February 2011


DSU's Dr. Kevina Vulinec Named as Fulbright Scholar

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Dr. Kevina Vulinec and graduate student Megan Wallrichs take data from a red bat in a DSU lab. Dr. Vulinec will continue her bat research as a Fulbright scholar in the rainforests of Brazil.

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    Dr. Kevina Vulinec, a DSU associate professors in natural resources, has been awarded a competitive Fulbright Scholar grant to lecture and do research in the South American country of Brazil as part of her ongoing work on bat species.   Specifically Dr. Vulinec will work with Dr. Paulo Estefano Dineli Bobrowiec from the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas de Amazonia in Brazil. She will teach and conduct research on seed-dispersing bats in Brazil’s fragmented tropical rainforest.   A large amount of Brazil’s rainforests have been lost to human activities such as logging, reducing it to one-eighth of the size it was 1½ centuries ago. Because it is home to an impressive number of endangered plants and animal species, the rainforest is considered to be a threatened biodiversity area.   Dr. Vulinec’s research will focus on the impact of rainforest fragmentation on the seed-dispersing bats – a species that disperse the seeds from fruits it eats, and thereby replenishing the rainforest with seeds that grow into new plants and fruits.   In addition, Dr. Vulinec will conduct a workshop for the Instituto Nacional’s students on nocturnal wildlife audio-video technology.   Dr. Vulinec will arrive in Brazil to begin her work on Feb. 21. The Fulbright research and teaching experience will continue until late May.   “It is an incredible opportunity,” Dr. Vulinec said. “It is the best award for getting people out for scholarship purposes.”   Dr. Vulinec’s findings will be accessed by the Biological Fragmentation Project, the world largest-scale and longest-running study of habitat fragmentation, operated cooperatively by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and Brazil’s National Institute for Amazonian Research.   The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.    

DSU's Dr. Finger Wright Honored for Role in Greensboro Protests

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DSU's Dr. Dolores Finger Wright (center) celebrates her award with the surviving "Greensboro Four": (l-r) Franklin McCain, Ret. Maj. Gen. Joseph McNeil, Jibree Khazan and Donald Brandon.

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    Dr. Dolores Finger Wright, a DSU associate professor of social work, has recently been honored for the role she played in the historic public accommodations demonstrations in Greensboro, N.C. during the early 1960s. Dr. Dolores Finger Wright (l) with award presenter Ret. Maj. Gen. Joseph McNeil, on of the "Greensboro Four."   Dr. Finger Wright received the International Civil Rights Center & Museum Sit-In Hero’s Award on Feb. 5 during the 51st Anniversary Gala Commemorating the Greensboro Sit-ins.   During the tumultuous 1960s in Greensboro, the DSU associate professor was an undergraduate student in Bennett College for Women. Her extracurricular activity from her bachelor’s degree pursuit was working behind the scene during the Greensboro demonstrations and taking part in the picket lines.   Presenting the award to Dr. Finger Wright was Ret. Maj. Gen. Joseph McNeil, one of the “Greensboro Four” that gained worldwide notoriety for their sit-ins protests at segregated lunch counters in Greensboro in 1960.   “Delores would picket during the days to integrate the stores,” said Ret. Maj. Gen. McNeil. “She would work the picket lines at night to integrate the movie theatres, which was dangerous in Greensboro.”   Dr. Finger Wright said that she also worked behind the scenes strategizing with her Bennett College sisters, professors, as well as through her affiliations with the NAACP and the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).   The group formed a vanguard that would picket and demonstrate, and many – including Dr. Finger Wright – were arrested in the course of their protests.   “I saw my participation as an epiphany, moving from late adolescence to early adulthood all in the matter of days,” Dr. Finger Wright said. “That’s what my rearing was about – doing what’s right. So I had to be a part of it.”   After her graduation from Bennett College, Dr. Finger Wright would on to earn a Master of Social Work Degree from Rutgers University and a Ph.D. in Social Work from Howard University. She has been a social work faculty member at DSU for 21 years.   The Gala was held at the Joseph S. Koury Convention Center in Greensboro.  

DSU and State Sign Agreement to Enroll "Aged Out" Foster Youths

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DSU President Harry L. Williams and Secretary Vivian Rapposelli of the state Department of Services for Children, Youth and their Families sign a formal agreement that will enroll in the University two foster youths a year who have "aged out" of foster care and are academically eligible..

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    Delaware State University and the State Division of Family Services (DFS) announced a new initiative today that will make higher education a reality for eligible foster youths.   DSU President Harry L. Williams and Vivian Rapposelli, Secretary of the Department of Services for Children, Youth and their Families, signed a formal agreement today (Feb. 14) that will annually provide an opportunity for two foster youths who reach the age of 18 to pursue a bachelor’s degree at Delaware State University. State Sen. Brian Bushweller, state Rep. Darryl Scott, state Rep. William Carson, state Rep. LIncoln Willis, attended the agreement signing to show their support for the initiative.   Although unable to attend the agreement signing due to a schedule conflict, Gov. Jack Markell today expressed his strong support of the program.   “This is about giving kids who've been dealt a difficult hand a chance for further success. It's about the opportunity to work hard, stay focused and accomplish their dreams,’ Gov. Markell said. “The University and the Department have created a partnership that will bring great students to the school and give them opportunities for the future.” Secretary Rapposelli said that youths who age out of foster care face the same obstacles as other young adults, but often without the support of their families.   “This partnership with DSU provides the students it supports with stability, hope and peace of mind – allowing them to start the next phase of their lives on a solid foundation,” Secretary Rapposelli said. “We are grateful to DSU and excited for the many young men and women who will benefit from this opportunity.”   The DFS will identify two foster youths per year who have aged out (turned 18) of foster care, are academically eligible and personally motivated to attend DSU. The state agency will assist the foster youths in completing the necessary academic and financial paperwork   DSU will give the enrolled foster youths access to year-round on-campus housing and to its student support services, assist them in the completion of the financial aid process and help them identify scholarship opportunities.   “With community and outreach being among DSU’s five core values, this opportunity to help worthy foster youths achieve their dreams is consistent with the University’s standing as a valuable education asset to the state,” President Williams said.   The foster youths will receive state financial support in the form of Educational and Training Vouchers and Housing Vouchers. In the event there is a shortfall of state funds, the foster youths will be expected to apply for student loans or other financial aid opportunities to cover the shortfall.   There are over 700 children in Delaware’s foster care system. In fiscal 2010, there were 94 foster youths that aged out of the system.    

