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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:

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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.

United States District Judge Gustavo A. Gelpi continues the Delta State University Colloquia Distinguished Speakers Lecture Series on Sept. 20 at 6 p.m.

U.S. District Judge Gustavo A. Gelpi to provide Colloquia address

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The Delta State University Colloquia Distinguished Speakers Lecture Series kicks off the fall semester featuring United States District Judge Gustavo A. Gelpi.

Gelpi’s speech, titled “Police Reform Though the Eyes of a United States District Judge,” will begin at 6 p.m. on Sept. 20 in the Jobe Auditorium on campus. The presentation is free and open to the public.

Those unable to attend the event can view the live stream speech online through the university’s official LiveStream channel: https://livestream.com/DeltaStateUniversity.

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.

Gelpi was appointed to the federal court bench in 2006 by former U.S. President George W. Bush, following his unanimous Senate confirmation. He holds life tenure and sits in the District of Puerto Rico.

Currently, he presides over the nation’s largest police department reform case, which was filed by the United States Attorney General in 2012 as a result of systemic police practices violative of civil rights, such as excessive use of force, racial and ethnic profiling, as well as sexual and political discrimination in the hiring and promotion of officers.

During his judicial tenure, Judge Gelpi has presided over hundreds of prosecutions for narcotics, firearms, child exploitation, immigration, white collar, government corruption and other federal crimes. He has also presided over a large number of civil cases in the areas of civil rights, environmental litigation, medical malpractice, bank shareholder class actions, corporate litigation and personal injury.

Gelpi has had an illustrious career spanning 25 years of public service, previously serving on the federal bench as a United States Magistrate Judge, as Solicitor General of Puerto Rico, and as Assistant Federal Public Defender and judicial law clerk.

He is a graduate of Brandeis University and Suffolk University School of Law in Boston, from which he also holds an honorary doctorate.

LaForge and Gelpi have known each other for about 12 years, and they first met when LaForge was serving as president of the national board of the Federal Bar Association. LaForge’s son Clayton also spent two years as a law clerk for Gelpi in Puerto Rico.

“Judge Gelpi is an outstanding jurist who has had an amazing career on the bench,” said LaForge. “He brings an outstanding amount of expertise on the issues related to police reform. We are looking forward to hosting him on campus.”

In addition to his speech, Gelpi will spend time visiting classes and with student organizations at Delta State.

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.”

U.S. Congressman Bennie Thompson will follow Gelpi with the next colloquia address on Nov. 9 for a unique and timely look back at the 2016 national election.

Learn more about the series at www.deltastate.edu/president/colloquia.

A Letter from President William N. LaForge

By | President | No Comments

Dear Campus Colleagues and Students:

Welcome to the new academic year!

As I shared with the faculty and staff at Convocation, this promises to be a terrific year, filled with exciting programs, intercollegiate athletics, campus changes, and the first steps toward realizing the university’s vision for a successful future.

We recently rolled out ten building-block visioning principles that will help guide us to that future success.  Many of the ideas and strategies that will pave that pathway are already in place or in the development stages.  All of us in the Delta State family have a huge stake in this vision, and I invite you to join in as we plan and shape that future.  I have attached the full list of visioning principles.

Delta State’s highest priorities are academic excellence and student success.  As a student-centric university, our mission is to help guide each student on the path to success, and to provide our students with the very best experience possible in and out of the classroom.  College is a time for exploration and discovery for our students, and this university is committed to providing an outstanding platform for student engagement.

Students…I encourage all of you to get involved with student government, intramurals, religious life, cultural and service organizations and projects, and fraternities and sororities.  Doing so is an important part of a college experience, and your involvement will make you a more versatile person as you prepare for your career.  As our tagline says, “Join In.  Stand Out!”

We have just rolled out a new and expanded healthcare service plan for all students, and this plan will also be available for faculty, staff, and the community.  In partnership with Bolivar Medical Center, we will have a more modern healthcare delivery system—in the same facility on campus, the Reily Health Center—that will provide enhanced medical care.  Please take advantage of these new services.

I call your attention to a full slate of entertainment and activities that will fill the calendar this fall and beyond.  Be sure to keep up with all university events and activities by checking out the Delta State home page and announcements.  For example, superb BPAC programming is scheduled for this year, including music, dance, and Broadway shows.   Statesmen football offers six home games.  Our annual International Conference on the Blues is slated for October 2-4, and our signature Race Relations Conference will be held again in the spring.  I am pleased to announce two University Colloquia Distinguished Speakers Programs for the Fall—Federal District Judge Gustavo Gelpi of Puerto Rico on September 20th on the topic of police reform in the United States, and U.S. Congressman Bennie Thompson on November 9th for a unique and timely “next day look-back” at the 2016 national election.  Both will take place in Jobe auditorium at 6:00 pm on those respective dates.

Finally, Delta State is a special place for many reasons, and this university strives to provide a warm, inviting environment that is conducive for teaching and learning.  Imbedded in our culture are a number of core values that speak to who we are as a university community.  I ask that you review this element of our visioning principles, and embrace our core values as we continue to make Delta State a university of distinction.

I wish for each of you a prosperous and successful 2016-17 academic year!

All the best,

Bill LaForge

President

Allie Rose Parker, Student Government Association president, became the first student in Delta State's history to vote on the President's Cabinet on Aug. 22.

Parker casts historic first student vote on President’s Cabinet

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

For the first time in Delta State University’s storied history, a student has earned an active voting role in the President’s Cabinet.

On Aug. 22, Allie Rose Parker, president of the Student Government Association, casted her first vote at President William N. LaForge’s weekly cabinet meeting.

“It’s a huge honor for me, and I’m very thankful to be part of a university that places so much responsibility with the student body. I know that’s not something you see every day,” said Parker. “It’s very humbling to have this opportunity, and I’m extremely thankful it’s happening during my years.”

LaForge, who has sworn to an all-inclusive approach during his presidency, said it was a no-brainer to include the SGA president as a voting member of his cabinet. During his inaugural State of the University address in 2013, LaForge announced the first addition of the SGA president on his cabinet as a non-voting member.

“We decided that the student voice should become a student vote as well,” said LaForge. “I think it’s the right thing to do to make sure our students are fully engaged to share in decision making on campus. It’s also the result of a great track record of the SGA presidents who have served during my time at Delta State.

“We are proud to have Allie Rose on board, and we are excited to have her as a voting member,” said LaForge. “I think this will be a more complete way to share the authentic shared governance on campus. I encourage full student participation, and I think we’ll be better off for it.”

Parker first started attending cabinet meetings in June after her election as SGA president.

“It’s really interesting to be part of the meetings and hear ideas bounce off all the important people on campus,” said Rose. “I’m the youngest in the room, so I was a little intimated when I first started attending — but they absolutely include me in everything. They really make sure the students are represented well on the cabinet.”

Parker said having the voting right is a big plus for the student population.

“The cabinet really does try and make the best decisions for the student body, but it’s also really helpful for them to be able to turn to an active student and ask if the student body will like a particular decision,” she said. “I think it’s really helpful for me to provide an opinion reflective of the student body.

“I’m very thankful to the SGA presidents before me who paved the way and gave me this opportunity to vote.”

Delta State now joins Mississippi Valley State University and the University of Southern Mississippi to include student body presidents as voting members of the president’s cabinet.

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