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Commissioner of Higher Education presents budget request on behalf of university system

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JACKSON — Focusing on the resources needed to achieve the state’s goal for higher education, Commissioner of Higher Education Dr. Glenn F. Boyce presented the universities’ budget request for Fiscal Year 2017 to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee at a hearing this morning in Jackson.

As outlined in the Statewide Strategic Plan, the state’s goal for higher education is “to make available an accessible, quality public higher education at an affordable cost that prepares Mississippians to become productive, financially self-sufficient members of society while meeting the human resource needs of Mississippi and its employers, including the creation of new jobs through the commercialization of university-based research.”

“This is a good goal for higher education in Mississippi,” said Dr. Boyce. “We support this goal and are working to attain it through increasing educational attainment, supporting economic development and solving Mississippi’s most pressing problems. However, we must have the resources necessary to do the work required to achieve this goal.”

Mississippi Public Universities enroll almost 94,000 students each year and awarded more than 16,800 degrees in the most recent year. This year, fall enrollment reached its highest point in history, with 81,132 students. Universities lead more than 2,500 research projects.

The University of Mississippi Medical Center is the state’s leader in addressing Mississippi’s healthcare issues. With 2,900 students in 28 degree programs, UMMC has 28,000 inpatient admissions and more than 250,00 outpatient and emergency department visits annually. UMMC’s Telehealth program is improving rural access to healthcare by offering more than 30 medical specialties at more than 100 clinical sites.

The universities’ request included an increase of $50.1 million for faculty and staff salaries and an additional $14.2 million for student financial aid over the appropriation for Fiscal Year 2016. It also includes a request of $17 million to address facility repair and renovation needs.

“To increase educational attainment, we must attract and retain faculty and staff, maintain our infrastructure and increase accessibility,” said Dr. Boyce. “Our request is a direct reflection of this.”

Average salaries in Mississippi are 83 percent of the average salaries in other Southern Regional Education Board states.

“We can’t overstate the importance of faculty and staff on student success and research,” said Dr. Boyce. “Our faculty members serve as an inspiration to students and help them persist and graduate, our staff members provide essential services that protect student safety, help students persist, and help students find jobs after graduation. Our researchers conduct important research that helps solve Mississippi’s most pressing problems.”

The request includes $17 million to address facility needs. Universities must maintain the safe, secure and state-of-the-art facilities that students, faculty, staff, alumni and the community expect. In addition to eight main campuses, the university system includes the medical center and 12 satellite centers.

This includes more than 1,600 buildings totaling more than 32 million square feet. More than 70 percent of IHL Buildings are more than 25 years old from construction date. More than 52 percent are more than 25 years from the last major renovation.

“The facilities infrastructure goes beyond the brick and mortar one expects,” said Dr. Boyce. “Our faculty, staff and students must have the technology infrastructure necessary to have the teaching and learning opportunities they expect in the 21st century.”

The request also includes a $14.2 million increase for student financial aid funding. There are currently 29,909 students receiving financial aid at public and private universities and community colleges.

“Having wonderful faculty and great buildings and programs only helps those students who can get through the door,” said Dr. Boyce. “We are very concerned about the issue of access and are considering how this issue will look 10 to 20 years down the road. Student financial aid plays a tremendous role in enabling students to stay in school and graduate.”

Dr. Boyce noted that the Board of Trustees has lead several initiatives to keep costs down, including:
· A system-wide energy savings programs that has saved $70 million.
· A system approach to property insurance has saved $45 million.
· Textbook policies to help keep those costs down as much as possible.
· Annual reviews of all academic programs.

The Board is also exploring the possibility of implementing other cost-savings measures, including:
· Expanding the MissiON Network, the state’s high-bandwidth internet backbone for research universities, to include the regional universities.
· Establishing a system-wide Employee Assistance Program, which will allow universities to pool resources and save money.

“I know we share the goal of ensuring that every student who has the drive and desire to earn a college degree has that opportunity,” said Dr. Boyce. “It is what is right for Mississippi’s students of today and tomorrow and it is a key building block in the building the Mississippi of the future that we all want.”

Dr. Ethan Schmidt

Tributes pour in for Ethan Schmidt

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Tributes have poured in honoring the life of Ethan Schmidt, and Paulette Meikle, chair of the Delta State Social Sciences and History division, has compiled some of them for the Schmidt family and Delta State community:

“His students revered him. Student evaluations confirm success for Dr. Schmidt’s articulated goals to make the discipline of history interesting for students and to stretch their cognitive capacities by engaging them in steep critical thinking about historical facts, ideas and events, while encouraging them to question existing perspectives. There are so any wonderful student remarks about Dr. Schmidt, I had difficulty making a selection, nevertheless, see below:

One student notes: “Do not change a thing about his course, Dr. Schmidt,…. . Easily my favorite history class ever! ”

Another student notes; “I hate history but I honestly enjoyed your class, keep doing what you are doing! If it’s not broke don’t fix it! Didn’t love doing the articles but I can see their purpose.”

