Dr. E.E. "Butch" Caston

University recognizes Caston’s career

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

Delta State University is paying tribute to one of its most dedicated retiring employees — Dr. E.E. “Butch” Caston.

Caston, a graduate of Delta State in 1966, retires Friday after serving as interim vice president for Student Affairs since July of 2015. He has come out of retirement multiple times to serve interim roles for the institution.

“I’m looking forward to returning to retirement,” said Caston. “I have a good feeling about our accomplishments this year.”

Caston first made his professional mark at the university by serving as dean of the College of Education from 1989-2002.

“The one thing that I found coming to Delta State initially as a student, was that it’s a close and accepting environment,” said Caston. “Many years later, returning as an employee, I found that quality still existed, and it still does today.”

Caston said he leaves Delta State with nothing but pride for the university that has been a part of his life for decades.

“I’m a product of the university. I came here as a student. Delta State held me up until I could grow up. I’ll always be grateful for that,” he said.

He returned to the university in 2013 at the request of President William N. LaForge to serve as interim provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. His return in 2015 followed the retirement of Dr. Wayne Blansett, who served the university for 40 years.

“Butch Caston has evidenced outstanding service to Delta State by coming out of retirement twice, first in 2013 as provost, and in 2015 as vice president for Student Affairs,” said LaForge. “He was incredibly successful in both posts. The Delta State family, and I in particular, will be eternally grateful to him for his dedication and loyalty. He was on outstanding member of Delta State leadership for years. I deeply appreciate him for his commitment of time and effort to the university.

“I’ve joked with him already, but I wish him better luck in his next effort at retiring.”

President Emeritus Dr. Kent Wyatt, who worked with Caston when he was dean, echoed LaForge’s praise.

“Delta State University was fortunate to attract Dr. Butch Caston back to his alma mater when he accepted administrative roles in the College of Education,” said Wyatt. “Through his leadership and innovative ideas, he helped make Delta State University the outstanding regional university it is today. Dr. Caston’s love for Delta State has been continuous and an inspiration to all. After retirement, he stepped forward in top administrative roles when his all alma mater needed him. Personally, I want to thank Butch for his loyalty and never failing friendship.”

Dr. Michelle Roberts, vice president for University Relations and Chief of Staff, said she will greatly miss Caston’s presence on campus.

“I have had the opportunity to watch Dr. Caston excel in many different areas at Delta State, and in every role, he has shined,” said Roberts. “But, in my view, his role as vice president of Student Affairs has been his crowning moment. He was a natural when it came to working with students. It’s like his personal family grew to include the thousands of Delta State students as his children.”

“Dr. Caston did not play the typical interim role,” added Roberts. “He did not view this position as simply keeping a seat warm. He rolled up his sleeves, and was determined to leave Delta State a better place than he found it. His love and passion for Delta State, our students, and this community are admirable, and the service he has provided our university has been extraordinary. Dr. Caston exemplifies the spirit of the Delta State family, and he is indeed a true Statesmen.”

Mikel Sykes, a senior at Delta State, has worked closely with Dr. Caston, most recently during Sykes’s two terms as Student Government Association president.

“I’ve really enjoyed working with Dr. Caston the past couple of years, especially seeing how much he cares about the student experience,” said Sykes. “He’s been a leader I’ve looked up to during my time in the SGA. We all wish him the best in retirement.”

Taking over for Caston is Dr. Vernell Bennett. Bennett arrives at Delta State after previously serving in the same role at Kentucky State University in Frankfort, Kentucky. Her extensive experience at KSU enabled her to foster collaborations between Student Affairs and Academic Affairs, faculty, staff, students, the administration and community.

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

Dr. Leslie Griffin, dean of the College of Education and Human Sciences.

Griffin continues role with MAPE

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Dr. Leslie Griffin, dean of the College of Education and Human Sciences at Delta State, will continue her volunteer service as second vice president on the board of the Mississippi Association of Partners in Education.

MAPE has served as a non-profit network of educators and community partners since 1984 and is one of just a few statewide partnership organizations of its kind in the U.S. The organization is committed solely to providing training and materials to help build local support for the success of all students.

Griffin is returning to fulfill her term in the second vice president role. Newly elected MAPE officers began their terms on June 1.

