Dr. Shannon Jeffreys, director of Choral Activities and assistant professor at Georgia Southern University

Honor Choir concert set for Feb. 14

By | Community, General, Students | No Comments

Join the Delta State University choirs on Sunday, Feb. 14 at 2 p.m. in the Bologna Performing Arts Center for this year’s Honor Choir concert.

DSU will host approximately 140 high school students from more than 15 schools in Mississippi and Tennessee. These students were selected through competitive on-site auditions in October and will visit the Delta State campus for the weekend to celebrate their achievements in choral music.

The concert will also feature the Delta State Chorale performing several selections including the Kentucky Appalachian tune “Bright Morning Star,” Beethoven’s “Hallelujah Chorus,” and Dan Forrest’s “Lead, Kindly Light,” as well the Delta State University Chamber Singers performing Stan Wagnon’s “The Least of These” with faculty member Dr. Laurissa Backlin as a soloist.

The guest conductor for the Honor Choir is Dr. Shannon Jeffreys, who is the director of Choral Activities and assistant professor at Georgia Southern University, where she conducts Southern Chorale, Fermata the Blue, and Southern Gentlemen and teaches undergraduate and graduate conducting and literature courses.

She has led Southern Chorale in two international choral competitions where the choir won significant awards earning the highest overall score in Sing ‘N’ Joy, Louisville in 2013. Dr. Jeffreys’ choirs have also been invited to perform in state conferences of the American Choral Directors Association and the national conference of the National Association for Music Education. Last spring, she was awarded the “CLASS Award of Distinction in Teaching” from the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.

Dr. Jeffreys holds degrees in music performance and conducting from Birmingham Southern College, the University of Mississippi, and the University of South Carolina. Dr. Jeffreys is an active adjudicator and clinician and a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing, American Choral Directors Association, and National Association for Music Education.

President William N. LaForge speaks to representatives of Perm State University at a dinner held in their honor during their weeklong visit to campus.

Perm State returns for international visit

By | Academics, International, President | No Comments

A delegation from Perm State University in Perm, Russia — an international partner university — will be visiting Delta State for the first week of February. The visit marks the third time Perm State has been hosted on campus to develop exchange opportunities.

The group of Perm State faculty and students will spend the week meeting with a variety of department heads to advance international exchange programs between both universities. Visiting students will also attend and observe Delta State classes.

“I’m very pleased that we’re continuing our relationship with Perm State,” said Delta State President William N. LaForge. “It’s a university near and dear to my heart. We’re looking forward to hosting the PSU delegation, substantively in terms of coursework and programs on campus, but also socially and culturally.

“Their faculty will meet with our counterparts on campus to explore possibilities for future exchange programs that will be beneficial for both their students and ours,” he added. “This is a great next step in our growing relationship with Perm State University.”

LaForge has a long history with Perm State, dating back to 2008 as a visiting professor in their Center for International Legal Studies program. He also returned in 2011 and 2015 as a Fulbright Fellow.

In a groundbreaking international trip for Delta State last spring, a group of Delta Music Institute students and faculty visited Perm State and took part in “Rivers of Music — Rivers of Culture,” a two-week exchange project that was part of the U.S.-Russia Peer-to-Peer Dialogue Program supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of State.

Learn more about “Rivers of Music — Rivers of Culture” and explore the trip blog at www.deltastate.edu/russia.

Perm State faculty member Svetlana Polyakova, also the “Rivers of Music — Rivers of Culture” program coordinator from Perm State, will once again be leading her group of colleagues and students.

Joining Polyakova will be four Perm State graduate students and seven faculty members from four different departments.

“The main purpose of the visit is to take our partnership to the next level and develop further collaboration between the departments at Perm State University and Delta State University,” said Polyakova. “We hope to gain new cross-cultural knowledge and experience, understanding of the Mississippi Delta, and establish solid academic contacts for our colleagues from other departments.”

The Perm State delegation will also provide lectures to Delta State students and faculty to discuss the possibilities of mutual research projects in psychology, biology, linguistics, sociology, arts and economics. Grant opportunities for academic exchanges for both students and faculty will also be an area of focus.

“We are very much looking forward to seeing our great DSU friends and meeting new ones,” added Polyakova. “We hope to have a look at GRAMMY Museum Mississippi that will open in March.”

Dr. A.H.M. Ali Reza, assistant professor of biology at Delta State, will help guide the group on campus as the university’s international partnership liaison.

