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Delta State enrollment increases over five percent

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For the fourth year in a row, Delta State University is proud to announce an increase in university enrollment.

The preliminary numbers, as of Sept. 8, were 3,035 undergraduate students and 743 graduate students, for a total enrollment of 3,778. The increase of nearly 5.5 percent was the largest increase among the state’s eight public universities this year.

According to Delta State University President William N. LaForge, the growth is due to a number of major institutional efforts.

“I am very pleased with the increase in enrollment for the fall of 2017,” said LaForge. “Early reports indicate we are up 190 students, or nearly 5.5 percent over last year. This significant uptick represents the fourth consecutive increase, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.”

LaForge credited six major reasons for the enrollment increase:

  • A great team of faculty and staff across campus.
  • Smarter and more targeted recruiting in high schools and community colleges. This includes doubling community college recruiters, and increasing partnerships with high schools.
  • Improved retention rates thanks to engaged faculty and programs such as the Student Success Center and First Year Seminar.
  • Signature programs that continue to attract more students, including the Robert E. Smith School of Nursing, Delta Music Institute, Health/Physical Education/Recreation, and Aviation.
  • Doubling the number of international students in the last three years.
  • Offering a competitive tuition rate with stellar academics, including capstone projects for every major — all at an unparalleled value.

“I would be remiss not to mention that we have a welcoming student environment,” added LaForge. “Students feel very welcomed here and have the total college experience. There’s a buzz on campus, and there’s excitement all around.”

Caitlyn Thompson, director of recruiting, said recruitment efforts have focused on directly communicating with potential students.

“The recruiting staff worked very hard over this past year to reach new students, and one effort that may have contributed to the enrollment increase is the E-Communication Center that was implemented last fall,” said Thompson. “Current Delta State students contacted prospective students to speak with them about topics like campus events, scholarships, admissions deadlines, application reminders and more.”

Tricia Walker, director of the Delta Music Institute, said the DMI program has experienced significant growth over the past few years.

“The sustained growth of the DMI program brought the opportunity to add a faculty member and a studio manager to our ranks in order to better serve our students,” said Walker. “We are grateful to the administration for their support of this unique program. With an incoming class of more than 30 new students this fall, the DMI will exceed 120 majors in our entertainment industry studies program. We are packed and we like it that way.”

Tim Colbert, chair of the Department of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, said HPER is one of the fastest growing majors.

“HPER has good degree options in multiple areas that lead not just to employment, but also sustainable careers with a chance for advancement,” said Colbert. “Our faculty understand how to relate to students on a personal level and help them to deal with their issues to become successful.”

Additionally, Delta State saw another uptick this year in the number of international students. Dr. Christy Riddle, executive director of the Student Success Center and International Student Services, is proud that the university has doubled its international student body since the spring of 2013.

“We love that our international student population is growing each year,” said Riddle. “International students contribute so much to campus because of their global perspectives and diverse cultures. We welcome them to Delta State and look forward to even more international students for years to come.

Follow all Delta State news at www.deltastate.edu.

Complete 2 Compete Initiative launches website

By | Academics, Continuing Education, IHL | No Comments
Officials, including (left to right) Steve Jaworowski, LK Marketing; John Davis, DHS; Stephanie Bullock, IHL; Governor Phil Bryant; Dr. Andrea Mayfield, MCCB; Dr. Glenn Boyce, IHL; Dr. Casey Turnage, IHL; and Audra Kimble, MCCB; gather to announce the launch of the Complete 2 Compete website.

The portal to a better future is just a click away for thousands of Mississippians. The Complete 2 Compete website provides information and resources available to help Mississippi adults who have completed some college, but not a degree, to return to college and complete the requirements necessary to earn their degrees.

“Complete 2 Compete will grow our skilled, educated workforce, in turn growing economic development across the state,” said Governor Phil Bryant. “This partnership will ensure Mississippi remains attractive to business and industry looking for a favorable tax climate and a workforce ready to excel on day one. I am grateful to everyone involved in making it a reality.”

