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$18 million renovations near completion at Delta State science and math facilities

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

With just a few finishing touches remaining, Delta State University’s mathematics and science facility, Caylor-White-Walters Hall, now represents one of the most state-of-the-art higher education facilities in the state.

Thanks to $18 million in capital improvement over the past few years, the building now houses top-notch equipment and laboratories for the Department of Biological Sciences, Department of Chemistry and Physics, and the Department of Mathematics within the College of Arts and Sciences.

Funding for the project came from the State of Mississippi Bureau of Buildings.

The building features laboratories for all areas of sciences including biology, chemistry, physics, DNA technology and anatomy, as well as computer labs and classrooms for mathematics curriculum. It also features a planetarium, making Delta State the only university in the state to host such a facility, and a herbarium, which is home to over 17,000 plant specimens and serves as a scientific and educational resource for researchers around the world.

Other highlights include new SMART Podium interactive displays and projectors, renovated auditoriums, a new Scanning Electron Microscope that can magnify objects 300,000 times their actual size, specialized temperature and humidity controlled rooms for animal care, new instrumentation like the 300MHz nuclear magnetic resonance spectrophotometer, and much more.

Overall, the changes allow for additional teaching and research space. Additionally, new classroom furniture and faculty offices have drastically improved the overall learning environment.

Delta State University President William N. LaForge is thrilled with the endless opportunities the new facilities will provide.

“This is a top quality feature of Delta Sate, and it represents part of what we do best,” said LaForge. “I am so pleased that we are finally nearing completion on this massive long-term renovation project. And we now, very clearly, have a state-of-the-art set of facilities, labs and equipment to serve our students and faculty. With these tools in place, our faculty will now have an enhanced ability to provide top-tier math and science education for our students — which will prepare them for graduate and professional schools, as well as exciting careers.”

Dr. Charles McAdams, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, echoed LaForge’s excitement.

“We look forward to having this important building renovated and updated. It is especially important in the sciences to have a facility that offers the latest laboratory facilities and equipment,” said McAdams. “Our graduates will leave here to go on to medical school, veterinary school, or dental school, or become a science teacher. To be successful in those professions, we owe it to them to provide the most robust and relevant academic experience possible. The renovation and upgrades to the facility will help us make significant strides in achieving this unending goal. I believe it is essential for a university to provide a physical learning environment that is supportive and conducive for teaching and for learning. Caylor-White-Walters is now a place where faculty and students look forward to come and discover the wonders of math and science.”

According to Dr. David Breaux, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, everyone is relieved to see work wrapping up in a building where students and teachers have had to adapt to the construction going on around them.

“With the end of the renovation process clearly in sight, faculty and students are overwhelmed with joy,” said Breaux. “And, as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, I am proud that we are able to offer our students courses in state-of-the-art classrooms and labs. No longer do students have to worry about dealing with broken or outdated furnishings and equipment, but can instead concentrate fully on mastering the material they are being taught.”

Katie Penton, a graduate student majoring in chemistry, appreciates the opportunity to work and study within the updated facility.

“I’ve been here since undergrad, so I’ve been around to see how far everything has come along,” said Penton. “It’s been really neat to see all the new labs, classrooms and equipment. The computer lab will be great with all the new software, and I really like the lab spaces. As a master’s student, I’ll be doing a lot of lab work and using a lot of equipment. Going into my thesis, it’s really good to know I’ll have access to these features and make my project the best it can be.”

One feature that is receiving extra attention is the planetarium, which will provide the perfect setting for astronomy courses, but will also set the stage for learning opportunities across campus and the community.

In addition to the new seats, carpet and other amenities, the renovation also included the installation of the dual projector Digistar 5 planetarium system from Evans and Sutherland, and the professional quality 5.1 surround-sound system from Bowen Technovation. The system not only allows users to move their view of the stars back and forth through time, but it also lets users fly through the solar system to the other planets. As a bonus, it also turns the planetarium into a 3-D digital theater.

“The astronomy classes will of course use the planetarium, but one long-term goal is to use the planetarium as an instructional tool for other subjects,” said Dr. James Gerald, assistant professor of physics. “Dr. Adam Johanson helped a student with a project this summer to build 3-D models of molecules and display them on the dome. The priority of the planetarium will be teaching astronomy, but we will also have public outreach through shows. We look forward to collaborating with other departments across campus to create new content, and watch for us to start having shows for the public this fall. This will help us broaden the educational mission of the planetarium.”

In April of 2016, the COAS established a two-year campaign to build a program called Integral Funding for Science Education, or InFuSE. The goal of InFuSE is to raise funds to support science education and research for Delta State students of all ages, and to increase the involvement of alumni and the community in science education.

