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Allie Rose Parker, SGA president at Delta State, recently became the first student appointed to the board of directors for the Cleveland-Bolivar County  Chamber of Commerce.

Parker named to Chamber Board of Directors

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Allie Rose Parker, Student Government Association president at Delta State, recently became the first student member of the Board of Directors for the Cleveland-Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce.

Parker was appointed to the position at the recommendation of Board President Heather Robinson ’01, ’03. She will begin her duties next month.

“This is a special opportunity for me because I have the chance to interact with some of the people who work so hard to make Cleveland the awesome city that it is,” said Parker. “As a student, I feel that I’ll be able to learn from these men and women and gain experiences and knowledge for the future.”

“Cleveland is a unique city because the residents here care so deeply about DSU,” she added. “With this position, I hope to involve the city even more with events happening on our campus. Community events are such a big thing in Cleveland, and with the city and Delta State working together, I think we will see some really great things accomplished.”

Chamber Executive Director Judson Thigpen ’78 said he’s thrilled to bring a student voice on board.

“We feel a strong bond with Delta State, especially with the faculty and staff, and we wanted to become more mindful of the things students would like to see,” said Thigpen ’78. “We really value Allie Rose’s input as she represents the student body, and we expect that each year the SGA president would serve this role for the Chamber.”

Dr. Vernell Bennett, Delta State’s vice president of Student Affairs, said this is the perfect opportunity for Parker to strengthen the university’s bond with the community.

“This is a great opportunity for Allie Rose and very insightful of the Chamber to include the student voice on its board,” said Bennett. “In doing so, I believe they’ll see a marked increase in DSU students being engaged in their programming and activities. I think it’s mutually beneficial because it allows both entities to capitalize off of the strengths of the other. DSU students will benefit from the Chamber’s programming, services, networking opportunities and possible merchant mentorships.”

Bennett noted that this has become a semester of firsts for Parker. She also became the first Delta State student to have voting privileges on the President’s Cabinet.

Delta State President William N. LaForge echoed Bennett’s praise for this opportunity.

“We’re very moved that the Cleveland-Bolivar County Chamber invited our SGA president to be on the board,” said LaForge. “Just as Allie Rose will serve on the President’s Cabinet, now the Chamber has the benefit of student input for the community. It’s a wonderful illustration of town-gown relations and the engagement of students who have very important perspectives. She will be a great member of their board.”

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

Mississippi Congressman Bennie Thompson will provide his Distinguished Speakers Lecture Series address Nov. 9 at 6 p.m.

Congressman Thompson to provide colloquia address following election

By | Community, President, Students | No Comments

The Delta State University Colloquia Distinguished Speakers Lecture Series continues this semester with U.S. Congressman Bennie Thompson of Mississippi on Nov. 9.

Rep. Thompson’s speech, titled “A Look Back at the 2016 National Election,” will begin at 6 p.m. on Nov. 9 in the Jobe Auditorium on campus — just one day after the 2016 national elections. The presentation is free and open to the public.

Delta State President William N. LaForge established the colloquia program when taking office in 2013. The platform is an ongoing series of top-flight lectures and addresses featuring prominent speakers. William F. Winter, former Mississippi governor, was honored as the first speaker in 2013.

“We’re thrilled to bring Congressman Thompson here for our Distinguished Speakers Lecture Series,” said LaForge. “It seemed fitting to invite him to campus the day after the national election to give us a snap-reaction to the election results. It’s an ideal opportunity for our campus to engage him, as our congressman in Washington, and at the same time, allow him to share his knowledge about what’s going to happen at the top of the ticket.”

Rep. Thompson has spent his entire life giving a voice to the voiceless. His lifelong public service record is a testament to his unwavering dedication to fulfill and exceed the expectations of the constituents of the Second Congressional District of Mississippi.

A native of rural Bolton, Thompson has always been aware of the realities that plague the South. Viewing the experiences his family endured firsthand became the catalyst for his passion for those who were often times underserved.

He is a product of the Hinds County School District and later earned a Bachelor of Science from Tougaloo College and a Master of Science from Jackson State University. While pursuing his education, Thompson began to cultivate his passion for grassroots political activism. A product of the Civil Rights movement, he joined the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and helped to organize voter registration drives for African Americans in the Mississippi Delta. After graduating from college, he followed in the footsteps of his mother and worked as a schoolteacher. It was during this time that he began to aggressively pursue a career in politics.

Thompson has served the Second Congressional District since 1993. He is the longest-serving African American elected official in the state of Mississippi, and he is also the only Democrat in the Mississippi Congressional delegation. Thompson’s voting record is indicative of his determination to be an activist for reform. In 2000, he authored legislation creating the National Center for Minority Health and Health Care Disparities, which subsequently became law. Thompson also received a presidential appointment to serve on the National Council on Health Planning and Development.