The website will serve as an important resource for thousands of Mississippians:

  • More than 2,400 former students age 21 or over have enough credits to earn a bachelor’s degree with no additional coursework
  • An additional 28,000 students have enough credits to earn an associates degree with no additional coursework
  • More than 100,000 former students can earn either an associates or bachelor’s degree with some additional coursework

“This website provides important information that can have life-changing results for many Mississippians,” said Dr. Glenn Boyce, commissioner of Higher Education. “Workforce studies have shown that the vast majority of future jobs will go to those with a postsecondary degree or credential of value beyond high school. I would encourage individuals to access this website as it could be an important first step in helping them achieve a goal that will ultimately lead to a better, higher-paying job and greater job and financial security.”

Mississippi Public Universities, the Mississippi Community College Board and the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges are partners in the effort to identify target groups, implement adult learner services and re-engage adult students to help them complete their degrees.

“As a statewide initiative, Complete 2 Compete has the potential to impact hundreds of thousands of Mississippians,” said Dr. Andrea Mayfield, executive director of the Mississippi Community College Board. “Expanding career and wage opportunities are just two, of many, benefits of Complete 2 Compete. I am excited to see this collaborative effort become a reality. Without the partnership and efforts of many, this initiative would not be possible. I look forward to the positive impact on individuals, employers, and Mississippi’s economy.”

The Mississippi Department of Human Services has provided funding through a grant designed to help low-income Mississippians improve their job skills.

“The Mississippi Department of Human Services proudly supports the Complete 2 Compete Project,” said John Davis, executive director of  MDHS. “Our generation plus approach at MDHS begins by addressing poverty as well as associated barriers encountered by Mississippi families. The approach is designed with an intentional focus on working with the family as a whole. Education is one of the key components to create a foundational framework​ for individuals along their pathway to independence. The Complete 2 Compete Project perfectly aligns with our efforts to holistically assist households obtain livable wages.”

The Mississippi Department of Employment Security also provided a grant for the program.

There is no cost for submitting information through the C2C website and doing so may help an individual determine how close they are to completing degree requirements. Depending on what programs are needed to satisfy an individual’s career and educational interests, the Complete 2 Compete website will match him or her to a list of schools that offer the classes needed to complete a degree.

Tuition and fees for enrollment in courses may be assessed according to the established tuition and fee schedule at each institution. Some incentives, including academic forgiveness, virtual tutoring, adult learner scholarships and tuition assistance, prior learning assessment and repayment plan options may be available at some of the institutions.

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The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.

 

Students to present at Posters in the Rotunda

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Students from all eight of Mississippi’s public universities will share their research and creative activities on a variety of topics Thursday with legislators and state leaders at Posters in the Rotunda, held in the Rotunda of the State Capitol. Students will show how their research solves some of Mississippi’s most pressing problems and benefits the citizens of the state.

Participating Delta State students and their topics included:

  • Kristina Hong: Game-Based Student Response Systems and Academic Performance
  • Brittany Hulsey: Paleocommunity of Rancholabrean Age Megafauna Found Along Lower Mississippi Delta Gravel Bars
  • Kiersten Page: Using VARK Modalities to Increase Retention in Organic Chemistry
  • William Weeks: Electrospinning Alginate-Based Nanofibers

The event provides opportunities for legislators to visit with students from their districts, allows students to network with each other as they learn about work on other campuses, and showcases the cutting-edge research conducted by undergraduates that benefits the residents of Mississippi.

“Posters in the Rotunda epitomizes both the diversity and high quality of the scholarship being done by students and their faculty mentors,” said Dr. Marie Danforth, chair of the steering committee for the Drapeau Center for Undergraduate Research at The University of Southern Mississippi, and coordinator of the event. “This year, we’ve been able to expand the event to include more undergraduates from each university. Two students representing Mississippi INBRE, a statewide program focusing on biomedical research, are also participating.”

Scheduled speakers include Governor Phil Bryant and Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves, with introductions given by Dr. Gordon Cannon, vice president for research at The University of Southern Mississippi.

“I am so pleased that the Posters in the Rotunda event has been expanded to include even more students for its second year,” said Dr. Glenn Boyce, Commissioner of Higher Education. “This is an excellent program that highlights the value of undergraduate research and the impact university research has on solving Mississippi’s most pressing problems. Participating in undergraduate research projects provides a great experience for the students, strengthening their academic, leadership and presentation skills and preparing them for research on the graduate level.”