Other students note:

“Nothing, the course was great and the teacher was awesome. I enjoyed going to his class and his assignments did not feel like busy work, just to get a grade in he grade book. his assignments actually taught me something.”

“Dr. Schmidt is a great professor who’s lectures keep you interested on the material.”

“Extremely relatable teacher who is fun and energetic! Great speaker and easy to follow in class! I have never in my life been a fan of history classes and this class was by far my favorite history class I’ve ever taken. Dr. Schmidt made the class fun and enjoyable. I also felt like I learned a lot more than I had already known in the past. Great class and would highly recommend Dr. Schmidt to anyone!”

“I love the way we have quizzes on a few sections of material instead of tested on a whole bunch of information. Great course and I will refer this professor to anyone who takes this course.”

“Great class. Your teaching style is very helpful to me. I feel like I have actually learned something about history while enjoying myself. Your class is not the typical boring old history class.”

“He’s a very good teacher. I loved his class and actually learned the material.”

“Great Instructor! Gives clear instructions. His lectures are concise and very informative.”

“He really inspires the classroom. All of his PowerPoints bring the class to life. The material and the way he uses the lectures allows someone to see history from a new perspective, not the typical southern perspective”

“Very good instructor. Keeps lecture interesting. Very good at communicating with students. Funny
This class was very good. The teacher was nice and he explained everything I didn’t understand. If I ever need to take another history class, I will take it with him.”

“He was a great teacher and I would strongly agree on the material he taught and how he taught it.”
“Great class and a great instructor”

“He was a nice instructor and he was very easy to converse with.”

“Great Teacher”

“This course was the best history course I’ve had in my life.”

“You are a great teacher, and I really enjoyed your class. You are very knowledgeable and my only comment will be that there is always room for improvement.”

“I would definitely recommend Dr.Schmidt to others and i know that I will also try to take more courses with him as well.”

“This course has allowed me to view and analyze situation with an opened mined. Dr.Schmidt teaching styles is great it allows every student to learn history in a simpler way.”

“I was very impressed with this class and the fact I felt I could talk to the instructor without a problem.”
“He Is very enthusiastic about the course and really gets into it in some topics. I really enjoyed learning more about history than I have in the past.”

“Dr. Schmidt is my favorite instructor at DSU. I have and will again recommend him to other students. I was never a ”history person” until I took his classes. He makes the material fun as if he was talking about friends to other friends just casual conversation. And I’ve done really well in his courses so he’s doing something right!”

Dr. Schmidt’s passion for his discipline translates into prodigious energy in the classroom, which brings life to the study of history. Several students remarked that they liked his instructional energy:

“Overall, I loved this course. Schmidt is a good instructor with plenty of energy and obscure facts that make history that much more interesting……. I recommend him for any student of history.”

“I really enjoy that Dr. Schmidt’s enthusiasm and personality comes out when he teaches; it makes the learning environment much more enjoyable and effective.”

From Our President:

Ethan Schmidt was nothing less than a rock-star on this campus. When we met soon after we both arrived here in 2013, I immediately liked him. He was engaging, smart, and giving, and I knew he would have an impact on this campus. In fact, he has had an amazing impact. I have heard so many positive comments about his teaching and advising. His leadership of our First Year Seminar program was superb. At the start-up of this year’s FYS on the football field, we were together for the special welcome for our new students. I watched his glee as his program unfolded, and as our students were made to feel a part of this university. Provost McAdams and I relished the opportunity to host a book-signing for Ethan. And Ethan and Connor sat directly across the court from me at home basketball games. I observed the banter between them and was touched by his wonderful fatherly qualities. Ethan leaves a legacy that will never be forgotten. Especially by me, President LaForge

From our Provost:

Dr. Ethan Schmidt was a true rising star at Delta State University. When I first met Ethan I was impressed with his experience and passion for helping freshmen succeed on campus. When I needed a faculty member to take charge and direct the First Year Seminar program at Delta State, I knew that Ethan was the right person. Under his leadership, he rebuilt our course for new students into an academically focused experience that is making a real difference in the success of our students. I was also pleased to honor Ethan and meet his family with the book signing we sponsored in honor of the publication of his second book, Native Americans in the American Revolution. Ethan was a terrific person who positively impacted many students, faculty, and staff on our campus. He will be greatly missed, but we are better off for his being a part of our Delta State family. Dr. Charles McAdams

From Our Dean:
One of my favorite quotes regarding education is from William Butler Yeats, who once said that “education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” Based on my interactions with Ethan, I can truly say that he took that quote to heart. Teaching for Ethan, was not simply a job, it was a calling. He loved lighting fires within his students by challenging them to think critically and communicate effectively. My only wish is that I would have had more time to get to know and work with him. He will be sorely missed, Dr. Dave Breaux.

