Ribbon cut at Dave Heflin Outdoor Recreation Education Laboratory

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Dave Heflin (center, with scissors) cuts the ribbon for the opening of the new Dave Heflin Outdoor Recreation Education Laboratory on Feb. 11.

The division of Health, Physical Education and Recreation at Delta State University held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Dave Heflin Outdoor Recreation Education Laboratory on Feb. 11.

The event featured an opportunity for the community to view the lab, honor Helfin, and participate in a social and lunch.2017 Heflin Lab Outdoor Recreation-41

This space is an exciting new addition to campus that will further expand curriculum available to HPER students and enhance recreational opportunities for the campus as a whole.

The lab is named for Dave Heflin, assistant professor emeritus HPER at Delta State, and the founder of the Outback and Kayak Club. Heflin’s contributions to the field of educational recreation at Delta State are legendary among the generations of students whose lives he influenced.

Heflin and his family have provided funding and support to enable the program to continue in that tradition, making it possible for future generations of students to experience a range of outdoor education experiences that lead to lifelong recreational habits.

“The new space will provide this program with an enhanced identity and place of pride for students as they engage in activities and educational experiences in the outdoor recreation program,” said Dr. Charles McAdams, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. “The program has a great history and many alumni recall with great fondness the experiences they have had in this program. Dave Heflin was able to build a program with a great reputation, and Todd Davis has grown the program and clearly taken the program to the next level. The future is indeed bright for this program, especially with this newly renovated lab.”

The lab allows for new classroom space, an HD projector and screen for lectures and presentations, a rock climbing wall, maps and guidebooks, equipment storage space, kitchen and laundry facilities, and adequate space to function as an operating training facility for outdoor recreation.

Dr. Leslie Griffin, dean of the College of Education and Human Science, is thrilled with the new facility.2017 Heflin Lab Outdoor Recreation-7

“The Dave Heflin Outdoor Recreation Lab is testimony to the inherent power in shared vision and what it can produce,” said Griffin. “With Todd Davis at the helm, the opening of the lab is our next step along the way to engage students in the program early and in authentic ways.”

In recent years, the Outdoor Recreation Education Program has expanded to include a viable HPER concentration in Recreation Leadership and an array of outdoor recreation courses that expose students to a variety of experiences. The rigor of trip courses has increased through curriculum development, and enrollment trends are positive. A total of 637 students have enrolled in outdoor recreation trip courses during the past 12 years.

Todd Davis, program director for Outdoor Education, is excited to begin programming in the new space.

“I’m excited for our students,” said Davis. “I’m excited that they will have a professional space to learn and develop their skills in a beautiful setting with photos that illustrate the legacy of the program. I’m excited for the possible growth of this program.

“I hope students are able to realize what an enormous benefit this program is to campus life and to the overall education of a student,” added Davis. “It provides opportunities for students to grow, understand and be active in their world. This lab is a magnificent addition to the College of Education and Human Sciences, the Dave Heflin Professorship, and the Division for Health, Physical Education, and Recreation. We are very proud of the fact that we re-purposed an unused space and stayed under budget, while exceeding expectations.”

For more information, visit http://www.deltastate.edu/college-of-education/health-physical-education-and-recreation/orep.

DMI All Stars take on Los Angeles

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Delta State students in the DMI All Stars band recently performed atop GRAMMY Museum® at L.A. Live.

For the fifth consecutive year, the DMI All Stars – a select group of musicians from the Delta Music Institute program at Delta State University – performed a collection of Mississippi centric covers on Mississippi Night during GRAMMY® Week in Los Angeles, California.

The group, under the direction of DMI instructor Charly Abraham and assisted by DMI instructor Barry Bays, consisted of 12 students who performed in the band or assumed management positions. The DMI All Stars provided an excellent performance atop the Target Terrace on the fifth floor of the GRAMMY Museum® at L.A. Live.

With many notable musicians and GRAMMY representatives in attendance, the All Stars showcased their musical abilities for a group of respected industry professionals.DMI-All-Stars-Group-Photo

The performance was a great experience for many of the students, including vocalist Audrianna Johnson from Grenada.

“My experience in Los Angeles felt like a dream come true,” she said. “Words can’t explain how grateful I am for the opportunities I’ve had.”

In addition to performing on a special night, the students were able to get a taste of the city life while exploring locales such as downtown Hollywood, Malibu and Venice Beach.

“Going to L.A. with the All Stars gave me an opportunity to make new friends and share great memories with them,” said Carrie Lynn Stanford from Gautier, a vocalist for the DMI All Stars.

