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Student Success Center

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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.

U.S. Congressman Bennie Thompson of Mississippi spoke with Delta State’s group of Okra Scholars students on Wednesday.

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.

Svetlana Polyakova (center), an English professor at Perm State University in Russia, hosted Dr. Beverly Moon (l to r), Dr. Charles McAdams, Dr. Christy Riddle and Michelle Johansen, during Perm State's recent centennial celebrations.

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/.

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:

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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.