“Delta State and the Mississippi Delta in general are very localized, so hosting the Perm State group will bring us a lot of diversity in terms of cultural and academic exchange,” said Reza. “We, especially our students and teachers, will gain a lot of new ideas — as well as local community members.”

Follow all news at www.deltastate.edu as developments continue with international partner universities.

Delta Jewels with Alysia Burton Steele, Dr. Rolando Herts, and Jacqueline Dace, former project manager of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum at the 2015 Winning the Race conference. The Delta Jewels oral history partnership program will return to Delta State on Wednesday, February 17.

MDNHA, Delta Center honor Black History Month with Delta Jewels partners

By | Community, Delta Center | No Comments

The Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area’s Delta Jewels Oral History Partnership has yielded a series of events promoting oral history education and awareness. These events have commemorated the 2016 National Park Service Centennial, which aims to engage diverse communities and develop lifelong connections with the public, especially youth.

The MDNHA continues its celebration of the NPS Centennial through the Delta Jewels Oral History Partnership. In February, the MDNHA is presenting the following oral history partnership programs in honor of Black History Month:

 Wednesday, February 17, hosted by the Diversity Committee at Delta State University

 Thursday, February 25, hosted by the Southern Cultural Heritage Foundation in Vicksburg

 Friday, February 26, hosted by the Alcorn State University Wesley Foundation to be held in Norman

The Delta Jewels Oral History Partnership was formed in 2015 and features “Delta Jewels: In Search of My Grandmother’s Wisdom,” a collection of oral histories and photographs of African American church mothers from the Mississippi Delta by Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalism professor Alysia Burton Steele from the University of Mississippi. Since that time, Delta Jewels has been entered into the Library of Congress.

Steele also has been selected to receive the Preserver of Mississippi Culture Award from the Mississippi Humanities Council on Friday, February 12 at the Old Capitol Museum in Jackson. Dr. Rolando Herts, director of the MDNHA and The Delta Center for Culture and Learning, nominated Steele for the award.

“I am so grateful that the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area, The Delta Center, and the Mississippi Humanities Council see the importance of this work,” said Steele. “I partnered with the MDNHA to share oral histories throughout the state. This has helped spread the message that all of our elders – regardless of race, place, or gender – have voices and stories that need to be heard and collected by the next generation. By doing this, we all can be preservers of Mississippi culture.”

The partnership has engaged over 500 Delta residents and visitors through community gatherings in Clarksdale, Charleston, Indianola, Yazoo City, Ruleville, and Mound Bayou, as well as Mississippi Valley State University in Itta Bena. Another program was held recently at Jackson State University in collaboration with the Fannie Lou Hamer Institute @ COFO and the Margaret Walker Center.

“We are very pleased that there is ongoing demand for the Delta Jewels oral history programs,” said Herts. “Based on the positive feedback that we have received so far, it is clear that these programs have tremendous educational and cultural value that resonate with communities in and outside of the Delta region.”

Stacey Massey, Executive Director of the Southern Cultural Heritage Foundation, is excited about hosting a Delta Jewels program in Vicksburg.

“The Southern Cultural Heritage Foundation is thrilled to play host to the Delta Jewels Oral History Partnership,” said Massey. “We are honored to provide a space where these oral histories and portraits will be shared with those in the Vicksburg community.”

This will be the second time that a Delta Jewels program has been presented at Delta State and the first time at Alcorn State. Alcorn State is the oldest public historically black land-grant institution in the United States and is included on the board of the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area.

To learn more about hosting a Delta Jewels Oral History Partnership, contact Rolando 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/.


Admitted students invited to Delta State Family Dinner

By | Students | No Comments

The Office of Admissions is hosting a series of events for admitted students and transfer applicants called “Delta State Family Dinner.”

Admitted students and transfer applicants across the region have been invited to have dinner with university representatives, future classmates and alumni. They will also receive an exclusive Delta State t-shirt. Dinners are being hosted in territories across the state where a concentrated amount of admitted students are located. RSVPs may be emailed to admissions@deltastate.edu.

Admitted students and their family in the Cleveland area are invited to The Warehouse February 9 at 5:30 p.m.

“We want to do something special to recognize our future Statesmen. Hosting a family dinner will let them know how excited we are to welcome them to campus,” said Diana McLemore, admissions recruiter for the Delta area.