This year, entertainment industry studies senior Lindsey Anna Pardue from Clinton chose to use the L.A. trip as part of her senior project by acting as directing manager and overseeing the trip, as well as scheduling rehearsals for the band.

“Going to Los Angeles with the DMI All Stars is always amazing, but it was especially interesting this year because I had the opportunity to direct the group,” said Pardue. “I am honored to have been able to spend my time with such a kind, talented and fun group of students.”

The DMI is an independent center of study under the College of Arts and Sciences at Delta State University, 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.

To learn more about the GRAMMY connection with the Delta Music Institute at Delta State, visit http://dmi.deltastate.edu.

Investing in Our Academic Future

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By President William N. LaForge

The continued cuts to state funding for public universities in Mississippi present a significant challenge that is felt not only at the university level, but also across the entire state.

Each of the eight public four year universities has a considerable investment in our students, businesses, employees, communities, outreach efforts, and research projects—all of which ripple out to impact the state’s economy and future. All of us as citizens of Mississippi are affected directly or indirectly by higher education outcomes, sometimes in ways we don’t even realize.

Mississippi Today recently reported that between fiscal years 2010 and 2017, state university funding has declined 4.5 percent, and general funding for IHL has declined more than 7 percent. During that same time, system-wide enrollment has increased more than 12 percent, and the number of degrees awarded in this state has increased nearly 14 percent.  The hardest hit budgets have been the universities’ operating budgets that provide funding for maintaining campus operations and paying the salaries of the faculty and staff who educate our students.

State funding is necessary to supplement tuition and other revenue for our universities that, collectively, are one of the best higher education bargains in the country, and which boast reasonable tuition rates that other states and universities envy.

To support the vision of a new Mississippi, the most appropriate view of higher education expenditures by the state is not simply that of an expense item in the budget. It is much more essentially an investment—in our students, in our state, and in our future.

Like our sister public institutions, Delta State manages scarce resources in an environment of competing priorities every day. We strategically focus our attention and spending on programs, initiatives, and educational offerings that bring value to our students and to the state. And, we rely basically on state funding and student tuition to provide the revenue necessary to accomplish our mission. Some ask, ‘How can we measure the outcomes and the return on our investment?’  The answer is in the products we produce—prepared students who are ready to enter the professions and workforce across the state.  All of our state universities are working hard every day to meet that goal through prudent allocation of resources.

One example of smart, targeted spending that produces terrific outcomes at Delta State is our emphasis on improved retention—helping our students stay in school and on the path to graduation.  Between the fall of 2015 and the fall of 2016, we experienced significant increases in retention rates for first-time, full-time, degree-seeking freshmen—5.2 percent; first time, full-time, degree-seeking transfer students—7.8 percent; and, all full-time, degree-seeking undergraduate students—3.7 percent. Simply put, this means more students stayed in school and on the path to graduation—and on the path to being more productive, employable citizens of our state.

But, the retention programs that produce this success cost money. Better said, they beg for our investment of dollars to support a program that will help Mississippi get off the bottom rung of American educational and economic metrics.  We are being asked by the state to continue doing this good work—to continue producing more and better-educated students—with fewer and fewer resources. By any measure, that is an unsustainable pattern.

Here at Delta State University, as at all our public universities, we believe in putting students first, and that quality education should be available to all qualified students in this state. We offer the lowest tuition in the region, and we make the most of our limited resources, while still providing a top-tier education for our students.  But, as long as state funding is severely limited or cut, this model of success will be undermined.

Just as our eight public universities merit the investment of Mississippi tax dollars to support our educational mission, our students individually also need financial assistance to enroll and stay in school.  State research data show that 89 percent of our eligible full-time, degree-seeking students, both undergraduate and graduate, received some form of financial aid during the 2015-16 academic year. These deserving students need our support to help them earn a college degree—a tangible outcome that serves the best interests of our state on so many   levels.

In the rural Delta of Mississippi, Delta State is seen as a beacon of opportunity in a place where opportunity is sometimes lacking. In the fall of 2016, for example, 25 percent of our student body comprised first-generation students. This number is clearly indicative of the urgent need for, and value of, higher education in the Magnolia State. When we educate that first­ generation student, we are lifting up an entire family.

Continuing to cut state funding for higher education puts statewide efforts for student success at dire risk. Future cuts will only produce a steeper uphill battle in the fight to lift this state off the economic bottom. We cannot continue to be expected to produce more graduates, continue our outreach efforts in our communities, and fund vital research with fewer resources.

