Institutional effort leads to retention increase

By | Academics, Faculty/Staff, President, Student Success Center, Students | No Comments

Delta State University continues to exhibit increases in institutional retention rates thanks to a campus-wide effort.

A comparison of data between Fall 2014-15 and Fall 2015-16 shows an increase in three major categories:

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Improving retention at Delta State has been at the forefront of the agenda for Dr. Charles McAdams, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs.

“Helping students succeed is at the heart of what we do at Delta State University. We are committed to implementing strategies to help students create a path and to stay on a path to degree completion,” said McAdams. “Completing a degree is the most important step a student can take to make sure he/she can enter their chosen career path and fulfill their professional aspirations.”

McAdams believes the positive retention rates are a result of the university’s redesigned First Year Seminar program, increased use by faculty and staff of the S.O.S. Early Alert program, and most importantly, the increased collective awareness to reach out to students who may be struggling.

“Earlier this fall, we announced new initiatives that will increase our retention efforts and hopefully build upon the success we have experienced,” added McAdams. “The new initiatives we have put into place this fall that we hope will help with this year’s freshmen class are 15 is Full-Time, Academic Maps and Meta-Majors. It is essential that all degree-seeking undergraduate students enroll for a minimum of 15 hours each semester in order to graduate in four years. We also encourage our students to seriously consider taking at least one class each summer to help them stay on track to graduate on time.”

Additionally, there is now an academic map for each major listing the specific courses students need to complete their degree. Courses are listed by semester in order to make planning and registration easier. Academic Maps are located at http://www.deltastate.edu/academic-affairs/academic-maps.

Meta-Majors features a cluster of courses in four broad areas for undecided students to make certain all the courses they take in their first year will count towards a degree in the area they have selected. These Meta-Major choices are provided to undecided students in Academic Advising Services in the Student Success Center.

Finally, this January, faculty will have access to a new software tool, CRM: Advise, which will make it easier to stay in touch with their advisees and to reach out to those students who may need extra help in their classes.

McAdams said much credit should also be given to Dr. Christy Riddle and her staff in the Student Success Center.

“Our approach is two-fold. We focus on big picture items, such as First-Year Seminar and academic maps, but we also focus heavily on one-on-one interaction with students,” said Riddle. “Since Delta State is a small university, our faculty, staff and Student Success team know our students. As the saying goes, ‘DSU students are not just a number,’ but individuals with potential for success. Our efforts are based upon the experiences and attributes of our students, not simply a cookie cutter, off-the-shelf approach.”

Riddle said her staff would continue to focus on data analysis, proactive academic advising and increased promotion of pre-registration.

“Knowing exactly who is leaving Delta State will help us establish targeted programs and initiatives to assist the students and encourage them to stay here,” she said. “Involving academic advisors in the retention of students is key. Efforts are underway to strengthen and enhance proactive academic advising beyond simply helping students select their classes. Additionally, pre-registration is a way to get ahead of the game. In late October, we will launch an awareness campaign to stress the importance of pre-registration. That way, when pre-registration arrives in November, students are ready to select classes for the spring semester.”

Delta State University President William N. LaForge was also thrilled with the upward tick in retention.

“I’m extremely pleased to see the percentage increases that we have experienced in retaining students at Delta State,” said LaForge. “These are terrific numbers because they represent the reality of Delta State programs that are helping our students develop a path to success — meaning graduation. We, as a university, are doing a much better job of helping our students be successful and stay in school.

“This retention improvement is a huge factor in our overall enrollment numbers. The enrollment status of any university is a combination of recruitment, the first ‘R,’ and retention, the second ‘R.’ These two factors have to work together as a formula to build enrollment. The statistics are bearing out the hard work that our faculty, staff, business services and our Student Success Center are all combining to offer to keep our students on the path to graduation. This is extraordinary news for Delta State.”

Follow all university news at www.deltastate.edu.

The Avett Brothers will perform at the BPAC Oct. 4 at 7:30 p.m.

The Avett Brothers set to perform Oct. 4

By | Bologna Performing Arts Center | No Comments

The Avett Brothers will perform live in concert at the Bologna Performing Arts Center on Oct. 4 at 7:30 p.m. The event is sponsored locally by Guaranty Bank and Trust.

The Avett Brothers’ narrative folk-rock tells bigger stories about what it means to be Southern, to be American and to be alive. The group combines bluegrass, country, punk, pop melodies, folk, rock and roll, indie rock, honkytonk and ragtime — producing a unique sound that delights audiences of all ages.

The group’s new album, “True Sadness,” achieved their highest career debut to date, and it dominated multiple charts. “True Sadness,” their ninth album, continues to garner overwhelming critical acclaim with many considering it their finest release yet. “Rolling Stone” said it’s “their most heart-baring LP.” “People” claimed “the sincerity of the lyrics keeps the boys true to their roots,” and “Interview” wrote “as a whole, ‘True Sadness’ is the band’s most intimate and exploratory album to date.”

In a letter to fans announcing the album, Seth Avett wrote, “Somewhere along the way, the line between music and life faded — then evaporated altogether. With the disappearance of this division, the songs have become increasingly reflective in their nature. It is with this current focus and harmony between art and living that we pen our songs.” 

Over the past few months, The Avett Brothers have traveling and performing across the nation. They have performed on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” the “TODAY Show”and “CBS This Morning” — all while touring with shows across the country.

Be sure to catch them at the BPAC and feel “True Sadness” come to life on stage.

Tickets to see The Avett Brothers start at $55 and are available at the BPAC Ticket Office, open Monday-Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. To purchase over the phone, call 662-846-4626, or online at www.bolognapac.com. For all things The Avett Brothers, visit www.theavettbrothers.com.

