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Dr. E.E. "Butch" Caston

University recognizes Caston’s career

By | College of Education and Human Sciences, Faculty/Staff, President, Students | No Comments

Delta State University is paying tribute to one of its most dedicated retiring employees — Dr. E.E. “Butch” Caston.

Caston, a graduate of Delta State in 1966, retires Friday after serving as interim vice president for Student Affairs since July of 2015. He has come out of retirement multiple times to serve interim roles for the institution.

“I’m looking forward to returning to retirement,” said Caston. “I have a good feeling about our accomplishments this year.”

Caston first made his professional mark at the university by serving as dean of the College of Education from 1989-2002.

“The one thing that I found coming to Delta State initially as a student, was that it’s a close and accepting environment,” said Caston. “Many years later, returning as an employee, I found that quality still existed, and it still does today.”

Caston said he leaves Delta State with nothing but pride for the university that has been a part of his life for decades.

“I’m a product of the university. I came here as a student. Delta State held me up until I could grow up. I’ll always be grateful for that,” he said.

He returned to the university in 2013 at the request of President William N. LaForge to serve as interim provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. His return in 2015 followed the retirement of Dr. Wayne Blansett, who served the university for 40 years.

“Butch Caston has evidenced outstanding service to Delta State by coming out of retirement twice, first in 2013 as provost, and in 2015 as vice president for Student Affairs,” said LaForge. “He was incredibly successful in both posts. The Delta State family, and I in particular, will be eternally grateful to him for his dedication and loyalty. He was on outstanding member of Delta State leadership for years. I deeply appreciate him for his commitment of time and effort to the university.

“I’ve joked with him already, but I wish him better luck in his next effort at retiring.”

President Emeritus Dr. Kent Wyatt, who worked with Caston when he was dean, echoed LaForge’s praise.

“Delta State University was fortunate to attract Dr. Butch Caston back to his alma mater when he accepted administrative roles in the College of Education,” said Wyatt. “Through his leadership and innovative ideas, he helped make Delta State University the outstanding regional university it is today. Dr. Caston’s love for Delta State has been continuous and an inspiration to all. After retirement, he stepped forward in top administrative roles when his all alma mater needed him. Personally, I want to thank Butch for his loyalty and never failing friendship.”

Dr. Michelle Roberts, vice president for University Relations and Chief of Staff, said she will greatly miss Caston’s presence on campus.

“I have had the opportunity to watch Dr. Caston excel in many different areas at Delta State, and in every role, he has shined,” said Roberts. “But, in my view, his role as vice president of Student Affairs has been his crowning moment. He was a natural when it came to working with students. It’s like his personal family grew to include the thousands of Delta State students as his children.”

“Dr. Caston did not play the typical interim role,” added Roberts. “He did not view this position as simply keeping a seat warm. He rolled up his sleeves, and was determined to leave Delta State a better place than he found it. His love and passion for Delta State, our students, and this community are admirable, and the service he has provided our university has been extraordinary. Dr. Caston exemplifies the spirit of the Delta State family, and he is indeed a true Statesmen.”

Mikel Sykes, a senior at Delta State, has worked closely with Dr. Caston, most recently during Sykes’s two terms as Student Government Association president.

“I’ve really enjoyed working with Dr. Caston the past couple of years, especially seeing how much he cares about the student experience,” said Sykes. “He’s been a leader I’ve looked up to during my time in the SGA. We all wish him the best in retirement.”

Taking over for Caston is Dr. Vernell Bennett. Bennett arrives at Delta State after previously serving in the same role at Kentucky State University in Frankfort, Kentucky. Her extensive experience at KSU enabled her to foster collaborations between Student Affairs and Academic Affairs, faculty, staff, students, the administration and community.

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

This summer's interns at GRAMMY Museum® Mississippi include: (left to right) Holly Ruth Pitts, Katie Ann Locke, Gregory Braggs, LindseyAnna Pardue and Mary Parker Janoush.

DMI students shine as GRAMMY Museum interns

By | Academics, College of Arts and Sciences, Faculty/Staff, GRAMMY, Students | No Comments

A number of Delta Music Institute students are making their mark at GRAMMY Museum® Mississippi this summer as museum interns.

The museum, which opened on Delta State’s campus in March, is providing unique opportunities for entertainment industry majors enrolled at the DMI.