Let’s continue to educate Mississippians and to make this state a better place to live, work, prosper, and raise our families. Enhanced state funding for higher education—not more budget cuts—is the key to a brighter future for this state.

STOMP to take BPAC stage Feb. 28

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STOMP, the international percussion sensation, makes its Mississippi Delta premiere at the Bologna Performing Arts Center on Feb. 28 at 7:30 p.m.

From its beginnings as a street performance in the United Kingdom, STOMP has grown into an international sensation over the past 20 years, having performed in more than 50 countries and in front of more than 24 million people.

A unique combination of percussion, movement and visual comedy, STOMP has created its own inimitable, contemporary form of rhythmic expression. Both household and industrial objects find new life as musical instruments in the hands of an idiosyncratic band of body percussionists. It is a journey through sound, a celebration of the everyday, and a comic interplay of characters wordlessly communicating through dance and drum.

Created by Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas, STOMP continues its phenomenal run with four global productions: the ongoing sell-out production at New York’s Orpheum Theatre, a permanent London company, and North American and European tours. Throughout its life, the show has continued to change by creating new material. This year, it will incorporate two new pieces.

An overwhelming success marked by rave reviews, the production has won numerous awards and sell-out engagements. It is the winner of an Olivier Award for Best Choreography (London’s Tony Award), a New York Obie Award, a Drama Desk Award for Unique Theatre Experience, and a Special Citation from Best Plays.

In addition to the stage shows, STOMP has been an overwhelming success marked by an Academy Award nomination, four Emmy nominations and one Emmy Award for their acclaimed HBO special “Stomp Out Loud,” noteworthy TV appearances including the London 2012 Olympic Games closing ceremony, The Academy Awards (produced by Quincy Jones), Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, and a series of award-winning international commercials.

“The performers make a rhythm out of anything we can get our hands on that makes a sound,” said Cresswell, co-founder and director.

Synchronized stiff-bristle brooms become a sweeping orchestra; eight Zippo lighters flip open and closed to create a fiery fugue; and wooden poles thump and clack in a rhythmic explosion. STOMP uses everything but conventional percussion instruments — dustbins, tea chests, radiator hoses, boots, hub caps — to fill the stage with a compelling and unique act that is often imitated but never duplicated.

Tickets are available at the Bologna Performing Arts Center Ticket Office, open Monday–Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., by calling 662-846-4626, or going online to www.bolognapac.com.

Matsy Wynn Richards tabbed for Howorth Woman of Achievement Award

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The public is invited to attend the 2017 Lucy Somerville Howorth Woman of Achievement Award on April 2 at 2 p.m. at the Charles W. Capps Jr. Archives and Museum Building at Delta State.

The Awards Committee recently announced this year’s recipient as the late Martha “Matsy” Wynn Richards.

Richards was born Martha Kinman Wynn in 1888 in Friars Point, Mississippi. She moved to Greenville with her parents at a young age, where she lived until attending school in Nashville, Tennessee. In 1918, she read an article in the Christian Science Monitor that steered her to pursue a career in photography.

“Matsy was a successful woman in a time where women were unlikely to be,” said Daniel Shemwell, recipient of the 2016-17 Lucy Somerville Howorth Fellowship. “Matsy broke free of perpetuated norms in the south in 1918 when she went in search of an education in photography. Forging a career out of something she was both deeply passionate about and skilled at, her work became so successful, she attracted attention from giants like Vogue Magazine and Fox Studios. She lived life to the fullest. Matsy was an inspiration to many in the field of photography and is still talked about and studied today.”

Following the award ceremony, a new exhibit featuring Richards’s life work and accomplishments will open in the main gallery.

“Since beginning my work with Matsy when I received the fellowship in the fall of 2016, I have had the unique opportunity of working with some of her living relatives who knew her,” added Shemwell. “Her family offered me a real life connection to the woman whose works are in boxes in the archives. This project has focused my historical interest and I hope others will enjoy seeing her life’s work as I have.”

Emily Jones, university archivist, said she is looking forward to honoring another worthy recipient.

“Women of the Delta have made significant contributions to not only the social and cultural landscape of the region, but have been in the unique position to serve as ambassadors of the Delta to the rest of the world,” said Jones. “I am proud that Judge Lucy chose this awards program to bear her name and support as a lasting legacy.”

Previous recipients of the award include:
• Emma Knowlton Humphreys Lytle-2000
• Keith Dockery McLean- 2003
• Mae Bertha Carter- 2005
• Franke Keating- 2007
• LePoint Cassibry Smith- 2009
• Fannie Lou Hamer- 2012
• Dorothy Shawhan- 2015

For more information, contact archives@deltastate.edu.