(Left to right) SGA President Mikel Sykes, President William N. LaForge, Captain Mark Kimbell, Chief Lynn Buford, Captain Donald Bradshaw and Butch Caston, interim Vice President of Student Affairs, during a recent ceremony honoring first responders to the Sept. 14 shooting on campus.

First responders receive Medal of Valor for selfless service

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Three Delta State police officers who were the first to respond to the shooting on campus this past September were recently awarded Medals of Valor for their selfless service.

In a ceremony attended by members of the officers’ families, members of the President’s Cabinet and the officers of the Student Government Association, the three men received formal medals as well as pins to be worn in everyday service. Receiving medals were Delta State Police Chief Lynn Buford, Captain Mark Kimbell and Captain Donald Bradshaw.

“These heroes of Delta State went room-to-room and office-to-office in Jobe Hall – not knowing what they might encounter behind each closed door – in order to secure the building and to safely remove all occupants,” said President William N. LaForge. “Your bravery during this most difficult time was the ultimate commitment to the students, faculty and staff, who you protect every day.”

Assisting LaForge in the ceremony were Interim Vice President of Student Affairs Butch Caston and Mikel Sykes, president of the Student Government Association.

“On behalf of the students, I want to thank you so much for what you did and what you do every day to keep us safe,” Sykes added.

The Medal of Valor, which was presented to each of the three men, is an award for bravery, given for individual acts of extraordinary heroism performed in the line of duty at extreme, life-threatening personal risk. It recognizes offers whose actions are considered as having gone above and beyond the call of duty, and to recognize an officer who has performed an act of bravery – displaying an extreme amount of courage while knowingly facing imminent danger, LaForge explained.

Members of the Delta State University African American Student Council include: (front row, left to right) Aja Buckhalter, Selena Trotter, (back, l to r) Ashley Blackburn, Letia McGee, Symmbol Sanderlin, Veronica Suggs and Alandria Ramsey.

African American Student Council hosts Black History Month events

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The African American Student Council at Delta State University has been busy hosting events in honor of Black History Month.

This year’s theme is “Honoring the Past, Inspiring Our Future.” Visit the group’s Facebook page to view the full schedule of activities at https://www.facebook.com/Delta-State-University-African-American-Student-Council-1675536429393413.

AASC exists to allow the participation of all people in the promotion of black cultural, intellectual and social interests at the university and the surrounding community. Established on campus several years ago, membership is open to every undergraduate and graduate student at the university.

The council works to uplift the conscious awareness of the African American student politically, culturally, and intellectually; promote leadership and scholarship; encourage positive contributions to the community; stimulate the interest of African American students in university affairs and functions; and to cultivate an increased awareness and appreciation of ethnicity and the contributions of African Americans and others throughout history to the benefit of all mankind.

AASC will hold its fall induction ceremony Feb. 24 at 6:30 p.m. in the Lena Roberts Sillers Chapel.

Delta State University benefits from the on-campus presence of African American Student Council as the group works to further explore and acknowledge the scope of cultural diversity within the university and community from many perspectives,” said advisor Stedmond Ware. “AASC offers opportunities to work together toward planning university events, promoting unity on campus and in the community, and enhancing African American culture.

The group has actively been involved in promoting awareness of breast cancer and sickle cell anemia by providing information to students, and financially contributing to the Delta Cotton Belles of Greenville. Additionally, AASC continues to support the university’s annual Winning the Race Conference, provide canned food donations for local African American church stewpot programs, and host an annual Christmas get-together.

Those interested in becoming a member, or to learn more about AASC, contact Aja Buckhalter, president, at abuckhal@okramail.deltastate.edu.


A delegation of Delta State students and faculty recently attended the Blueprint Mississippi Social Business Challenge at the state capital. Pictured (l to r): Dr. Billy Moore, dean of the College of Business; Sen. David Parker; Emily Riley Herrington, student; Sen. Willie Simmons; Dr. Virginia Webb, assistant professor of family and consumer sciences; Sen. Gray Tollison; Elizabeth Stitt, student; Melody Fortune; assistant professor of health care management; and Liz Quinn, student.

Delta State places third in BlueCross BlueShield competition

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Delta State University recently placed third at the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Social Business Challenge hosted at the state capital Feb. 10. The competition, in coordination with the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning, was open to all Mississippi public universities and addressed one of the state’s most pressing problems — obesity and related health issues.

Delta State’s team was comprised of students Emily Riley Herrington, Elizabeth Stitt, Liz Quinn, and faculty advisors Dr. Virginia Webb and Melody Fortune.

The competition platform provided each institution’s team of students the opportunity to showcase their ideas, creativity and ingenuity as they presented plans for businesses focused on reducing obesity, rather than making a profit. Formal presentations were made to judges as well as elevator pitches to Mississippi state legislators.