“Because Delta State is a designated GRAMMY Affiliate University, the partnership between DSU and GRAMMY Museum Mississippi immediately places our students in a professional network of music and entertainment industry professionals,” said Tricia Walker, director of the DMI. “We hope that the knowledge students have gained in the classroom will be reinforced in a professional work setting. It’s important for them to begin to make that transition from student to professional, and their internship experience is critically important in that transition.”

DMI students Gregory Braggs and LindseyAnna Pardue are currently enjoying their internship responsibilities.

“This has been a great learning experience so far,” said Braggs. “It’s given me the opportunity to work with new equipment and troubleshoot issues. A lot of things I’ve learned at the DMI, I’m using here, and it’s great to work in this environment.”

Braggs, who works as an operations/production intern, edits publicity videos, operates visual equipment for different events and programs, and helps design publicity material. Pardue is serving as an administrative intern, where she assists the administrative coordinator with daily operations, and assists with office management projects and tasks.

Former DMI student Katie Ann Locke is also serving as an administrative intern. Other interns include University of Mississippi students Holly Ruth Pitts and Mary Parker Janoush.

Mary Parker is the daughter of Lucy Janoush ‘78, president of the Cleveland Music Foundation and a key figure in making the museum a reality in Cleveland. Lucy was named the 2015 Delta State University Alumnus of the Year.

And the ties to the DMI run deeper thanks to the museum’s administrative coordinator, Chace Holland, a DMI graduate in 2015.

“I like seeing the different opportunities the Grammy Museum has brought here, especially to the students,” said Holland. “It’s good to give back to Delta State and the DMI program so all the students can have similar opportunities I had as a student. The relationship is a great one, and it’s going to grow exponentially with everything that’s being offered here.”

Walker is thrilled to have DMI students at the museum.

“The internship opportunities at GRAMMY Museum Mississippi provide valuable ‘real world’ experience for our entertainment industry students in the areas of audio/video production, event management, and marketing/promotion,” said Walker. “It’s also important for them to develop their people skills in working with the public, whether that be visitors to the museum or clients using the facilities for specific events.”

To inquire about future internship opportunities at the museum, contact Robin Webb, visitor experience coordinator. Webb, also a DMI graduate, can be reached at rwebb@grammymuseumms.org.

For more information on the DMI, visit http://www.deltastate.edu/college-of-arts-and-sciences/dmi-delta-music-institute-homepage/. To learn more about GRAMMY Museum Mississippi, visit http://www.grammymuseumms.org/.

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MSAI underway at BPAC

By | Academics, Bologna Performing Arts Center, Community, Students | No Comments

The second week of the Janice Wyatt Mississippi Summer Arts Institute Core Arts program is well underway at the Bologna Performing Arts Center.

Forty-eight middle and high school campers from Mississippi and beyond are taking part in their choice of 20 visual and performing arts classes on the campus of Delta State.

For the last 19 summers, MSAI Arts Camp has provided diverse, unique and challenging arts classes. This year, students have the opportunity to explore topics such as sculpture, ballet, poetry, photography, theatre and more in the state-of-the-art facilities at the BPAC and Delta State.

Campers spent the weekend of the June 11 in Memphis as they played at Sky Zone and saw Theatre Memphis’ performance of “Oliver!” Students returned to Cleveland discussing the techniques of stage combat they are learning in class and witnessed in the show.

New York-based theatre teacher Christian Vernon is serving as a Core Arts faculty member for a third year. His students are taking part in improvisation, theatre combat and puzzle design for escape room classes. While Vernon is teaching his theatre classes in the BPAC Recital Hall, Bethany Philipp, a member of the Front Porch Dance Company out of Jackson, is busy engaging her students in dance improvisation, modern dance and ballet in the Delta and Pine Land Theater. As a member of the Mississippi Arts Commission teaching artist roster, Philipp is engaging students in new ways of using their bodies while thinking about movement.

Photographer Will Jacks is teaching a multimedia class in which students are creating their own documentary of camp life at Core Arts. Campers are lugging around recording equipment and conducting interviews with campers, faculty and staff.

Students are looking forward to showcasing their work at the Closing Reception on June 17 at 7 p.m. in the BPAC. The public is invited to join the visual and creative writing classes as they present their works at the reception, which is free and open to the public. The following morning, June 18, the performing arts classes will appear in the Final Performance at 10 a.m. in the BPAC’s Delta and Pine Land Theater.

