University institutes campus-wide Capstone Project program

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

Delta State University recently announced a new program developed through a university-wide visioning process to promote academic excellence and student success at the institution.

The initiative, called the Capstone Project, aims to increase student learning by providing a Capstone experience for every student in every degree program. Departments across campus have identified a Capstone experience for each of its major programs.

The projects provide students the formal opportunity to connect major themes from their discipline and apply them to their field of study. The desired outcome of the program is that every student will have a capstone experience in their major program to promote reflection and synthesis of key concepts within their major.

“I’m very pleased with the university’s new and revised Capstone Project requirement for every major and every graduate,” said Delta State President William N. LaForge.

LaForge said this new feature would distinguish Delta State in two major ways. First, it underscores and enhances the academic rigor and reputation of the university and its programs. Secondly, it gives Delta State graduates a competitive advantage, including the substantive experience from doing the project, in addition to what they’re able to put on their résumé and discuss in interviews.

“This should make our graduates more competitive for jobs in the marketplace, but also for positions in graduate and professional school,” added LaForge. “The Capstone requirement adds an academic ‘halo’ over our students’ performance and degree that should help them advance in their chosen careers.”

Dr. Charles McAdams, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, said the program would strengthen the overall learning experience at Delta State.

“Another step in Delta State’s commitment to providing the best academic experiences possible is making sure that every degree program has a Capstone experience,” said McAdams. “Experiencing a curriculum can sometimes leave students wondering how all the information they are learning, and skills they are developing, will help them in the next phase of their professional life.”

“Capstone projects are designed to help students synthesize what they have learned to ensure they have achieved the outcomes of their degree,” added McAdams. “Many programs, such as teacher education programs, nursing and social work, have traditionally had field experiences at the end of their program. We have expanded this effort so that now every degree program has some type of Capstone experience within their curriculum.”

McAdams said not many universities have taken this extra step, but Delta State remains committed to providing the most meaningful curriculum possible.

Dr. Leslie Griffin, dean of the College of Education and Human Sciences, said the projects should boost the overall academic experience for students.

“I think the saying that ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’ applies here,” said Griffin. “That is, increasingly, employers and the world-at-large expect graduates to bring understanding of all the nuances of their specialization to bear on the workplace and in life experiences. Capstone courses help learners to contemplate, analyze and synthesize their learning experiences in a manner that achieves this level of understanding and operation, with an eye on outcomes.”

“In the realm of professional practice in education, counseling, and other related fields, Capstone projects ensure that learners bring the skills, knowledge and dispositions they have developed in their programs to bear on the real world through their work in the professional setting — P-12 schools, counseling centers, medical facilities, others, dependent upon the area of specialization.”

Dr. Dave Breaux, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, echoed Griffin’s praise for the initiative.

“Providing students the opportunity to engage in a Capstone experience will allow them to synthesize and integrate material encountered throughout their program of study,” said Breaux. “It should provide a platform for them to demonstrate mastery of the material within their respective disciplines, and give them a leg up on the job market.”

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

University to celebrate $3 million pledge from Gertrude C. Ford Foundation

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

Delta State University will host a special grant announcement ceremony in honor of The Gertrude C. Ford Foundation, a longtime Delta State supporter that recently provided one of the largest gifts in the university’s history.

University supporters are welcomed to the ceremony March 1 at 2:30 p.m. on the second floor of Ewing Hall.

Gertrude Castellow Ford

The Gertrude C. Ford Foundation, based in Jackson, Mississippi, recently pledged $3 million to the university to support the Center for Teaching and Learning at Delta State.

The foundation, founded in 1991 by Gertrude Castellow Ford, gives to educational and philanthropy projects primarily relating to higher education, children and youth services, and also health and human service organizations.

Thanks to the foundation’s commitment, the Center for Teaching and Learning at Delta State will be funded over the next several years. And in Ford’s honor, the center will be named the Gertrude C. Ford Center for Teaching and Learning. The facility provides Delta State with an opportunity to support the faculty in their efforts to improve student success.

John Lewis, a board member for the foundation, said the funding would go a long way in developing quality faculty at Delta State.

“Our investment here is really on the faculty level at Delta State,” said Lewis. “We can build buildings, and we can do a lot of things — but at a school, especially Delta State, the attraction is the faculty. The faculty is what makes the school go. I, along with my fellow board members Cheryle Sims and Gayle Papa, think the individual attention to the faculty makes this a worthwhile investment for us.”

Delta State University President William N. LaForge said the foundation’s support would make a significant long-term impact at the university.