From our faculty:

Dr. Schmidt was an exemplary colleague and academician, and innate leader and a committed family man. No one can fill his vacant place, his labor in love, his legacy; you made an indelible mark on us Ethan. We will always remember you, Dr. Paulette Meikle

When I first met Ethan, I knew would be a great colleague, a tremendous asset to Delta State University, and, above all, a great friend. I’m not always right but I sure hit the nail on the head with that one. Ethan said yes to our offer and became part of the DSU faculty starting in the fall of 2013. Over the past two years, Ethan Schmidt has meant so much to so many people on this campus and beyond. To his students, he was the consummate teacher. Ethan loved giving interesting lectures and thrived on engaging in stimulating discussion with his students. But teaching didn’t just take place in the classroom. I cannot imagine the number of hours he’s spent in his office talking with students about classes, campus activities, sports, their families, and their hopes and dreams for the future. He was always there for his students and they knew it. From the time he arrived on campus, he was a buzzsaw of energy. Full of great ideas, unparalleled passion, and a willingness to serve in any capacity asked of him. The best tribute we can pay to Ethan Schmidt is to go from here and see the good that is out there in each individual. See the good that exists in a world that is too often harsh, volatile, and senseless. Be a teacher, be a servant, and be a friend. Ethan Schmidt was all of those things to me and I am forever grateful. Dr. Chuck Westmoreland.

A life is certainly what appears on the page, what is heard in the classroom and how it is heard in the hallways. The life of an academic goes far beyond this as it also reflects and shares in the life of the mind and the spirit of his colleagues and students. Ethan Schmidt was at least these things and so much more. He gave his mind and his heart to the idea of a university, to his colleagues every day, and to the inspiration and memories of his students. And so it is that we will always hold Ethan as part of our lives and thoughts forever here at Delta State. Prof. Garry Jennings.

I could not have asked for a better colleague or friend, Dr. James Robinson

Ethan was an excellent colleague and an even better friend. There are no words that can adequately convey how sorry I am for your loss. My thoughts are with you all, as always. Dr. Brian Becker

I would like to say to Ethan: “over the past a few days, our brief and only conversation has been lingering in my head. Enjoy your pumpkin pie in heaven.”
To Ethan’s family: “you are not alone. We are always here for you,” Dr. Chunhui Ren

From his administrative assistant:
In a conversation I had with Dr. Schmidt last week, I was asking about the FYS he was teaching and he was telling me about his love for teaching. He said, “I love teaching. I love students. In fact, I just kept taking classes because I didn’t want to leave school. Now I get to do it everyday”. Ms. Tammy Hyche

From the University of Kansas:

Ethan was an amazing person—gifted as a teacher and historian, a loving husband and father. He was full of energy and optimism. He always brought out the best in those with whom he interacted: his fellow classmates, his students, and his professors. I was fortunate to have him as an advisee and am deeply saddened by his loss. Dr. Paul Kelton, Associate Dean for the Humanities

His Legacy:

Perhaps the most important legacy that Dr. Schmidt has left behind for the academy, not only for students and faculty here at DSU but for students and faculty elsewhere in higher education is his scholarship contribution which parallels his noteworthy teaching achievements. His single authored book entitled “Native Americans in the American Revolution: How the War Divided, Devastated, and Transformed the Early American Indian World” accrued the following positive endorsements:

“Anyone interested in the monumental impact that the Revolution had on Native Americans must start with Schmidt’s eloquent and informative synthesis . . . a much needed and excellent contribution that expands our understanding of the American Republic’s founding.”—Paul Kelton, Associate Professor of History, University of Kansas

“It has been wisely noted that the story of colonial/early America is a counterfactual construct absent key players too often missing in the narrative: Native Americans. Ethan Schmidt fills that gap with his new book, one that decidedly (and refreshingly) includes the drama’s Native American participants who affected (and were affected by) the Revolution’s challenges and opportunities—and he does so with a stylistic flair informed by a familiarity with the subject that is notable for both its breadth and depth.”—Ron McCoy, Professor of History, Oklahoma State University

