March 2011


DSU's Vanessa Nesbit wins 1st Prize for Poetry Book

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Vanessa Nesbit's poetry book Rivers Running in Desert Places recently took first place in the Del. Press Association's Creative Verse category.

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   Vanessa D. Nesbit, senior management and budget analyst for the College of Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Technology, is also a local poet and published author whose 2010 published collection of poetry recently took a 1st place prize in a state competition. Ms. Nesbit’s book Rivers Running in Desert Places recently took the 1st place prize in the category of “Creative verse….book or chapbook of poetry,” in the 2011 Delaware Press Association’s Communications Contest.   The contest featured works of over 140 communications professionals, writers and photographers from across the Delmarva and Delaware Valley region, spanning 89 categories of print media, radio and television, advertisement/public relations and web/electronic media.   Ms. Nesbit is a long-time member of the Delaware Press Association and a past executive board member.  In 2007 she published her first book of poetry Fairy Tales and Stranger Love, which took 2nd place in the Creative Verse category that year.   Her books can be purchased online at www.amazon.com.    

DSU Recording Studio Expands Possibilities for Music Students

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Eric Jackson works the mixing console under the guidance of Dr. David Tolley, associate professor of music.

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    The DSU Department of Music is now widening the educational possibilities for its students with the addition of a professional music technology lab and recording studio.   The facility additions are expanding the aspirations of DSU music students beyond the performance and music teaching arena, and into the diverse areas that make up the music industry. Andre Dubose (l)  and Vernon "Telly" work on a keyboard track in the studio.   These music department enhancements have been largely the result of a generous $400,000 gift by an anonymous donor. The funding allowed the department to expand its existing music technology lab in the Education and Humanities Building, as well as design and renovate an adjacent area into a recording studio.   Dr. Yvonne Johnson, chair of the Department of Music, was instrumental in the planning of the new facilities and in working with the anonymous donor.   The music facilities expansion includes the installation of 12 synthesizer keyboards in its technology lab, each one outfitted with a Mac computer workstation that are all loaded with the latest music technology software. The expansion also included the construction of a sound-proof recording studio that features a Pro Tools HD integrated C-24 mixing console.   The technological enhancements are moving the department to an expansion of its degree offering – in which a student pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Music will be able to earn it with a concentration of Music Industry. The new concentration is pending Faculty Senate approval, which could happen before the end of the 2011 spring semester.   “Under a music industry concentration, students will be able to gain skills in recording technology, commercial composition, as well as in the business side that includes marketing, promotions and music management,” said Dr. David Tolley, associate professor of music.  Jenee Gueh of Baltimore has recorded some Christian music tracks in the studio.   The new recording facility has opened up a new internship opportunity for music students, as it has resulted in the establishment of a student-run Class Records, which is responsible for putting together compilation CD projects and marketing them. The students split up the their responsibilities into the areas of marketing, sales, artists & repertoire and internet.   Already one year old, Class Records is slated to release its third compilation CD this spring semester.   “Instead of doing their internship working for a company, they are the company,” Dr. Tolley said.   Jenee Gueh, a music major from Baltimore, has used the studio to lay down some Christian Music vocal tracks. “I have benefited tremendously from this studio here,” Ms. Gueh said. “Now I don’t have to go to an unfamiliar studio and get charged an arm and a leg.”   Randy McClure, sophomore music major from Dover, said the new music facilities provide great opportunities for musical development. “There are a lot of resources here to help us,” Mr. McClure said. “This will make us better musicians.”   Mr. McClure added that the recording studio and music technology lab help to raise the students level of professionalism. "It makes us more legitimate, because we can showcase our talent by recording it and then putting it into distribution.   “We are attracting students from all majors who are interested in working with the technology that we have available here,” said Marty Denson, the department’s music technology specialist.     (L-r) Albert Holden, Randy McClure, Nicole McCrae and Marty Denson get their music groove on in the studio.                         