“We are pleased with the high caliber faculty we are able to employ this summer and the incredible talent these young artists have shown at Core Arts,” said Joannah Taylor, Core Arts director and Arts Education coordinator at the BPAC. “This program attracts such talent and nurtures these artists in a safe and encouraging atmosphere. You won’t believe the things these young people have been able to accomplish in two weeks.”

The 2016 Core Arts program is made possible through support from the Mississippi Arts Commission, The American Legion, AT&T, Entergy, the Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi, the King’s Daughters and Sons Circle Number Two, the Crosstie Arts Council and Delta Dairy. For more information on the Janice Wyatt Mississippi Summer Arts Institute, call 662-846-4844, or visit www.bolognapac.com.

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Accreditation for Delta State business programs reaffirmed

By | Academics, College of Business, Faculty/Staff, Students | No Comments

The Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) Baccalaureate/Graduate Degree Board of Commissioners has reaffirmed accreditation of the business programs within Delta State University’s College of Business.

Established in 1988, ACBSP is the only organization offering specialized business accreditation for all degree levels, from associate to baccalaureate to doctoral degree programs. ACBSP accreditation certifies that the teaching and learning processes within the College of Business at Delta State University meet the rigorous educational standards established by ACBSP.
Delta State was first accredited by ACBSP in 1995. The college is required to go through the reaffirmation process every 10 years to maintain the accreditation.

“Delta State University has shown their commitment to teaching excellence and to the process of quality improvement by participating in the accreditation process,” said Dr. Steve Parscale, ACBSP chief accreditation officer, who will present the Certificate of Reaffirmation of Accreditation at ACBSP Conference 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia on June 19.

“This reaffirmation of accreditation is evidence that Delta State University is committed to maintaining the highest quality business education for their students for the next 10 years, just as they have done since 1995,” added Parscale.

Dr. Billy Moore, dean of Delta State’s College of Business, was thrilled with the reaffirmation and praise from ACBSP.

“Accreditation is a method of self-regulation and quality assurance in higher education. Reaffirmation of our ACBSP accreditation signifies that DSU’s College of Business programs continue to meet certain quality and integrity standards of management education,” said Moore. “Current and potential students, their parents, the business community, and other relevant constituents, can be assured that our college is offering current and relevant academic programs, has faculty that are highly qualified and experts in their disciplines, continues to hold itself to the highest standards of educational accountability, and are fully committed to continuous improvement. Our accreditation is good through 2026.”

“Congratulations to the faculty, staff and student body of the College of Business on accomplishing this significant milestone,” Moore added. “This reaffirmation is the result of their teamwork and commitment to providing a high-quality educational experience for our students.”

Delta State’s Dr. Charles McAdams, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, was also pleased with the reaffirmation.

“I thank the College of Business faculty and staff for their ongoing commitment to excellence and the concept of continuous improvement,” said McAdams. “Reaccreditation by the ACBSP provides an external validation of the quality of the programs in that college. The process used to obtain this reaffirmation is arduous, and I congratulate Dean Moore and his faculty for their work on this significant accomplishment.”

The mission of the College of Business is to prepare students for the marketplace by providing challenging educational opportunities. Service to the community, the profession and the university is a vital aspect of the college’s mission. By nurturing cooperative relationships with business and industry, service organizations, and other institutions, the college will remain dynamic and its activities relevant.

ACBSP’s mission is to promote continuous improvement and recognize excellence in the accreditation of business education programs around the world. ACBSP, www.acbsp.org, is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation as a specialized accreditation agency for business education. ACBSP currently has 1,215 member campuses, 235 of which are located outside of the U.S. Of those campuses, 951 have achieved accreditation and 167 are in candidacy for accreditation. Individual members on these campuses now exceed 13,000.

For more information about Delta State University’s College of Business, visit http://www.deltastate.edu/college-of-business/.

Faculty and students from KUL in Lublin, Poland hosted the Delta State group for a final dinner during the cultural exchange between the two universities.

Delta State completes exchange in Poland

By | Academics, Faculty/Staff, International, Students | No Comments

A Delta State University delegation recently returned from a successful cultural exchange with a partner institution, John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin (KUL) in Lublin, Poland.

A select group of four Delta State students, one faculty member and one staff member spent two weeks aboard for the intensive exchange.

