Delta State to present annual Cranford Memorial Lecture

By | General | No Comments

 Elbert Hilliard 

Delta State University will welcome Elbert Hilliard back to campus to keynote the 10th Annual Sammy O. Cranford Memorial Lecture, Thursday, March 29 at 7 p.m. inside the Jobe Hall Auditorium.

Hilliard, Director Emeritus of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, was presented Delta State University’s first-ever honorary degree at its spring commencement two years ago. A 1958 honors graduate from then Delta State College with a B.S.E in Social Studies and Health, Physical Education & Recreation, Hilliard served 31 years as Director for the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. Comprising the state archives and record management programs, the state historical museum and other sites, and the historic preservation program, the Department of Archives and History is the largest cultural institution in the state. Under Hilliard’s leadership, the department flourished, earning a reputation for excellence.

Hilliard has also served as Chairman of the State Records Committee, the Local Government Records Committee, and the Mississippi Main Street Association Advisory Board; as a member of both the Steering Committee of the Council of State Archivists and the visiting committee of the American Association of Museums’ Accreditation Program. From 1973 to 2004, he was Editor-in-chief of “The Journal of Mississippi History,” and he is currently serving his 37th year as secretary-treasurer of the Mississippi Historical Society. He has received Lifetime Achievement Awards from both the Mississippi Heritage Trust (2006) and the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers (2005), and in 1976 he was named Delta State University Alumnus of the Year.

Fittingly, his presentation is entitled “A Career at Archives and History: Recollections and Reflections.”

This annual lecture honors the memory of Dr. Sammy Cranford, who was a member of the DSU History faculty for 25 years and University Archivist for 19 years before his untimely death in 1994. The lecture series began in 1998, as former History Chairman Allen Dennis explained, because “our department wanted to honor Sammy’s memory in a significant way. He valued good teaching and good writing, and it is a fitting tribute to him that we bring a historian to our campus each year who excels in both.”

The Cranford Lecture is sponsored by the DSU History Department in cooperation with the Delta Center for Culture and Learning.

The lecture is free and open to the public.

For more information, please call the Delta State History Department at (662) 846-4170.



Delta State to dedicate Crawford Center, Ferriss Museum to open Saturday

By | General | No Comments

The Robert L. Crawford Center at the Dave “Boo” Ferriss Baseball Complex at Delta State University. The Dave “Boo” Ferriss Museum, which is housed inside the Robert L. Crawford Center at the Delta State University baseball complex, is set to open this Saturday. Former Statesmen head coach “Boo” Ferriss has donated much of his storied memorabilia collection to the University for the Museum project.

A perennial powerhouse in Division II athletics, Delta State University boasts some of the finest athletic facilities in the nation, and this Saturday, March 24, those facilities are only going to get better.

Delta State will officially dedicate the Robert L. Crawford Center this Saturday at 11 a.m. at the Statesmen baseball complex. Made possible through a generous gift by former Delta State baseball player, John Crawford; wife, Beth and mother, Mabel, the Crawford Center will bear the name of John’s father, Robert, who was an ardent supporter of the Statesmen program.

As the main entrance and exit point for all future Statesmen baseball games at Dave “Boo” Ferriss Field, the facility has allowed for expanded restroom and concession areas, an umpire’s locker room and a merchandising stand. Most significant, though, the Crawford Center houses The Dave “Boo” Ferriss Museum.

“Inning by Inning: A Life in Baseball, The Dave “Boo” Ferriss Museum” chronicles the former long-time Statesmen head coach’s illustrious career – including photos and personal memorabilia 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.

Five large, glass-enclosed display cases will feature much of Ferriss’ vast memorabilia collection, including a wool uniform, gloves and an official Red Sox vs. St. Louis Cardinal World Series pennant.

University archivist, Emily Weaver has designed the museum space, including case layouts, floor plan and traffic flow. She partnered with University Relations’ graphic designer, Laura Fleeman to design the panels that will hang behind each case. 

“We wanted to be very mindful of flow in our designs,” Weaver explained. “We knew this space would attract a lot of attention from several different audiences, and we worked very hard to be sure traffic will flow smoothly without much congestion.