DSU Mourns the Passing of Devon Miller, Who Inspired Peers and Others

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    The Delaware State University family is mourning the loss of Devon Miller, a sophomore criminal justice major and Approaching Storm Marching Band member, who collapsed and died unexpectedly Saturday morning (March 19) while at home visiting his family in Philadelphia. Devon Miller, shown here performing with the Approaching Storm Band at a recent Hornet home basketball game, was a criminal justice major who had aspirations to work for the FBI.   According to the family, Devon died from a severe asthma attack.   Devon, 20, was an inspiration to campus members who knew him or saw him perform in the band, as he was physically challenged with arms that were not fully developed at birth. He nevertheless performed admirably on the tenor drums for the marching band and did not let his disability hinder him in the pursuit of his academic dreams.   “He did more for the band than the band ever did for him,” said Randolph Johnson, DSU band director. “The students had daily contact with him, and for some of them it might have been the first time they had been in close contact with someone with a disability like that.   “They found out that he was just like everyone else, and that was a part of their education experience,” the band director said. “The disability didn’t matter.”   Evelyn Miller Palmer, his adopted mother, said that DSU was his first and only choice.   “My granddaughter Angela Porter went to DSU and she would come home and tell him about the school. We would go sometimes to homecoming games and other events at DSU, and he would go with us,” Mrs. Palmer said. “He always said he wanted to go to DSU.”   Mr. Johnson described Devon as a “mannerable” young man, but added that “at the same time he was a prankster, which endeared him to his fellow students.”   Crea Johnson, a baritone musician in the band, said Devon’s ability to move beyond his disability both musically and socially was a major influence on anyone who came in contact with him. “His personality outshone the physically challenge he had; he was always smiling,” she said. “Musically, he was an outstanding percussionist.”   Ms. Johnson warmly remembers the day Devon surprised her and others with his culinary skills. “He cooked a dinner of barbeque chicken along with macaroni & cheese at his apartment in the Village for a bunch of us.”   The band director noted that in January he and Timothy Chambers, assistant band director, went to the Honda Battle of the Bands in Atlanta, Ga., to recruit new band members.   “We were setting up our table when Devon unexpectedly showed up in his band uniform,” Mr. Johnson said. “Devon had gone down to see relatives down there, and he decided he would surprise us and help us to recruit down there.”   Mr. Johnson noted that while band rehearsal could be a strenuous activity, Devon never complained. “His legacy is his dedication and untiring effort to be the best band member he could be,” he said.   The viewing and funeral will be held on Friday, April 1 at Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church, 230 Coulter St., Philadelphia. The viewing will take place from 9-11 a.m. and the funeral will begin at 11 a.m. The burial will take place immediately after the funeral at the Shelton Hills Cemetery in Philadelphia.    

DSU Associate Professor of Art Explores Family in Current Exhibition

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Dr. Donald Becker stands in the Arts Center/Gallery with an installment piece he created for his current exhibition, which plans to make into a permanent installment for exhibition elsewhere.

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    Dr. Donald W. Becker, chair of the DSU Art Department, is featuring an exhibition in the DSU Arts Center/Gallery of his works that delve into his family roots Dr. Donald Becker stands alongside one of 25 print pieces in his current exhibition.   Dr. Becker’s exhibition entitled “Sheren Ho Wanen” will be featured in the Arts Center/Gallery until March 18 and is free and open to the public.   It features 25 print works and an installation piece, that all represent symbolic expression of his family. The associate professor, who has been a DSU faculty member since 1997, said that the exhibition is the product of seven years of work.   “All of the works are derived from symbolic references to my family and where I grew up in the Adirondack Mountain in upstate New York and by Lake Ontario,” Dr. Becker said.   The Sheren Ho Wanen is one of three families within the Wolf Clan of the Mohawk Tribe. Dr. Becker is a distant relative of that family.   “I have a large and complex family,” he said. “Part of my family has been here for thousands of years and some got here in the 1600s.”   Among the exhibition works are some woodcut prints, etchings, as well as an installation piece – of handmade paper, avocado shells, muslin and tar paper – that is a prototype for a future work. “(The installation work) is a small model of something I want to make as a permanent installation someplace,” Dr. Becker said.   The DSU Arts Center Gallery is open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.    