Students in the North Mississippi and Tennessee area are invited February 11 to the Bank Plus Training Center in Southaven at 5:30 p.m. The family dinner for students in the Grenada area will be held March 1 at the Maddox Center in Grenada at 6:00 p.m. Students on the coast will be having dinner February 4 at 5:30 p.m. at The Shed in Ocean Springs. Contact sshepherd@deltastate.edu for more information.

Interested students may apply online at www.deltastate.edu/apply, and campus visits may be scheduled www.deltastate.edu/visit. Students that have submitted an application may check their status by logging in to their student account at any time or by calling 662-846-4020.

For more information, please contact the Office of Admissions at 662-846-4020 or email admissions@deltastate.edu.


29th annual HEADWAE program scheduled for Feb. 2

By | Faculty/Staff, IHL, Students | No Comments

Higher education in Mississippi is the focus of the 29th annual HEADWAE program, which will honor outstanding students and faculty members from 34 Mississippi public and private universities and colleges on Feb. 2.

Mississippi Economic Council president and CEO Blake Wilson will chair the event. Sean Suggs, vice president of manufacturing for Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi, Inc., will deliver the keynote address at the luncheon.

Higher Education Appreciation Day—Working for Academic Excellence (HEADWAE) was established by legislative resolution to honor individual academic achievement and the overall contribution of the state’s public and private institutions of higher learning.

The honorees will begin the day with a visit to the State Capitol where they will be welcomed by Governor Phil Bryant at 10 a.m., recognized by the Senate and House of Representatives and given a tour of the Capitol. The awards luncheon will begin at 11:45 a.m. at the Marriott Hotel located at 200 E. Amite St. in Jackson.

Wilson serves as president and CEO of the MEC and is only the third executive of the State Chamber of Commerce in more than 60 years. He came to MEC in 1998 from the Florida Chamber of Commerce where he served as executive vice president directing membership, marketing, government affairs and grassroots legislative activities.

The key focus of MEC under Wilson’s leadership has been to shrink the miles that separate Mississippi, and utilize the interconnections among Mississippians to make progress in education, economic development and business climate and image. He lives in Brandon with his wife, Ann, a public school teacher. They have three grown children.

Suggs was named vice president of manufacturing at Toyota Mississippi in December 2015. In this role, he is responsible for all areas of automotive manufacturing including body operations, paint and assembly, and encompasses all areas of engineering, production and maintenance.

Prior to taking over as manufacturing vice president, Suggs served as the vice president of administration at Toyota’s Blue Springs plant that produces the Corolla, Toyota’s highest volume selling vehicle in the world.

Suggs’ automotive career began in 1998 at Toyota’s vehicle assembly plant in Princeton, Indiana, where he was hired as a team leader. During his 10-year tenure, he served several roles and was named general manager of quality planning in 2008. In this leadership role, Suggs oversaw professional development, vehicle quality and manufacturing quality for current and new model production.

Prior to rejoining Toyota, Suggs most recently served as director of strategy, administration and human resources from 2011-2013 at Nissan’s North American headquarters in Franklin, Tennessee. During his five years with Nissan, he also directed production quality at the company’s manufacturing and assembly plant in Canton, Mississippi.

In addition to helping shape Toyota Mississippi’s future, Suggs is also building on the advancement of the Toyota Way in the community through personal service. He currently serves as a board member for the Center for Manufacturing Excellence at the University of Mississippi, the Toyota Wellsprings Endowment Committee, the Community Development Foundation and the Tree of Life Clinic. In the past, he supported several state and regional nonprofit and economic development organizations in Tennessee and Mississippi.

Suggs earned his Masters of Business Administration degree from Auburn University in 2010 and a Bachelor of Science degree from Oakland City College in Oakland City, Indiana in 2000. He and his wife, Janet, reside in Tupelo, which places him close to his six children and their families.

Corporate sponsors for the HEADWAE program include: Atmos Energy, Jackson; AT&T, Jackson; BancorpSouth, Tupelo; Chevron Products, Pascagoula; ERGON, Flowood; Georgia-Pacific (KOCH Companies), Baton Rouge, LA;  Ingalls Shipbuilding, Pascagoula; Mississippi National Guard, Jackson; Mississippi Power Company, Gulfport; Sanderson Farms, Laurel; The College Knowledge Project, Jackson; Trustmark Bank, Jackson; and Valley Services, Inc., Flowood.

Click here http://www.ihl.state.ms.us/headwae/downloads/headwaehonorees2016.pdf for a list of 2015-16 HEADWAE honorees.


The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.