Be aware of potential for severe weather today (Tues., Nov. 17)

By | Community, Faculty/Staff, General, President, Students | No Comments

The National Weather Service has predicted the potential for severe weather for the Bolivar County area later today (Tuesday, Nov. 17). It is too soon to determine the exact timing of the weather system, but it is expected to arrive late this afternoon into early evening.

The Delta State Emergency Response Team is monitoring the situation and will issue alerts throughout the day. The team remains in contact with the National Weather Service, emergency officials and the university’s administration.

Any changes to the schedule this evening (Tuesday, Nov. 17) will be posted using, email, text messages, Twitter (@DeltaState) and Facebook. Any changes to the Tuesday (Nov. 17) night class schedule and events will also be communicated through these outlets.

This weather system has the potential to affect travel conditions for our area. If you have travel plans, please check weather conditions and road conditions and use judgment before traveling.

Updates and any changes to the university’s operating schedule will be posted at, email, text messages, twitter (@DeltaState), and Facebook.

Anyone who has not yet registered his or her cell phone number for emergency text alerts is encouraged to do so now by completing the following steps:
1. Login to your “My DSU” account:
2. Choose the “Personal Information” section and the “Enroll in Okra Alert” option.
3. Add your cell phone number (with area code).


International Museum of Muslim Cultures to present in gallery

By | Academics, College of Arts and Sciences, Community | No Comments

Delta State University’s Fielding Wright Art Center Gallery is currently hosting “Muslim/American, American/Muslim,” an exhibition by New York photographer Robert E. Gerhardt. The exhibit explores the Muslim experience in America.

In the spirit of Gerhardt’s project, the Department of Art and the Quality Enhancement Plan have partnered to present a series of events that provide a forum for dialogue. The series, free and open to the public, continues Nov. 19 at 5 p.m. with a presentation by Emad Al-Turk and Okolo Rashid, founders of the International Museum of Muslim Cultures in Jackson, Mississippi. The duo will speak about the history and mission of the institution.

The museum was founded in 2000 by a group of Jackson-area Muslims who identified the need to educate the public about Islamic history and culture, and the contributions of Muslims to world civilization. The museum’s mission is to dispel misconceptions about Muslim cultures and promote mutual respect and understanding. The program was developed by a team of national and international scholars, experts and community members.

The museum’s exhibitions have sought to highlight the diversity of Muslim cultures with exhibitions on American mosques, Moorish Spain and its legacy in Europe and the West, and the literary tradition of Timbuktu.

The International Museum of Muslim Cultures is open to the public Tuesday-Friday, as well as by appointment. It offers personalized tours for schools and private groups.

Al-Turk, who holds master’s degrees in civil engineering and business administration, worked as an entrepreneur and executive in the engineering and construction business. He has a long career in civic service, serving on the boards of a number of non-profit organizations.

The final installment of the series is a public screening of the film “Arranged,” which centers on the unlikely friendship between an Orthodox Jew and Muslim teacher in New York. The screening will be held at the FWACG beginning at 5 p.m.

The FWACG is open Monday-Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Fridays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The gallery is closed weekends, holidays and during semester breaks.

For more information on the department of art, visit contact 662-846-4720. For updates and announcements of upcoming events, follow Delta State Art Department on Facebook, or join the email list.

President William N. LaForge

LaForge selected for prestigious NCAA Presidents Council

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Delta State University President William N. LaForge was recently selected to serve on the NCAA Division II Presidents Council, the highest governing body of Division II responsible for implementing policies adopted by the NCAA Board of Governors.

The position, announced recently by the NCAA, will begin in April 2016 and continue through the 2020 NCAA Convention.

According to the NCAA, “LaForge was elected to the Presidents Council because of his background in the public and private sectors and his commitment to higher education and the Division II philosophy.

“President LaForge will represent those active Division II institutions in Region 2, which includes schools in the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, and Tennessee.”

The council is a 16-member body that is based on a weighted regional representation by institutions and includes one president or chancellor per region for every 22 institutions in that region. In addition to setting policies adopted by the NCAA Board of Governors, the Presidents Council establishes and directs the general policy for Division II, with all other Division II committees reporting either directly or indirectly to it.

“President LaForge’s selection to the NCAA Presidents Council exemplifies the long-standing tradition of excellence the Statesmen and Lady Statesmen hold within Division II,” said Ronnie Mayers, Delta State athletic director. “For more than 40 years, Delta State University has been a leader within the division. In the 1970s and early 1980s, President Emeritus Kent Wyatt represented DSU on the council during some of the NCAA’s greatest expansion periods. As we face an ever-changing athletic arena, President LaForge’s vision and leadership ability will serve us, and all of Division II, well at the highest levels of the NCAA.”

LaForge said he looks forward to the opportunity to serve both the university and the division.

“I am honored to be selected to serve on the NCAA Division II Presidents Council,” he said. “I look forward to serving on behalf of Delta State University and the other Division II universities in the region.”

Dr. Bryon Pickens (l to r), Dr. George Beals, Dr. Temika Simmons and Cat Vincent.

Division of Counselor Education and Psychology hosts workshops

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The Delta State University Division of Counselor Education and Psychology provided an open workshop for students, counseling internship supervisors and the community on Oct. 30.

Over 50 participants attended the workshop, which included counseling students, internship site supervisors, licensed professional counselors and board qualified supervisors.

The four presentations, providing three continuing education hours, were offered at no cost to attendees. Each presenter reported on the information and experiences gained from attending a variety of national conferences and workshops.