The Delta State team proposed LEE Activity Center, a program for kindergarten through sixth grade students that incorporates learning, eating and exercise (LEE). In the proposal, students would arrive after school, have a tasty and nutritious snack, then rotate between sessions focussing on homework, tutoring, nutrition lessons and exercise activities. Outcome measures included management of time and resources, mastery of nutrition information, and level of physical activity.

“Taking part in the competition was a lot of hard work but very rewarding in the end,” said Quinn. “It was nice to meet students from other universities in Mississippi and hear their ideas and proposals, as well as having lunch with three Mississippi senators. We hope to see nutrition education and physical activity increase in the Mississippi Delta, and hopefully this will be the healthy start to impact our community.”

Webb was thrilled with the group’s winning proposal.

“As students, the links between improving society and operating a business are not always evident. This challenge allowed the students to be creative in their approach to dealing with societal issues while working within the business environment,” said Webb. “I am very proud of our third place out of 11 competitive entries from other higher education institutions in Mississippi.”

Learn more about the annual competition at http://www.mississippi.edu/ihl/newsstory.asp?ID=1221.

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The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.


core ensemble

Core Ensemble to celebrate Harlem Renaissance

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Delta State University and the DSU Diversity Committee will host the Core Ensemble for the Chamber Music Theatre performance, “Of Ebony Embers: Vignettes of the Harlem Renaissance.” The event, free and open to the public, takes place Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. in Jobe Auditorium.

Chamber Music Theatre is a unique performance format featuring a marriage of theatrical narrative set to chamber music performance. The format was created by Core Ensemble.

Since 1993, the Core Ensemble has toured nationally to every region of the United States and internationally to England, Russia, the Ukraine, Australia and the British Virgin Islands. The ensemble was the recipient of the 2000 Eugene McDermott Award for Excellence in the Arts awarded by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has received support from the state of Florida Department of Cultural Affairs, New England Foundation for the Arts, Palm Beach County Cultural Council, the Aaron Copland Fund for Music and the Virgil Thomson Foundation.

During the performance, Dracyn Blount portrays multiple characters while interacting with the onstage musical trio of cello, piano and percussion.

Celebrating the music and poetry of the Harlem Renaissance era in New York City, the work examines the lives of three outstanding but very different African American poets — Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen and Claude McKay — as seen through the eyes of the great painter and muralist Aaron Douglas.

The script was written and directed by Akin Babatunde.

The Core Ensemble performs music by African American composers ranging from jazz greats such as Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk and Charles Mingus, to concert music composers Jeffrey Mumford and George Walker.

 For more information, contact Arlene Sanders at 662-846-4095 or asanders@deltastate.edu.

Pianist Andrea McAlister presents a free lecture recital Feb. 26 at 7:30 p.m. in the BPAC Recital Hall.

McAlister to be featured in lecture recital

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Pianist Dr. Andrea McAlister will be featured in a lecture recital of works by Mendelssohn, Fauré, Dello Joio, Grieg, and transcriptions by Liszt and Wild on Feb. 26 at 7:30 p.m. in the BPAC Recital Hall.

The recital kicks off the annual Art of the Piano event hosted by the Delta State University Department of Music. The two-day schedule, Feb. 26-27, is free and open to the public.

On Feb. 27, pianists of all ages from Mississippi and Tennessee will come together for a day of performances centered on making music through the medium of piano. McAlister will give a lecture for teachers, “Technology and the Brain: How to Teach to the 21st-Century Student.”

McAlister is an associate professor of piano pedagogy at Oberlin College. In addition to her teaching activities, she coordinates the class piano program and the secondary piano studies program. She earned her DMA at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music where she held a teaching assistantship and graduated summa cum laude.

McAlister’s research in piano pedagogy, technology, motivation and neural development has been featured at national and international conferences, and she is active as a clinician for state and local teachers. She has recently presented at the International Society of Music Education Conference, the Music Teachers National Association Conferences, the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy, the World Piano Pedagogy Conference, the Group Piano and Piano Pedagogy Seminar, the International Conference on Sociology in Music Education, the Piano Wellness Seminar, the International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies, and the International Technology, Education, and Development Conference.

Her research has also been featured in the Music Teachers National Association’s American Music Teacher, the MTNA e-journal, the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy’s Proceedings, as well as Clavier Companion and Keyboard Companion.

As a performer, McAlister has appeared in festivals and recitals throughout the United States, Europe and Canada, including performances with the Aspen Music Festival, the Rome Festival, the Cleveland Chamber Symphony and Opera Cleveland.

She is an active clinician, adjudicator and member of the Music Teachers National Association, and she currently holds the office of president for the Ohio Music Teachers Association. In addition, McAlister serves on the executive steering committee for the MTNA Group Piano and Piano Pedagogy Seminar and Editorial Committee for the MTNA e-journal.

The Art of the Piano is sponsored by the Delta State University Department of Music.

For registration information and schedule details,  call 662-846-4615 or visit http://www.deltastate.edu/college-of-arts-and-sciences/music/piano-studies/the-art-of-the-piano/.