Jones to keynote commencement ceremonies

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Delta State University will gather for commencement ceremonies at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. May 5 at the Bologna Performing Arts Center on campus. The institution, friends and family will unite to recognize the accomplishments of this year’s graduates.

Keynoting the ceremonies is Dr. Glen Jones, president of Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. Jones also serves as the committee chair of the NCAA Division II Presidents Council.

The Presidents Council is Division II’s highest governance office. Its members are charged with setting the strategic direction for the division in all areas, including the division’s financial affairs and championships administration. The Presidents Council is also the primary sponsor of legislative proposals at the NCAA Convention, and the chair of the council moderates the Division II Business Session at the annual convention.

Delta State University President William N. LaForge is also a senior member of the council who began serving with the governing body in 2016.

“Dr. Glen Jones will bring a refreshing and fascinating message to our graduates at commencement,” said LaForge. “I’ve had the privilege of getting to know him through our work together on the NCAA Presidents Council, which he chairs. He is a leader in education and an inspiration to all those around him.”

When Jones was introduced as Henderson State’s president in March 2012, he became the first African-American to serve as president or chancellor of a non-Historically Black Colleges and Universities institution in the history of Arkansas higher education.

Jones’ service to the community also extends beyond higher education. He is chair of the board for Southern Bancorp, a billion dollar development-centered financial institution whose focus remains on building communities and changing lives. He also serves as a board member for Baptist Health, the largest healthcare provider in the state of Arkansas. Additionally, Jones is a founding officer, past president and former board member of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education, the recognized authority for promoting inclusive excellence in higher education.

In addition, Jones serves on the executive committee of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges, and is the vice-chair of the NCAA Board of Governors, the highest governance body in the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

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Alumni seeking nominations for 2018 Alumni Service Awards

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The Delta State University National Alumni Association is seeking nominations for the 2018 Alumni Service Awards, Alumni Hall of Fame and Outstanding Alumnus of the Year. The deadline for nominations is May 31, 2018. Award recipients will be recognized at the Annual Alumni Awards Gala on Nov. 9 at the Cleveland Country Club during Homecoming weekend.

“The Annual Alumni Awards Gala celebrates the accomplishments of our alumni and friends of Delta State University,” said Jeffrey Farris, director of Alumni Affairs. “The awards banquet gives us the opportunity to showcase our alums, invite alumni to campus, and celebrate Delta State University.”

The Outstanding Alumnus of the Year award was established to give recognition to an alumnus of Delta State who has made significant contributions to human or institutional programs in which a situation, an institution or a movement has been materially changed for the better because of that individual’s personal participation:

Induction into the Delta State University Alumni Hall of Fame is the highest honor bestowed upon an individual by the Alumni Association. Established in 2007, the Alumni Hall of Fame is extended to alumni and friends who have achieved professional distinction and made significant community service contributions at the local, national and/or international level, and who have thus brought honor and distinction to the university:

The Gladys Castle “Friend of Delta State” Service Award was named for Gladys Castle, a 46-year employee of Delta State who served as the first alumni secretary, and it is presented to recognize outstanding service and contributions to the university by a non-alumnus:

The Kent Wyatt “Young Alumnus” Service Award is named for Dr. Forest Kent Wyatt, president emeritus of 24 years, and recognizes outstanding service and contributions to Delta State by a young alumnus 36 years of age or younger:

The Hugh Ellis Walker Alumni Service Award is named for Hugh Ellis Walker, a 24-year director of the Delta State University Alumni/Foundation, and recognizes outstanding service and contributions to Delta State by an alumnus:

The Legacy Award is presented to someone who has made an institutional change upon the university. The Alumni Chapter of the Year is presented to an alumni chapter that is dedicated to raising scholarship dollars for Delta State students in their area:

The Dr. Henry Outlaw Faculty and Staff Service Award was established in 2014 as a way to recognize former faculty or staff members who have made a significant influence in the life of the university and/or the National Alumni Association:

To nominate a person or a group for an award, and to view past recipients, visit Nomination forms can be submitted online or mailed to DSU Box 3104 Cleveland, MS 38733, or emailed to

To stay up to date on the Alumni Association’s activities, follow these social media sites: Facebook (Statesmen Graduates), Twitter (@DSU_Alumni), LinkedIn (DSU alumni), Instagram (dsualumni) and You Tube (dsualumni1). Save the date for this year’s Pig Pickin’ (September 21-22) and Homecoming (Nov. 9-10).

Delta State launches Writing Skills Initiative

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Delta State University’s Academic Council recently approved a new platform to increase writing skills on campus that replaces the current Writing Proficiency Requirement for graduation.

The new Writing Skills Initiative focuses on enhancing academic writing experiences and expectations in writing across all disciplines. It will take effect in the Fall 2018 semester.

Through the initiative, academic departments have developed, increased and identified discipline-specific requirements that seek to increase students’ writing skills at the collegiate level in each major.

Development and enhancement of writing skills is a shared responsibility of the two required composition courses in the General Education program and upper-division, enhanced writing courses.

Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, Dr. Charles McAdams, said an emphasis on writing within disciplines will enhance academic standards, rather than relying on a barrier exam that data show did not achieve intended results.

“Writing skills are an important element in the education of Delta State students,” said McAdams. “We are committed to helping our students develop into proficient writers in their discipline. Several faculty committees have studied how to improve the previous Writing Proficiency Requirement, and the new Writing Skills Initiative is the result of that study. Numerous universities across the country have used a similar model for many years with very positive results.”

