Lucy Janoush '78, will be honored as the 2015 Outstanding Alumnus of the Year.

Homecoming award winners announced

By | Academics, Alumni, Athletics, Community, Faculty/Staff, Foundation | No Comments

The Delta State University National Alumni Association is excited to announce the 2015 alumni award recipients, who will be honored during a series of events set for Nov. 6-7 during Delta State Homecoming weekend.

The Alumni Association will recognize the Outstanding Alumnus of the Year, the Hall of Fame inductees and the Alumni Service Awards. The Delta State Department of Athletics will honor the Athletic Hall of Fame, Coaches Hall of Fame and Distinguished Statesmen Award. In advance of formal announcements to follow, the alumni association released just the names of the winners today.

The Outstanding Alumnus of the Year is presented to a graduate 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 due to that individual’s personal participation. This year’s recipient is Lucy Janoush ‘78, of Cleveland.

Induction into the Delta State University Alumni Hall of Fame is the highest honor bestowed upon an individual by the DSU 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 Delta State. This year, three distinguished alumni, along with Janoush, will be inducted into the hall: Colonel Gentry Boswell ‘91, of Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota; Dwight Herlong ‘91, of Santa Clara, Calif.; and John C. Cox ‘96, of Cleveland.

The Hugh Ellis Walker Alumni Service Award is presented to recognize outstanding service and contributions to Delta State by an alumnus. Charlie McGuffee ‘67, of Clinton, Miss., will receive the award this year.

The Kent Wyatt “Young Alumnus” Service Award recognizes outstanding service and contributions to Delta State by a graduate 36-years-old or younger. The 2015 recipient is Hays Collins ‘04, of Brandon, Miss.

The Gladys Castle “Friend” of Delta State Service Award recognizes outstanding service and contributions to Delta State by a non-alumnus or institution. This year, the Bolivar Medical Center of Cleveland will be recognized.

The Legacy Award is presented to an alumnus who made an institutional changing impact at the university. Accepting the award on behalf of the Hill Demonstration School will be John Lewis ‘67, a graduate of Delta State College. The Hill Demonstration School was founded by Laurie Doolittle in 1927 under the leadership of Dr. William Marion Kethley.

The Dr. Henry Outlaw Faculty/Staff Service Award was established in 2014 as a way to recognize former Delta State faculty or staff members who have had a significant influence in the life of the university and/or the National Alumni Association. Established by the National Alumni Association Board of Directors, and inspired by the Dedicated Statesmen Association, the award will be given this year to Vicki Fioranelli ‘68, Delta State Alumni director emeritus.

The National Alumni Association will be releasing more information about the 2015 winners as the Homecoming weekend draws near.

The alumni association has a variety of activities planned throughout the weekend. This year’s featured reunion is the class of 1965, which will be celebrating 50 years since graduating from Delta State College. The 1965 class will be inducted into the prestigious Golden Circle, which is a constituency group of the association that honors alumni who graduated at least 50 years ago.

The official hashtag for the 2015 Homecoming is #DSUHC15. For more information, contact the Alumni Association at 662-846-4660. To purchase tickets to the Alumni Awards Gala, contact the association at 662-846-4660 or

To stay up to date on the Alumni Association’s activities, follow these social media sites: Facebook (Statesmen Graduates), Twitter (@DSU_Alumni), Tumblr (, LinkedIn (DSU alumni), Instagram (dsualumni) and You Tube (dsualumni1).

Blues home page art.ashx

International Conference on the Blues brings musicians, music scholars to campus

By | Delta Center, Faculty/Staff, General, Students, Uncategorized | No Comments

The Second Annual International Conference on the Blues promises to bring legendary entertainment and academics to Delta State University on Monday, Oct. 5 and Tuesday, Oct. 6, including GRAMMY award-winning Blues artist Dom Flemons, former National Endowment for the Humanities chairman Dr. William Ferris, an historic statewide proclamation honoring B.B. King and a free performance from GRAMMY-nominated Blues musician Bobby Rush and Mississippi Governor’s Award-winning Blues musician James “Super Chikan” Johnson.

