‘Arts in April’ to celebrate students’ artistic talent at Delta State

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Arts al Fresco

Born from the idea to spotlight students’ artistic talent, “Arts in April” will make its inaugural debut on the Delta State University campus this spring. The Delta State Special Programs Committee will sponsor a month-long festival of events, all specifically focused to showcase student soloists, ensembles, artists and writers.

“Arts in April” will launch, Monday, April 3 at noon with “Arts al Fresco.” To take place outside Holcomb-Norwood Hall, weather permitting, “Arts al Fresco” will feature spontaneous painting and musical improvisation by students in reaction to an original student poem. The public is invited to bring a lunch and watch the artists’ work evolve as they interact and inspire each other.

The event’s calendar also includes a duo of lunchtime lectures, beginning Monday, April 10 at noon on the second floor of the H.L. Nowell Union on campus. Malcolm White, Director of the Mississippi Arts Commission, will keynote an arts forum, with presentations and performances to be made by Delta State students.

On Tuesday, April 18 at 12:15 p.m. in the art history lecture room of Holcomb-Norwood Hall, Dr. Douglas Lewis, distinguished art historian and curator for Sculpture and Decorative Arts at the National Gallery in Washington DC for over 30 years, will present, “Mississippi’s ‘Surprising’ Architecture,” detailing the architectural legacy of the Magnolia State. 
“Arts in April” will also include a reading of student authors whose works will be published in this year’s student literary anthology, “The Confidante.” The event is scheduled for Monday, April 24 at 7 p.m. on the second floor lobby of the H.L. Nowell Union.

The month-long festival will culminate, Sunday, April 30 at 3 p.m. in the Bologna Performing Arts Center on campus with a musical extravaganza featuring the choirs of Delta State, the University of Southern Mississippi and the University of Mississippi. The three choirs along with the orchestra from USM will perform three masterworks for choir and orchestra. This concert will be followed by a gala reception sponsored by the Special Programs Committee.

All events are open to the public and many are free of charge, with a complimentary coffee bar and light desserts to be provided at all indoor events.

For more information or a complete schedule of events, please contact Special Programs Committee Chair, Dr. Mark Butler in the Delta State music department at (662) 846-4619 or  




Trace your family tree in Delta State sponsored workshop

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Mike Brubaker


Have you always been curious to map your family tree, but just weren’t sure how to begin? Help has arrived, as Delta State University’s Charles W. Capps, Jr. Archives and Museum has partnered with the Clarksdale Carnegie Library to present “A Genealogy Workshop,” under the direction of visiting professor Mike Brubaker, Research Manager for the Kenan Research Center at the Atlanta History Center.

Scheduled for Saturday, April 8, the workshop will be broken up into two sessions with participants encouraged to attend both the morning and afternoon lectures. The morning session, which will run from 10 a.m. – noon will be held in the Capps Archives and Museum’s Reading Room on the Delta State campus. The session will focus specifically on getting started in one’s genealogy research, as well as the types of materials most often found in library and archival repositories.

After a break for lunch (on your own), participants will move to the Roberts-LaForge Library’s Bibliographic Room on the Delta State campus for the afternoon session, scheduled from 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. Professor Brubaker will demonstrate how to access and locate online resources, as well as answer any specific questions attendees may have.

The workshop is free and open to public. For more information or to reserve your seat, please call the Delta State Capps Archives and Museum Building at (662) 846-4780.



Delta State to present ‘Our Corner: Academic Excellence and Community Partnerships’

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Delta State University President Dr. John M. Hilpert will deliver the keynote address at Monday’s convocation, as part of the two-day campus event, “Our Corner: Academic Excellence and Community Partnerships.”

The Student Engagement Champions, in conjunction with an initiative to integrate service-learning into the academic experience of each student at Delta State University, will present a two-day campus event ,“Our Corner: Academic Excellence and Community Partnerships,” Monday, April 10 and Tuesday, April 11.

Fittingly, in a year Delta State has heralded as “The Year of Cleveland,” the University is, both, celebrating and recognizing the positive relationship Delta State University and Cleveland have shared for eight-plus decades. Service-learning only works to maintain and strengthen that relationship; as service learning and community partnerships connect students, faculty, and community in meaningful activities.

According to the National Service-Learning Clearinghouse, “service-learning is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility and strengthen communities.” 

“Our Corner: Academic Excellence and Community Partnerships” will begin Monday, April 10 at 2 p.m. with a convocation in the Delta and Pine Land Theatre of the Bologna Performing Arts Center on the University campus. Dr. John M. Hilpert, President of Delta State, will deliver the keynote address to staff, faculty and students, as well as members of the Cleveland community. A reception will follow in the lobby.

Dr. Thomas Schnaubelt, Dean of Community Engagement & Civic Learning, University of Wisconsin-Parkside, will keynote and moderate the plenary session and panel discussion, scheduled for Tuesday, April 11, at 1 p.m. in Jacobs Center of Ewing Hall on campus. He will present on “Service-Learning and the Engaged University.”

Immediately following the plenary meeting, Schnaubelt, along with Vickie Blakely Reed, Mississippi Higher Education Consortium Program Coordinator, will lead breakout sessions focused on service-learning practices. The sessions will run concurrently, 2 p.m. – 3:15 p.m., with Session I to be held in Ewing Hall, Room 227 and Session II scheduled for Ewing Hall, Room 225.

