Delta State fashion merchandising students shown clockwise from front left: Kirsten Stroven, Ashton Roach, Danza Locke, Anastasia Klyarovskaya, Josholynn Hunter and Shanice Cox.

Dyeing event attracts students from across state

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Delta State University’s fashion merchandising program recently hosted Delta Cotton, a one-day event provided to over 80 students enrolled in fashion merchandising/marketing programs at Deta State, Mississippi State University and The University of Southern Mississippi.

The day began with an Eco-Dyeing/Up-Cycling workshop taught by Pat Brown, Delta State professor emeritus of fiber, and was facilitated by Dr. Jan Haynes, fashion merchandising professor in the Division of Family and Consumer Sciences.

Activities included dyeing and surface design techniques, promoting the utilization of natural dyes from plants and other natural materials, and sustainable practices.

The group also learned about up-cycling by utilizing household linens containing at least 80 percent cotton, such as sheets, tablecloths and napkins as the base materials for dyeing and printing. Interested students will complete apparel designs by incorporating their textiles into garments, which will be presented at a competition at Mississippi State in November.

The day culminated in a cotton-focused bus tour to the Monsanto Learning Center followed by a tour of the nearby MSU Delta Research and Extension Center Cotton Ginning Research Unit in Stoneville, Miss. Students explored the cotton fields and picked the crop.

The event was made possible by a grant, Mississippi Cotton: Weaving Futures (2015), a joint partnership between the three Mississippi universities which offer fashion merchandising/marketing programs. Funding was provided by the Importer Support Program of the Cotton Board and Cotton Incorporated.

Learn more about fashion merchandising at Delta State at

President William N. LaForge (right) recently met with Dr. Rodolfo Alarcón Ortiz, Minister of Higher Education in Cuba, as part of an American delegation discussing future partnerships and exchanges with Cuban institutions of higher education.

LaForge among first to meet with higher education leaders in Cuba

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Delta State University President William N. LaForge recently traveled to Cuba to participate in groundbreaking relationship-building with higher education leaders in Cuba. For the first time since America’s diplomatic reset with Cuba last December, a delegation of university presidents, including LaForge, visited the island nation.

“On the heels of President Barack Obama’s recent efforts to reopen negotiations and diplomatic relations with Cuba, Delta State was one of 17 American universities, and the only Mississippi university, to participate in this effort to strengthen relations with Cuba,” said LaForge.

The trip was made possible by the annual Presidential Mission led by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. Each year, the AASCU organizes a Presidential Mission to a country or region where member presidents and chancellors have opportunities to explore potential linkages with institutions of higher education.

“The second part of this story is that we concluded our meetings with the signing of an agreement between AASCU and the higher education community of Cuba, laying out a format going forward related to program collaboration and student exchanges,” added LaForge. “This is a huge step. Higher education is one of the first industries in the nation to get its nose under the tent, even before full diplomatic relations are restored.”

With the agreement, Delta State, along with the other institutions represented during the weeklong session, will have the opportunity to form international exchanges for students and faculty, both in Cuba and in the U.S. The door has now been opened programmatically.

President LaForge said multiple schools in Cuba showed interest in Delta State’s academic opportunities, particularly in the areas of entertainment industry studies, geospatial information technologies, nursing and aviation.

“This gives us an opportunity to broaden relationships across the academy overall, and more specifically, for our students and faculty to go there, and for them to come here,” said LaForge. “In many respects, Cuba is kind of the last frontier. It’s exciting that when the cloud is finally lifted, we will be among those first in line.”

The American delegation met with a network of 34 Cuban rectors (university presidents) — including the likes of the University of Havana, Medical University of Havana, Polytechnic University and the University of Information Sciences — to discuss potential partnerships.

Discussions also included Cuba’s minister of higher education, director of international relations, and deputy minister of health and welfare.

Additionally, participants toured the local area and met with artists and musicians. LaForge said Cuba is very musically oriented, and they showed great interest in Delta State’s departments of music and art, Delta Music Institute, Bologna Performing Arts Center, and the university’s connections to GRAMMY Museum Mississippi.

Attending the program was another step in international relationship building for Delta State, something LaForge has promised will be at the forefront of his agenda.

“Delta State has a role to play in international relations — and this is a great example of that,” said LaForge. “We’re encouraging our students to learn about a global economy. Here we have an opportunity to deal with cutting-edge international changes.”

LaForge added that once the embargo is officially lifted, Cuba would continue to undergo major developments.


LaForge’s 1957 Simca taxi ride.

“Old Cuba will morph quickly once the economic embargo has been lifted,” he said. “Stories abound regarding the plight of Cubans from top professionals to those barely able to cobble together a living under the socialistic regime. On a trip across the city one evening, my cab driver revealed that he quit his job as a cardiologist two years ago because he couldn’t earn enough to support his family. He was making roughly $57 a month as a heart surgeon. My round-trip fare in his 1957 French-made, restored, spit-shined Simca was about $46 — the same as the monthly wage of a typical university professor in Cuba.”

Arlene Jackson, associate vice president for Global Initiatives with AASCU, was pleased with the progress made by the American and Cuban leaders.

“In many ways this was a challenging mission,” said Jackson. “However, being the first university presidential delegation to go to Cuba — after the resumption of diplomatic relations — will allow us to begin to implement mutually beneficial academic opportunities. More specifically, we will be positioned to increase student mobility, expand professional development for faculty and promote joint research for both U.S. and Cuban students and faculty.”

AASCU represents more than 400 public state colleges and universities in the U.S. and works as a transformative influence in American public higher education through advocacy, leadership and service.

Learn more about the AASCU at

Dr. A.H.M. Ali Reza was recently elected to the executive board of the Mississippi Chapter of the Wildlife Society.

