King sculpture pays heartfelt tribute to Schmidt

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Visitors to downtown Cleveland are enjoying the recent expansion of Delta State’s Hazel and Jimmy Sanders Sculpture Garden with five new installations along Sharpe Avenue.

One sculpture holds special meaning thanks to the creative work of recent Delta State graduate Lawson King ’17, an art major originally from Indianola.

His 8-foot steel and recycled rope sculpture “Broken Arrow” stands tall in dedication to former Delta State professor Dr. Ethan Schmidt, who fatally fell victim to gun violence in 2015.

“I dedicated the piece to him because his shooting caused me to react — caused me to respond to the traumatic experience,” said King. “The more I found out about the shooting, the more I felt connected to it.”

King found many similarities to the incident after his father was killed in a shooting at the age of three. King also taught with Schmidt’s wife at a local elementary school through his participation in the Delta Arts Alliance’s artist-in-residence program.

“It was personal for me to create this piece, but I also wanted to do it for Ethan’s wife and his kids,” said King. “I wanted to show them that I was three when my father was killed, and I think I turned out alright.”

Michael Stanley, chair of the Delta State Department of Art, was thrilled with King’s dedication, noting that he was the first student/alumni to have work displayed in the sculpture garden.

“Lawson’s piece is a very powerful tribute to Dr. Ethan Schmidt because he elegantly intertwines a number of very complicated ideas into one sculpture,” said Stanley. “The broken arrow is a symbol that represents peace and also refers to Ethan’s expertise in Native American history. It’s also a direct reaction to the events that took place the day of the shooting. Instead of using an image of violence, Lawson chose an image of peace, which is much more powerful in my opinion.”

The sculpture garden has developed into an iconic element of Delta State’s campus, and it has shown growth in recent years while expanding across the university, to the grounds of GRAMMY Museum® Mississippi, and downtown Cleveland.

Judson Thigpen, executive director of the Cleveland-Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce, said the sculpture garden’s development continues to forge the town-gown relationship.

“The sculptures are a continuation of the Hazel and Jimmy Sanders Sculpture Garden at Delta State into the community,” said Thigpen. “It’s an added treasure that one of the sculptures is dedicated to the life of Ethan Schmidt and the lives he touched while here.”

Stanley agreed that the expansion of the sculpture garden strengthens the partnership between the university and the city of Cleveland.

“We cannot survive without the other, and this is a wonderful display of cooperation and a great visual reminder of this unique relationship,” he said.

Public sculpture was a big reason King pursued his art degree, as he felt public art was lacking in his hometown. The facilities in the art department make it possible for students to create large-scale public works.

King said it was an incredible honor to be selected in the first group of downtown sculptures.

“It feels like such a big accomplishment for me,” he said. “It’s awesome to be included with super talented sculptors from across the country. Just to be accepted and be among them in the first round of downtown sculptures — it means a whole lot to me.”

Learn more about the Hazel and Jimmy Sanders Sculpture Garden at http://thesculpturegardenms.com/.

University to celebrate 92nd anniversary

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All campus members, friends and supporters of Delta State University are invited to a university birthday celebration Sept. 13, as the institution marks the 92nd anniversary of its opening.

The public is encouraged to visit campus for the celebration of 92 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 Whitfield Hall, the current home of the Delta Music Institute.

The anniversary program will focus on the decade of the 1940s, which will include a brief introduction of Governor James Whitfield, the man for whom Whitfield Hall was named. The former Mississippi leader signed the bill establishing Delta State Teachers College in 1924.

The program will highlight the historic events that took place in and around Whitfield Hall, and how its renovation has given rise to the thriving entertainment industries studies program at the DMI.

The event will conclude with a light lunch for attendees.

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

“We will continue to celebrate each year with growing excitement as the 100th birthday of Delta State approaches,” said Robinson. “A yearly celebration allows us to embrace the school’s history and its bright future. Each year, the anniversary brings 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 Delta State’s anniversary to pay tribute to those who have come before us, and all the great Statesmen and Lady Statesmen yet to come,” said Jones. “As an archivist, it brings me great honor to help highlight our history. We look forward to shining light on the ‘40s and former Governor Whitfield.”

The Delta State Wind Ensemble will join the program again this year, performing a selection of the green and white’s most popular tunes.

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

Fighting Okra Records releases new compilation CD

By | Academics, College of Arts and Sciences, Delta Music Institute, Students | No Comments

Fighting Okra Records, a student-run record label housed in the Delta Music Institute entertainment industry program at Delta State University, recently released its third compilation CD project, “Fighting Okra: Round 3,” featuring 17 tracks of original music either written, produced or recorded by DMI students.

The new Fighting Okra project was the culmination of a senior project by DMI graduate Jarrick Finkley during the fall of 2015. In a continuing effort to expose the music of DMI students to the campus and community, Finkley decided to assemble a third compilation CD to expose the depth of talent of DMI students.