Session I, entitled “Building an Engaged Department: Beyond the Single Course Experience,” will be presented by Schnaubelt, while Reed will direct Session II, “Getting Started with Service-Learning.”

For more information, please contact SEC chair, Dr. Paul Hankins at (662) 846-4618 or



Local rice pioneers honored with scholarship at Delta State

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James and Jessie Simmons

Decades after revolutionizing rice drying procedures in the Mississippi Delta, James and Jessie Simmons, of Cleveland, will be recognized for their agricultural ambition and innovative spirit. A scholarship fund in honor of the couple has been established by the Delta State University Foundation, Inc.

“The James and Jessie Lee Simmons Scholarship will assist children and dependents of rice farmers in attending Delta State University. This is a fitting way to pay tribute to the couple who were so instrumental in transforming the rice industry,” said Keith Fulcher, Executive Director, Delta State University Foundation, Inc.

After returning from service as a Navy pilot in World War II, James Simmons received a degree from Mississippi State University. In 1949, he joined the staff of the Bolivar County Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service (ASCS).

While working for the ASCS office, Simmons aided in the evolution from sack drying rice to the more lucrative method of bin drying and in turn stimulated the rising rice economy that led to farmer-owned bins rather than those purchased through ASCS loans.

After taking a position with H.O. Ward Lumber Co, Simmons managed grain bins for ten years, formed friendships with local farmers and gained a vast knowledge of the rice business.

In the early 1950’s the standard procedure for storing and drying rice included the use of bins with concrete floors and manifolds that ran the length of the bin itself. After researching the rice industries in surrounding states, Simmons began to experiment with perforated floors and the use of horse powered fans. The process involved pulling air down through the rice, inverting the rice, discharging the air under the perforated floors and forcing it up through the grain bin.

Simmons led the rice industry of the Delta in the use of scaffolding on both the interior and exterior of the bin, as well as the method of using rising ratchet jacks. By raising each ring individually, the time and cost of labor and construction was reduced by half.

Five years later, the innovative Simmons perfected the use of large 6,000-bushel grain bins and large centrifugal fans. In 1962, with the encouragement of his wife, Simmons partnered with J.C. Belk and developed the Simmons-Belk Company.

Throughout his career, Simmons’ wife, Jessie, remained the driving force behind his inspiration. She encouraged his development in the rice industry and held the position of secretary at his company. 

Though he left the company in 1970, Simmons produced $10 million of agricultural bins by 1979 and within five years averaged $8 million in sales. Simmons maintained his stake in the company until 1988, when he began the process of allowing his employees to purchase the business.  

“The Simmons’ have left a legacy in the rice industry and the scholarship in their name will allow future generations to continue to benefit from their lives,” said Fulcher. “The Delta State University Foundation invites all friends and business associates of the Simmons to make a gift in their honor.”

Gifts can be mailed to the Delta State Foundation, Box 3141, Cleveland, MS 38733. For more information, please contact the Foundation Office at (662) 846-4708 or e-mail at




Delta State takes top IHL honors

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Dr. Greg Hospodor, assistant professor of history and one of the many Delta State faculty members to participate in the University’s award-winning Faculty Technology Institute reviewed, “The institute was very interesting, as well as informative.” Delta State earned top IHL honors for its Faculty Technology Institute as part the Board-sponsored Best Practices competition.


During its most recent regular monthly meeting, the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) announced the winners of the 2005 Best Practices Competition, with Delta State University earning top honors in the technology category for its Faculty Technology Institute and a second place finish in the academic affairs category for its Educational Leadership Program.

The Best Practices Competition is a Board-sponsored program designed to highlight efforts that create efficient and effective practices initiated within the System’s institutions in the categories of academics; finance, business and administration; student services; and technology. Proposals were judged by peer groups within each of the universities.

Co-sponsored through the Office of the Provost and the Office of Information Technology, Delta State’s Faculty Technology Institute is hosted by the University’s Technology Learning Center and involves ten faculty participants and three faculty facilitators. The goal of the Institute is to enable faculty to enhance courses with web-based technology. First implemented in August 2005, approximately 20 percent of Delta State’s full-time faculty have participated in the Institute and over 200 courses currently have a web-based component incorporated.

The Institute’s early success has left faculty feeling better prepared, according to early evaluations, with benefits far reaching to not only the faculty that attend the institute, but also to their students and fellow faculty members.

Delta State was also recognized for its Educational Leadership Program, which was first initiated in the summer of 1998 and has refined annually as part of a continuous improvement cycle in the College of Education. The model was implemented to provide the region with strong school leaders, while copiously supporting Delta State’s mission of positively impacting the Delta.

By utilizing a cohort model that employs full-time internship experiences and intensive problem-based class sessions, prospective principals leave the program with the knowledge, skills and values that research indicates produce effective results in schools. So much so, Delta State’s program was recently identified by Stanford University as one of the eight programs of excellence in principal preparation.

Of Delta State’s recognition from IHL, University President Dr. John M. Hilpert offered, “To be recognized by the Board as the best of the best is special. We were judged by our peer institutions and to be selected as tops is high praise. We are extremely proud of the Faculty Technology Institute and the Educational Leadership Program, as it is programs like these that allow Delta State to push closer in our goal to becoming the Best Regional University in America.”

For a complete list of the 2005 Best Practices Competition winners, please visit