The conference, which is still open for registration, brings together Blues scholars, historians and fans from all over the United States in the heart of the Mississippi Delta, a place known as the epicenter of Blues music and history.

Among the highlights of this year’s Blues conference:
* the bestowing of a statewide proclamation signed by all five living Mississippi governors designating B.B. King as the “Mississippi’s Secretary of State of the Blues”;
* a keynote address by Blues scholar and Southern culture historian Dr. William Ferris of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill;
* a master class and performance from GRAMMY winner Dom Flemons, known as the “American Songster”;
* events highlighting Blues music songwriters and performers including ‘Blues in the Round’ sponsored by Visit Mississippi;
* and “The Storytellers featuring Bobby Rush and Super Chikan: Up Close and Personal”, a free public concert sponsored by the International Delta Blues Project and the Bologna Performing Arts Center.

Visit here for a complete schedule of events, or here for a complete list of presenters.

“This year’s International Conference on the Blues represents the power of the Blues to strengthen partnerships and to engage diverse communities on local, regional, national, and global scales,” said Dr. Rolando Herts, director of The Delta Center for Culture and Learning. “We appreciate the generous support of the Robert M. Hearin Foundation and other organizations that are making this conference possible, including Visit Mississippi, Entergy, Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area, Bridging the Blues, Mississippi Blues Commission, BPAC, Mississippi Grounds, GRAMMY Museum Mississippi, the Dockery Farms Foundation and several other sponsors and partners. Through these relationships, Delta State University is empowered to offer an unparalleled educational and cultural experience to its students, faculty, and staff, as well as Delta residents and visitors.”

The second annual conference is part of the International Delta Blues Project, which is funded by the Robert M. Hearin Foundation and is based at The Delta Center for Culture and Learning. The conference is being managed by a team of campus and community collaborators including the Delta Music Institute, the Department of Music, the Division of Languages & Literature, the Office of Institutional Grants, and Cleveland Tourism.

“I always marvel at the variety of scholars that our conference attracts,” said Dr. Shelley Collins, a professor in the Department of Music and co-chair of the International Conference on the Blues. “Either our presenters are alums of these schools, graduate students at these universities, or teach at the following institutions: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, George Washington University, The University of North Texas, the Lionel Hampton School of Music at the University of Idaho, the University of Oregon, Indiana University, Loyola University of New Orleans, Columbus State University, the New York City Public Schools, and Perm State University in Russia.”

Flemons who is known the “American Songster,” has performed music professionally since 2005 and has played live for over one million people just within the past three years. As part of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, which he co-founded with Rhiannon Giddens and Justin Robinson, he has played at a variety of festivals spanning from the Newport Folk Festival to Bonnaroo, in addition to renowned venues such as the Grand Ole Opry.

Ferris, a widely recognized leader in Southern studies, African American music, and folklore, is the Joel R. Williamson Eminent Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the senior associate director of UNC’s Center for the Study of the American South. He is also adjunct professor in the curriculum on folklore.

The former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Ferris has conducted thousands of interviews with musicians ranging from the famous (B.B. King) to the unrecognized (Parchman Penitentiary inmates working in the fields). He has written or edited 10 books and created 15 documentary films.

“Bill Ferris is a personal hero of mine,” said Don Allan Mitchell, interim chair of the Division of Languages & Literature and co-chair of the International Conference on the Blues. “Every Blues class I teach, I have my students read his groundbreaking Blues from the Delta book, which is an essential text for any Blues scholar or fan.”

Mitchell said the appearance by Flemons expected to be an exciting part of the conference.

“Dom Flemons is known for his work with the Carolina Chocolate Drops, but he is also a walking American songbook, and his knowledge and expertise in playing the country Blues and classic Blues is phenomenal,” Mitchell said.

This year’s conference promises to build on the vision established for the event when it began last year, Mitchell added.