In 2006, during the 109th Congress, Thompson’s Washington colleagues expressed their overwhelming confidence in his abilities and selected him to serve as the first Democratic chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. As chairman, he introduced and engineered House passage of the most comprehensive homeland security package since Sept. 11, 2001 — H.R. 1, the “9/11 Commission Recommendations Act of 2007.”

LaForge said the Distinguished Speakers Lecture Series is another commitment to bringing excellence to Delta State.

“The university colloquia program gives our institution a chance to hear from and engage with experts from a wide array of professions and interests,” said LaForge. “It especially allows our students and faculty to rub elbows with professionals and resources we sometimes have the rare opportunity to engage. Great universities have great programs, and this is one.”

Those unable to attend the event can view the live stream speech online through the university’s official LiveStream channel: https://livestream.com/DeltaStateUniversity. Learn more about the series at www.deltastate.edu/president/colloquia.

The international student body at Delta State has doubled in three years.

International student body sees major growth

By | Faculty/Staff, International, President, Student Success Center, Students | No Comments

In a span of just three years, Delta State University has seen a dramatic uptick in the number of international students attending the institution.

According to Dr. Christy Riddle, executive director of the Student Success Center and International Student Services, there are 129 international students attending this fall, doubling the amount enrolled three years ago. Additionally, Delta State is sponsoring 14 post-graduate internships, which brings this semester’s international student enrollment to 143 students.

“It’s so gratifying to see how quickly our international student population is growing,” Riddle said. “International students bring additional perspectives and diversity to campus, and we look forward to their contributions across campus. We look forward to even more international students in the years to come.”

According to Riddle, another success story is the current retention rate of 96 percent for international students, a figure of pride for Riddle and her staff.

Elise Mallette, coordinator of International Student Services, is also thrilled with the rise of students coming from abroad.

“Most of our students will probably never have the opportunity to travel to other countries or experience other cultures firsthand,” said Mallette. “Our international students allow all of us, not just our students, to learn about other cultures, life outside of the American norm, and broaden our prospective without having to leave the comforts of Cleveland.

“By increasing enrollment this semester, we now have 50 countries represented on campus compared to 39 last semester. In just one semester we have 11 new cultures right here at our doorstep. The more students we bring to campus, the more we can learn and appreciate other cultures.”

Delta State University President William N. LaForge, who has experience teaching at a number of institutions abroad, has long made it a priority to boost the international presence on campus. He has also spearheaded efforts for Delta State students to study abroad, which has led to cultural exchange trips in Russia and Poland.

“I am absolutely thrilled with the increase in the number of international students at Delta State,” said LaForge. “It’s incredibly exciting to have 50 countries represented here. Our international students add a terrific dynamic to this campus as they bring their cultures and experiences from other parts of the world to our Delta State family.”

To learn more about International Student Services and the Student Success Center at Delta State, visit http://www.deltastate.edu/student-success-center/international-student-services.

 

Institutional effort leads to retention increase

By | Academics, Faculty/Staff, President, Student Success Center, Students | No Comments

Delta State University continues to exhibit increases in institutional retention rates thanks to a campus-wide effort.

A comparison of data between Fall 2014-15 and Fall 2015-16 shows an increase in three major categories:

retention-data

 

 

 

 

 

 

Improving retention at Delta State has been at the forefront of the agenda for Dr. Charles McAdams, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs.

“Helping students succeed is at the heart of what we do at Delta State University. We are committed to implementing strategies to help students create a path and to stay on a path to degree completion,” said McAdams. “Completing a degree is the most important step a student can take to make sure he/she can enter their chosen career path and fulfill their professional aspirations.”

McAdams believes the positive retention rates are a result of the university’s redesigned First Year Seminar program, increased use by faculty and staff of the S.O.S. Early Alert program, and most importantly, the increased collective awareness to reach out to students who may be struggling.

“Earlier this fall, we announced new initiatives that will increase our retention efforts and hopefully build upon the success we have experienced,” added McAdams. “The new initiatives we have put into place this fall that we hope will help with this year’s freshmen class are 15 is Full-Time, Academic Maps and Meta-Majors. It is essential that all degree-seeking undergraduate students enroll for a minimum of 15 hours each semester in order to graduate in four years. We also encourage our students to seriously consider taking at least one class each summer to help them stay on track to graduate on time.”

Additionally, there is now an academic map for each major listing the specific courses students need to complete their degree. Courses are listed by semester in order to make planning and registration easier. Academic Maps are located at http://www.deltastate.edu/academic-affairs/academic-maps.

