Alumni Association announces 2017 awards

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Each year the Delta State National Alumni Association announces their alumni award recipients.

These men and women will be honored during special events during the 85th Delta State Homecoming weekend – Nov. 10-11. The Alumni Association will recognize the Outstanding Alumnus of the Year, the Hall of Fame Inductees and the Alumni Service Awards.

The Outstanding Alumnus of the Year is retired Arkansas Senator Percy Malone.

Percy Malone

This award is presented to a graduate who had made significant contributions to human or institutional programs in which a situation, an institution or a movement has been materially changed for the better due to that individual’s personal participation. Malone, originally from Rosedale, makes his home in Arkansas but began his academic career at Delta State before moving on to Ole Miss where he earned his pharmacy degree. He then began his journey into the pharmacy business world by way of Mississippi, Texas, and eventually Arkansas, where he became an owner of multiple stores. He then joined the Arkansas legislature as a representative before becoming a state senator. Along the way he helped a young Bill Clinton in his political endeavors as well.

Being inducted into the Delta State University Alumni Hall of Fame is the highest honor to be bestowed on an individual by the Delta State University Alumni Association. The Alumni Hall of Fame was established in 2007 and is extended to alumni and friends who have achieved professional distinction and made significant community service contributions at the local, national, and/or international level and who have brought honor and distinction to Delta State. This year’s class is comprised of Percy Malone, Becky Nowell (’81), Dr. William Morehead (’84) and Richard Fulwood (’72).

Becky Nowell

Becky Nowell

William Morehead

Richard Fulwood

The Hugh Ellis Walker Alumni Service Award is given to an individual in recognition of their outstanding service and contributions to Delta State by an alumnus. This year’s winners are Kelly Hunter (’00) and Katherine Keller Batenhorst (’96).

Kelly Hunter

Hunter, an Austin, Texas resident, works for the Lowe Colorado River Authority as an internal auditor. She also serves as a board member of Delta State’s Alumni Board, representing the Black Alumni Constituents Group. She engages black alumni constituents with on and off campus events and works to increase the group’s presence during Homecoming. As the daughter of two Delta State alumni – Derek Hunter (Delta State Coaches Hall of Fame) and Anita Hunter (first black Most Beautiful Pageant runner up), she championed an initiative – the first ever Black Alumni Homecoming Gala during the 2016 Homecoming. During that event, three prestigious black alums of Delta State were honored for their outstanding achievements.

Katherine Batenhorst

Batenhorst currently resides in Florida and has been promoting Delta State at the St. Johns County Florida College Night for the past six years. She began her teaching career after getting her Bachelor’s of Elementary Education from Delta State and a Masters of Speech-Language Pathology from the University of Alabama. She first worked with special needs students at the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind. Batenhorst then completed a Gerontology Residency Training to work with adults. She has served as chair of the Community Hospice and Palliative Care Advisory Council for nine years and has served as president of the Rotary Club of St. Augustine and the Junior League of St. Augustine. The Delta State Hall of Fame swimmer and student Hall of Fame member was selected as the St. Johns County School District Learning Legacy Lifetime Achievement Award winner in 2014 and shared the Angel of ARC of the St. Johns Award with her husband that same year. She currently works as a speech-language pathologist for an elementary school and is married to Todd Batenhorst.

For graduates who are 36-years old and younger, The Kent Wyatt Young Alumnus Service Award is given to recognize outstanding service and contributions to Delta State. This years’ winner is William Crump (’05).

William Crump

He earned his biology degree from Delta State and was active on campus as a member of the Kappa Alpha Order and served as government affairs director for the Student Government Association. He also interned in the office of U.S. Sen. Trent Lott in Washington D.C. before his senior year.

Upon graduation, he served five years as a legislative assistant to U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran and covered policy areas of health, labor, housing and urban development and veteran’s affairs. He also aided in drafting legislation that funded several capital improvement projects on the Delta State campus, including the soon-to-be-finished Statesmen Boulevard. In 2010, Crump completed his master’s of public health degree at the University of Southern Mississippi. He then worked at the Delta Regional Authority until 2012 when he was hired to be the executive administrator for the Mississippi Division of Medicaid. As a key advisor to the executive director, he directed the agency’s legislative affairs efforts and oversaw the Medicaid managed care program.

