Delta State National Alumni Association announces 30th Pig Pickin’ celebration

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The Delta State University National Alumni Association is preparing for the 30th annual Pig Pickin’ scheduled for Sept. 18-19 at Statesmen Park, the north end of Parker Field-McCool Stadium. This signature event draws a large crowd each year, and patrons are invited to become an official Pig Pickin’ sponsor.

“The National Alumni Association is pleased to announce the 30th annual Delta State University Pig Pickin’,” said Jeffrey Farris, director of Alumni Affairs. “The growth of Pig Pickin’ over the past 29 years is a testament to the support of the local businesses of Cleveland and Bolivar County. Pig Pickin’s deep rooted tradition is evident with the thousands who attend Statesmen Park on an annual basis.”

Sponsorship opportunities range from $150 to $1,000+, and donations help to support the event. The deadline to become a sponsor is Sept. 6.

This year, the Alumni Association is offering a business the chance to sponsor the Pig Pickin’ entertainment, which includes Friday night’s headlining band, Saturday afternoon’s DMI bands and DJ on the Park, for $2,500. Those interested in this opportunity are urged to contact the Alumni Office at 662-846-4660 or alumni@deltastate.edu.

The success of Pig Pickin’ 2015 is largely dependent on the financial and in-kind support of the community, Delta region, state and national business partners.

Businesses can benefit by:

  • Business exposure to over 8,000+ attendees (Statesmen Park)
  • Business exposure to 30,000+ alumni and friends of Delta State University (local, state, national, international)
  • 14,000+ email addresses (all email blasts for the event)
  • Social media outlets (sponsored Facebook posts/Twitter/LinkedIn/Instagram)
  • Association with the premier cultural event in the Mississippi Delta region
  • Tax benefits of supporting a 501©3 organization
  • Website exposure (deltastate.eduwww.gostatesmen.comwww.deltastategiving.orgwww.dsupigpickin.com )

To become a sponsor, contact the Alumni Association at 662-846-4660 for a brochure, or visit the Delta State University Foundation website www.deltastategiving.org/alumniassociation/pigpickin to complete the sponsorship online.

For more information, visit our new, official Pig Pickin’ website www.dsupigpickin.com. The official hashtag is #DSUPigPickin. To stay up to date on the Alumni Association’s activities, follow these social media sites: Facebook (Statesmen Graduates), Twitter (@DSU_Alumni), Tumblr (http://www.dsualumni.tumblr.com), LinkedIn (DSU alumni), Instagram (dsualumni) and You Tube (dsualumni1). Thank you for your loyalty and continued support of this Delta State University Alumni Association signature event, and we look forward to seeing you this year at Pig Pickin’!


WILL interns and Dr. Morford from the University of Illinois Laboratory High School pose in front of Coahoma County Higher Education Center with Alysia Burton Steele (left) and Dr. Rolando Herts (right) of The Delta Center.

Delta Jewels oral history session hosted

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The Delta Center for Culture and Learning and the Coahoma County Higher Education Center recently hosted an oral history session in Clarksdale. The session featured University of Mississippi photojournalism professor Alysia Burton Steele, author of “Delta Jewels: In Search of My Grandmother’s Wisdom,” a collection of oral histories and photographs of African American church mothers from the Mississippi Delta.

Dr. Janet Morford, history teacher and director of the WILL oral history internship program (http://will.illinois.edu/community/project/university-high-documentaries) in the Department of Social Studies at University of Illinois Laboratory High School, brought 11 of her high school interns to the Delta to conduct oral histories. Morford is a June 2014 alumnus of The Delta Center’s National Endowment for the Humanities “Most Southern Place on Earth” workshop. She learned about Steele’s oral history work from Dr. Luther Brown, retired director of The Delta Center.

“The NEH Most Southern workshop creates highly committed and influential educational and cultural ambassadors for the Delta region,” said Brown. “Over the years, workshop alumni have made return visits to the Delta on their own, bringing students, co-workers, family and friends, introducing them to the culture and history of the region.”