“The cases, themselves, will run in chronological order – inning by inning, if you will,” she continued. “We document Coach’s career just as it happened in real time.”

Not be lost though, current Delta State head baseball coach Mike Kinnison cautions, the facility, itself, would not be possible, if not for his former teammate. “Without the support of the Crawford family, The Dave “Boo” Ferriss Museum would not be possible. Their generosity will ensure the continuation of this baseball program’s legacy of success for years to come. It is a great facility that will surely enhance the whole baseball operation. More than just baseball fans will want to see Coach’s memorabilia, and we want everyone to know they’re invited to tour the facility…especially on game days.

“The entire facility just makes it a better day at the ball park for our fans. Not many, if any, programs in the nation will be able to claim the facilities we have, and that’s huge for our program – that distinction separates us,” Kinnison concluded.

Crawford’s former head coach, Ferriss offered, “I am so blessed and thankful to have coached John. He was one of the finest guys to ever wear a Delta State baseball uniform, a top player and strong competitor. The Crawfords have been tremendous supporters of our program for years. They have supported us like few others and I am excited this facility bears their name.

“I am honored and humbled by the decision to have a special section in the Crawford Center, and you can bet that there will be a lot of DSU memorabilia in there,” Ferriss promised. “I am glad I have some things of interest to our community, the University family and alumni and baseball fans everywhere. I have been truly blessed with my association with Delta State and the Red Sox, and I am indeed grateful to the Yawkey Foundation/Boston Red Sox for its substantial gift in funding this project.”

A four-year letterman and two-time All-American selection, Crawford was a member of the Statesmen program from 1975-1978. Arguably as modest and humble as his former coach, Crawford stressed, “This gift to Delta State University is from the entire Crawford family. My father was an avid supporter and fan of Delta State baseball, while my mother was a baseball fan of her son.”

The building dedication is free an open to the public. The Ferriss Museum will also be open to the public following the dedication ceremony.

Also following the dedication, fans are encouraged to stay for the Statesmen’s Gulf South Conference doubleheader. Delta State will play host to Christian Brothers University at 3 p.m.



Delta State Provost resigns to accept position in North Carolina

By | General | No Comments

Delta State University Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. John Thornell officially announced his resignation this morning after 32 years of service to the university.


Thornell has accepted an offer to become the chief academic officer at North Carolina Wesleyan University. He is set to begin his new post July 1.  


“Dr. Thornell has given Delta State many years of strong leadership and we are deeply grateful for his service and commitment,” Delta State President, Dr. John Hilpert said. “We are obviously disappointed to be losing him and wish him and his family the best in their move.”

Of his decision to resign, Thornell offered, “Delta State University has been a very important part of my life and my family’s life for the past 32 years, so it is with mixed emotions that I made this decision. I will be saddened to leave the colleagues I have grown so close with over the years, but am excited by the great opportunity that awaits me in North Carolina.”

State, through its Office of University Relations, will release details of its intended search process as the details become available in the near weeks.


Willy Wonka: Enter A World of Pure Imagination

By | General | No Comments


Tuesday, March 27th @ 7:30 p.m. at the Bologna Performing Arts Center the search for a Golden Ticket is on!  In this fun-filled, musical based on Roald Dahl’s beloved children’s novel, a sweet-natured boy named Charlie Bucket and four other Golden Ticket winners get the tour of a lifetime in a mysterious candy-maker’s fantastical factory! Willy Wonka and his band of Oompa Loompas lead Charlie, the spoiled-rotten Veruca Salt, gluttonous Augustus Gloop, gum-chewing Violet Beauregarde, and television junkie Mike Teavee through a labyrinth of lemon drops, life lessons, and giggles galore.

“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” is the title of the Dahl novel that began the movie; in film and book, Charlie is the poor but deserving boy who wins one of five golden tickets to visit Wonka’s closely guarded factory. This stage adaptation by Leslie Bricusse (who wrote the songs with Anthony Newley) and Tim McDonald sticks to the basic story but injects an odd note of pluck. “Think positive” becomes the Bucket family mantra, and in a ballad sung when Charlie gets implausibly low, he’s advised, “Just be glad you’re you.”