Reza joins statewide wildlife board

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Dr. A.H.M. Ali Reza, assistant professor of biology at Delta State, was recently elected as an executive board member of the Mississippi Chapter of the Wildlife Society.

Chartered in 1973, the MCWS is comprised of wildlife professionals and students. The organization’s goal is to promote excellence in wildlife stewardship through science and education. Hunters, private corporations, landowners and wildlife enthusiasts are among the many who support the wildlife conservation efforts across the state.

The election happened during the society’s annual conference in Jackson, Miss. on Sept. 24-25. As an elected board member, Reza will serve on the board for the 2015-16 session.

Reza said he was honored to be elected and will continue to boost wildlife education at Delta State.

“Our state and federal agencies, universities, and wildlife biologists are all determined to keep Mississippi beautiful and our wildlife bountiful,” he said. “Having our students involved in such a professional group helps them become better prepared and motived to be a dedicated steward of wildlife.”

The MCWS has over 100 professional members, most of whom are employed through state, federal or non-government agencies, as well as academic institutions. In addition to the professional members, the organization has several active student chapters.

Reza coordinates the Wildlife Management program at Delta State under the realm of environmental sciences.

A native of Bangladesh, Reza came to Delta State with a distinguished résumé. For his master’s degree he studied Bengal tigers in his homeland, where the tigers are commonly known as ‘man-eaters.’ He also coordinated the Bengal tiger conservation project working with the International Union for Conservation of Nature and wrote a book on tiger ecology.

Reza and his wife, Selina, moved to the United States so he could obtain his doctorate at Texas Tech University, where he graduated in 2010 with a degree in wildlife science. He received his postdoctoral training with USGS Texas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research unit working on a climate change project.

Additionally, he has extensive experience in leading study abroad programs with wildlife research projects in multiple counties abroad.

For more information about Wildlife Management at Delta State, contact Reza at 662-846-4242 or

The Delta Music Institute presents blues-rock stars Grinder Blues Oct. 6 at 10:30 p.m. at Hey Joe's in downtown Cleveland. Band members include Jeff “Jabo” Bihlman (left), dUg Pinnick and Scot “Little” Bihlman.

Delta Music Institute presents Grinder Blues

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The Delta Music Institute entertainment industry studies program at Delta State University presents the hit blues rock band, Grinder Blues, in a late night music showcase in downtown Cleveland Oct. 6 at 10:30 p.m. at Hey Joe’s on 118 E. Sunflower Rd.

Grinder Blues is a trio of talented musicians featuring bassist dUg Pinnick of King’s X, and Emmy-award winning guitarist and vocalist Jabo Bihlman and Scot “Little” Bihlman on drums, percussion and vocals.

The trio’s debut self-titled album was released through Megaforce Records in October of 2014 and was described as “a shot of adrenaline to the heart of the genre.”

The album was produced by DMI Entertainment Industry instructor Miles Fulwider and Barry Mork and written collaboratively by the band. According to “Guitar World” magazine, Pinnick aimed to keep the music “simple and fun” while exploring new directions. The lyrics are traditional, an homage to their blues heroes.

The Grinder Blues album was a hit among fans and critics alike. It debuted at No. 8 on the Billboard Charts upon release and was described by “Vintage Guitar” magazine as “a highly enjoyable blues-rock record with a plethora of grooves, down-and-dirty feel, filthy guitar, and soul-stirring vocals.”

The band garnered excitement for the launch of their album by premiering the video for “Burn the Bridge” on The video was filmed in Los Angeles and released in September of 2014.

Grinder Blues supported the album with a West Coast tour that kicked off in 2014 at the Viper Room in Los Angeles and played in such cities as San Diego and Corona. The band is planning their second release, which will be recorded in the Mississippi Delta at the DMI Studios at Delta State University.

The Delta Music Institute is an independent center of study under the College of Arts & Sciences at Delta State University, offering a B.S. degree in Entertainment Industry Studies. The focus of the DMI is to provide students with a broad and thorough education in the technological, creative, and business areas of the music and entertainment industry. For more information, contact 662-846-4579 or visit

Continuing Education will offer three workshops to adults in October.

Continuing Education to offer community classes in October

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Delta State University Continuing Education has scheduled several non-credit workshops for adults during the month of October.

Grant Writing 101, Not your Granny’s Granny Square Crochet and Adult Swimming will be the three available classes.

Grant Writing 101:
Continuing Education has partnered with Robin Boyles from the Office of Institutional Grants on campus to offer a grant writing workshop. The topics of justifying your need; developing goals, objectives, and timelines: program development and evaluation; and building collaborations /partnerships will be discussed during the workshop. It is open to non profit organizations, school administrators, program directors, healthcare providers, teachers and any anyone else interested. The workshop will be on Oct. 8 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Simmons Room of the Delta State Alumni House. The cost of the class is $50 and CEU credits are available for an extra charge of $15.

Not your Granny’s Granny Square:
This workshop will teach crochet for all skill levels. Beginners will learn the basic crochet stitches and will make a granny square scarf. Intermediate and advanced participants will learn new stitches, how to follow a pattern and how to use granny squares for larger projects such as a purses, hats or blankets. The workshop will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Oct. 6-29 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. The fee to attend is $35 to covers all supplies needed.

Adult Swimming Lessons:
It’s never too late to learn how to swim. Join several Delta State swimmers as they teach the basics of swimming. Participants will learn to enjoy the water and feel comfortable jumping in the university pool. Lessons will be taught on Mondays and Wednesdays, Oct.12 to Nov. 4. The fee for the class is $75. Lessons will extend through the month of November for an additional cost, pending interest.

*** Early registration is required due to limited space in each class. To register, or for more information, contact Elizabeth Joel in the Office of Graduate and Continuing Studies at 662-846-4871 or