Modeled after the Posters on the Hill event in which students from across the country share their work in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Mississippi’s event is similar to ones held in 17 other states.

More information on the Posters in the Rotunda event is available at http://postersintherotundams.org.

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The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.

Beals honored for Excellence in Diversity by IHL

By | Academics, College of Education and Human Sciences, Faculty/Staff, IHL | No Comments
Dr. George Beals, center, receives the IHL Excellence in Diversity and Inclusive Award from trustee Shane Hooper (left) and Delta State President William N. LaForge.

The Mississippi Board of Trustees of the State Institutions of Higher Learning recently held its annual diversity celebration to recognize campus and community leaders for the impact they have made in advancing diversity and encouraging understanding and respect.

Dr. George Beals, assistant professor of counselor education, was selected as the Delta State University nominee for the IHL Excellence in Diversity and Inclusive Award. Beals is also the program coordinator/assessment director for the Division of Counselor Education and Psychology at Delta State.

I am deeply honored and very humbled that my dean and colleagues appreciated my efforts around diversity,” said Beals. “I think what they saw in me was the fact that my lens of diversity, inclusion and social justice is always a primary when focusing on programmatic efforts and teaching my classes. Being a part of DSU has always been a point of pride for me because we can boast that per capita, we are the most diverse campus in the state.”

Social justice is a value that is most primary in my interactions with others and with institutions,” added Beals. “I hold the vision that the world can be an amazing place if we all work toward communicating with each other.”

Among his many efforts on campus, Beals serves on both the Diversity Committee and the Winning The Race Conference Committee. He also provides diversity trainings including Safe-Space Training, and has led some diversity experiences for Delta State students as a part of the Diversity Efforts and the Quality Enhancement Program.  

Beals, who has taught at Delta State for eight years, received his doctorate in counselor education from Mississippi State University in 2007, and received his master’s in community counseling, also from MSU, in 1995. Additionally, he is a member and current chapter advisor for Delta State’s chapter of Chi Sigma Iota, the international honor society for students, professional counselors and counselor educators. He is also the recipient of the 2016 Janie G. Rugg Career Contributor by the Mississippi Counseling Association.

His academic interests include: personal growth and wellness of counselor trainees, experiential therapies across diverse populations, somatization of oppression, systems theories and interventions with community applications, and counseling theories and neurosciences.

The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.

University Research Center hosts conference on solving state’s most pressing problems

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Identifying solutions to some of Mississippi’s most pressing problems was the focus of the “Advancing Mississippi: Research for a Better Mississippi for More Mississippians” Conference held last week in Jackson.

“I cannot think of a more important conference and work,” said Dr. Glenn Boyce, commissioner of Higher Education. “The key to improving a state like ours, with limited resources, is to tap into the power of synergy. Working together, we can use our university expertise and research capabilities to solve problems and advance the state.”

Hosted by the University Research Center, the conference featured some of the brightest minds in Mississippi public universities as they covered topics organized into four categories: estimations, employment, being healthy and education. The conference also addressed the systemic challenges that Mississippi faces.

“This conference brings together the best and brightest minds to bear on the systemic problems facing our state,” said Dr. Darrin Webb, state economist and director of the University Research Center. “We’re here to talk about real solutions to make a better Mississippi.”

Representative Joel Bomgar, a republican from Madison County, and Representative Kabir Karriem, a democrat from Lowndes County, presented the luncheon keynote. They discussed Mississippi’s current criminal justice system and how a bi-partisan effort to reform the system could improve outcomes for those transitioning to the workforce once their debt to society has been paid.

The papers presented included:

Estimations

Is Hinds County Mississippi Really Worse than Madison or Rankin County? A Spatial Equilibrium Approach to Ranking Quality of Life
Maury Granger and Gregory Price
Jackson State University
·        Using a spatial-equilibrium econometric approach, the authors measured local amenities, which informed them about quality-of-life. This approach provided a novel, theoretically tenable and unbiased approach to measuring amenities and gauging quality-of-life in particular locations.