“The gift from the Gertrude C. Ford Foundation in support of our Center for Teaching and Learning is a gift that will continue giving,” said LaForge. “It has transformational value because it’s going to help support a very important function at Delta State that will affect our students, potentially forever.”

“This donation is a major statement by a major foundation, of support for and confidence in Delta State,” he added. “We are very grateful for that. They are going to see their good work in action here. The $3 million gift will serve the purpose of making sure we can continue this great program on campus.”

Dr. Gray Kane, director of the Gertrude C. Ford Center for Teaching and Learning, said the center is an essential facility to improve overall learning at Delta State.

“The Gertrude C. Ford Center for Teaching and Learning is a hub for faculty development at Delta State,” said Kane. “It promotes a culture of self-development, collaboration and innovation in support of student success. The center provides faculty and chairs with resources, facilitated conversations, workshops, programs, networking opportunities, and individual consultations centered on topics such as online, hybrid, and face-to-face teaching, advising, mentoring, leadership, curriculum mapping, assessment and scholarship.”

“The faculty are experts in their disciplines, but outside the College of Education, very few have studied teaching, mentoring, course design, curriculum design or other facets of their profession,” added Kane. “This gift from the Gertrude C. Ford Foundation will fund opportunities to interconnect the faculty for knowledge transfers, collaborations, and innovations that can lead to student success both inside and beyond the classroom.”

For more information on the center, visit http://www.deltastate.edu/academic-affairs/center-teaching-learning.

To learn more about the Gertrude C. Ford Foundation, visit https://www.gertrudecford.com.

The public grant announcement ceremony on March 1 will celebrate one of the most significant pledges in the university’s history. Delta State supporters are welcome to the ceremony and to view The Gertrude C. Ford Center for Teaching and Learning.

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

RENT 20th anniversary tour to stop at BPAC

By | Bologna Performing Arts Center | No Comments

“RENT,” the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning landmark rock musical, written by Jonathan Larson, will return to the road in a 20th Anniversary production that promises to be as impactful and exciting as the original. The exciting performance takes the BPAC stage March first at 8 p.m.

Tickets to the RENT 20th Anniversary Tour in Cleveland are now on sale at the Bologna Performing Arts Center box office, by calling 662-846-4626, or by visiting www.bolognapac.com. Group orders of 10 or more may be placed by calling 662-846-4625.

In 1996, an original rock musical by a little-known composer opened on Broadway, and forever changed the landscape of American theatre. Two decades later, Jonathan Larson’s “RENT” continues to speak loudly and defiantly to audiences across generations and all over the world. And now, the masterpiece returns to the stage in a vibrant 20th anniversary touring production. A re-imagining of Puccini’s “La Bohème,” the performance follows an unforgettable year in the lives of seven artists struggling to follow their dreams without selling out. With its inspiring message of joy and hope in the face of fear, this timeless celebration of friendship and creativity reminds us to measure our lives with the only thing that truly matters — love.

The show received its world premiere off-Broadway at New York Theatre Workshop on Feb. 13, 1996 to ecstatic reviews and transferred to Broadway on April 29, 1996. “RENT” won the 1996 Tony Award for Best Musical as well as the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Based on original direction by Michael Greif (Tony and Drama Desk Nominations, RENT), Evan Ensign re-stages the 20th anniversary tour. Original Broadway creatives Marlies Yearby (Choreography), Angela Wendt (Costume Design), and Tim Weil (Music Supervision and Additional Arrangements) are joined by Jonathan Spencer (Lighting Design), Keith Caggiano (Sound Design), MiRi Park (Associate Choreographer), and Matthew E. Maraffi (adapting original scenic design by Paul Clay) to make up the creative team for the tour. The RENT 20th Anniversary Tour was cast by Joy Dewing Casting with additional casting by Wojcik | Seay Casting.

The tour is produced by Work Light Productions, whose other touring productions include “Cinderella,” “Motown,” “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas,” and “Clue.”

For more information, visit www.bolognapac.com.

MDNHA, Delta Center share “Heart & Soul” of Mississippi Delta in D.C.

By | Alumni, College of Business and Aviation, Community, Delta Center, Delta Music Institute, Faculty/Staff, Students | No Comments
Senator Thad Cochran (second from right) recently enjoyed a visit with representatives from The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University. The meeting included a performance by Delta State graduate Keith Johnson (second from left), the great nephew of Muddy Waters. The Delta Center is the management entity for the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area (MDNHA). Also pictured (left to right) are Shelia Winters, DCCL program associate for projects; Dr. Rolando Herts, DCCL director and MDNHA executive director; Rhonda Price, executive director of Mississippi Gulf Coast National Heritage Area; and Lee Aylward, DCCL program associate for education and community outreach.