“Ethan Schmidt’s Native Americans in the American Revolution will become notable as a richly rewarding, comprehensive account that knits together a massive amount of evidence and commentary on many Native peoples’ roles in these events. This work also is lucidly written and valuable for its scope (beginning with events in the 1750s) as well as its empathy for Native points of view, which often portray the revolution as a setback, not a victory. This book is at its best with original sources that illustrate the brutality of the war, as well as the betrayal of Native American allies by both sides once their military usefulness had ended and the rush of immigration exploded.”—Bruce E. Johansen, Jacob J. Isaacson University Research Professor, School of Communication and Native American Studies, University of Nebraska at Omaha

Students and professors will feast on the content of his second single authored book entitled; The Divided Dominion: Social Conflict and Indian Hatred in Early Virginia, was published in March just this year. He has several other peer reviewed publications and he has presented elements of his research on Native Americans at the community level and in professional settings. He recently delivered the 2015 Zimmerman Memorial Lecture at Emporia State University in Kansas (his Alma Mater). Dr. Schmidt’s lecture, was titled “Why Native American History Matters: The Case of the American Revolution.”

He was appointed by Provost McAdams in August 2014 to serve in a university-wide position as Director of the University’s First Year Seminar program. He is did a stellar job in this capacity. He is the founder of the DSU’s Native American Heritage Month. He was a member of the University Diversity Committee. He served on several other university and departmental committees and participated in several recruiting activities.

Dr. Schmidt was clearly an enthusiastic professor and scholar, beloved colleague and committed family man. He often articulated that he has always enjoyed being in the environment of higher education. Dr. Schmidt was an enormous asset to the Division of Social Sciences and History and to The University in general. He has left an indelible mark on the hearts of his students, colleagues and friends. He will be missed but we can take comfort in knowing that he has left a powerful and positive legacy.

Voices-from-the-Bottom-of-the-South-China-Sea-front-cover

Retired Navy captain to lecture on China

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Delta State University Archives will kick off National Archives Month with a lecture delivered by Captain Robert S. Wells on his recent publication, “Voices from the Bottom of the South China Sea,” Oct. 1 at 6 p.m. in the Charles W. Capps, Jr. Archives & Museum building’s Howorth Seminar Room.

The event is free and open to the public.

“Voices from the Bottom of the South China Sea” is the remarkable, untold illustration of the bonds between Americans and Chinese, brought to life in the true story of a deadly 1874 shipwreck off Southern China that killed hundreds and scattered treasure in the South China Sea.

This amazing history involves a shipwreck, pirates and lost treasure. The work captures the shared passions, ambitions and animosities of Chinese and Americans seeking fortune in 19th century California.

With the lost records of the event recently discovered and pieced together by the author, a former navy captain who commanded a warship in the waters where Captain Warsaw’s ship went down, this book allows the lost voices to tell their story to the world from the bottom of the South China Sea.

Wells is retired from the U.S. Navy as a captain with a distinguished 30-year naval service career, which included command of the AEGIS cruiser USS LAKE CHAMPLAIN (CG-57) during Operation Enduring Freedom in the aftermath of 9-11, and the guided missile frigate USS LEWIS B. PULLER (FFG-23).

He also served as the U.S. Naval Academy’s director of professional development in Annapolis, Md. During his career, Wells was awarded 20 service medals including two Defense Superior Service medals and two Legions of Merit.

He also served in the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations. His most recent White House experience included three years on Vice President Dick Cheney’s National Security Affairs staff as special advisor.

Wells’s keen interest in U.S.-China relations stems from service in U.S. Seventh Fleet operations in the South China Sea as U.S. host ship during the historic Chinese People Liberation Army-Navy visit to San Diego in March of 1997, and the development of defense policy between the U.S. and China in support of the state visit of China’s president to the U.S. in September of 2005.

Wells has written and spoken frequently about national security and foreign policy issues in national and local media. He lives in Northern Virginia with his wife, Christine. This is his first book.

Learn more about Delta State University Archives at http://www.deltastate.edu/academics/libraries/university-archives-museum/.

BEEP.LOGO

Get your shoes on and help fight cancer

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Delta State University’s B.E.E.P (Breast Education & Early-detection Project) and the College of Education and Human Science’s Outdoor Recreation Program are teaming up to fight Breast Cancer with the 2nd annual Walk-A-Thon. This event will raise funds to help provide mammograms and education for women in need. So, walk or jog with us to support breast cancer education and early-detection practices. Walk as long as you can, or as long as you wish. For each completed lap, Sonic Drive-In of Cleveland, will donate 50 cents to B.E.E.P., up to $500.00. So, the more you walk, the more we earn together to fight breast cancer. Donations will also be accepted from participants.