In 2016, Crump joined Ochsner Health System as director of public health policy for Mississippi and worked closely with the Mississippi’s Washington D.C. congressional delegation. He also completed his doctoral degree in health administration at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Crump has been active in the Delta State Alumni Association in Cleveland and Jackson, serving on the planning committee for Jackson alumni events and heading fundraising efforts. He is a regular competitor at Pig Pickin’ with his BBQ team, Deliverance Smokers. He and his wife Katy (’06), are both life alumni members and  reside in Brandon.

The Gladys Castle “Friend” of Delta State Service Award recognizes outstanding service and contributions to Delta State by a non-alumnus or institution. This year’s winner is Neal Anderson.

Neal Anderson

As the owner of the Cleveland area Domino’s franchise, he began his career as a delivery driver in Grenada, moved into the general manager position and then put his focus on becoming a franchise owner. He opened the Cleveland franchise in 2007 and was awarded the Rookie Franchise of the Year Award from Domino’s. He has spoken at many Domino’s corporate meetings sharing best practices and has become a staple in Cleveland, serving on the board with the Chamber of Commerce, Bell Academy Booster Club and often speaks in area schools on entrepreneurship. He has also enjoyed working with many Delta State organizations and has served as the official pizza of Delta State Athletics for the past seven years.

The Legacy Award – presented to an alumnus or Delta State affiliated organization that has made an institutional changing impact at the university – goes to Anne Wynn Weissinger (’15). The Greenville, Mississippi native and eighth generation Mississippian obtained her master’s of education in guidance and counseling from Delta State. In addition to her undergraduate degree from Tulane, she completed additional hours in school psychology to obtain her AA License in school psychometry and completed a bachelor’s degree in Spanish.

Anne Wynn Weissinger

As a member of the Delta State Foundation Board, she was the first woman president of the Delta State Foundation Board.

Established in 2014, the Dr. Henry Outlaw Faculty/Staff Service Award honors and recognizes former Delta State faculty or staff members who have had a significant influence in the life of the university and/or the National Alumni Association. The award was established by the National Alumni Association Board of Directors and inspired by the Dedicated Statesmen Association. Nominees for the award may be anyone who was employed by Delta State and do not have to be a Delta State alumni. The award may also be given posthumously.

This year’s recipient is Dr. Everett Eugene Caston (’66).

Everett Eugene Caston

Caston has been called upon multiple times to “un-retire” and help Delta State by serving interim roles. He first served the university as dean of the College of Education from 1989 to 2002. He returned to the university in 2013 at the request of President William N. LaForge to serve as interim provost and vice president for the Office of Academic Affairs. His return in 2015 followed the retirement of Dr. Wayne Blansett, who served the university for 40 years. Caston’s “temporary interim job” list also includes serving as interim provost and vice president for academic affairs at Mississippi University for Women from 2011 to 2012.

The 2017 Distinguished Black Alumnus of the Year is presented annually to an alumnus or alumna distinguished in his or her chosen field. This year’s recipient is Tara Dunn (’10).

Tara Dunn

The former Homecoming queen now works at Northwest Community College as the dean of students after working at Hinds Community College. The Picayune, Mississippi native is a 2010 graduate of Delta State University and a Hall of Fame inductee. She holds a master’s degree in higher education administration from Mississippi College and is currently a doctoral candidate at Jackson State University, pursuing a degree in urban higher education.

Dunn is a member of St. Matthew Missionary Baptist Church and the Upsilon Iota Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. She has been involved with state and regional housing organizations, as well as serving as a former member of the National Orientation Directors Association. She recently became a life member of the Delta State University Alumni Association, and looks forward to continuing her efforts of encouraging students to attend Delta State.

The Alumni Association has a variety of activities planned during Homecoming weekend, and this year’s featured reunion is the Class of 1967 – celebrating 50 years since graduating from Delta State College. The 1967 class will be inducted into the prestigious Golden Circle – a constituency group of the association which honors alumni who graduated at least 50 years ago.