Veteran board member Phil Hardwick of The Hardwick Company, LLC, was elected president. Board member Maggie Stevenson of Mississippi Public Broadcasting was elected first vice president, and Vickie Powell of Mississippi Economic Council was re-elected secretary. Patrice Guilfoyle of the Mississippi Department of Education returns as treasurer. Past president is Suzanne Bean, education and leadership consultant.

This year, MAPE welcomed new board members Kameron Ball of C Spire, Sumesh Arora of Innovate Mississippi and Sherwin Johnson of Jackson Public Schools.

Former directors re-elected to the board are: Debbie Anglin of Pascagoula-Gautier School District, Jane Beach of Parents for Public Schools, Sandi Beason of Clinton School District, Michael Bentley of Bradley Arant Boult Cummings, Nadine Gilbert of Jackson State University, Susan King of Mississippi Department of Transportation and Rebecca Starling, retired partnership coordinator for Jackson Public Schools.

Board members returning to fulfill remaining terms are Everett Chinn of Greenville Public Schools, Beth Fisher of Trustmark and Linda Southward of the Social Science Research Center at Mississippi State University.

On Aug. 23, MAPE will present the 2016 Winter-Reed Partnership Award to Oleta Fitzgerald, Southern Regional director of the Children’s Defense Fund, during a tribute luncheon at the Clyde Muse Center in Pearl. Sponsorship opportunities are available by contacting MAPE at 601-573-0896 or visiting www.mapie.org. Individual tickets for the awards banquet are $75 and may be purchased online at www.mapie.org or from MAPE, P.O. Box 2803, Madison, MS 39130.

MAPE was designated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in 1994.

This summer's interns at GRAMMY Museum® Mississippi include: (left to right) Holly Ruth Pitts, Katie Ann Locke, Gregory Braggs, LindseyAnna Pardue and Mary Parker Janoush.

DMI students shine as GRAMMY Museum interns

By | Academics, College of Arts and Sciences, Faculty/Staff, GRAMMY, Students | No Comments

A number of Delta Music Institute students are making their mark at GRAMMY Museum® Mississippi this summer as museum interns.

The museum, which opened on Delta State’s campus in March, is providing unique opportunities for entertainment industry majors enrolled at the DMI.

“Because Delta State is a designated GRAMMY Affiliate University, the partnership between DSU and GRAMMY Museum Mississippi immediately places our students in a professional network of music and entertainment industry professionals,” said Tricia Walker, director of the DMI. “We hope that the knowledge students have gained in the classroom will be reinforced in a professional work setting. It’s important for them to begin to make that transition from student to professional, and their internship experience is critically important in that transition.”

DMI students Gregory Braggs and LindseyAnna Pardue are currently enjoying their internship responsibilities.

“This has been a great learning experience so far,” said Braggs. “It’s given me the opportunity to work with new equipment and troubleshoot issues. A lot of things I’ve learned at the DMI, I’m using here, and it’s great to work in this environment.”

Braggs, who works as an operations/production intern, edits publicity videos, operates visual equipment for different events and programs, and helps design publicity material. Pardue is serving as an administrative intern, where she assists the administrative coordinator with daily operations, and assists with office management projects and tasks.

Former DMI student Katie Ann Locke is also serving as an administrative intern. Other interns include University of Mississippi students Holly Ruth Pitts and Mary Parker Janoush.

Mary Parker is the daughter of Lucy Janoush ‘78, president of the Cleveland Music Foundation and a key figure in making the museum a reality in Cleveland. Lucy was named the 2015 Delta State University Alumnus of the Year.

And the ties to the DMI run deeper thanks to the museum’s administrative coordinator, Chace Holland, a DMI graduate in 2015.

“I like seeing the different opportunities the Grammy Museum has brought here, especially to the students,” said Holland. “It’s good to give back to Delta State and the DMI program so all the students can have similar opportunities I had as a student. The relationship is a great one, and it’s going to grow exponentially with everything that’s being offered here.”

Walker is thrilled to have DMI students at the museum.

“The internship opportunities at GRAMMY Museum Mississippi provide valuable ‘real world’ experience for our entertainment industry students in the areas of audio/video production, event management, and marketing/promotion,” said Walker. “It’s also important for them to develop their people skills in working with the public, whether that be visitors to the museum or clients using the facilities for specific events.”