“Science education, especially hands-on, is quite costly. In order to keep up with industry standards, we need to have current equipment to prepare our students to go into the workforce or to continue their educational careers through graduate education,” said Darlene Breux, Academic Affairs development officer. “Funding will also help the departments in their outreach efforts to support the community. It is necessary to be able to support summer STEM camps for K-12 students. In increasing STEM students, especially here in the Delta, it will help our community grow.”

Dr. Rose Strahan, who served as a mathematics faculty member at Delta State for over 40 years, has also kick started an effort to support mathematics students. She initiated the Rose Strahan Scholarship for Mathematics, which is used to support one deserving student in mathematics. She is also a donor to the Mathematics Fund, which provides funding to assist the department in its teaching, research and faculty development needs.

For more information on giving to InFuSE or one of the mathematics funds, visit the Delta State Foundation website at http://www.deltastategiving.org, and search for Instrumental Funding in Science Education, the Rose Strahan Scholarship for Mathematics, or the Mathematics Fund. You may also contact Darlene Breaux for assistance at dhbreaux@deltastate.edu or 662-846-4013.

Michael Lipford

Lipford named director of Student Development

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

Micheal Lipford will begin his new role as director of Student Development at Delta State on Sept. 1. Lipford has worked as Delta State’s assistant director of Housing and Residence Life for more than seven years. Additionally, he is currently serving as advisor to the National Pan-Hellenic Council and Order of Omega and director of Multicultural Affairs. 

Lipford, a native of Coldwater, Mississippi, is excited to begin this new role on campus.

This new journey will allow me yet another avenue to reach students and to make a positive impact on their lives,” said Lipford. “Housing and Residence has been such a big part of my life for so many years starting with my undergraduate years. It’s definitely a bittersweet moment, but I’m excited about this new role and the opportunity to advance my career in Student Affairs.”

Under the leadership of Dr. Vernell Bennett, Delta State’s new vice president for Student Affairs, Lipford will be assisting in the efforts to increase student engagement.

I believe Michael’s institutional knowledge and strong rapport with the students will serve him well in this position,” said Bennett. “As the director of Student Development, he will play an instrumental role in increasing student engagement and developing collaborations across the campus and in the community. His high energy work ethic and passion for student success will serve him well as he seeks to engage and support our students.”

Lipford graduated from Delta State in 2006 with a degree in real estate/insurance, and he completed his MBA at Delta State in 2010.

Dr. Sharon K. Hamilton (right), assistant professor of chemistry, works with Sarah Tierce of the Mississippi School of Mathematics and Science.

Hamilton host MSMS student for summer research

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

Dr. Sharon K. Hamilton, assistant professor of chemistry, recently coordinated a two-week research experience at Delta State University for Sarah Tierce, a rising senior at the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science in Columbus.

Tierce, a Cleveland native, also worked with Katie Penton, a graduate student in Hamilton’s lab, as they explored the creation of a new degradable nanofiber that can be used in biomedical applications such as drug delivery and wound healing.

Tierce’s experience is part of a renewed effort to reestablish connections between the Delta State University Chemistry and Physics Department and the science faculty at the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science.

“Dr. Elizabeth Morgan, a chemistry teacher at MSMS, and I worked together to make this high school research experience possible,” said Hamilton. “Dr. Morgan helped identify interested and motivated students that would benefit from working in a research lab over the summer. I believe Sarah, a rising senior at MSMS, gained great insight into what research means and how a research lab functions.”

From left: Dr. Sharon Hamilton, Sarah Tierce and Katie Penton.

From left: Dr. Sharon Hamilton, Sarah Tierce and Katie Penton.

Hamilton added that this experience provides a great opportunity for high caliber students to learn about Delta State and its great learning atmosphere on campus and in the department.

“Moreover, this provided a chance for one of my graduate students, Katie Penton, to provide mentorship to a younger student — an invaluable skill in the workforce,” said Hamilton. “I would love to host more high school students in my lab. I believe it gives students a cutting edge when it comes to college applications, and it puts Delta State at the forefront of their mind when applying for colleges their senior year.”

The research is a collaborative effort between Hamilton and Dr. Gisela Buschle-Diller in the Department of Biosystems Engineering at Auburn University. The work is supported by the Mississippi INBRE, funded by an Institutional Development Award from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under grant number P20GM103476.

Dr. Joseph Bentley, chair of the Department of Chemistry and Physics at Delta State, was also thrilled to rekindle the relationship with MSMS.

“Our department is very pleased to have a student from MSMS doing research with Dr. Sharon Hamilton this summer,” said Bentley. “Dr. Hamilton is our new organic chemist and is doing exciting polymer research. This collaboration is just one of several efforts reestablishing a connection with MSMS that our department enjoyed previously, in large part thanks to Dr. Henry Outlaw, who was instrumental in maintaining the DSU/MSMS relationship. In the past, faculty from MSMS helped DSU host education workshops for local Delta teachers and this is a tradition the Department of Chemistry and Physics and MSMS look forward to renewing. In the future, we hope to host more MSMS students in research experiences at Delta State.”