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

The trip, coordinated by DSU International Student Services, marked the first opportunity for Delta State students to visit KUL’s campus, observe classes, learn about college life in Poland, and gain hands-on knowledge of Polish culture.

Students attending the trip included: Scottie Willis, a senior from Byram, Mississippi; Katherine Jackson, a junior from Cleveland, Mississippi; Maria Clara Belisário, a junior from Belo Horizonte, Brazil; and Paxton Stratton, a freshman from Fort Worth, Texas.

“As soon as we flew out of the U.S. for Poland, everything was new to everybody —and that is something that we wanted to offer our students,” said Dr. A.H.M. Ali Reza, assistant professor of biology at Delta State, who also led the group as the university’s international partnership liaison. “Several of our students had never traveled outside the country, and this cultural exchange trip offered them a significant amount of experiences they can utilize throughout their entire life.

“The education system, culture, environment, food, interaction with fellow students — everything that the students experienced during this trip was priceless. You can only get it through an opportunity like this.”

Paulina Liszka, teaching assistant in the Faculty of Law, Canon Law and Administration at KUL, was one of the leading figurse during Delta State’s visit. Liszka was also part of the group that visited Delta State in 2015.

Delta State students taking part in a course at KUL.

Delta State students taking part in a course at KUL.

“Delta State’s visit to Lublin was a fantastic way to get an understanding of Polish history and culture, as well as the university environment,” said Liszka. “This was definitely a life-changing, mind-broadening experience for both sides, and we hope to continue developing cooperation between our universities. Thanks to such international cooperation, we can gain a much greater understanding of other cultures, as well as global issues.”

The trip featured a number of academic highlights, including an international seminar, during which DSU and KUL students presented speeches about systems of education, law and culture in both the U.S. and Poland. Reza also provided a formal lecture on American environmental law.

The students were also able to observe and participate in a KUL course taught in English, providing them a first-hand glance at the Polish university setting.

“The best part about this trip was getting to spend time with the students and see what university life is like in Poland,” said Jackson. “We attended their classes, hung out in the places they usually hang out in, and did the things they do everyday. That made me feel like less of an outsider and realize that college life is universal. On top of that, this trip made me appreciate the little things I take for granted everyday in America.”

Additionally, Reza met with KUL officials and faculty members to discuss future exchanges that would be open to students, faculty and staff at both universities. Among the leaders he met with were: Dean Piotr Stanisz; Tomasz Kostecki, director of International Exchange; professor Sławomir Łukasiewicz; professor Katarzyna Maćkowska, and professor Anna Haladyj.

Dr. Reza lecturing to KUL students.

Dr. Reza lecturing to KUL students.

Rory Doyle, photographer and news writer at Delta State, documented the trip.

“I was thoroughly impressed with the quality education at KUL and the quality of its students,” said Doyle. “We had a number of KUL students help coordinate our visit, and we couldn’t have done it without them. It was a unique exchange for our Delta State group, and I know that we feel privileged and grateful to be given so much access to KUL, their faculty and students — and the special aspects of Polish culture.”

The group also had the opportunity to visit Poland’s capital, Warsaw, and the second largest city, Kraków. Not far from Kraków is Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum, a former Nazi concentration camp. The visit greatly impacted the entire group.

“In life, there are so many things you never forget — your first kiss, your favorite teacher, your first car, and even your first true friend,” said Willis. “I added another to my list of unforgettable events. I visited the historic Auschwitz Concentration Camp. To say that it was a humbling experience would be an inadequate description. It was life-changing. For years, we learned about the Holocaust, but to physically walk where they walked definitely invoked feelings of pain and sorrow

The group had the opportunity to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau.

The group had the opportunity to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau.

for those who were forced to endure such things. I’ll never forget the day I walked to the gates of Auschwitz.”

Dr. Christy Riddle, executive director of International Student Services and the Student Success Center at Delta State, added that the university will continue to strengthen ties with KUL and other international institutions.

“These trips offer our students the opportunity for first-hand insights into the global world by putting what they learn in the classroom into perspective,” said Riddle. “The KUL trip was an exciting way to expand DSU’s international opportunities, and it has opened the door for future exchange opportunities with KUL, both for DSU students traveling there and KUL students traveling here. We are already in discussions for a spring 2017 class with a trip planned for next summer.”

Follow all international partnership developments at www.deltastate.edu.