The event will be held 3-6 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 30, at the Delta State Fitness Trail (on Maple Street across from the DSU Physical Plant). Registration will be held on site. For more information, contact Gail Bailey, B.E.E.P. Coordinator at 662-207-0262 or gbailey@deltastate.edu or Todd Davis, Director of Outdoor Recreation, at 662-846-4570 or tdavis@deltastate.edu.

Roger Stolle will present a lecture on blues entrepreneurship and the Mississippi Delta’s creative economy as part of Delta State University’s International Conference on the Blues Oct. 1 at 5:30 p.m. at the Coahoma County Higher Education Center.

Stolle to present blues lecture in Clarksdale

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Roger Stolle, owner of Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art in Clarksdale, Miss,, will present a lecture on blues entrepreneurship and the Mississippi Delta’s creative economy as part of Delta State University’s International Conference on the Blues.

The pre-conference lecture event will take place Oct. 1 at 5:30 p.m. at the Coahoma County Higher Education Center, a Delta State satellite campus located at 109 Clark St. in Clarksdale. The lecture is free and open to the public through a partnership between CCHEC and The Delta Center for Culture and Learning, which is the home of the International Delta Blues Project.

“I am so pleased to be working with the Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University to offer this lecture at the CCHEC campus,” said Jen Waller, director of the Coahoma County Higher Education Center. “Roger Stolle has been a blessing to the Clarksdale community for years. He has used his passion, drive and skillset to promote the music that he loves. His story is inspiring and certainly worth listening to.”

The International Delta Blues Project features three components: the International Conference on the Blues, which will take place at Delta State’s main campus in Cleveland on Oct. 5-6; the Blues Studies minor, which has launched this fall semester at Delta State; and the Blues Leadership Incubator, which focuses on blues and economic development.

Stolle’s lecture represents one in a series of lectures and workshops that are part of the Blues Leadership Incubator. These lectures and workshops are designed to provide the public with a deeper understanding of the Mississippi Delta’s creative economy.

“Delta State is a regional institution that serves the Mississippi Delta through educational, cultural and economic development,” said Dr. Rolando Herts, director of The Delta Center. “This lecture will provide an opportunity for the Clarksdale community to learn more about how the International Delta Blues Project is doing this by engaging accomplished creative economy professionals like Roger Stolle to share their knowledge and expertise with Delta communities.”

After a successful 13-year marketing career in corporate America, Stolle moved to Clarksdale in 2002 to “organize and promote the blues from within.” He is the author of the book “Hidden History of Mississippi Blues” and co-producer of the films “M for Mississippi” and “We Juke Up in Here.” He co-founded several Clarksdale based music and cultural festivals including the Juke Joint Festival, the Clarksdale Film Festival, the Clarksdale Caravan Music Fest, and the Delta Busking Festival. He is also the recipient of the Keeping The Blues Alive Award and the Blues Music Award from the Blues Foundation.

“We in Mississippi — especially Clarksdale — were building a creative economy before there was even a name for it,” said Stolle. “When I moved to Clarksdale 13 years ago, we had live blues just two nights a week, one festival per year and one museum. Today, we have live blues seven nights a week, over half a dozen festivals and two museums. We also have a dozen new businesses downtown and at least 150 additional hotel rooms.”

Don Allan Mitchell, co-chair of the blues conference, and a Delta State professor, is excited to add Stolle to the conference schedule.

“Mr. Stolle’s bold business decision to open up Cat Head in 2002 is exactly the visionary, entrepreneurial thinking that we know will inspire our students at Delta State, as well as our wider Delta Community,” said Mitchell. “It is an honor that Roger is so supportive of the conference.”

In addition to catalyzing Clarksdale’s revitalization through blues music and culture, Stolle is a highly sought after marketing, public relations, and artist booking expert both locally and globally. He has worked with a wide array of clients including the Mississippi Blues Trail, and many blues record labels, festivals, and non-profit organizations.

He has also booked Mississippi bluesmen on numerous festivals and tours — taking Delta legends such as Big George Brock, James “T-Model” Ford and Robert “Bilbo” Walker to countries like Italy, Switzerland, the UK, France, the Netherlands, Norway and Brazil.

To register for attendance at Stolle’s lecture and for more information, contact Jen Waller via email at jwaller@deltastate.edu or phone at 662-645-3555.

To register for the International Conference on the Blues, visit the conference website at http://www.deltastate.edu/president/international-blues-conference/.

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 http://www.deltastate.edu/academics/delta-center-for-culture-and-learning/.