for entry. Any audience overflow will be accommodated in the Jacobs Conference Center in Ewing Hall on campus, where family and friends will be able to view the ceremony on a projection screen.

For more information, please contact University Relations at (662) 846-4675