“Fighting Okra: Round 3” contains 17 original works representing a wide range of genres including hip-hop, gospel, alternative, R&B, dub step, rock, metal, and country. The songs on the project were written, produced, engineered or performed by current DMI students and alumni, with Finkley serving as executive producer. Songs on the CD were selected by Finkley after multiple screenings and were chosen on the basis of lyrical content and recording quality.

“I loved working on Fighting Okra Round 3,” said Finkley, a native of Vicksburg. “It was a big challenge, but the project allowed me to learn so much within a cooperative work situation. I am grateful to every student artist and engineer who contributed their awesome gifts and talents to this project.”

DMI Director Tricia Walker served as the faculty advisor for the project.

“The lessons students like Jarrick learn in working on a real-world project like this are invaluable,” said Walker. “I’m very proud of what he’s put together on this CD. It really does represent the breadth and depth of the talent coming out of DMI.”

Copies of the CD will be available for purchase in the main office of the DMI on campus and online at www.fightingokrarecords.com. For more information on the album or the FOR label, contact the DMI at 662-846-4579 or visit www.fightingokrarecords.com.

The DMI is an independent center of study under the College of Arts and Sciences at Delta State, offering a bachelor’s degree in entertainment industry studies. The focus of the DMI is to provide students with a broad and thorough education in the technological, creative and business areas of the music and entertainment industry. For information, contact 662-846-4579 or visit http://dmi.deltastate.edu.

Alumni magazine hits mailboxes

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The latest issue of the Delta State Alumni and Foundation Magazine is currently on its way to the homes of alumni, friends and supporters of Delta State University.

The cover features alumnus Dr. Brad Vickers ’98, founder, owner and CEO of Southern Tradition Tailgating, along with his custom-made tailgating combat vehicle.

Also spotlighted in the magazine is the city of Cleveland, along with several alumni who are committed to promoting and creating an attractive environment for students and Cleveland residents alike.

The magazine contains highlights of a new outdoor recreation lab, the International Business Symposium, athletics and various alumni spotlights.

“The Delta State Alumni and Foundation Magazine is the primary publication distributed to alumni, donors and prospective students,” said Melissa Love, assistant director of Alumni Affairs. “We are excited and proud to celebrate the accomplishments of our alumni and share updates about their alma mater.”

The publication is mailed to over 25,000 homes across the nation.

To view the magazine online, visit https://issuu.com/deltastateuniversity/docs/sumfall_mag17_issu.

To update your alumni information, visit www.deltastategiving.org/alumniassociation/updateyourpersonalinformation.

To stay up to date on the Alumni Association’s activities, follow these social media sites: Facebook (Statesmen Graduates), Twitter (@DSU_Alumni), LinkedIn (DSU alumni), Instagram (dsualumni) and You Tube (dsualumni1). Make plans for this year’s Pig Pickin’ (Oct. 7) and Homecoming (Nov. 11).

DSU Geospatial Information Technologies Center responds to Hurricane Harvey

By | Academics, Center for Interdisciplinary Geospatial Information Technologies, Faculty/Staff, Students | No Comments

The Delta State Geospatial Information Technologies Center (GIT) produced detailed United States National Grid maps of the areas most affected by Hurricane Harvey this week.

These maps will help emergency responders make the most of their resources to assist communities hit hardest by Harvey and the record rainfall and flooding that the hurricane generated.

A small team of GIT students and other experts worked through the night of August 28 to produce the hundreds of maps needed by emergency responders on the ground around Houston. Most of these maps needed accurate and detailed annotation to show the location of critical infrastructure, provide points of reference to the responders on the ground, and the location of other features that allow the rescue work to go on in a safe, secure way.

The entire package of maps and information was produced and delivered in less than 24 hours.

“The GIT center is often asked to support natural disaster relief efforts. This is part of our continuing work with first responders such as fire and police departments,” said Talbot Brooks, GIT Center director. “Floods, earthquakes, epidemics and other disasters require immediate mapping support to help responders use their limited resources to best meet the most critical needs.”

Brooks said the mapping experience was very valuable to students in the GIT program.

“This mapping project gives us a chance to make a contribution to a real world problem,” said Tanner Overcash, senior GIT major and Marine reservist. “It’s very much like the missions the Marines are called on for, responding to hurricanes and typhoons all around the world. We’re excited to get to work on something that really matters. Hopefully, we helped make things better for the people who are suffering from Harvey.”

Brooks added it was another opportunity for Delta State students to experience the application of GIT to real world problems.

“We take a great deal of pride in producing map products like this database — something that makes a real difference in how we handle disasters like Hurricane Harvey,” he said. “Our students make a real and immediate difference when we get the opportunity to work on projects like this. The spirit of volunteerism is alive and well in the state of Mississippi. As volunteers, they were able to truly make a difference in the lives of their neighbors by bringing this technology to their search and rescue, damage assessment, and similar efforts. I’m honored to be associated with such a wonderful group of people.”

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/.

The mission of the center is to provide geospatial services, accessible education and training, and institutional knowledge for geospatial information technologies to the widest possible audience, and particularly, the mid-Delta region.