To inquire about future internship opportunities at the museum, contact Robin Webb, visitor experience coordinator. Webb, also a DMI graduate, can be reached at rwebb@grammymuseumms.org.

For more information on the DMI, visit http://www.deltastate.edu/college-of-arts-and-sciences/dmi-delta-music-institute-homepage/. To learn more about GRAMMY Museum Mississippi, visit http://www.grammymuseumms.org/.

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MSAI underway at BPAC

By | Academics, Bologna Performing Arts Center, Community, Students | No Comments

The second week of the Janice Wyatt Mississippi Summer Arts Institute Core Arts program is well underway at the Bologna Performing Arts Center.

Forty-eight middle and high school campers from Mississippi and beyond are taking part in their choice of 20 visual and performing arts classes on the campus of Delta State.

For the last 19 summers, MSAI Arts Camp has provided diverse, unique and challenging arts classes. This year, students have the opportunity to explore topics such as sculpture, ballet, poetry, photography, theatre and more in the state-of-the-art facilities at the BPAC and Delta State.

Campers spent the weekend of the June 11 in Memphis as they played at Sky Zone and saw Theatre Memphis’ performance of “Oliver!” Students returned to Cleveland discussing the techniques of stage combat they are learning in class and witnessed in the show.

New York-based theatre teacher Christian Vernon is serving as a Core Arts faculty member for a third year. His students are taking part in improvisation, theatre combat and puzzle design for escape room classes. While Vernon is teaching his theatre classes in the BPAC Recital Hall, Bethany Philipp, a member of the Front Porch Dance Company out of Jackson, is busy engaging her students in dance improvisation, modern dance and ballet in the Delta and Pine Land Theater. As a member of the Mississippi Arts Commission teaching artist roster, Philipp is engaging students in new ways of using their bodies while thinking about movement.

Photographer Will Jacks is teaching a multimedia class in which students are creating their own documentary of camp life at Core Arts. Campers are lugging around recording equipment and conducting interviews with campers, faculty and staff.

Students are looking forward to showcasing their work at the Closing Reception on June 17 at 7 p.m. in the BPAC. The public is invited to join the visual and creative writing classes as they present their works at the reception, which is free and open to the public. The following morning, June 18, the performing arts classes will appear in the Final Performance at 10 a.m. in the BPAC’s Delta and Pine Land Theater.

“We are pleased with the high caliber faculty we are able to employ this summer and the incredible talent these young artists have shown at Core Arts,” said Joannah Taylor, Core Arts director and Arts Education coordinator at the BPAC. “This program attracts such talent and nurtures these artists in a safe and encouraging atmosphere. You won’t believe the things these young people have been able to accomplish in two weeks.”

The 2016 Core Arts program is made possible through support from the Mississippi Arts Commission, The American Legion, AT&T, Entergy, the Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi, the King’s Daughters and Sons Circle Number Two, the Crosstie Arts Council and Delta Dairy. For more information on the Janice Wyatt Mississippi Summer Arts Institute, call 662-846-4844, or visit www.bolognapac.com.

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University Research Center hosts conference on solving state’s most pressing problems

By | IHL | No Comments

Identifying solutions to some of Mississippi’s most pressing problems was the focus of the “Advancing Mississippi: Research for a Better Mississippi for More Mississippians” Conference held last week in Jackson.

“I cannot think of a more important conference and work,” said Dr. Glenn Boyce, commissioner of Higher Education. “The key to improving a state like ours, with limited resources, is to tap into the power of synergy. Working together, we can use our university expertise and research capabilities to solve problems and advance the state.”

Hosted by the University Research Center, the conference featured some of the brightest minds in Mississippi public universities as they covered topics organized into four categories: estimations, employment, being healthy and education. The conference also addressed the systemic challenges that Mississippi faces.

“This conference brings together the best and brightest minds to bear on the systemic problems facing our state,” said Dr. Darrin Webb, state economist and director of the University Research Center. “We’re here to talk about real solutions to make a better Mississippi.”

Representative Joel Bomgar, a republican from Madison County, and Representative Kabir Karriem, a democrat from Lowndes County, presented the luncheon keynote. They discussed Mississippi’s current criminal justice system and how a bi-partisan effort to reform the system could improve outcomes for those transitioning to the workforce once their debt to society has been paid.

