Skip to main content

DSU Health, Physical Education and Recreation Wins Top Award

By October 5, 2023Physical Education
HPER professor Dr. Todd Davis

CLEVELAND, Miss. — The Delta State University Division of Health, Physical Education and Recreation was recently awarded the Recreation Programming Award of Merit by the Mississippi Recreation and Park Association (MRPA).

Dr. Todd Davis, Assistant Professor for HPER said, “Being recognized by the State of Mississippi’s leading association in parks and recreation as a top recreation program is quite an honor. This award showcases much work the university has done to prioritize student opportunities in this in-demand field of sport and recreation management, where specifically outdoor adventure recreation is growing.”

Leigh Ann Mattox with MRPA said, “The MRPA Awards committee would like to congratulate DSU on being the frontrunner of a program that provides comprehensive outdoor recreation programs. Thank you for sharing your accomplishments and we look forward to seeing how your program will grow in the years to come.”

According to their website, MRPA provides avenues to build communities, reduce crime, and improve the health of Mississippians. They work closely with state and local recreation professionals to publicize and support statewide and local parks and recreational activities, and to engage students, faculty and elected officials across the state with open communications and improved educational and training opportunities.

MRPA supports their members through leadership development, advocacy and improved training opportunities. They share their knowledge and promote the value of parks and recreation by embracing networking and social opportunities.

Davis said, “The outdoor program at DSU was initially funded by the Dave Heflin and Ockerbloom family to ensure students were afforded opportunities to explore our natural world through outdoor adventures and this award perhaps allows us to celebrate 15 years of work focusing on those efforts thus far.”

Heflin began his teaching career at DSU in 1969 in the Speech department. However, it was a camping trip to Buffalo River in the early 1970s that reportedly changed the trajectory of his life; after a 4-year sabbatical at Texas A & M in 1974, Heflin would return to DSU and teach Outdoor Recreation for more than 30 years at Delta State. He received numerous awards during his 30+ years of teaching, including the Kossman Outstanding Teacher Award in 1986 and the HEADWAE Outstanding Teacher award in 1989.

For more information about the HPER programs at Delta State, visit their website at