DMI students to present on Russia exchange

By | Academics, College of Arts and Sciences, Delta Music Institute, International | No Comments

Join the Delta Music Institute and Quality Enhancement Plan for a public event Wednesday night with a discussion about the DMI’s groundbreaking international exchange in Russia last May and June.

The event, “You Can Get There From Here,” is free and open to the public Oct. 28 at 6:30 p.m. in DMI Studio A on the campus of Delta State.

DMI students, and participating faculty and staff, will share stories, music and photography from their exchange trip to Perm State University and Moscow.

The trip, “Rivers of Music — Rivers of Culture” utilized music as a universal language to explore the cultures, histories and heritages of the Mississippi Delta and Perm Krai regions, both situated along historic rivers.

The program was backed by the U.S. Department of State and allowed students and faculty from Perm State to visit Delta State in 2014.

“Most of our students are from small towns in a largely rural state,” said Tricia Walker, DMI director. “Traveling to another country and interacting with the culture there offered a unique way for our students to broaden their perspective on the world outside of Delta State and Mississippi.”

Walker added that the event would shed light on international exchange opportunities available at Delta State.

“I hope our students will come to the presentation to see what is possible for them through international travel opportunities,” she said. “They can ‘get there from here.’ In addition, the students and community will be treated to some music created by Delta State and Perm State students, as well as some stunning photography of the Perm Krai region by university photographer Rory Doyle.”

Learn more about the group’s trip to Russia at http://www.deltastate.edu/russia.

Dr. Rolando Herts, director of The Delta Center for Culture and Learning, will take part in the year-long Delta Leadership Institute Executive Academy.

Herts selected for Delta Leadership Institute Executive Academy

By | Delta Center, Faculty/Staff | No Comments

The Delta Regional Authority recently announced 52 community leaders for an intensive year-long leadership training program across the Delta region known as the Delta Leadership Institute Executive Academy. Dr. Rolando Herts, director of the Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University, will participate as a fellow in the program’s 11th year.

Herts will join other DLI fellows from each of the eight Delta region states. Participants are nominated by their respective governors to participate in the year-long leadership training program.

“Our communities and region need strong local leadership to continue to grow and thrive. This is why DRA has made investing in our leaders a priority,” said Chris Masingill, federal co-chairman of the DRA. “I’m very proud of this class and what they have already accomplished in their own communities. DLI will only further prepare them to continue to lead.”

Over the course of the Executive Academy year, Herts will attend six sessions across the Delta region and in Washington, D.C. to engage in advocacy training, case study discussion, and on-the-ground field studies of priority issue areas for the region, including Workforce Training and Education, Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Public Health, Transportation and Basic Public Infrastructure.

“I believe that it is my life purpose to continue to help improve quality of life in the Delta region through education and community and economic partnership development,” said Herts. “Becoming part of the Delta Leadership Institute will equip me with social and intellectual capital resources to serve our region more effectively and with greater impact.”

Since 2005, the DLI has worked to improve the decisions made by community leaders across the Delta by broadening their understanding of regional issues, building a corps of alumni that have a regional and national perspective, developing a toolkit of resources for addressing issues facing their local communities, and providing the training and professional development needed to extend the pipeline of skilled local leadership within Delta communities.

The newest DLI class is holding orientation this week and its first session of the academy in Memphis, Tenn.

The Delta Regional Authority is a federal-state partnership created by Congress in 2000 to help create jobs, build communities, and improve lives through strategic investments in economic development in 252 counties and parishes across eight states. Through the Rural Communities Advancement Program, the DRA has provided leadership development to more than 400 community leaders over 10 years and strengthened regional collaboration with its Delta Leadership Institute.

The DRA partners with Arkansas State University, the University of Alabama, and the University of Louisiana at Monroe for programming and organizational support of the institute. Learn more about the Delta Leadership Institute at dra.gov/leadership.

“The Delta region has been with me throughout my personal and professional life,” added Herts. “I am passionate about improving quality of life here through cultural heritage education, tourism and partnership development. I believe that the academy will empower me and others to accomplish this more effectively through collaboration.”

Learn more about The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at http://deltacenterforcultureandlearning.com.


University to celebrate 90 years

By | Academics, Archives, President, Students | No Comments

All friends and supporters of Delta State University are invited to a birthday celebration Nov. 3, as the university celebrates the 90th anniversary of its opening.

In 1924, two Mississippi senators introduced a bill to create Delta State Teachers College, which was signed by the governor on April 9. Just under a year later, James Wesley Broom was appointed the first president of the college, and the institution was formally opened on Sept. 15, 1925.

“Starting with just 11 faculty members and a fall enrollment of 97 students, the university has grown into a noted four-year institution that continues to educate some of the brightest students in the state,” said Delta State President William N. LaForge. “In addition, the university has developed into a center of excellence in areas such as business, aviation, nursing, music, entertainment industries, culture and more.”

LaForge, joined by members of the Dedicated Statesmen Association, invites everyone to attend the celebration which will get started at noon with the dedication of the newly-restored clock and Alumni Brick Plaza in front of Ward Hall.

The project is the first of 10 projects to be identified by the DSA committee, which includes both retired and current Delta State faculty and staff who have put many hours into planning the 90th celebration events.

