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Student Success Center

University celebrates new Student-Athlete Academic Support Lab

By | Academics, Student Success Center, Students | No Comments

Delta State gathered for a special celebration Sept. 29 to introduce the remodeled and upgraded Academic Support Lab, the home of the new Student-Athlete Academic Support Services program in partnership with the Mississippi Department of Human Services.

Lab staff, President Willam N. LaForge and Provost Dr. Charles McAdams provided remarks at the ceremony, and attendees were welcomed with a BBQ luncheon.

Funding for project renovation was provided by MDHS to launch the Student-Athlete Support Services program. The lab, which opened last semester, now hosts over 320 students each week who receive academic support. Additionally, the program will offer academic coaching and programs aimed at increasing student-athlete retention rates. MDHS has contributed funding for the partnership through 2017 with the possibility of renewed funding in coming years.

The lab includes peer tutoring in a variety of general education courses and 32 wireless touch-screen computers, learning stations, and large screen projection computers for group work. The renovation provides a state-of-the-art study center for students.

“I am very excited about this program as it will enable us to provided targeted efforts to increase the academic success of our student-athletes,” said McAdams, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs. “Helping students stay in school and complete their degree is a major priority for us. Athletes often have challenges that non-athletes do not have. This initiative is designed to help student-athletes make good academic decisions and lifestyle choices.”

Tricia Killebrew, project director, is thrilled with the upgrades.

“The Academic Support Lab now gives student-athletes an opportunity to prepare for academic challenges in an environment conducive to learning,” said Killebrew. “The program offers a wide range of services, including academic counseling, collaborative learning spaces, tutorial services in general education and prerequisite subjects, interactive study tables, opportunities for career planning and personal development, and advisement on current NCAA, Gulf South Conference, and university rules and regulations.”

Dr. Christy Riddle, executive director of Student Success Center, also played a leadership role in making the renovation possible. The SSC was established in 2012 to address retention and the challenges many students face during their academic career.

“Since the updated Academic Support Lab opened in August, we have had more than 320 students visit per week, an increase from an average of 100-150 visits per week in previous years,” said Riddle.

The partnership with MDHS led to the birth of the Student-Athlete Academic Support Services program, but the lab also provides free peer tutoring to all Delta State students in a variety of general education courses. Services are available 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Fridays.

For more information on the Student-Athlete Academic Support Services program, contact Killebrew at 662-846-4654 or tkillebrew@deltastate.edu.

Students and faculty to discuss exchange in Poland

By | International, QEP, Student Success Center, Students | No Comments

The Student Success Center, International Student Services and Delta State’s Quality Enhancement Plan present a free luncheon Nov. 30 from noon to 1 p.m. to discuss the university’s recent cultural exchange trip to John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin (KUL) in Lublin, Poland.

The event, “You Can Get There From Here: Poland Cultural Exchange,” will take place in the Student Union, Room 302A, and will feature a student, faculty and staff panel highlighting the two-week exchange that occurred in May of 2016.

Dr. Christy Riddle, director of the SSC and ISS, will discuss the partnership with KUL, as well as future international exchange opportunities. Dr. A.H.M. Ali Reza, assistant professor of biology at Delta State, will also discuss his role in leading the trip.

Students Scottie Willis, Katherine Jackson, Maria Belisário and Paxton Stratton will also describe what they learned from the trip.

KUL is one of several universities abroad with which Delta State has signed a memorandum of understanding to further develop international exchanges. Delta State first hosted a group of KUL faculty and students in October of 2015.

“We were extremely excited to offer the Poland trip,” said Riddle. “These international partnerships offer the opportunity for our Delta State faculty and students and their faculty and students to travel, teach and study abroad through various exchange programs. It’s a win-win for Delta State because the students traveling abroad gain a greater understanding of global issues, and it also exposes our on-campus students to other cultures.”

For more information about the event, contact QEP coordinator Michelle Johansen at mjohansen@deltastate.edu.

Thompson speaks with Okra Scholars

By | Academics, Okra Scholars, Student Success Center, Students | No Comments

Delta State’s group of Okra Scholars students received a special visit Wednesday from U.S. Congressman Bennie Thompson of Mississippi.

Thompson was on campus for the Delta State University Colloquia Distinguished Speakers Lecture Series to speak about the 2016 national elections.

Congressman Thompson spoke to students and mentors about how various cultures view politics.

Dr. Jon Westfall, coordinator of Okra Scholars, said it was a great opportunity for the students to interact with a U.S. congressman.

“One of the key areas that Okra Scholars focuses on is culture, and it is vital to understand how our government works to understand how it shapes our cultural viewpoints,” said Westfall. “With the election on everyone’s mind, it is vital our students have access to our leaders, to better understand our country.”