“We are pleased that Dr. Brown remains connected to The Delta Center through the NEH Most Southern workshop,” said Dr. Rolando Herts, current director of The Delta Center. “He regularly sends Delta news e-blasts to our NEH alumni network, which now has over 500 members. The most recent e-blast led to the creation of this oral history session with Alysia Burton Steele, Dr. Morford and her students at the Coahoma County Higher Education Center, where they learned about doing oral history work in the Delta. They also learned about The Delta Center, the NEH workshop, the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area, and most importantly, each other.”

For the latest Most Southern e-blast, Herts encouraged Brown to include information about Steele’s “Gathering of the Delta Jewels” event taking place in Mound Bayou. When Morford read about it, she realized that her oral history team would be visiting the Delta during the event. She seized the opportunity to connect her students with Steele.

The Delta Center convened the group based on its relationships with Morford, Steele and the CCHEC through NEH, the MDNHA and Delta State. This yielded a rich conversation about the importance of connections in oral history work.

Morford and her team members were thrilled with the experience.

“Today’s session demonstrates that the circle of influence keeps widening for the NEH Most Southern Place on Earth workshop,” said Morford. “That’s the true spirit of the workshop and of doing oral history work. The more that we talk to each other, the more we learn from each other, and the more we realize that we still have much more to learn.”

Herts facilitated an overview of these connections, highlighting the roles and contributions of all session participants. Jen Waller, director of the CCHEC, gave a brief historical overview of the CCHEC complex and its relationship with Delta State.


Jen Waller, director of the CCHEC.

“We are so pleased that Dr. Herts and The Delta Center used the Coahoma County Higher Education Center in Clarksdale as their meeting space for intellectual exchange,” said Waller. “As a satellite campus of DSU and Coahoma Community College, the CCHEC is the perfect setting for discussions focused on history, culture and life-long learning.”

The Delta Center’s Lee Aylward discussed how the group’s visit helps to fulfill and sustain the educational impact of the NEH workshop.

“Dr. Morford’s return visit with her class is an outstanding example of what the Delta Center had hoped would be an outcome of these very prestigious NEH workshops,” said Aylward. “We want our alumni to bring students and encourage friends and coworkers to visit the Delta and learn our history and its importance to the rest of the world.”

Herts shared The Delta Center’s mission and its work with the MDNHA to promote the history and culture of the Delta, in part through oral history research. This led to the introduction of Steele as the featured presenter.

Steele was thrilled that Morford contacted her about meeting with the WILL interns and was pleased that The Delta Center and CCHEC were willing to host the session. She made a special trip from Oxford to Clarksdale to participate in the session, ready to share the joys and challenges of the oral history craft.


Alysia Burton Steele (far right), author of “Delta Jewels: In Search of My Grandmother’s Wisdom.”

“I was very impressed with the WILL interns and the depth and breadth of their knowledge about oral history research,” said Steele. “While they know a great deal already, they also were so very humble, which is so refreshing and encouraging. They were eager to learn by listening to me talk about how I gathered the stories from the Delta Jewels church mothers. Listening intently and respectfully, as well as knowing when to respond, are key skills in oral history research. This group obviously is highly skilled and well trained, so I must give kudos to their teachers, Dr. Morford and Mr. Sutton. They are doing great work.”

Bill Sutton, a history teacher at the University Laboratory School, who is traveling with Morford and the student interns, has made educational visits to the Delta in the past. He inspired Morford to apply for the NEH Most Southern workshop and is pleased to see the results of her participation.

“In addition to this session with Alysia being a high point of our trip, Janet’s experience with the NEH workshop has opened up more options for us to study and understand the Delta,” said Sutton. “I have been coming to the Delta for several years now. With Janet, our internship program leader and a NEH workshop alum, the visits will keep getting better and better. Janet bringing this knowledge and experience back to our school has been remarkable. Alysia also is remarkable, and The Delta Center and Delta State are tremendous educational and cultural resources. I have every expectation that we all will continue to work together in the future.”