Academic Council indicated that English Composition I and II courses should provide a foundation for college-level writing, focusing on grammar and mechanics of writing — while the writing-enhanced courses within majors are designed to expand the written communication skills of students, within the context of the student’s chosen major.

Each major will identify two upper-division (300 or 400 level) required courses.

Dr. Beverly Moon, dean of Graduate & Continuing Studies and Research, is excited to improve student writing across the board.

“We are thrilled that our faculty have embraced the idea of directly impacting their students’ writing abilities within the individual disciplines,” said Moon. “The writing products that come out of upper-level courses will showcase our students’ abilities to move into the workplace or on to professional schools.”

The courses selected will be reviewed by the appropriate dean and reported to the provost. The assessment of writing skills in the two writing-enhanced courses will count for at least 20 percent of a student’s final grade.

Dr. David Breaux, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, also agreed that the initiative would better prepare students for the job market.

“When talking to potential employers about what they believe our students need to be successful, they always mention the need for them to have good written communication skills,” said Breaux. “Requiring each of our degree programs to incorporate enhanced writing requirements into at least two of their upper-level courses, will afford students opportunities to hone their writing skills within the context of their chosen academic majors. This will hopefully make them more competitive on the job market and a better employee.”

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TFA Graduate Fellows celebrate progress

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Pictured, left to right: Jeremiah Smith, Boyce Upholt, Sarah Brown and Jon Delperdang.


The Teach For America Graduate Fellows Program at Delta State hosted “Connect & Celebrate” at the Delta Music Institute April 14. The event’s purpose was to honor and celebrate the inaugural graduating cohort from the two-year TFA Graduate Fellows Program. The graduating group, Cohort 1, consists of eight TFA fellows from around the state of Mississippi.

The program is a two-year fellowship funded by the Hearin Foundation, with the goal of retaining TFA alumni in Mississippi. Each year since 2016, the program has identified a select group of 8-12 TFA alumni who desire to continue their careers in Mississippi.

During the fellowship, participants pursue a graduate degree at Delta State, while also working to design and develop a social entrepreneurship project. Through the project, fellows work to find solutions to some of the toughest challenges facing the state.

During the Connect & Celebrate event, four of the graduating fellows from the inaugural group shared stories from their two-year journey. Speakers included:
-Jon Delperdang, director of Greenville Renaissance Scholars
-Boyce Upholt, author of “Between The Levees”
-Sarah Brown, author of “Student Data Journal”
-Jeremiah Smith, founder and director of Rosedale Freedom Project

Other graduating fellows include: James Forte, who assisted with Clarksdale Collegiate Public School Charter School; Javier Peraza, who founded Jackson Kids Code; Jena Howie, who founded Magnolia Coin; and Kandace Stevenson, who has focused on serving Greenville, Mississippi.

Fellows in Cohort 2 closed the event with a conversation about their project goals as they begin their second year as fellows. Guests were then encouraged to connect with fellows and share resources, connections, and work to establish a support system in Mississippi.

Fellows in Cohort 2 include: Lucas Rapasarda, Kaitlyn Barton, AK Suggs, MK Honeycutt, Alexis Williams, Latasha Capers, Charlotte Arrowsmith, Catie Denham, Leigh Hill, JJ Townsend, and Sean Brown.

“The TFA Graduate Fellows Program would like to extend a huge thanks to everyone who joined us to celebrate the fellows and this amazing journey they’re on to make Mississippi a greater place to live,” said Harrison Wood, program coordinator. “This was truly a special event. We were able to honor and celebrate our first cohort’s growth and accomplishments, while also actively working to provide resources and support as Cohort 2 starts their second year in the fall of 2018.”

For more information on the program and service opportunities, visit, or find the program on Instagram @tfafellows and Facebook. The program is funded through a grant from the Robert M. Hearin Foundation. The principal goal of the foundation is to contribute to the overall economic advancement of the state of Mississippi by making funds available to four-year colleges and universities and graduate professional schools located in the state.

Fireside Chat – April 23, 2018 – Capstone Experience and Writing Skills Enhancement Initiative

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Joining President LaForge is Dr. Charles McAdams, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs.

Delta State recently announced two new programs developed through a university-wide visioning process to promote academic excellence and student success at the institution.

These initiatives include the Capstone Project and the Writing Skills Enhancement Initiative. Both initiatives aim to increase academic excellence at the university. The Capstone Project will increase student learning by providing a Capstone experience for every student in every degree program. Departments across campus have identified a Capstone experience for each of its major programs with the desired outcome being to promote reflection and synthesis of key concepts within their major. The Writing Skills Enhancement Initiative serves to improve written communication in students with an emphasis on the style appropriate to their major discipline. By replacing the Writing Proficiency Requirement exam, the focus is now placed on enhancing academic writing experiences and expectations of writing in the discipline.

These initiatives underscore and enhance the academic rigor and reputation of the university and its programs. Students will be better prepared for a more productive and successful professional life.

In other campus news, the Office of Student Affairs is hosting Culture on the Quad on Tuesday, April 24 on the Quadrangle. This event will give the student body and Cleveland community members an idea of the diverse culture here at Delta State. There will be a fashion show, food tasting and much more. The Wiley Planetarium will have a showing of We Are Stars on Friday, April 27 at 6 p.m. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for children, seniors and anyone with an Okra Card.

In athletic news, the Statesmen baseball team is in action at home Tuesday at 6 p.m. against Ouachita Baptist. The baseball and softball teams host in-state rival Mississippi College in GSC action this weekend. Visit for all of those game times.

To keep up with all of our news, events and activities, please visit our website at