London Delegation Extends Open Invitation to DSU Marching Band

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(L-r) Timothy Chamber, DSU asst. band director, Dr. Marshall Stevenson, Randolph Johnson, DSU President Harry L. Williams, Lord Mayor Duncan Sandys, Provost Alton Thompson, London Parade's Bob Bone and Jonathan Whaley met March 1 on campus to recognize the band. Mayor Sandys presents a gift plaque to Dr. Williams.

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    The DSU Approaching Storm Band has made such an impression during their New Year’s Day performance in London, England, a delegation from the country recently visited DSU to extend an open invitation for the marching band to return. (L-r) Randolph Johnson, DSU band director, and DSU President Harry L. Williams receive a framed open invitation from Westminister Lord Mayor Duncan Sandys. The English elected official is dressed in the country's traditional red overcoat for mayors.   Lord Mayor Duncan Sandys of the city of Westminister, along with Bob Bone and Jonathan Whaley, both of the parade’s organizing committee, visited DSU on March 2 and met with DSU President Harry L. Williams, along with Dr. Marshall Stevenson, dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, and Randolph Johnson, director of bands.   The University’s Approaching Storm Band traveled to England in late December to perform in the annual New Year’s Day London Parade.   After presenting Dr. Williams and Dr. Stevenson with some gifts, Mayor Sandys – adorned with his ceremonial red long coat that is tradition dress of mayors in England – presented Mr. Johnson with a framed letter that expressed the following:   “In recognition of an unparalleled reputation for outstanding performance abilities and deep appreciation of unwavering support of London’s Parade over many years, the patrons and the organizing committee of the New Year’s Day Parade and Festival – London, in association with Youth Music of the World, the City of Westminister, the Lieutenancy of Greater London and the London Mayor’s Association, take great pleasure in extending an open invitation to the Delaware State University Bands, Delaware, USA, to participate in London’s New Year’s Day Parade and Festival, whenever they are able to do so.”   Duncan Sandys, Lord Mayor of The City of Westminister Patron and host of the London Parade Festival  

John Land Retires from DSU Board; Named Trustee Emeritus

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Dr. John Land reacts to some information Board Vice Chair David Turner read from the Resolution making him Trustee Emeritus.