The dedication will be followed by lunch on the quadrangle and then a program looking back at Delta State’s 90 years scheduled to start at 1:30 p.m. in the Jobe Hall Auditorium. Student and campus groups will pitch in on a number of campus beautification projects beginning at 3 p.m. Tuesday, including a project to repaint the footsteps marking the “Green Mile” on campus.

Other opportunities to reflect and celebrate the university’s history include a main gallery exhibition at the Charlie W. Capps, Jr. Archives and Museum on 90 years of Delta State students. The exhibit, under the direction of University Archivist Emily Jones, will explore how the student body grew from under 100 students as well as nine decades of academic achievements. 

“We’re really driving home that this anniversary is about 90 years of celebrating students at Delta State,” said Jones. “We’ve had 90 years of people putting lots of energy and dedication into the university. We want to make sure that in another 90 years we have done as well as those who came before us. Collecting our history and knowing our foundations are essential.” 

Leading up to the anniversary date, Jones has also been publishing “History Days,” a series of informative posters focusing on all things related to the student experience over the years. View the series at http://www.deltastate.edu/anniversary/history-days/.

James Robinson, president of the DSA committee, said he encourages everyone to take the time to join in the events on Nov. 3.

“We thank all those individuals and businesses who have helped organize the day’s events and who have provided gifts and prizes,” he said. “We want the day to be full of excitement and joy as we express our love for our alma mater.”

Stay up to date on all anniversary events and activities at http://www.deltastate.edu/anniversary. The public is encouraged to join the university as it continues to celebrate 90 years of excellence.

Alysia Burton Steele, center, with Delta Jewels church mothers at a Delta Jewels Community Gathering in Yazoo City. Mississippi Valley State University will host the inaugural Delta Jewels Oral History Partnership program on Oct. 29 as part of the university’s Zelma T. Howard Lecture Series.

MDNHA, Delta Center announce Delta Jewels oral history partnership

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The Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area recently forged the “Delta Jewels Oral History Partnership” with Alysia Burton Steele, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalism professor at the University of Mississippi. Steele is the author of “Delta Jewels: In Search of My Grandmother’s Wisdom,” a book of oral histories and portraits of over 50 African American church mothers from the Mississippi Delta, including civil rights icon Myrlie Evers-Williams. The book has received national media coverage, including The New York Times, NBC, National Public Radio, USA Today, Chicago Sun-Times, Southern Living, Essence and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The partnership will provide opportunities for MDNHA and The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University to present oral history programs and workshops with regional, statewide and national organizations. The partnership is designed to make oral history education and awareness accessible to diverse communities, as well as to promote Mississippi Delta culture and history on a broader scale.

Mississippi Valley State University in Itta Bena, Miss. will be the first organization to host an oral history program under this new partnership.

“Mississippi Valley State University is honored to host the inaugural program for the Delta Jewels Oral History Partnership,” said La Shon Brooks, Chief of Staff at MVSU. “Providing a space where these culturally enriching oral histories will be shared with our students, faculty, staff and community members aligns with the public education mission of our institution.”

MVSU’s oral history program is part of the Zelma T. Howard Lecture Series sponsored by the university’s Department of English. The presentation will take place at the William W. Sutton Administration Building, Auditorium 103, on Oct. 29 at 10 a.m. The event is free and open to the public.

The MDNHA and The Delta Center partnered with Steele earlier this year to host a series of Delta Jewels community gatherings aimed at promoting cultural heritage and oral history awareness. The events took place in several Delta communities including Clarksdale, Charleston, Indianola, Yazoo City, Ruleville and Mound Bayou. The Mound Bayou gathering was hosted in conjunction with the city’s 128th anniversary celebration in July.

The gatherings attracted over 500 guests from throughout the Mississippi Delta region and the nation. Steele and the Delta Jewels also presented sessions at Delta State University’s Winning the Race conference. Continued demand for these presentations led to the creation of the Delta Jewels Oral History Partnership.

“This new partnership will help the MDNHA to fulfill various aspects of its management plan approved by the National Park Service, including oral history education, promoting Delta culture and history, and telling Delta stories,” said Dr. Rolando Herts, director of the MDNHA and The Delta Center. “The partnership also serves as a vehicle for the MDNHA to offer expanded Delta Jewels programming in the Mississippi Delta and beyond.”

“I am excited about this partnership, and I believe we will reach diverse groups of people,” said Steele. “These presentations and the book’s contents transcend race, age, class, gender and geography. I have received messages from readers in Italy, France, New Zealand and Australia. I believe everyone can relate to having a special elder in their lives and I want to inspire people – all people – to record their family history.”

To learn more about hosting a Delta Jewels oral history program or workshop, contact Herts at rherts@deltastate.edu, or call The Delta Center at 662-846-4311.

The MDNHA is a partnership between the people of the Mississippi Delta and the National Park Service. The area was designated by U.S. Congress in 2009 and is governed by a board of directors representing agencies and organizations defined in the congressional legislation. More information about the MDNHA, including the complete approved management plan, is available at www.msdeltaheritage.com.

The mission of The Delta Center is to promote greater understanding of Mississippi Delta culture and history and its significance to the world through education, partnerships and community engagement. The Delta Center serves as the management entity of the MDNHA and is the home of the International Delta Blues Project. For more information, visit http://www.deltastate.edu/academics/delta-center-for-culture-and-learning/.