“We hope to establish a long-term and sustainable Blues musicology conference, and we especially want to foster the next generation of emerging scholars of the African American Blues tradition,” he said. “Yes, the Mississippi Delta has a legacy tied to the Delta Blues, but the Blues has become a world-wide music, and we want to examine all genres of the Blues and its ever-present global influence. We know that Cleveland & Delta State prides itself on hospitality, so we think we are a perfect place to host such scholarly dialogues.”

For more information, please contact Mitchell and Collins at

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 is the home of the International Delta Blues Project and serves as the management entity of the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area. For more information, visit

The Four Tops will perform at the BPAC Oct. 8 at 7:30 p.m.

The Four Tops to Perform in Cleveland

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The legendary music group The Four Tops will perform live in concert Oct. 8 at 7:30 p.m. at the Bologna Performing Arts Center on the campus of Delta State University.

The quartet, originally called The Four Aims, made their first single for Chess Records in 1956, but their first Motown hit, “Baby I Need Your Loving” in 1964, made them stars.

Their ’60s track record on the label is indispensable to any retrospective of the decade, and their songs, soulful and bittersweet, were across-the-board successes. Their sound lives on decades later with founding member Abdul “Duke” Fakir and well known hits like “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch),” “It’s The Same Old Song,” “Reach Out I’ll Be There,” and “Ain’t No Woman (Like the One I’ve Got).”

With over 24 Top 40 pop hits to their credit, the Four Tops have been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and have received the GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award. Tickets to see the quartet are $30-45 and are available at the BPAC Ticket Office, open Monday-Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 662-846-4626 or visit online at

The BPAC has several additional programs planned for October, including a matinee based on the book by Roald Dahl, “The B.F.G. (Big Friendly Giant)” on Oct. 14 at 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. for school groups. The event is sponsored by AT&T. Also on the calendar is a 17-piece big band concert, Davis and Johnson & the Fabulous Equinox Orchestra on Oct. 20. Additionally, the BPAC and the International Delta Blues Project are co-presenting “The Storytellers featuring Bobby Rush and Super Chickan: Up Close and Personal” in a free concert on Oct. 6.

For more information on the upcoming season of performances, stop by the BPAC, call 662-846-4626, or visit

Delta State University and Delta State Athletics will erect a statue of legendary baseball coach Dave "Boo" Ferriss Oct. 3 at 2 p.m.

Coach Ferriss to be honored with statue

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Delta State University and the Department of Athletics are erecting a statue in honor of legendary baseball Coach Dave “Boo” Ferriss in recognition of his decades of commitment to the Green and White.

The life-size statue, created by renowned Mississippi artist Kim Sessums, will feature Ferriss in his Delta State uniform and will be placed behind the grandstand at the baseball complex named in his honor. The statue dedication is scheduled for this Saturday, Oct. 3 at 2 p.m.

Athletic Director Ronnie Mayers said the statue is an appropriate way to pay tribute to a coach who had an illustrious career at Delta State.

“As a friend of Delta State University Athletics, you already know the impact that Coach Ferriss has had on the Delta State baseball program, and also for the game on the state, regional and national levels,” said Mayers. “What truly makes this man worthy of having a statue erected on the Delta State campus is reflected in the time he has always taken to know his players and fans so well — something he has continued to do in the years since he last hung up his uniform.”

Ferriss retired from Delta State following the 1988 season, but he continues to be a tireless supporter at all levels of baseball throughout the state and especially for his beloved Statesmen.

While he is known locally as the legendary Statesmen baseball, Ferriss also became a Boston Red Sox Hall of Famer.

The Shaw, Miss. native spent 46 years in baseball on the collegiate and professional levels, including 26 seasons at Delta State. A legend in national collegiate baseball coaching circles, Ferriss was inducted into the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1988 in Atlanta, Ga.

He compiled a 639-387-8 record at Delta State, and his coaching record ranks him among all-time national coaching leaders at the NCAA Division II level. His 1988 team was ranked 9th nationally in the Collegiate Baseball poll.