“It is the duty of all citizens and guests of the United States to know how our government operates, and while textbooks and news channels may provide some of this, there is no substitution for hearing it from the source,” he added. “There are only 535 members of Congress — and we cannot miss opportunities to hear their views, as we’re the ones empowering them to act on our behalf.”

Westfall said Okra Scholars embraces a holistic approach to student preparedness, and while academic preparation and career readiness are often stressed, it is culture that will influence the lives of Delta State students far more than grades or job titles.

To learn more about Okra Scholars, visit http://www.deltastate.edu/student-success-center/okra-scholars/.

About Okra Scholars: In 2014, the U.S. Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education announced funding to launch the First in the World program. Delta State University was one of only 24 institutions selected and the only institution in Mississippi to receive funding. DSU received a four-year, $1.6 million grant to implement Okra Scholars. By incorporating innovative learning strategies into four-year personalized learning pathways, Okra Scholars works to increase the retention, engagement, on-time graduation and employability of DSU students.

Delta State celebrates Perm State centennial in Perm, Russia

By | Academics, Continuing Education, Faculty/Staff, International, QEP, Student Success Center | No Comments

Earlier this month, a Delta State University delegation traveled to Perm State University in Perm, Russia to strengthen ongoing relations between the two institutions.

The Delta State group had the honor of visiting during Perm State’s historic centennial celebrations.

“I was privileged to represent Delta State University at the centennial celebrations of our partner school Perm State University,” said Dr. Charles McAdams, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Delta State. “They had several ceremonial activities and functions celebrating this significant event, and it was important for Delta State to show support for our partner.”

In addition to the celebrations, Perm State held two academic symposia. McAdams presented a session on academic leadership. Dr. Beverly Moon, dean of Graduate & Continuing Studies & Research at Delta State, Dr. Christy Riddle, executive director of International Student Services and the Student Success Center, and Michelle Johansen, coordinator of the Quality Enhancement Plan, presented on the topic of Delta State’s “Quality Enhancement Plan: Intercultural Competence.”

The group was hosted by Perm State professor Svetlana Polyakova, who also orchestrated Delta State’s student exchange at Perm State in 2015.

Delta State provided a customized glass award honoring Perm State on their centennial, and in exchange, Perm State gave Delta State a slice of a branch from a birch tree, encased in glass and wood. The tree was a young sapling when the school was founded in 1916.

Moon said the trip was the next step in developing future exchanges at both universities.

“Developing partnerships such as the one between Perm State and Delta State will greatly benefit our students and faculty,” said Moon. “We hope to work up some exchanges and research opportunities that improve our students’ global understanding and their intercultural competencies — and provide meaningful faculty development.”

The group was also fortunate to be part of a celebration during the centennial week attended by the U.S. Consul General from Yekaterinburg, Marcus Micheli. The consulate in Yekaterinburg has been providing consular services to U.S. and Russian citizens since 1994. Its activities include the issuance of U.S. passports, reports of birth of a U.S. citizen abroad, and adjudication of nonimmigrant visas.

“One of my big takeaways from the trip was the importance of putting aside media perceptions about international relations,” said Johansen. “Every interaction I had with people in Russia was positive and enlightening, even when discussing difficult topics like politics. I feel fortunate to have had this incredible experience and will use these connections to Perm State as part of QEP programming and the courses I teach.”

President LaForge (left) and Dr. McAdams with the centennial gift from Perm State University.

President LaForge (left) and Dr. McAdams with the centennial gift from Perm State University.

Johansen said after each presentation provided by the Delta State delegation, Perm State students and faculty wanted more information about studying at DSU, the Student Success Center’s programs, and cultural competency events.

“DSU students benefit from these international exchanges because they improve their intercultural communication skills and gain real world experience in navigating today’s globalized society,” added Johansen. “I kept thinking about how DSU and Perm State students have a lot in common as young people. I’m looking forward to more DSU students having amazing adventures through international travel.”

The two universities have already conducted numerous student and faculty exchanges in recent years.

Delta State President William N. LaForge first became affiliated with Perm State as a visiting professor in 2008. He returned to the university as a Fulbright Fellow in 2011 and in May of 2015. Additionally, he has continued to network with Perm colleagues since taking office at Delta State in 2013.

Thanks to a $100,000 grant from the U.S. Department of State, a group of Delta Music Institute students and faculty completed a two-week exchange at Perm State in May of 2015. Learn more about this trip at http://www.deltastate.edu/russia.

Polyakova and a number of Perm State students, faculty and staff have also made return trips to Delta State for exchanges.

To learn more about Quality Enhancement Plan at Delta State, visit http://www.deltastate.edu/academics/institutional-research-and-planning/sacs-2014-reaffirmation/quality-enhancement-plan-2014/.

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.