Dr. John Hilpert (left), president emeritus of Delta State, and President William N. LaForge at the SACSCOC conference in Houston Dec. 7.

Delta State president emeritus honored with prestigious national award

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CLEVELAND – Dr. John M. Hilpert, president emeritus of Delta State University, was honored Monday as the 2015 recipient of the James T. Rogers Distinguished Leadership Award given by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), the regional accrediting body for more than 800 colleges and universities.

Hilpert, who served as president at Delta State from 2003 until his retirement in 2013, worked more than 30 years in higher education administration, including serving as president of Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota, executive vice president and acting president of the University of South Dakota, and vice president at Thiel College in Pennsylvania.

Delta State President William N. LaForge said Hilpert’s distinction as a leader is one of the primary reasons he nominated Hilpert for the award.

“During Dr. Hilpert’s tenure at Delta State, he exemplified all the characteristics of a distinguished leader involved with, and supporting, the activities, mission and spirit of SACSCOC,” LaForge said. “Not only was he an actively involved member president, but he served the SACSCOC in various roles throughout his presidency at Delta State.

“Respected by his peers throughout the higher education community for his depth of knowledge and exceptional leadership ability, Dr. Hilpert was elected to serve on the 2008 Executive Council of the Commission and chair of the State Delegation Executive Council of the Commission, and the following year he was elected vice chair of the SACSCOC,” he added. “At the December 2009 annual meeting, he was elected for the first of three one-year terms as chairman of the SACSCOC and served as chair in 2010, 2011 and 2012. I am pleased that the committee supported my nomination of Dr. Hilpert for this prestigious award.”

In addition to his leadership roles with SACSCOC, Hilpert served as chairman of the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area board; board president for the Delta Health Alliance, a regional non-profit corporation with a $40 million annual budget; and, president of the Mississippi Association of Colleges and Universities, an organization of all public and private, two-year and four-year postsecondary institutions in the state.

In October of this year, Hilpert published a book on Theodore Roosevelt and his “Whistle Stop Campaign” which is available through Amazon. Having lived for many years in states visited by Roosevelt prior to the election of 1900, Hilpert sought to fill in a gap in historical biographical information about Roosevelt. He has also authored pieces for scholarly journals, newspapers and periodicals.

Named for a Delta State alumnus who served as executive director of the Commission on Colleges for more than 20 years, the James T. Rogers Distinguished Leadership Award is the highest public recognition given by the commission and is reserved for extraordinarily distinctive and effective leadership. Rogers was a 1955 Delta State graduate who served as president of Brenau College in Georgia for 15 years before taking the position as the executive director for the Commission of Colleges of SACS.

During his tenure, Rogers worked with the membership and the commission’s leadership and staff to institute comprehensive changes in accreditation standards which placed a renewed and deep emphasis on student learning. Rogers was named Delta State’s Outstanding Alumnus of the Year in 1995, is a member of the Delta State Alumni Hall of Fame, and received an honorary doctorate from Delta State in 2007.

Jeffrey Farris, Delta State Alumni Affairs Director, said the association is pleased that the award is named after the distinguished alumnus and that it is fitting that Hilpert be honored as a recipient.

“The award being presented to our former university president, Dr. John Hilpert, is a testimony to the leadership qualities that are exhibited by our students, alumni and employees,” Farris said. “I congratulate Dr. Hilpert and Dr. Rogers on behalf of the National Alumni Association for their exemplary leadership of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.”

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges is the regional body for the accreditation of degree-granting higher education institutions in the Southern states. It serves as the common denominator of shared values and practices among the diverse institutions in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Latin America and other international sites approved by the Commission that award associate, baccalaureate, masters or doctoral degrees.

Zack Odoms

Odoms named Cochran fellow

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Delta State University biology major Zack Odoms was recently selected as a 2016 Congressional Fellow for U.S. Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi.

Much like previous Delta State fellows who’ve spent semesters in the nation’s capital, Odoms will gain firsthand experience working with one of Mississippi’s most respected leaders.

Beginning in early January, Odoms will pack his bags and get a taste of politics from inside the Washington, D.C. beltway. The program aims to provide a better understanding of the legislative process by serving on Cochran’s staff.

“I’m really looking forward to traveling to our nation’s capital, sitting in on the election process, seeing the White House and all the experiences this will provide me,” said Odoms, a Pascagoula native.”I’m extremely honored and humbled to be selected. I know this will be a great opportunity for my career in general.”

The biology major said he was excited to focus on healthcare policies during his time in Washington, as any policy changes will directly impact the clients he will one day serve as a physical therapist.

Odoms, currently enlisted in the U.S. Army, said he had respect for Cochran because of service in the U.S. Navy.

“I also have great respect for Sen. Cochran because he represents our country and our state,” he said. “I’m honored to learn from him. I know the experience will open doors for me.”

Delta State has a long-running tradition of sending fellows to Washington. Davlon Miller, director of Delta State Career Services, orchestrated the committee to select this year’s candidate.

“The committee felt strongly that Odoms was the right candidate to represent the Delta and Delta State,” said Miller. “He possesses a great deal of knowledge about our culture, and he represents the green and white very well.”

Miller said the fellowship is funded through Delta State, the Delta Council and Staplcotn. Additionally, Odoms will receive a stipend from Cochran’s office.

The Delta Council is an area economic development organization representing the 18 Delta and part-Delta counties of Northwest Mississippi. The organization pioneers efforts to solve common problems and promote the development of the local economy. Founded in 1921, Staplcotn (Staple Cotton Cooperative Association) is the oldest and one of the largest cotton marketing cooperatives in the United States.