The Role of Income and location in Racial/Ethnic differences on loan denial in three Mississippi Counties
Okechukwu Anyamele, Gail Fulgham and Jean-Claude Assad
Jackson State University
·        The authors investigated the racial differences in loan denial rates in three Mississippi counties within the Jackson Metro statistical area. The results showed that 31.56% of the difference in loan denial rates between whites and African Americans is explained by endowments, while 68.40% is unexplained. Similarly, 20.60% of the difference in loan denial rates between Hispanics and Whites is explained by endowments, while 79.40% is unexplained.

Estimation of the Burden of Cigarette Smoking on the State of Mississippi in 2014
Alan Barefield
Mississippi State University
·        The purpose of the research, sponsored by the Mississippi State Department of Health – Office of Tobacco Control, was to estimate the economic burden of smoking cigarettes on Mississippi’s adult population. The study estimated the total economic burden of smoking on the state to be approximately $6.8 billion with $1.5 billion allocated to direct medical costs and $5.3 billion comprising indirect costs. Also estimated were state fiscal impacts (approximately $90 million for income taxes and sales taxes) and potential wealth redistribution effects quantified by input-output analysis.

Employment

Independent Living Program (ILP) and Workforce Development for Youth Aging Out of the Mississippi Foster Care System
Shonda Lawrence and Glenda McMillan
Jackson State University
·        There are approximately 3,700 children in the foster care system in the state of Mississippi, with approximately 1,200 children who are 14 to 21 years of age and eligible for independent living services. The study looked at the Independent Living Program (ILP), which provides services that will foster self-sufficiency through employment, and at workforce development for youth aging out of the system. Some of the recommendations brought forward by the study includes early and consistent work experience for youth, a task force to examine employment trends and an oversight committee to monitor employment opportunities.

Understanding the Nature of the Teacher Shortage in Mississippi
Authors: Kenneth V. Anthony, Dana Pomykal Franz and Devon Brenner
Mississippi State University
·        The goal of the study was to understand the nature of the teacher shortage in Mississippi in order to provide policy makers with the information necessary to develop effective solutions. The authors’ findings indicate that districts with a high percentage of black students, districts located in the Yazoo-Mississippi River Delta Region, and districts that generate less money locally for education are more likely to have a teacher shortage. The factors that most influence the shortage extend outside the world of education and education policy and include people’s perceptions and ideas about race, the economics of place and what makes a place a valuable place to live, and the economic health of places. All of these problems are place-based and the solutions must be found in the places. Some of them can be addressed by education policy, but others must be addressed by the larger society. One possible solution that can be addressed within the field of education is to produce teachers who reside in the places experiencing teacher shortage and who are committed to staying.

An Exploratory Study of Effects of Workplace Variables on Organizational Commitment of Mississippi Correctional Staff
Linda Keena, Eric Lambert, Zachary Buckner, David May and Stacy Haynes
University of Mississippi
·        The study explored how different dimensions of the workplace are associated with organizational commitment among staff at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, the largest facility in the Mississippi Department of Corrections. The study found that key factors in influencing employee commitment include role clarity, input in decision-making and instrumental communication.

Being Healthy

Transforming Lives Through Health Insurance Outreach and Enrollment
Authors: Laura Richard and Kathryn Rehner
University of Southern Mississippi
·        Mississippi adults and children are significantly more likely than adults in the rest of the nation to be uninsured. The E³ (Educate, Enroll, Empower) Health Initiative was a partnership between the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) School of Social Work and local city government. The study found that the efforts of the E3 Health Initiative resulted in a 65.8% growth in Medicaid/CHIP enrollment in the targeted zip code area.

The Socio-Economic Impact of Community Development Financial Institutions on Child Health Outcomes in Mississippi
Nicholas Hill and Corey Wiggins
Jackson State University
·        Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) have an important role in providing financial products and services to underserved communities. Poverty stricken areas are plagued with significant disparities in heath due to inequities between social and economic issues. Specifically, these social determinants of health have both a direct and indirect influence on child health outcomes. This research provides an exploratory examination on what impact CDFIs have on child health outcomes in Mississippi. Utilizing probabilistic and comparative analysis for data collected at the county level in the State of Mississippi, an economic model that predicts the level of investment that maybe linked to obesity rates is developed. At the national level, it is suggested that innovative cross-sector collaborations by the community development sector showed promise in mitigating place-based disadvantage and improving the social determinants of health.