 

The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University recently attended the Alliance of National Heritage Areas’ annual meeting on behalf of the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area. The meeting took place during Valentine’s Day week in Washington, D.C.

During the Alliance’s “Heart & Soul” congressional breakfast at the Rayburn House Office Building, the MDNHA and Delta State were honored for receiving National Park Service Centennial Awards for creating the Delta Jewels Oral History Partnership. This cultural heritage interpretation project has engaged over 1,000 residents and visitors in honoring the lives of unsung African American church mothers featured in Alysia Burton Steele’s book “Delta Jewels: In Search of My Grandmother’s Wisdom.”

Delta State was the only higher education institution and MDNHA is the only National Heritage Area in the country that received NPS Centennial Awards this year.

In recognition of the MDNHA’s rich cultural heritage, the Alliance of National Heritage Areas invited Keith Johnson, “Prince of the Delta Blues,” to be the featured performer at the “Heart & Soul” breakfast. A graduate of the Delta Music Institute at Delta State, Johnson is currently a graduate assistant in The Delta Center pursuing a Master of Business Administration at Delta State. He also is the great nephew of Delta Blues legend, Muddy Waters.

After the breakfast, the Delta delegation met with Mississippi legislators Senator Thad Cochran, Congressman Bennie Thompson and Senator Roger Wicker. They shared copies of the MDNHA’s 2014-2016 progress report and forthcoming economic impact study. During the visit with Cochran, they were joined by Rhonda Price, executive director of the Mississippi Gulf Coast National Heritage Area.

Delta Center team members with Congressman Bennie Thompson

“I am very pleased that our team was able to thank Cochran, Thompson and Wicker in person for their continued support of National Heritage Areas,” said Dr. Rolando Herts, director of The Delta Center and executive director of the MDNHA. “The Mississippi Delta, Hills and Gulf Coast National Heritage Areas are acknowledged by so many of our colleagues and supporters for doing great work in the communities we proudly serve.”

Johnson was especially excited to visit Cochran’s office where he was invited to perform his song “Come to Mississippi.”

“The song explores the culture of the Mississippi Delta. It expresses the feeling of blues musicians that are from Mississippi and includes references to hit songs they have written,” said Johnson. “I wrote this song so that I could connect with the Delta’s heritage, which includes blues music and more. I am honored that Senator Cochran invited me to perform it for him.”

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://deltacenterdsu.com/.

The MDNHA is a cultural heritage partnership between the people of the Mississippi Delta and the National Park Service. Led by Herts, it includes

Delta Center team members in front of the U.S. Capitol building.

18 counties that contain land located in the alluvial floodplain of the Mississippi Delta: Bolivar, Carroll, Coahoma, DeSoto, Holmes, Humphreys, Issaquena, Leflore, Panola, Quitman, Sharkey, Sunflower, Tallahatchie, Tate, Tunica, Warren, Washington and Yazoo. 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.

Bolivar County Crawfish Boil scheduled for May 3

By | Alumni | No Comments

The Delta State University Bolivar County Alumni Chapter recently announced May 3 as the date for this year’s annual Bolivar County Crawfish Boil.

The Delta State University National Alumni Association, along with the Bolivar County Alumni Chapter officers, hosted an information table to announce the event during Bolivar County Alumni Night at Walter Sillers Coliseum on Feb 1.

To pre-purchases tickets to the event, visit https://www.deltastategiving.org/alumniassociation/bolivarcountycrawfishboil. The annual affair features live entertainment, a kids zone area, exceptional food and a silent auction to raise money for the Liza Vaughn Memorial Scholarship Fund. The scholarship is given to students who attend Delta State as freshmen and are Bolivar County residents.

Those wishing to serve on the crawfish boil committee are asked to email alumni@deltastate.edu for more information.

The 2018 Bolivar County officers are: Gary Crews, president; Shane Howell, vice president; and Tricia Killebrew, secretary/treasurer.

More details about the crawfish boil will be released as the date approaches.

To stay up to date with Alumni Association’s activities, follow these social media outlets: Facebook (Statesmen Graduates), Twitter (@DSU_Alumni), LinkedIn Group (Delta State University National Alumni Association), Instagram (dsualumni) and You Tube (dsualumni1). Save the dates for the 5th Annual Go Green Weekend (April 27-29), 33rd Annual Pig Pickin’ (Sept. 22nd) and Homecoming (Nov. 10th).