“The fact that the WILL Interns have had such a meaningful exchange with Alysia Burton Steele shows that high school students can develop very high level skills – by doing oral history and by talking with experts like Alysia who have also engaged in this demanding but rewarding work,” added Morford. “Being able to come to the Mississippi Delta with the support of our school, and to engage with the resources of Delta State through this session, has been extremely valuable for our students. This truly has been a transformative educational and cultural experience for all of us.”

Student WILL Intern Iulianna Taritsa also appreciated the unique opportunity.

“My time in the Delta has been an amazing and enriching experience,” said Taritsa. “I could see and feel the rich history, and I am so glad that there are people like Alysia Burton Steele and organizations like The Delta Center for Culture and Learning that are helping others understand the significance of this area. I know our WILL team from Uni High has learned a lot from the people we met in the Delta and hopefully we will be able to tell our stories and theirs once we get back to Champaign-Urbana.”

The Delta Center has offered the NEH Most Southern workshop for the past six years. This summer, 74 K-12 educators from across the U.S. once again are being immersed in two six-day experiential learning workshops in the Mississippi Delta. Participants take what they have learned back to their schools, teaching students and colleagues about the rich history and cultural heritage of the Delta region. The Delta Center has engaged Brown to return to the region and facilitate the workshops.

The NEH Most Southern workshops are held at Delta State University and throughout the region. The dates for the 2015 workshops are June 21-27 and July 12-18. For more information, visit http://deltacenterforcultureandlearning.com/southern-place-workshop/.

The mission of the Delta Center is to promote greater understanding of Mississippi Delta culture and history and its significance to the world through education, partnerships and community engagement. The Delta Center serves as the management entity of the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area and is the home of the National Endowment for the Humanities “Most Southern Place on Earth” workshop and the International Delta Blues Project. For more information, visit http://www.deltastate.edu/academics/delta-center-for-culture-and-learning/.

The Coahoma County Higher Ed Center is a partnership between Delta State University and Coahoma Community College. Its mission is to expand educational opportunity for the people in Coahoma County and surrounding counties by offering classes and events that will encourage personal development and promote a higher quality of life for all people in the Mississippi Delta.

The BPAC held a special dinner Thursday to thank over 60 volunteers who are part of the BPAC Ambassadors program.

BPAC celebrates Ambassadors

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Instead of tearing tickets or guiding patrons down the aisle, BPAC Ambassadors got to be the stars of the stage Thursday as the Bologna Performing Arts Center hosted a dinner on the main stage in honor of its Ambassadors, a group of more than 60 volunteers who support all BPAC events through serving as ushers, ticket takers, greeters and more.

Patrons who have ever attended a performance at the BPAC will recognize the Ambassadors’ signature green jackets and vests accompanied by a helpful smile.

The dinner marked the successful conclusion of the BPAC’s 20th Anniversary Season this past academic year.

Several Ambassadors have been volunteering at the BPAC since its inaugural season, including Rev. Jimmy Breland ‘53, who expressed his appreciation for the program.

It is a joy and a privilege to work with such a dedicated group of volunteers from across the Delta region,” said Meghann Yee, Patron Services coordinator at the BPAC. “The success of the past 20 seasons is due in part to their continued service and support of the arts at the Bologna. We are very thankful and fortunate to have such a wonderful group of Ambassadors.”

Positions are open to join the BPAC Ambassadors for the 2015-16 season, and trainings will be held in August. For more information or to sign up, contact Yee at 662-846-4625.

Delta State University’s Center for Interdisciplinary Geospatial Information Technologies will partake in the federal Centers for Academic Excellence in Geospatial Sciences Program.

University’s geospatial center selected for federal program

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The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, in partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey and the Dept. of Defense, recently selected Delta State University’s Center for Interdisciplinary Geospatial Information Technologies to partake in the Centers for Academic Excellence in Geospatial Sciences Program.

According to director Talbot Brooks, the center was encouraged to apply by the U.S. Marine Corps, which required a 100-page document detailing its curriculum, expertise and experience.

Delta State’s program represents one of 17 new academic institutions selected for the unique platform.