The official hashtag for the 2017 Homecoming is #DSUHC17. For more information, contact the Alumni Association at 662-846-4660. To purchase tickets to the Alumni Awards Gala, contact the association at 662-846-4660 or

To stay up to date on the Alumni Association’s activities, follow these social media sites: Facebook (Statesmen Graduates), Twitter (@DSU_Alumni), Tumblr (, LinkedIn (DSU alumni), Instagram (dsualumni) and You Tube (dsualumni1).




RESSON ranked top nursing school in Mississippi

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In a new ranking from, Delta State University’s Robert E. Smith School of Nursing came in as the No. 1 nursing school in the state of Mississippi.

To view the rankings of Mississippi nursing schools, visit

Dr. Vicki Bingham, dean of RESSON, was thrilled with the top ranking.

“We are very excited to earn this No. 1 ranking among all the nursing schools in the state,” she said. “This recognition by an external source is vital, and it validates our commitment and efforts in providing a high quality education to students who enter our nursing programs.”

Bingham added that RESSON faculty and staff are work diligently to ensure Delta State nursing students are safe and competent health care providers upon graduation.

“We care about the success of our nursing students,” said Bingham. “Students are provided a variety of learning opportunities in the classroom, online, and in clinical experiences to facilitate knowledge and skill acquisition. We provide a high quality education at an affordable cost.” is a site dedicated to connecting nurses with the degree programs they’re looking for. For those pursuing an RN to BSN online, the site has a database full of ranked institutions. The organization strives to feature the best RN to BSN programs from across the country. Learn more at

Learn more about RESSON’s programming at

“B-The Underwater Bubble Show” to wow BPAC

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 Don’t miss “B-The Underwater Bubble Show” at the Bologna Performing Arts Center Nov. 16 at 7 p.m.

Following your dreams and allowing your inner child to take over for a while is the premise of “B-The Underwater Bubble Show,” performing at the Bologna Performing Arts Center on the campus of Delta State University Nov. 16 at 7 p.m.

Inspired by childhood classics like “Alice in Wonderland,” “The Little Mermaid,” and “Peter Pan,” “B-The Underwater Bubble Show” is a modern day fairy tale with one major twist.

“Each classic tale represents a journey of a kid who grows up and learns something,” said co-creator and director Enrico Pezzoli. “We wanted a story about an adult character who discovers that he can still go back and enjoy life. We don’t always need to grow up. Sometimes we need to step backwards for a bit and restart.”

The story follows Mr. B, a creature of modern habits who always feels pressured by a thousand things to do in a world that seems to be moving too fast. The office worker discovers a little aquarium that appears like magic inside his briefcase and gradually becomes enchanted by the wondrous underwater world of Bubblelandia.

“Mr. B represents each of us,” Pezzoli notes. “His transformation is a journey which each of us could take.”

Taking cues from Cirque du Soleil, the visually spectacular show incorporates the latest in stage technology. Lasers, low-ground smoke, and flying foam simulate waves and the underwater atmosphere. A juggler in a huge plastic ball is the performer that immediately attracts Mr. B and the audience into Bubbleandia’s wondrous world, while dancers and acrobats serve as small colorful fish chasing Mr. B and each other inside the aquarium. The biggest attraction of the show is the spectacular use of soap bubbles in multiple artistic ways.

“The biggest challenge was to make everyone understand that the show is for everyone. Many people relate it to kids, but everyone loves bubbles. After performing in so many countries around the world, we have seen adults enjoying the show as much as kids, sometimes with even bigger reactions,” said Pezzoli.

Tickets to see the “B- The Underwater Bubble Show” are $15-$20, and discounts are available for groups of 10 or more. Tickets are on sale now at or at the BPAC Ticket Office at 662-846-4626.


Attacca Quartet coming to BPAC

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One of the most internationally acclaimed quartet ensembles, Attacca Quartet, will take the stage of the Bologna Performing Arts Center’s Recital Hall Nov. 14 at 7:30 p.m.