Meta-Majors features a cluster of courses in four broad areas for undecided students to make certain all the courses they take in their first year will count towards a degree in the area they have selected. These Meta-Major choices are provided to undecided students in Academic Advising Services in the Student Success Center.

Finally, this January, faculty will have access to a new software tool, CRM: Advise, which will make it easier to stay in touch with their advisees and to reach out to those students who may need extra help in their classes.

McAdams said much credit should also be given to Dr. Christy Riddle and her staff in the Student Success Center.

“Our approach is two-fold. We focus on big picture items, such as First-Year Seminar and academic maps, but we also focus heavily on one-on-one interaction with students,” said Riddle. “Since Delta State is a small university, our faculty, staff and Student Success team know our students. As the saying goes, ‘DSU students are not just a number,’ but individuals with potential for success. Our efforts are based upon the experiences and attributes of our students, not simply a cookie cutter, off-the-shelf approach.”

Riddle said her staff would continue to focus on data analysis, proactive academic advising and increased promotion of pre-registration.

“Knowing exactly who is leaving Delta State will help us establish targeted programs and initiatives to assist the students and encourage them to stay here,” she said. “Involving academic advisors in the retention of students is key. Efforts are underway to strengthen and enhance proactive academic advising beyond simply helping students select their classes. Additionally, pre-registration is a way to get ahead of the game. In late October, we will launch an awareness campaign to stress the importance of pre-registration. That way, when pre-registration arrives in November, students are ready to select classes for the spring semester.”

Delta State University President William N. LaForge was also thrilled with the upward tick in retention.

“I’m extremely pleased to see the percentage increases that we have experienced in retaining students at Delta State,” said LaForge. “These are terrific numbers because they represent the reality of Delta State programs that are helping our students develop a path to success — meaning graduation. We, as a university, are doing a much better job of helping our students be successful and stay in school.

“This retention improvement is a huge factor in our overall enrollment numbers. The enrollment status of any university is a combination of recruitment, the first ‘R,’ and retention, the second ‘R.’ These two factors have to work together as a formula to build enrollment. The statistics are bearing out the hard work that our faculty, staff, business services and our Student Success Center are all combining to offer to keep our students on the path to graduation. This is extraordinary news for Delta State.”

Follow all university news at www.deltastate.edu.

pres-pledge

LaForge among first to sign NCAA Presidential Pledge

By | Athletics, Faculty/Staff, President | No Comments

Delta State University President William N. LaForge, a member of the NCAA Division II Presidents Council, became one of the first in the nation to sign the new NCAA Presidential Pledge.

LaForge was fully supportive of the diversity and inclusion initiative that commits schools to achieving ethnic and racial diversity and gender equity in college sports hiring practices.

The pledge was endorsed earlier this month by the highest governing body of each NCAA division and approved by the Board of Governors.

“I am pleased to sign this pledge that commits Delta State to achieving ethnic and racial diversity and gender equity in our college sports hiring practices,” said LaForge. “This is really a no-brainer for Delta State, because it’s a reaffirmation of what we’re already doing.

“I’m proud of our inclusive approach to our hiring processes across the board, especially in athletics. This is an important area for Delta State, and for me as president — but also because I’m serving as president of the Gulf South Conference and as a member of the NCAA Division II Presidents Council.”

Ronnie Mayers, Delta State’s director of athletics, echoed LaForge’s praise for the pledge.

“Fairness and equality are hallmarks of intercollegiate athletic competition, and I am proud to be part of an organization that upholds and protects these principles,” said Mayers. 

The NCAA pledge states:

Consistent with our mission and values, our institution, a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, pledges to specifically commit to establishing initiatives for achieving ethnic and racial diversity, gender equity and inclusion, with a focus and emphasis on hiring practices in intercollegiate athletics, to reflect the diversity of our membership and our nation.

We recognize and value the experiences individuals from diverse backgrounds bring to intercollegiate athletics. To that end, we will strive to identify, recruit and interview individuals from diverse backgrounds in an effort to increase their representation and retention as commissioners, athletics directors, coaches and other leaders in athletics. As part of this commitment, we will also engage in a regular diversity, inclusion and equity review to inform campus policy and diversity initiatives.

We understand this to be a collective responsibility we owe to student-athletes, staff, our athletics programs and the entire campus community.

In the coming months, presidents and chancellors who have signed the pledge will receive a toolkit with best practices and other resources to assist their schools’ ongoing diversity and inclusion efforts.

To view all the institutions participating in the pledge, visit http://www.ncaa.org/about/resources/inclusion/ncaa-presidential-pledge.