The program is a new endeavor designed to cultivate centers of academic excellence in geospatial sciences, content processing, tradecraft methodologies, and research and development technologies. NGA and USGS recognize the inherent value of investing in the future geospatial workforce, and the CAE Geospatial Sciences program supports that goal.

“Organizations were chosen through a rigorous multi-step peer-review process, and the status stands for three years,” said Brooks. “Selected organizations will benefit from not only notoriety, but the ability to compete for funding, train the federal GEOINT (geospatial intelligence) workforce, use NGA’s logo in association with our own, and the assignment of advisors to help guide further program development.”

The award was presented by NGA director Richard Cardillo at the GEOINT Forward meeting at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. on June 22.

“The CAE Geospatial Sciences program is a new way of cultivating relationships and partnerships across America’s universities,” said Dr. Lenora Peters Gant, NGA senior executive for academic outreach and STEM. “This program is one of the best strategic and systemic approaches to shape the geospatial intelligence workforce of the future.”

The CAE Geospatial Sciences Program provides NGA and USGS the ability to assess the university’s geospatial science curricula, research and development, and related capabilities that align with the agencies’ mission needs.

With these partnerships, the agencies can attract a broader array of geospatial intelligence, expertise, research and development, and talent sources for current and emerging critical mission challenges.

Brooks said the goal of the program is to build, strengthen and cultivate the current and future geospatial sciences workforce for the U.S. government — making it second to none.

Learn more about opportunities at Delta State’s Center for Interdisciplinary Geospatial Information Technologies at http://www.deltastate.edu/college-of-arts-and-sciences/center-for-interdisciplinary-geospatial-information-technologies/.


Delta Center, MDNHA presents Delta Jewels in Mound Bayou

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The Delta Center for Culture and Learning, the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area and Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church of Mound Bayou are jointly sponsoring Alysia Burton Steele’s “Gathering of the Delta Jewels.”

This historic gathering will celebrate all of the Mississippi Delta church mothers who were photographed and interviewed for Steele’s book “Delta Jewels: In Search of My Grandmother’s Wisdom.”

The event will take place at Mount Olive in Mound Bayou on July 11 beginning with a social hour and refreshments at 12:30 p.m. The affair is one of several scheduled activities during the 128th Mound Bayou Founders’ Day Weekend. To see the full weekend schedule, visit http://www.alysiaburton.com/.

“These ordinary women lived extraordinary lives under the harshest conditions of the Jim Crow era and during the courageous changes of the Civil Rights Movement,” said Steele. “I am grateful to Reverend Andrew L. Hawkins and local ministers for connecting me to these precious matriarchs who are still vibrant, beautiful, loving examples of living history, and the faces of faith and courage during very difficult times. I also appreciate the support of The Delta Center and the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area. These organizations are committed to helping to tell these Delta stories in Delta communities to educate, inspire and heal.”

The official program begins at 2.pm with remarks from Keith Beauchamp, creator of the Emmy Award-nominated documentary film “The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till.” Mayor Darryl Johnson of Mound Bayou will also provide remarks. Fred Zollo, producer of the critically acclaimed films “Mississippi Burning” and “Ghosts of Mississippi” is also scheduled to be in attendance.

Following the program, there will be a book signing reception where guests can meet the author and many of the Delta Jewels. A representative from Delta State University’s Barnes and Noble bookstore will have copies of the book available for purchase.

Delta Jewels has been featured in The New York Times, Southern Living magazine and various other national publications.

The MDNHA is a partnership between the people of the Mississippi Delta and the NPS. The MDNHA was designated by U.S. Congress in 2009 and is governed by a board of directors representing agencies and organizations defined in the Congressional legislation. More information about the MDNHA, including the complete approved management plan, is available at www.msdeltaheritage.com.

The mission of The Delta Center is to promote greater understanding of Mississippi Delta culture and history and its significance to the world through education, partnerships and community engagement. The Delta Center serves as the management entity of the MDNHA and is the home of the International Delta Blues Project. For more information, visit http://www.deltastate.edu/academics/delta-center-for-culture-and-learning/.