Featuring live actors, puppets, plenty of surprises, and many memorable songs—including “The Candy Man,” “I Want It Now!”, and “Pure Imagination”—Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka is a scrumptious musical theater treat for the entire family. Do you have your golden ticket?

Tickets are $10.00 for all ages.  Contact the Box office @ 662-846-4626 or purchase your tickets online by visiting and clicking on Tickets. 



Hearin Foundation continues funding for Graduate Fellowships in Community Development at Delta State

By | General | No Comments

Front Row: Mary Kathryn Wooten, Michelle Wallace, and Chandra Hines, Hearin Fellows; Back Row: Dr. Albert B. Nylander III, Chair Division of Social Sciences; Dr. Alan Barton, Assistant Professor of Sociology & Community Development; Dr. Paulette Meikle-Yaw, Assistant Professor of Sociology & Community Development; Dr. John Green, Graduate Coordinator of Community Development; Dr. Jerry W. Robinson, Distinguished Professor of Rural Sociology; and Eric Atchison, Hearin Fellow.

Today was a good day for Delta State University’s community development program, as the curriculum’s financial future for the next three years was secured in the form of a $300,000 grant through the Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation of Jackson.

First established in 1995, Delta State’s Master of Science in Community Development (MSCD) was created by the Division of Social Sciences, in collaboration with Delta State’s Center for Community and Economic Development.

The goals of these two units are to address critical social, community and economic development issues in the Mississippi Delta by graduating students who can integrate theory with practice in the region. The MSCD curriculum prepares graduates for successful careers as professional practitioners in private and public sector organizations.

Having already graduated 66 students, Delta State’s MSCD program is quickly gaining respect and recognition as one of the premier programs in the country. To its credit, Delta State was selected as the first site in the nation for a “Graduate Student Honor Society in Community Development.”

Of the recent grant and its role in the success of MSCD, Dr. Albert Nylander, Chair of the Division of Social Sciences at Delta State, explained, “This generous grant provides Delta State with $80,000 per year for Hearin Fellowships for at least five outstanding graduate students, who will undertake full-time study in the MSCD program.

“The remaining funds will be used to: (1) develop a marketing and recruitment program that targets outstanding graduate students; (2) support the work of Hearin Fellows in field placement internships; (3) provide partial support for expenses Fellows occur in applied thesis research; (4) support the participation of Hearin Fellows in professional meetings which will enrich their educational experiences; and (5) help support marketing efforts to place MSCD graduates in Mississippi,” Nylander continued.

He further contended, “Since 1998, total funding from the Hearin Foundation and other sources for MSCD fellowships has totaled over a million dollars. Dr. Jerry Robinson, Jr., Distinguished Professor of Rural Sociology, has led the effort to help receive this outside funding. Our students and faculty are grateful for these resources.”

Each Hearin Fellow receives a monthly stipend. Tuition, books, fees and medical insurance are also covered under the program. Interested students must have a bachelor’s degree in a discipline related to community development and a minimum grade point average of 3.25.

Priority in the selection process will be given to those students in need, as well as those students who will live and work in Mississippi after earning the MSCD.

Currently, more than 80 percent of MSCD graduates remain in Mississippi, most specifically the Mississippi Delta Region. Examples of places in Mississippi where Hearin Fellows are employed include: Mississippi Health Policy Research Center at Mississippi State University; Director of Injury and Violence Prevention in the Office of Preventive Health, Mississippi Department of Health and the North Mississippi Regional and Planning and Development District; Rural Development, USDA. Four more recent Fellows have been employed as Program Associates in Delta State’s Center for Community and Economic Development, while several are employed in the private sector.

Three recent Hearin Fellows are enrolled in doctoral programs in sociology: one at the University of Missouri, one at Mississippi State University, and a third at Brigham Young University.

For more information about the Hearin Fellowships, please contact Dr. Albert Nylander, Chair, Social Sciences, at P.O. Box 3264, Delta State University, Cleveland, MS 38733; or (662) 846-4065, or e-mail