Learn more about the department at http://www.deltastate.edu/artsandsciences/chemistry-and-physics.

DSU Students receive Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarship

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JACKSON, Miss. – Andrew Van Velsor, a graduate of Delta State University and Senatobia native, was recently awarded the Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarship valued at $30,000 per year for his medical training at the University of Mississippi School of Medicine in Jackson at the annual scholarship ceremony. Van Velsor is the son of Donald Van Velsor of Southaven, MS. and Robin Peeler of Senatobia.

Meghan L.  Johnson, a graduate Co-Lin Community College and graduate of Delta State University and Crystal Springs native, was recently awarded the Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarship valued at $30,000 per year for her medical training at the University of Mississippi School of Medicine in Jackson at the annual scholarship ceremony.  Johnson is the daughter of Bruce and Selena Johnson of Crystal Springs.

Created in 2007, the Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarship Program (MRPSP) is designed to provide more primary care physicians in rural areas of Mississippi.  During medical school, each MRPSP scholar receives $30,000 per year based on available funding. Consistent legislative support of the MRPSP translates to 60 medical students receiving a total of $1,800,000 to support their education this fall.  In addition to the legislative support, 5 privately funded scholarships are also awarded this year. Other benefits include personalized mentoring from practicing rural physicians and academic support.

Upon completion of medical training, MRPSP scholars must enter a residency program in one of five primary care specialties: family medicine, general internal medicine, medicine-pediatrics, obstetrics/gynecology or pediatrics. The MRPSP Scholar must provide four years of service in a clinic-based practice in an approved Mississippi community of 20,000 or fewer population located more than 20 miles from a medically served area.

MRPSP provides a means for rural Mississippi students to earn a seat in medical school and to earn a $120,000 medical school scholarship in return for four years of service and learn the art of healing from practicing rural physicians.

For more information, contact MRPSP Associate Director Dan Coleman at 601-815-0564, jdcoleman@umc.du or http://mrpsp.umc.edu.

 

The Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarship Program and the Mississippi Rural Dentists Scholarship Program are state-funded efforts to increase the number of physicians and dentists serving the health-care needs of Mississippians in rural areas. Housed at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, and collaborating with its schools of medicine and dentistry and the College of Osteopathic Medicine at William Carey University in Hattiesburg, the programs use various outreach, mentoring and training methods to identify, support, educate and deploy new generations of health-care workers for Mississippi’s underserved populations. To learn more about either program, click here.

 

 

take15_dsu

State financial aid now requires 15-hour course load

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Beginning in Fall 2016, undergraduates must enroll in and complete 15 credit hours each semester to remain eligible for state financial aid programs.

These programs require that students are considered full-time:

  • Higher Education Legislative Plan for Needy Students Scholarship (HELP)
  • Mississippi Resident Tuition Assistance Grant (MTAG)
  • Mississippi Eminent Scholars Grant (MESG)
  • Law Enforcement Officers and Firemen Scholarship (LAW)
  • Teacher Education Scholars Forgivable Loan (TES)
  • William Winter Teacher and Alternate Route Teacher Forgivable Loan (WWTS/WWAR)
  • Health Care Professions Undergraduate Forgivable Loan (HCP-UG)

Students registered for less than 15 credit hours should contact the registrar to add hours.

Here are some answers to commonly asked questions:

  • Summer hours cannot be added to Fall or Spring hours.
  • If enrollment drops below 15 credits before state aid is disbursed to the student, the aid will be cancelled for that term and the following term. If enrollment drops below 15 credits after state aid is disbursed to the student, the aid will be cancelled for the following term.
  • Students should not report their enrollment directly to the Mississippi Office of Student Financial Aid. Enrollment is reported by the institution on behalf of its students.
  • All credit hours for a given term must be completed at a single institution. Credit hours cannot be completed at multiple institutions for a single term.
  • Students with fewer than 15 credit hours remaining in the course of study may appeal for an exception for a single term. Students with 24 or fewer credit hours remaining in the course of study may appeal for an exception for two terms.  Instructions for submitting an appeal is provided below.
  • Students enrolled in certain programs with defined curriculum pathways (lock-step) should not apply for individual exceptions. Each institution will apply for program exceptions to apply to all students in such programs.
  • Exceptions will be made for students in certain majors that require clinical, practicum, or student teaching terms. Each institution is being advised regarding how to report enrollment for such terms.
  • All students, even athletes, will be impacted in the same way. In order to receive and continue to receive state aid, the student must take and complete 15 hours, regardless of whether or not the student is an athlete or on any other kind of institutional scholarship.

For more information please visit www.mississippi.edu/financialaid or call Mississippi Office of Student Financial Aid 601-432-6997 or 800-327-2980 (toll-free).