The performance is part of the new Recital Hall series, featuring classical music in an intimate setting in the BPAC’s 145-seat recital hall.

From sold-out concerts at Carnegie Hall and Radio City Musical Hall to National Public Radio’s far-reaching “Tiny Desk” concerts, the Attacca Quartet celebrates the timeless beauty of the string quartet for a broad audience and this sublime art form.

Praised by The Strad for possessing “maturity beyond its members’ years,” the group was formed at the Juilliard School in 2003 and made their professional debut in 2007 as part of the Artists International Winners Series in Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall.

From 2011-2013 they served as the Juilliard Graduate Resident String Quartet, and for the 2014-15 season, they were selected as the Quartet in Residence by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

As stated by The Washington Post, “Mastery like this is scarce enough in quartets that have played together for decades.”

The group has engaged in extensive educational and community outreach projects, serving as guest artists and teaching fellows at the Lincoln Center Institute, the Boston University Tanglewood Institute, and the Woodlands ChamberFest in Texas.

During their time in Cleveland, Attacca Quartet will give a mini-performance at a local assisted living facility in addition to providing a masterclass for Delta State University’s Department of Music students.

Tickets to see Attacca Quartet are $35, and discounts are available for groups of 10 or more. Tickets are on sale now at or at the BPAC Ticket Office at 662-846-4626.

Higher education proves to be excellent investment

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By Glenn Boyce, Commissioner of Higher Education

In the first half of the 20th century, there were many good jobs available to Americans who held only a high school diploma. These jobs provided stability and an income that, though not lavish, was sufficient to provide for a family who lived modestly and saved prudently. After World War II, a shift began to take place and this shift has only accelerated in the 21st century.

The rate of change in the way businesses communicate, sell, distribute and provide goods and services is incredible. Automation impacts everything from assembly lines to distribution facilities and even our own homes. Innovation and adaptability are essential for businesses and also for the individuals in the workforce. As our economy continues to become more technologically advanced, our workforce must have more credentials of value if we, as a state or a nation, will be able to compete in the global economy in which we now live and work.

Two reports from Georgetown University’s Center for Education and the Workforce underscore the importance of earning a bachelor’s degree, both in terms of job availability and earnings potential.

In its report, Recovery: Job Growth and Education Requirements through 2020, the Center estimates that 65 percent of all jobs in the economy will require postsecondary education and training beyond high school by 2020.

Those who invest in themselves by completing a bachelor’s or advanced degree will reap the benefits for the rest of their lives. The Center’s Report, The College Payoff: Education, Occupations, Lifetime Earnings, finds that earning a Bachelor’s degree makes a significant difference in lifetime earnings. Nationally, the median annual income of those with a bachelor’s degree is $56,700, which equates to earning $2.3 million over a lifetime. When looking at lifetime earnings, bachelor’s degree holders earn 31 percent more than workers with an Associates degree and 74 percent more than those with just a high school diploma.

We all know Mississippi falls at the lower end when ranking states by median household income, but having a degree makes as much difference here as in other states. Census data shows that the median household income in Mississippi for a high school graduate is $25,954. The median household income in Mississippi for a college graduate is $40,952.

All 25 of the highest paying jobs in Mississippi require a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Holding a bachelor’s degree also brings stability in an uncertain job market. Unemployment rates for those with at least a bachelor’s degree are much lower than those with only a high school diploma and substantially lower than those who do not have a high school diploma.

Higher education is an investment that opens doors of opportunity for our citizens and enables our state to advance. Having more Mississippians with a bachelor’s degree makes our state more competitive.

Approximately 20 percent of Mississippians hold a bachelor’s degree or higher today, but we continue to improve this number. We have had an increase of 8.9 percent in the number of degrees conferred in the last five years, awarding 17,760 degrees, a record number, in 2017. While steady progress is good, we must raise attainment rates exponentially if we are to advance the state and grow Mississippi’s economy.

When Mississippians invest in themselves through higher education, they increase their own economic prosperity, which, in turn, increases the economic prosperity of the state. We all rise together.