Health Insurance Influence on Obesity Rates: A Cross-Sectional Study of Mississippi’s 82 Counties
Sam Mozee, Jr. and Jin Zhang
Jackson State University
·        This study investigated whether there is a relationship between the percentage of persons not having health insurance (i.e., the un-insured) and obesity rates at the county level in Mississippi. However, the impact of higher uninsured percentages on obesity rates was statistically insignificant and very negligible for the time period under review.

Education

Sex Education in Mississippi: An Analysis of the Early Impacts of HB999
Authors: Robert D. Brown and Sara Porcheddu
University of Mississippi
·        House Bill 999 was passed during the 2011 legislative session and represents Mississippi’s first attempt to require the teaching of sex education and STD/HIV prevention in Mississippi schools. First implemented during the 2012-2013 school year, HB999 allows school districts to choose between “abstinence-only” and “abstinence-plus” approaches to adopting sex education curricula. The study provided an initial glimpse into the early impacts of HB999. The study found the Abstinence Plus CHART (Creating Healthy and Responsible Teens) program to be effective. The CHART initiative is a partnership between Mississippi First, the Mississippi State Department of Health, and the Women’s Foundation of Mississippi.

Applied Behavior Analysis in Mississippi: New Opportunities, New Challenges, and New Solutions
Authors: Meleah Ackley, Shawn Bishop, BreAnna Newborne and James Moore
University of Southern Mississippi
·        According to the 2015 Mississippi Autism Advisory Committee Report, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affects an estimated 10,743 children in Mississippi. ASD causes social and communication issues as well as repetitive behaviors, self-injurious behaviors, tantrum behaviors, and aggression. The authors proposed using Telehealth to provide an economic and efficient way to overcome the challenges in assessment and treatment of autism spectrum disorders in children.

Early Learning Standards
Authors: Kristin Javorsky and Candice Pittman
Mississippi State University
·        This study involved a statewide, large-scale survey of licensed early childhood care providers examining choices in implementation of Mississippi’s official Early Learning Standards (ELS) for three- and four-year-olds (preschoolers). Policy recommendations based on survey results include:

1.      Increasing awareness among childcare providers of how the Mississippi’s Early Learning Standards are beneficially aligned with existing childcare licensing requirements, Head Start framework criteria, and the Mississippi College and Career Ready Standards
2.      Expanding educational partnership efforts between private childcare centers and public school districts
3.      Increasing educational and financial opportunities that can raise the formal education levels of the early childhood care and education workforce statewide.

Financial Literacy among College Students: Comparisons by Gender, Race/Ethnicity, Age, and National Norms
Authors: Thomas Taylor, John Thornell, Molly Vaughn and Nathan Pitts
Delta State University
·        The purposes of this study were twofold:
1.      To assess college student performance on a nationally recognized measure of financial literacy and compare the results for three demographic variables: race/ethnicity, gender, and age.
2.      To compare overall performance of students in this sample against national performance on the same measure.
·        The study found there is a need for financial literacy education to help students learn how to make good financial decisions.

In addition, three student papers were recognized with book scholarships:

·        First Place: “Improving Developmental Mathematics Courses: A Study of Various Methods for Replacing Developmental Mathematics Courses in Higher Education” by Aaron Lyle Wallace, Chris Kelly, Marti Pulido, Flora Sumrall and Selah Weems (Mississippi State University- Meridian Campus)
·        Second Place: “Bridging the Gap: Improving Mental Health Services for Children and Adolescents in Mississippi Schools” by Amy Henderson (University of Southern Mississippi)
·        Third Place: “Blueprint Health: A Social Solution to Obesity in the Workforce and Communities of Mississippi” by Cecilia Snyder, Molly Chaffin , Brian Street and Timothy King (University of Southern Mississippi)

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The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.