The presenters’ travels and conference fees were paid by grant funds from the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Cat Vincent, Delta State counseling lab director and MS Counseling Association Delta Region president, provided the first presentation on “Self-Compassion and Supervision,” in which attendees learned about wellness practices through self-compassion concepts and experiential techniques. She had previously attended the Association of Counselor Educators and Supervisors Biannual Conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

“We had many counselors that drove two to three hours to attend our workshop,” said Vincent. “This speaks to how we are filling a great need for continuing education in Mississippi, as well as that we have a reputation for providing cutting edge, high quality trainings.”

“The HRSA grant provided us with the opportunity to glean a wealth of information from across the nation,” she added. “We not only developed professionally ourselves, but we were able to share and perpetuate the waves of education and informed practice for others on a broader scale.”

Dr. Temika Simmons, assistant professor of psychology, presented a session on “Racism and Intracultural Healing.” The session summarized the purpose of and benefits gained from the use of Emotional Emancipation Circles. EECs utilize various counseling techniques to assist participants in identifying and processing internalized trauma experienced as a result of racism. She previously attended the Association of Black Psychologists Conference in Las Vegas this summer.

Dr. Bryon Pickens, assistant professor of counselor education and current principal investigator on the HRSA grant, had the opportunity to attend the American Mental Health Counselors Association in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania this summer. Pickens presented on “Court Testimony and Ethics,” which gave participants a detailed understanding of their ethical responsibilities as a counselor when involved with the legal system.

Dr. George Beals, assistant professor for counselor education and program coordinator, participated in the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy Annual Conference in Austin, Texas in September. His presentation was on “Coupling within Context: Black Men and Women in Therapy,” which offered historical implications and highlighted modern issues to enhance perspectives and conceptualization when working with African Americans.

Jenni Owen '15, right, participated in the new Prison-to-College Pipeline Program at the Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman, Miss., thanks to a connection Dr. Chuck Westmoreland, assistant professor of history, had with the program's leaders.

Graduate participates in groundbreaking Parchman program

By | Alumni, College of Arts and Sciences, Community, Faculty/Staff, Students | No Comments

One recent Delta State graduate shined brightly last summer while working with imprisoned students at the Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman.

Jenni Owen, who completed her Liberal Studies Master of Arts in English with a focus on criminology in May of 2015, had the unique opportunity of participating in the groundbreaking Prison-to-College Pipeline Program at Parchman.

Owen became the program’s instructional associate through the help of Dr. Chuck Westmoreland, assistant professor of history at Delta State. Westmoreland put her in touch with the program’s leaders, Dr. Otis Pickett, assistant professor of history at Mississippi College, and Dr. Patrick Elliot Alexander, assistant professor of English and African American studies at the University of Mississippi.

The two professors were leading the new 10-week course on the civil rights movement to a group of students imprisoned at Parchman. During the course, students learned about a number of civil rights leaders, including Fannie Lou Hammer, who is remembered for her roots in nearby Ruleville.

The course also provided essential guidance in the rehabilitation and assimilation of imprisoned students into the general civilian population once their sentences are served.

Dr. Otis Pickett (l to r), Owen and Dr. Patrick Elliot Alexander.

Dr. Otis Pickett (left), Owen and Dr. Patrick Elliot Alexander.

“It was amazing getting to know the gentlemen in the facility,” said Owen. “Many of them had a strong passion for education, and I was grateful for the opportunity to get to know the men as individuals.

“The highlight of my experience was when I was able to work with the men one-on-one and assist them with their writing, or help tailor solutions to their specific needs,” she added. “For example, there was one student who had a hard time seeing words when reading, so I tried to write notes for him in a larger font so he could read the documents more easily.

“There was another student interested in writing poetry, so I brought Natasha Trethewey’s ‘Native Guard’ to share with him. Also, after my first session, I saw the eagerness of the men to learn, so I asked friends and family for donations and we were able to purchase a book for the gentlemen to continue reading once the course was through.”

Owen, who now works as an adjunct instructor of English at Holmes Community College in Yazoo City completed her undergraduate internship at the Stark County Sheriff’s Office in Ohio and wrote her thesis on officer communication in domestic violence situations. Thus began her interest in the criminal justice system.

When she began her studies at Delta State, she learned about bibliotherapy or therapeutic reading programs. Owen, with her criminology background, focused on how literature can help rehabilitate those who are incarcerated. This interest made her a qualified candidate to help with the Parchman program.

“The Prison-to-College program taught me to have more confidence in myself and my abilities,” said Owen. “The students were so grateful that I was there. At first I was a bit intimidated to be working with such respected professors, and was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to bring anything to the class, but by being genuinely me, I found that I could contribute and help the students.

“I also learned about some of the real struggles the students were going through. They were taking a college level class during the hottest months of the year, but they were still doing their best to complete their reading and writing assignments. The students put in so much effort to be able to participate in the class. Their dedication was amazing.”

Westmoreland said Owen’s commitment to the criminal justice system is just one of her strong points.

“Jenni has a strong commitment to helping others, and because of that, we are very proud of her work with the Prison-to-College Pipeline Program,” said Westmoreland. “As a student in the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program, Jenni approached her work with a clear sense of mission and purpose. She wanted to integrate her passion for literature and the English language with a desire to help incarcerated people. Thanks to the wide variety of graduate courses offered in English and criminology, she was very prepared to work with the students in the pipeline program.

“She has done great work and will continue to make a positive impact on people who are too often forgotten in our society,” he added.

As the program continues to grow, Owen fully intends to remain involved.

“I’m currently planning on participating in the program at Parchman again this coming summer with Dr. Alexander and Dr. Pickett,” she said. “I look forward to assisting more with the educational aspect of the program and helping the students increase their writing skills.”

Owen said she will also help as the program plans to expand to the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Pearl under the leadership of Pickett and Dr. Stephanie R. Rolph, assistant professor of history at Millsaps College.