The papers presented included:

Estimations

Is Hinds County Mississippi Really Worse than Madison or Rankin County? A Spatial Equilibrium Approach to Ranking Quality of Life
Maury Granger and Gregory Price
Jackson State University
·        Using a spatial-equilibrium econometric approach, the authors measured local amenities, which informed them about quality-of-life. This approach provided a novel, theoretically tenable and unbiased approach to measuring amenities and gauging quality-of-life in particular locations.

The Role of Income and location in Racial/Ethnic differences on loan denial in three Mississippi Counties
Okechukwu Anyamele, Gail Fulgham and Jean-Claude Assad
Jackson State University
·        The authors investigated the racial differences in loan denial rates in three Mississippi counties within the Jackson Metro statistical area. The results showed that 31.56% of the difference in loan denial rates between whites and African Americans is explained by endowments, while 68.40% is unexplained. Similarly, 20.60% of the difference in loan denial rates between Hispanics and Whites is explained by endowments, while 79.40% is unexplained.

Estimation of the Burden of Cigarette Smoking on the State of Mississippi in 2014
Alan Barefield
Mississippi State University
·        The purpose of the research, sponsored by the Mississippi State Department of Health – Office of Tobacco Control, was to estimate the economic burden of smoking cigarettes on Mississippi’s adult population. The study estimated the total economic burden of smoking on the state to be approximately $6.8 billion with $1.5 billion allocated to direct medical costs and $5.3 billion comprising indirect costs. Also estimated were state fiscal impacts (approximately $90 million for income taxes and sales taxes) and potential wealth redistribution effects quantified by input-output analysis.

Employment

Independent Living Program (ILP) and Workforce Development for Youth Aging Out of the Mississippi Foster Care System
Shonda Lawrence and Glenda McMillan
Jackson State University
·        There are approximately 3,700 children in the foster care system in the state of Mississippi, with approximately 1,200 children who are 14 to 21 years of age and eligible for independent living services. The study looked at the Independent Living Program (ILP), which provides services that will foster self-sufficiency through employment, and at workforce development for youth aging out of the system. Some of the recommendations brought forward by the study includes early and consistent work experience for youth, a task force to examine employment trends and an oversight committee to monitor employment opportunities.

Understanding the Nature of the Teacher Shortage in Mississippi
Authors: Kenneth V. Anthony, Dana Pomykal Franz and Devon Brenner
Mississippi State University
·        The goal of the study was to understand the nature of the teacher shortage in Mississippi in order to provide policy makers with the information necessary to develop effective solutions. The authors’ findings indicate that districts with a high percentage of black students, districts located in the Yazoo-Mississippi River Delta Region, and districts that generate less money locally for education are more likely to have a teacher shortage. The factors that most influence the shortage extend outside the world of education and education policy and include people’s perceptions and ideas about race, the economics of place and what makes a place a valuable place to live, and the economic health of places. All of these problems are place-based and the solutions must be found in the places. Some of them can be addressed by education policy, but others must be addressed by the larger society. One possible solution that can be addressed within the field of education is to produce teachers who reside in the places experiencing teacher shortage and who are committed to staying.

An Exploratory Study of Effects of Workplace Variables on Organizational Commitment of Mississippi Correctional Staff
Linda Keena, Eric Lambert, Zachary Buckner, David May and Stacy Haynes
University of Mississippi
·        The study explored how different dimensions of the workplace are associated with organizational commitment among staff at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, the largest facility in the Mississippi Department of Corrections. The study found that key factors in influencing employee commitment include role clarity, input in decision-making and instrumental communication.

Being Healthy

Transforming Lives Through Health Insurance Outreach and Enrollment
Authors: Laura Richard and Kathryn Rehner
University of Southern Mississippi
·        Mississippi adults and children are significantly more likely than adults in the rest of the nation to be uninsured. The E³ (Educate, Enroll, Empower) Health Initiative was a partnership between the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) School of Social Work and local city government. The study found that the efforts of the E3 Health Initiative resulted in a 65.8% growth in Medicaid/CHIP enrollment in the targeted zip code area.