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    The DSU Board of Trustees today voted to name Dr. John W. Land as Trustee Emeritus following the announcement that he is stepping down from his appointed board post, bringing to a close his 19-year tenure as a voting member. Dr. John Land (center) shows the Board's resolution with David Turner (l), Board vice chair and Dr. Claibourne Smith, Board chair.   A class of 1966 alumnus of then-Delaware State College and a board-appointed trustee member since 1992, Dr. Land served as board vice president from 2004-2008 and returned to that office in 2010 until September of that year. He has served as the chair of the board’s Student Affairs Committee, as well as a member of the Building and Grounds (of which he is a former chair), Finance and Audit committees.   Dr. Claibourne D. Smith, board president, said that the trustees have been proud to have a distinguished graduate and community leader such as Dr. Land to serve on the board.   “Dr. Land has been active, not only as a Trustee and member of several key committees, but as the Board’s vice chair as well,” Dr. Smith said. “He has been instrumental in developing the board’s vision, strategic directions and policies.  I could not have had a more vital partner than Dr. Land in providing leadership for the board and the University.”   DSU President Harry L. Williams said Dr. Land has been a strong voice on the board. “Dr. Land has been a real inspirational leader for his beloved Delaware State University,” Dr. Williams said. “His wisdom and candid responses to questions will truly be missed.”   Dr. Land was moved by the resolution that named him Trustee Emeritus. "I owe DSU more than I could ever give it," he said. "If it wasn't  for DSU, I wouldn't be here."   In the wake of the August 2008 resignation of DSU President Allen Sessoms and the subsequent elevation of Dr. Smith from his board chair post to acting president, Dr. Land became the acting chair of the board and served 17 months in that capacity until Dr. Smith resumed his Board leadership role.   Dr. A. Richard Barros said he considers Dr. Land in the highest esteem. “When it comes to representing Delaware State University, John Land has been the ultimate warrior,” he said. “His work with our Student Affairs Committee and his tenure as our Board’s vice president and acting president has enabled our school to rise to the top.”   For 19 years, Dr. Lands established a reputation as a committed and engaged trustees for the betterment of his alma mater DSU. Dr. Land’s DSU roots go back to the mid-1960s when he was enrolled as a student. During those years, he played as a running back on the Hornet football team and became the team captain his senior year. A powerful running back, Dr. Land climaxed his Hornet career by gaining 600 yards on the ground and scoring seven touchdowns during that final year.   After he completed his Bachelor of Science Degree in Health and Physical Education in 1966, Dr. Land was drafted into the NAFL where he played with the Wilmington Clippers. He ascended to the NFL where he played for the Baltimore Colts (1969) and the Philadelphia Eagles (1970). He ended his 10-year football career with the Philadelphia Bell of the WFL (1973-75), where in 1974 he became the first African American to rush for 1,000 yards in the city of Philadelphia.   Dr. Land was inducted in the DSU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1988 and in the Delaware Sports Museum and Hall of Fame in 1997.   A committed alumnus of his alma mater, Dr. Land has supported the institution with his leadership skill and his enthusiastic support. Dr. Land also sets an example for alumni in his financial support of DSU as a long time President’s Club-level contributor. He chaired the Delmarva Scholarship Golf Classic for over 10 years, an event that has raised over $356,000 in scholarships for DSU students. Dr. John Land credits DSU for bringing him together with his wife (l), and he credits his wife and family with being instrumental in making him a successful man.   On Sept. 13, 2005, DSU presented him with an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters in recognition of his unselfish and dedicated service to the institution.   Dr. Land taught in Delaware for 10 years before moving into the business arena. After working for the Xerox Corporation in sales, he later joined Delmarva Power, where he eventually served as the vice president of Procurement and Corporate Services up until his retirement in 2005.   Active in volunteer activities, Dr. Land has served on the boards of the Charter School of Wilmington, LPGA Urban Youth Golf Advisory Board, Junior Achievement, Brandywine YMCA, and Alliance for Children and Families, among others. In 2004, Children and Family First presented Dr. Land with the J. Thompson Brown Award to recognize his accomplishments as a community volunteer.    

DSU at the 2011 MEAC Tournament in Winston-Salem, NC

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  The 2011 MEAC Tournament in Winston-Salem, N.C. attracted a number of DSU alumni and administrators who witnessed the honoring of alumnus Donald Wright, ’65, as the Outstanding Alumni representative of DSU. During the March 7-12 tourney, University President Harry L. Williams demonstrated great hospitality in his designated president’s suite at the Joel Coliseum tournament site, hosting a diverse variety of DSU family members and guests during the March 10-11 quarter-finals and semi-finals nights. Dr. Williams also went on the court on that latter night to be recognized along with the other MEAC school presidents.  

DSU Accounting Major makes her Delaware Boxing Debut with Win

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Melinda Levasseur (in the green) puts a "whupping" on Tisha Himes during their March 19 fight in Harrington. The DSU accounting major sent Himes back to her locker room after a quick TKO in the first round.

