The inaugural fellows of the Teach for America Graduate Fellows Program at Delta State include: (front row, left to right) Javier Peraza, Sarah Hawley, Jena Howie, Kandace Lewis, MacKenzie Stroh Hines, (back, l to r) Matty Bengloff, James Forte, Jon Delperdang, Boyce Upholt and Jeremiah Smith.

TFA graduate fellows kick off program at Delta State

By | Community, Graduate and Continuing Studies, Students, Teach for America | No Comments

Delta State University’s Graduate and Continuing Studies department recently completed its inaugural week-long immersion experience for the new Teach for America Graduate Fellows Program.

Teach For America and Delta State University are piloting the new innovative two-year fellowship program to teach 10 Teach For America alumni how to launch and run a social venture in the communities they serve while also completing a graduate degree program of their interest.

During the immersion week, the cohort refined their leadership skills while also being introduced to entrepreneurial perspectives when tackling social problems.

“We offered the cohort tangible tools for them to use by providing a framework and space to plan out the implementation and design of their projects,” said program coordinator Harrison Wood. “During our week together, we weaved in aspects of school leadership, Mississippi Delta history and community engagement. Our week was met with unbelievable success. The fellows were able to foster a ‘think-tank’ like environment, which will enable them to use one another as a resource throughout the length of the fellowship, and hopefully longer, as they each continue to positively impact Mississippi.”

The week opened with Dr. Samuel Jones, a professional keynote speaker and author who specializes in the area of leadership development. Participants then had the opportunity to take part in a Delta tour with The Delta Center for Culture and Leaning to gain a greater understanding of the Mississippi Delta culture and history.

For the next two days, the schedule focused on the expansion participants’ proposed social entrepreneurship projects. The facilitators for these days included Spud Marshall and Alexis Taylor. Marshall is the chief catalyst for co.space, an international network of homes for change-makers that launched in State College, Pennsylvania. He is also the co-founder of New Leaf, a nonprofit social innovation incubator in State College. Taylor, of Austin, Texas, is the program manager and facilitator for 3 Day Startup, an international non-profit organization that builds entrepreneurial capabilities in students and employees at colleges, corporations, organizations and governments.

On the final day, the cohort visited KIPP-Delta and the Thrive Center, both operational social enterprises in Helena, Arkansas. This trip provided the fellows an opportunity to visualize and learn from fruitful social ventures positioned in a rural area. The week closed with an afternoon canoe trip on the Mississippi River with John Ruskey of Quapaw Canoe Company, fostering a team-building experience for the participants.

Fellow Boyce Upholt was thrilled to begin the program.

TFA graduate fellows spent the week introducing entrepreneurial perspectives and social issues.

TFA graduate fellows spent the week introducing entrepreneurial perspectives and social issues.

“Immersion week was a great chance to get to know the other fellows in the program, and to begin to thought partner about how to accomplish our goals,” said Upholt. “Our projects are in varying states of development, from kernels of ideas to already operational programs, but we all walked away with tangible next steps, as well as inspiring examples of what entrepreneurship can look like in this region.

“I’m looking forward to continuing to partner with the fellows, our support staff, and the faculty in my academic program. I’m aiming to use storytelling to better connect Deltans with one another, and with their local landscape, and I can’t think of a better program for doing so.”

To complete the fellowship, each participant will focus on social entrepreneurship, while simultaneously completing a graduate degree at Delta State. The cohort will regularly convene to share experiences in a collaborative environment, allowing participants to develop goals.

The project is funded through a grant from the Robert M. Hearin Foundation. The principal goal of the foundation is to contribute to the overall economic advancement of the state of Mississippi by making funds available to four-year colleges and universities and graduate professional schools located in the state.

Applications for the 2017 cohort will open Jan. 1, 2017. For more information on the program, visit http://www.deltastate.edu/graduate-and-continuing-studies/tfa-graduate-fellows-program or call 662-846-4700.

Robin Boyles, director of Delta State's Office of Institutional Grants, was recently named to the Advisory Board for the Grants Resource Center.

Boyles named to Grants Resource Center’s Advisory Board

By | Faculty/Staff, Office of Institutional Grants | No Comments

Robin Boyles, director of the Office of Institutional Grants at Delta State, was recently named to the Grants Resource Center’s Advisory Board.

The GRC, a unit of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, has enhanced the research and sponsored programs capabilities of higher education institutions since 1967. A main goal of the organization is to boost an institution’s success in securing competitive grants from federal and private sponsors.

The Advisory Board is one of GRC’s enduring hallmarks, acting as an intermediary to help GRC staff better represent the needs of member institutions. It also plays a crucial role in helping GRC develop new resources and services. Advisors participate in periodic meetings via conference calls and are expected to attend the Funding Competitiveness Conferences held in February each year in Washington, D.C., which is followed by an Advisory Board meeting.

“I’m very honored to have been asked by the Grants Resource Center staff to serve as an at-large member of the GRC board,” said Boyles. “I have been active with the GRC over the past several years, having presented at several of their Funding Competitiveness Conferences held in Washington, D.C. I find the resources that they provide to be very helpful and timely.”

Boyles added that for smaller, regional institutions with limited resources, GRC provides invaluable tools and information to increase external funding. The organization has relationships with federal funding agencies, as well as private foundations. It serves as a conduit for information as well as facilitating interactions with funders.