The Socio-Economic Impact of Community Development Financial Institutions on Child Health Outcomes in Mississippi
Nicholas Hill and Corey Wiggins
Jackson State University
·        Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) have an important role in providing financial products and services to underserved communities. Poverty stricken areas are plagued with significant disparities in heath due to inequities between social and economic issues. Specifically, these social determinants of health have both a direct and indirect influence on child health outcomes. This research provides an exploratory examination on what impact CDFIs have on child health outcomes in Mississippi. Utilizing probabilistic and comparative analysis for data collected at the county level in the State of Mississippi, an economic model that predicts the level of investment that maybe linked to obesity rates is developed. At the national level, it is suggested that innovative cross-sector collaborations by the community development sector showed promise in mitigating place-based disadvantage and improving the social determinants of health.

Health Insurance Influence on Obesity Rates: A Cross-Sectional Study of Mississippi’s 82 Counties
Sam Mozee, Jr. and Jin Zhang
Jackson State University
·        This study investigated whether there is a relationship between the percentage of persons not having health insurance (i.e., the un-insured) and obesity rates at the county level in Mississippi. However, the impact of higher uninsured percentages on obesity rates was statistically insignificant and very negligible for the time period under review.

Education

Sex Education in Mississippi: An Analysis of the Early Impacts of HB999
Authors: Robert D. Brown and Sara Porcheddu
University of Mississippi
·        House Bill 999 was passed during the 2011 legislative session and represents Mississippi’s first attempt to require the teaching of sex education and STD/HIV prevention in Mississippi schools. First implemented during the 2012-2013 school year, HB999 allows school districts to choose between “abstinence-only” and “abstinence-plus” approaches to adopting sex education curricula. The study provided an initial glimpse into the early impacts of HB999. The study found the Abstinence Plus CHART (Creating Healthy and Responsible Teens) program to be effective. The CHART initiative is a partnership between Mississippi First, the Mississippi State Department of Health, and the Women’s Foundation of Mississippi.

Applied Behavior Analysis in Mississippi: New Opportunities, New Challenges, and New Solutions
Authors: Meleah Ackley, Shawn Bishop, BreAnna Newborne and James Moore
University of Southern Mississippi
·        According to the 2015 Mississippi Autism Advisory Committee Report, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affects an estimated 10,743 children in Mississippi. ASD causes social and communication issues as well as repetitive behaviors, self-injurious behaviors, tantrum behaviors, and aggression. The authors proposed using Telehealth to provide an economic and efficient way to overcome the challenges in assessment and treatment of autism spectrum disorders in children.

Early Learning Standards
Authors: Kristin Javorsky and Candice Pittman
Mississippi State University
·        This study involved a statewide, large-scale survey of licensed early childhood care providers examining choices in implementation of Mississippi’s official Early Learning Standards (ELS) for three- and four-year-olds (preschoolers). Policy recommendations based on survey results include:

1.      Increasing awareness among childcare providers of how the Mississippi’s Early Learning Standards are beneficially aligned with existing childcare licensing requirements, Head Start framework criteria, and the Mississippi College and Career Ready Standards
2.      Expanding educational partnership efforts between private childcare centers and public school districts
3.      Increasing educational and financial opportunities that can raise the formal education levels of the early childhood care and education workforce statewide.

Financial Literacy among College Students: Comparisons by Gender, Race/Ethnicity, Age, and National Norms
Authors: Thomas Taylor, John Thornell, Molly Vaughn and Nathan Pitts
Delta State University
·        The purposes of this study were twofold:
1.      To assess college student performance on a nationally recognized measure of financial literacy and compare the results for three demographic variables: race/ethnicity, gender, and age.
2.      To compare overall performance of students in this sample against national performance on the same measure.
·        The study found there is a need for financial literacy education to help students learn how to make good financial decisions.

In addition, three student papers were recognized with book scholarships:

·        First Place: “Improving Developmental Mathematics Courses: A Study of Various Methods for Replacing Developmental Mathematics Courses in Higher Education” by Aaron Lyle Wallace, Chris Kelly, Marti Pulido, Flora Sumrall and Selah Weems (Mississippi State University- Meridian Campus)
·        Second Place: “Bridging the Gap: Improving Mental Health Services for Children and Adolescents in Mississippi Schools” by Amy Henderson (University of Southern Mississippi)
·        Third Place: “Blueprint Health: A Social Solution to Obesity in the Workforce and Communities of Mississippi” by Cecilia Snyder, Molly Chaffin , Brian Street and Timothy King (University of Southern Mississippi)

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The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.