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    Melinda Levasseur, a sophomore accounting major who transferred in the fall to DSU from East Tennessee State University, had high hopes that she would be a member of the Hornet soccer Melinda Levasseur will seek her eighth victory in her March 19 bout at the Harrington Fairgrounds. team. However for a variety of reasons, it just didn’t happen.   But she has a sporting pursuit to passionately fall back on – boxing.   Melinda "The Gem" Levasseur, a 5-foot 10-inch, 165-pound right-handed amateur fighter who competes in the middleweight and light heavyweight female classes, showcased her boxing skills on Saturday, March 19 in her Delaware debut at the Harrington Fairgrounds Exhibit Hall   In front of a packed Harrington boxing crowd, Melinda made quick TKO work of her opponent Tisha Himes of York, Pa. by sending her back to her locker room after only one round. Ms. Levasseur now has an amateur record of 8-1.    Boxing has become a significant enough passion for Ms. Levasseur that she is considering eventually turning pro. But her amateur boxing success aside, the sport of soccer has really been Melinda’s first love.   A soccer player throughout her youth, her involvement in the sport was disrupted during her senior year of high school in Johnson City, Tenn., when she suffered a torn ACL. Her rehabilitation led her to regularly working out in a gym, where she was introduced to boxing.   “I started using boxing to get back into shape,” Ms. Levasseur said.   Her sights, however, were still set on returning to soccer; but it never became a reality for her. Although she was offered a partial soccer scholarship at Milligan College, she was unable to pull together the rest of the funds to enroll at the time. Upon transferring to DSU in the fall 2010, she hoped that she would make the Hornet soccer team. But the combination of her late registration and some eligibility complications kept her off the team and ended any intercollegiate sports possibilities for her.   While she was working through those soccer aspirations, she moved her boxing activity beyond the gym and began taking on fights.   Ms. Levasseur began amateur boxing a couple of years ago and won her first seven fights. She went on to represent the Southeast Region in the 2010 National Golden Gloves. She lost her first fight in that Golden Gloves Championship in June 2010 in Hollywood, Fla.   That lone loss did not discourage her, but rather motivated her. And now that she has rebounded with her eight win, Melinda is now looking toward possibly turning pro at some point. She has become a fixture at the KOK Boxing Club in Bridgeville, Del., where she works out under the watchful eye of her trainer Tyrone Sabr. He said she is a skilled boxer who works hard in the ring. Melinda's trainer Tyrone Sabr give her some sage ring wisdom during a recent workout.   “She has beautiful hands and feet, and she can think. I believe she can go a long way,” said Mr. Sabr, who has two sisters – Sharon (Lee) Beard and Sheila (Lee) Cooper – who graduated from DSU.         Melinda says she loves the way boxing challenges her athletically, as well as enjoys the work out and the dedication that the sport requires. “There is a great sense of accomplishment that you don’t get from anything else,” she said.   The daughter of Louis Levasseur of Johnson City, Tenn., and Lisa Marie Clark of Magnolia, Del., Melinda says she inherited the athleticism of her father. Her decision to move to Delaware to be near her mother resulted in her enrollment at DSU. Melinda Levasseur (center) gets a victory pose with boxing promoter Bruce Hibbs (l) and trainer Tyrone Sabr after her March 19 TKO win.   Her boxing match will take place next to the Harrington Casino takes place where she also currently works part-time as a waitress. Her professional accounting aspirations relates to the casino.   “I want to get my CPA and work for a casino in auditing or forensic accounting,” Melinda said. She added that her desire to turn pro has been tempered by her priority to finish her degree. “I want to make sure I take care of my schooling first,” she said.   Although she didn't get much of workout during the less than one-round fight against Himes -- an opponent who found her to be too quick in the ring to handle -- Ms. Lavasseur was glad to re-establish herself in the ring.   "It was good to be back in the ring, as it's been around a year since my last fight," Melinda said. "It was good to have so much support from the casino, my family and friends."       Photos and article by Carlos Holmes