The Office of Institutional Grants provides support to Delta State University faculty and staff for securing external funding from federal, state and non-federal institutions such as foundations and corporations. This support includes workshops and seminars, as well as training and technical assistance. Interested faculty should contact the Office of Institutional Grants at 662-846-4804.

Additionally, the office maintains an official file of grants and contracts, and is responsible for reporting external funding to the IHL and other government entities.

Learn more about the Grants Resource Center of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities at http://www.aascu.org/GRC/AboutGRC.

Campus and community will unite Sept. 15 at noon to celebrate the 91st anniversary of Delta State's founding.

Campus to celebrate 91st anniversary

By | Academics, Archives and Museum, Community, Faculty/Staff, President, Students | No Comments

All campus members, friends and supporters of Delta State University are invited to a birthday celebration Sept. 15, as the university marks the 91st anniversary of its opening.

The public is encouraged to join the university as it kicks off its celebration of 91 years of excellence.

Delta State University President William N. LaForge, joined by members of the Dedicated Statesmen Association, will start the ceremony at noon at the Alumni Brick Plaza in front of Ward Hall. The event will conclude with a luncheon of sandwiches and pizza.

The program will begin with words from President LaForge, and a few DSA members will reenact some of the old campus rules that were established in the university’s rulebooks known as the Green Books. Members of the Delta State Wind Ensemble will also perform musical numbers at the affair.

Dr. James Robinson, president of the DSA committee, is exited to once again celebrate the university’s founding.

“We should celebrate each year with growing excitement as the 100th birthday approaches,” said Robinson. “A yearly celebration allows more of our students to be on campus to learn about the school’s history and its exciting future. The Founders’ Day activities help our spirits and bring us closer as students, alumni, faculty, staff and friends.”

Emily Jones, university archivist, has been working closely with the DSA to bring the event together.

“We celebrate our anniversary not for our own benefit, but for those before us and those who will come after us,” said Jones. “I enjoy spotlighting our history, and I’m thankful that we have the platform of our anniversary to do that each year.”

Stay up to date on all university events and activities at http://www.deltastate.edu.

Dr. Vernell Bennett, vice president of Student Affairs (left to right), Emily Ballard, president of DeSoto County Alumni Chapter and President William N. LaForge.

DeSoto County Alumni Chapter raises scholarship money

By | Alumni | No Comments

The Delta State University National Alumni Association recently hosted the 12th annual DeSoto County Alumni Event in Southaven at the BankPlus Training Center.

DeSoto County Legacies.

DeSoto County Legacies.

This year’s program featured President William N. LaForge; Dr. Vernell Bennett, vice president of Student Affairs; and Jeffrey Farris, director of Alumni Affairs. Other faculty and staff inattendance were: Ann Giger, executive assistant to the president; Ronnie Mayers, director of Athletics; Keith Fulcher, executive director Alumni-Foundation; Gary Bouse, chief development officer; David Breaux, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences; Darlene Breaux, Academic Affairs development officer; Dr. Clifton Wingard, chair of the Department of Mathematics; and Katherine Shoemaker, admissions recruiter.

Over 150 alumni and friends attended the event.

Over $1,600 was raised through the affair’s silent auction. All proceeds benefit the DeSoto County Scholarship, which is given annually to incoming Delta State students from the area. This year’s recipients are Alexis Harrington from DeSoto Central High School and Maggie Evans from Southaven High School.

To view photos from the 2016 Desoto County chapter meeting, visit https://www.flickr.com/photos/dsualumni/albums/72157671344777540.

Sponsors for the event included: State Farm agents Ryan T. England and Stephanie Morrison Strohm; BankPlus; BancorpSouth; Renasant Bank; First Security Bank; William, Pitts, Beard, PLLC; Grapevine Liquor & Wine; and A&B Distributors.

Join the Delta State University National Alumni Association for the 31st annual Pig Pickin’ on Sept. 23-24 at Statesmen Park.

31st annual Pig Pickin’ scheduled for Sept. 23-24

By | Alumni, Foundation | No Comments

The Delta State University National Alumni Association is gearing up for the 31st annual Pig Pickin’ scheduled for Sept. 23-24 at Statesmen Park.

Each year, Pig Pickin’ continues to grow in attendance, and supporters are invited to become an official sponsor of this university event.

“The National Alumni Association is pleased to announce the 31st annual Delta State University Pig Pickin’,” said Jeffrey Farris, director of Alumni Affairs. “The growth of Pig Pickin’ over the past 30 years is a testament to the support of the local businesses of Cleveland, Boyle, Bolivar County and the greater Mississippi Delta region. Pig Pickin’s deep rooted tradition is evident with the thousands of alumni who attend and the hundreds of volunteers involved.”

Sponsorship opportunities range from $150-$1,000+, and donations help support the event. The deadline to become a sponsor is Sept. 19.

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

The success of Pig Pickin’ 2016 is largely dependent on the financial and in-kind support of the community, Delta region, state and national business partners. Businesses can benefit by:1234502_10151716741849200_743250881_n

  • business exposure to over 8,000 attendees at Statesmen Park
  • business exposure to over 30,000 alumni and friends of Delta State University (local, state, national, international)
  • over 15,000 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
  • tax benefits of supporting a 501©3 organization
  • website exposure (www.deltastate.edu – www.gostatesmen.com – www.deltastategiving.org – www.dsupigpickin.com)

The 31st Annual Pig Pickin’ official Facebook event page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/events/1168155446577403/.

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.

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 Pig Pickin’ (Sept. 24) and Homecoming (Oct. 15).