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LaForge among first to sign NCAA Presidential Pledge

By | Athletics, Faculty/Staff, President | No Comments

Delta State University President William N. LaForge, a member of the NCAA Division II Presidents Council, became one of the first in the nation to sign the new NCAA Presidential Pledge.

LaForge was fully supportive of the diversity and inclusion initiative that commits schools to achieving ethnic and racial diversity and gender equity in college sports hiring practices.

The pledge was endorsed earlier this month by the highest governing body of each NCAA division and approved by the Board of Governors.

“I am pleased to sign this pledge that commits Delta State to achieving ethnic and racial diversity and gender equity in our college sports hiring practices,” said LaForge. “This is really a no-brainer for Delta State, because it’s a reaffirmation of what we’re already doing.

“I’m proud of our inclusive approach to our hiring processes across the board, especially in athletics. This is an important area for Delta State, and for me as president — but also because I’m serving as president of the Gulf South Conference and as a member of the NCAA Division II Presidents Council.”

Ronnie Mayers, Delta State’s director of athletics, echoed LaForge’s praise for the pledge.

“Fairness and equality are hallmarks of intercollegiate athletic competition, and I am proud to be part of an organization that upholds and protects these principles,” said Mayers. 

The NCAA pledge states:

Consistent with our mission and values, our institution, a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, pledges to specifically commit to establishing initiatives for achieving ethnic and racial diversity, gender equity and inclusion, with a focus and emphasis on hiring practices in intercollegiate athletics, to reflect the diversity of our membership and our nation.

We recognize and value the experiences individuals from diverse backgrounds bring to intercollegiate athletics. To that end, we will strive to identify, recruit and interview individuals from diverse backgrounds in an effort to increase their representation and retention as commissioners, athletics directors, coaches and other leaders in athletics. As part of this commitment, we will also engage in a regular diversity, inclusion and equity review to inform campus policy and diversity initiatives.

We understand this to be a collective responsibility we owe to student-athletes, staff, our athletics programs and the entire campus community.

In the coming months, presidents and chancellors who have signed the pledge will receive a toolkit with best practices and other resources to assist their schools’ ongoing diversity and inclusion efforts.

To view all the institutions participating in the pledge, visit http://www.ncaa.org/about/resources/inclusion/ncaa-presidential-pledge.

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Mississippi Tourism Association Presents Industry Achievement Awards at Governor’s Conference on Tourism

By | Community, GRAMMY | No Comments

The Mississippi Tourism Association (MTA) presented their annual awards for tourism achievement for the year 2016 during activities at the Governor’s Conference on Tourism held at the Natchez Convention Center in Natchez, Miss. on Sept. 18-20, 2016.

The awards program recognizes outstanding contributions to the advancement of tourism by members of the 300+-member private sector organization as well as honoring travel media, community leaders and friends of the industry. Awards were presented in 15 categories, each focusing on a different aspect of the hospitality industry or individual achievement.

Receiving the award for Travel Attraction of the Year was GRAMMY Museum® Mississippi. The Museum was cited for being the only GRAMMY Museum outside of Los Angeles, which is home to the first GRAMMY Museum. The Museum features cutting-edge exhibits, interactive experiences and films, which provide a one-of-a-kind visitor experience — engaging, educational, celebratory and inspirational. In just 4 months after opening the Museum has brought visitors from 41 states as well as tourists from over 16 countries. More information about GRAMMY Museum Mississippi can be found at www.grammymuseumms.org.

“Special recognition should be given to our tourism industry leaders for their outstanding accomplishments. We are happy to have the opportunity to honor the winners of these awards as we truly appreciate their dedication not only to our organization but to the entire tourism industry,” said Wesley Smith, 2016-2017 president of MTA.

For more information on MTA or Mississippi tourism, visit www.visitmissisippi.org or www.mstourism.com.

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Planning to attend Pig Pickin’? Please read the following guidelines.

By | Alumni | No Comments

The 31st annual Pig Pickin’, hosted by the Delta State University National Alumni Association, is a signature event at the university that many alumni, friends, students, parents, faculty and staff attend each year. Because the safety of the large number of people in attendance is a top priority, everyone is asked to follow the set rules and regulations:

  • To ensure everyone has a safe and fun experience at Statesmen Park, no vehicles will be allowed on Statesmen Park north of Parker Field-McCool Stadium. Tailgaters who need to drop off tents or other heavy items will be allowed to do so before 5 p.m. Friday and before 11:30 a.m. Saturday. After these times, traffic will not be allowed in the park.
  • Parking will be available at the athletics facilities, Shumate Park, Walter Sillers Coliseum, Kent Wyatt Hall and across Highway 8 on campus. Tailgating behind the visitors’ side of the stadium is prohibited. Directional signage will indicate the designated tailgating areas for Pig Pickin’ attendees.
  • Golf carts and ATVs will not be allowed with the exception of officials and staff golf carts.
  • Pets are not allowed at the event.

These rules were put in place to ensure the safety of Pig Pickin’ participants, particularly the many children who attend. Video surveillance will be in use at the park.

Pig Pickin’ event times at Statesmen Park:

  • Friday, September 18, 5 p.m. – midnight
  • Saturday, September 19, Noon – 5 p.m.

The official hashtag for Pig Pickin’ is #DSUPigPickin.

For more information, contact the Alumni Association at 662-846-4660.

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). Save the date for this year’s Pig Pickin’ (Sept. 24) and Homecoming (Oct. 15).