Dr. Brian S. Canfield, 2015 speaker at the annual Kent Wyatt Distinguished Lecture.

COEHS hosts second annual Kent Wyatt Distinguished Lecture

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The College of Education and Human Sciences recently hosted the second annual Kent Wyatt Distinguished Lecture at Delta State University. This year’s guest lecturer was Dr. Brian S. Canfield, professor of counseling in the Adrian Dominican School of Education at Barry University in Miami, Florida. Canfield’s speech was titled “Building Our Professional Community.”

The lecture series honors Dr. Forest Kent Wyatt, president emeritus of Delta State, whose distinguished career has served as a beacon for generations of educators, both in secondary and higher education.

Canfield shared his expertise on systems theories by providing practical applications of value driven change. In his research article, “The Dyadic Complexity Formula,” Canfield wrote about the dyadic relationship as the basic relationship of all social structure — from the couple, to the family, to the largest of corporate entities.

Canfield’s career in higher education has included professorships at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, Southeastern Louisiana University and the University of San Diego. Additionally, he has held academic administrative roles as a clinical director, department chair, associate dean and vice president for academic affairs.

Throughout his 30-year career, he has been active in professional service and leadership in the field of counseling. He is a fellow and former president of the American Counseling Association and a past president of the International Association of Marriage and Family Counselors.

Additionally, Canfield is an active speaker and workshop facilitator and has presented to universities and professional associations throughout the United States and abroad.

After the lecture, the COEHS recognized five outstanding alumni from the Division of Counselor Education and Psychology. The award recipients were Aretha Hargrove-Edwards, Virginia Tardy, Jonathan Grantham, Kelcey Steinriede and Jessica Willis.

Dr. Lisa Moon, second from left, and students Jerri Clemons and Claire Griffin at the Alabama/Mississippi Social Work Education Conference.

Dr. Lisa Moon, second from left, and students Jerri Clemons and Claire Griffin at the Alabama/Mississippi Social Work Education Conference.

In other faculty recognition news, Dr. Lisa Moon, chair of Delta State’s Department of Social Work, was recently named Social Work Educator of the Year at the Alabama/Mississippi Social Work Education Conference held in Hattiesburg, Mississippi in November.

The social work faculty also accompanied 23 students at the event. Two senior students, Jerri Clemons and Claire Griffin, competed and won the student poster competition for their research on the virtual dementia tour.

The 31st annual Pig Pickin’ will be held Sept. 23-24, 2016, followed by Homecoming on Oct. 14-15.

2016 Pig Pickin’ and Homecoming dates set

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The Delta State University National Alumni Association recently announced dates for 2016 Pig Pickin’ and Homecoming — two of the largest events held on campus.

The 31st annual Pig Pickin’ will be held Sept. 23-24, 2016, when the Statesmen football team hosts Shorter University. The full schedule of events will be announced at a later date.

Homecoming has been set for Oct. 14-15, 2016, and the Statesmen will face off against the University of West Florida. Throughout the weekend, the Alumni Association has a variety of activities planned. The event’s featured class is the Class of 1966, which will be celebrating 50 years since graduating from Delta State. They will also be inducted into the prestigious Golden Circle, which is a constituency group of the Alumni Association that honors alumni who graduated at least 50 years ago.

“I encourage all Delta State faithful to make plans now to attend Delta State University’s signature events in the fall of 2016,” said Jeffrey Farris, alumni director. “The Alumni Office wants to help you book your ticket back to campus to enjoy Cleveland and your alma mater.”

The Alumni Association will also host the annual Alumni Awards Gala during Homecoming to honor outstanding alumni and friends of Delta State.

More details on both events will be released at a later date. The official hashtag for Pig Pickin’ is #DSUPigPickin and for Homecoming is #DSUHC.

For more information, contact the Alumni Association at (662) 846-4660. To stay up to date on the Alumni Association’s activities, follow these social media sites: Facebook (Statesmen Graduates), Twitter (@DSU_Alumni), Tumblr (www.dsualumni.tumblr.com), LinkedIn (DSU alumni), Instagram (dsualumni) and You Tube (dsualumni1).

Helen Miller was honored as the November 2015 Employee of the Month.

Miller honored as Employee of the Month

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The Delta State University Staff Council recently honored Helen Miller as the November 2015 Employee of the Month. Miller works as the primary custodian for Kethley Hall.

The Shaw native began working for the university in 2007, first serving in Ewing Hall.

“I love meeting new people and getting to know a little bit about where they come from, why they are here,” she said. “I really like cleaning things, too.” 

Returning to the Delta after spending 20 years in Jackson working both at Jackson State University and for the City of Jackson, Miller took over the role of caring for her parents. 

She finds great joy in her four children and nine grandchildren. When not visiting with family, she enjoys the quiet of reading and has recently begun exercising at the campus fitness center. Miller attends Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church.

Employee of the Month distinction is given to a staff member who has provided service at Delta State that is considered over and beyond those duties outlined in his or her job description. Nominations are submitted by colleagues on campus.

Each winner receives a plaque, monetary award, WalMart gift card from the Student Government Association, an engraved insulated coffee mug, a free parking decal courtesy of the Campus Police Department, a box of treats from The Sweetery, a parking spot of their choice, marquee announcement and website recognition.

For an archived list of previous Employee of the Month winners, visit http://www.deltastate.edu/about-dsu/administration/staff-council/staff-council-employee-of-the-month/employee-of-the-month-archives/

Delta State’s Staff Council serves as a liaison between the administration and the staff to provide a formal process for staff to discuss issues involving university policies and procedures and to forward ideas, recommendations and opinions to the president.