When Ferriss took over the DSU baseball program in 1960, he started it from the ground level. The Statesmen played many of their games off campus and Ferriss coached without the benefit of an assistant. He directed teams to the NCAA Division II Playoffs in eight of his last 12 years, including three trips to the NCAA Division II championships where the Statesmen finished third, second and third respectively in 1977, 1978 and 1982.

Gulf South Conference championships came in 1978, 1979, 1985 and 1988, with the Statesmen finishing second in 1981 and third in 1982. Forty-nine of his players earned All-Gulf South Conference honors.

Ferriss also earned several honors for his coaching accomplishments. In 1988, he received the United States Baseball Federation Service Award for his contributions to the game. He was named NCAA Regional Coach of the Year three times while also earning Gulf South Conference coaching honors three times.

In 1978 and 1982 he was selected as College Baseball Coach of the Year in Mississippi and was runner-up in that category in 1985.

In 2007, University Archivist Emily Jones helped pay tribute to Ferriss’s remarkable career by establishing The Dave “Boo” Ferriss Museum, which is housed inside the Robert L. Crawford Center adjacent to the baseball field.

“This statue is really going to tie everything together,” said Jones. “It will let everyone know right where they are — at the field named in his honor, the museum to the side and now the statue. Everyone is going to feel welcomed.”

Mayers encouraged fans and Delta State supporters to take part in the community effort to raise money for the statue fund.

“We invite you to be a part of this momentous occasion by contributing to the Ferriss Statue Fund,” said Mayers. “Along with your donation, we encourage you to jot down a fond memory to be shared with coach and Mrs. Ferriss.

“Coach Ferriss has given us more than 55 years of service and memories here at Delta State. Don’t miss this opportunity to support this overdue tribute and to share in honoring this legendary coach and man.”

To donate to the Coach Dave “Boo” Ferriss Statue Fund, visit For more information, contact the Delta State University Foundation 662-846-4704.

Members of the 2015-16 Fighting Okra Records: (front, left to right) Gregory Braggs, Keith Johnson, Tyler Young, Kelsey Collins, Lindsey Anna Pardue, Mic Hargrove, Chace Holland and Jessica Wishard. Back row: (l to r) Reed Smith, Brennan Barham, Austin Rausa, Will Marshall, Dalton Shipley, Justin Boatman, Jacob Lifsey, Starlin Browning and Lane Fitzgerald. Missing from the picture is Chelsea Young.

Fighting Okra Records back for another round

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

Fighting Okra Records, a student-run record label at Delta State University, will continue its operations during the 2015-16 academic year with a new staff of entertainment industry studies students.

The label is housed in the DMI Entertainment Industry Program and is the combined outcome of students enrolled in the Record Label Practicum course at the DMI. Building on the success of last year’s Fighting Okra release with artist Justin Boatman, this year’s staff is looking forward to an exciting new year.

Students staffing the label are assigned responsibilities within departments, using a real world record company model. These departments include the areas of business and finance, sales and marketing, artist and repertoire, and art and production.

“One of the main challenges for students in this type of practicum course is dealing with all the unexpected changes that happen in a project like this over the course of a year,” said director Tricia Walker. “Learning to manage those changes will be beneficial in the real world.”

This year, FOR is launching a new campaign in hopes of building a larger group of supporters. The label is setting up a competition that will showcase the musical ability of students around campus. Unlike previous years, they will be allowing students from the entire campus to audition to be the next spotlight artist for the 2015-16 school year.

Students who are interested will be required to submit a video link of two of their performances. Upon submission, selected students will move on to the second round via notification by the label. In the second round, students will be required to perform in front of the members of the label, after which the label will hand select the final contenders. The third and final round will give the label a chance to interview each contestant before making the final selection.

The mission of FOR is to provide a practical, real world music industry experience to the students and to provide a variety of independent artists with professional quality music industry services in an effort to expose their name in recordings to the broadest possible audience.

The Delta Music Institute is an independent center of study under the College of Arts & Sciences at Delta State University. 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. For more information, contact the DMI at 662-846-4579 or