Vamsi Matta Wins 2nd Annual Brain Bee at DSU

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2011 Delaware Brain Bee winners (l-r) Rathnabushan Mutyala, 3rd place from the Charter School of Wilmington; Carole Linde, 2nd place from Indian River High School; and the 1st place winner Vamsi Matta of the Charter School of Wilmington, who all stand with Dr. Princy Mennella, the competition coordinator. 

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    The Charter School of Wilmington dominated the 2nd annual Delaware Brain Bee sponsored and conducted by Delaware State University, with two of its students placing among to the Vamsi Matta's 1st place finish will send him to compete in the National Brain Bee in Baltimore in March. He poses with his trophy along with Del. Sen. Colin Bonini, who attended the competition. top three winners.   Vamsi Matta of the Charter School of Wilmington took first place in the 2011 state competition that challenges high school contestant’s knowledge about the nervous system.   Carole Linde of Indian River High School took 2nd place and Rathnabushan Mutyala from the Charter School of Wilmington   In this challenging competition, Delaware high school students answered questions about the nervous system. Topics ranged from how the brain functions normally to what goes wrong in the brain in connection with disorders like Alzheimer's disease, addictions, Lou Gehrig’s disease and depression.    This year competition featured contestants from the Charter School of Wilmington, Cab Calloway School of Arts, Cesar Rodney High School, Indian River High School and Polytech High School.   Vamsi Matta’s first place finish in the Delaware Brain Bee will send him to represent the First State in the National Brain Bee, to be held in March 2011 in Baltimore, Md.     A student from the Charter School of Wilmington has won the Delaware Brain Bee in both years of its existence. The 2010 winner was Amy Forster from the same school, who went on to represent the state in the National Brain Bee and placed 17th out of 36 high school competitors across the country.  

Guest Lecture Feb. 24 to Explore Foreign Aid Effectiveness

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    Dr. Claudia Williamson will give a critical analysis of the effectiveness of U.S. foreign aid.     The DSU Economics Speaker Series will host Dr. Claudia Williamson from New York University to present “The Trouble with Foreign Aid,” at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 24, in Bank of America, Longwood Auditorium.   Dr. Williamson will discuss the effectiveness of the billions of dollars in annual U.S. foreign aid in reducing worldwide poverty and explore the possible alternatives. The presentation is free and open to the public.   Despite the transfer of billions upon billions of dollars in U.S. foreign aid annually, a substantial amount of the world remains in extreme poverty and stagnant growth. Dr. Williams will discuss the pro and con arguments concerning foreign aid and review the most current research statistics on the subject.   Dr. Williamson is a post-doctoral fellow with the Development Research Institute at New York University, where she also teaches as an adjunct faculty member. She has published numerous journal articles on foreign aid, property rights, international trade and other economic issues.   The event is sponsored by the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation.  

DSU alumnus Aaron Spears Nominated for NAACP Image Award

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    Aaron Spears acting work on The Bold and the Beautiful has earned him a NAACP Image Award nomination.     Aaron D. Spears, DSU class of '94 and a star on the daytime drama The Bold and the Beautiful, has been nominated for the Best Actor in a Daytime Drama Series by the 2011 NAACP Image Awards.   In that category, Mr. Spears is vying for the award against three other nominees – Cornelius Smith Jr. of All of My Children; Darnell Williams of All of My Children; as well as his Bold and the Beautiful co-star Rodney Saulsberry.   The winners of the 42nd annual NAACP Image Award will be honored during the airing of the show on March 4 on the Fox Network.   Mr. Spears, who first began acting his senior year at DSU in the spring of 1994, has been a regular cast member of The Bold and the Beautiful since 2009. On the soap opera, he portrays the character of Justin Barber, an executive vice president of a publishing company.   In addition to his daytime drama success, Mr. Spears has performed in the movies Mannsfield 12, Babel, Traci Townsend, Blue Hill Avenue and Makin’ Baby. He will be starring in the upcoming crime action film Disrupt/Dismantle.   

DSU to Host the Rescheduled 2011 Delaware Brain Bee

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    Some future brain specialists may be among the contestants this weekend as Delaware State University hosts the 2nd annual Delaware Brain Bee Competition beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 5 in room 205, Mishoe Science Center South on campus. Brain Bee Coordinator stands with the 2010 winner Amy Forster and state Sen. Colin Bonini.   The Brain Bee Competition – rescheduled from a Jan. 8 weather postponement – is free and open to the public.   In this challenging competition, Delaware high school students will answer questions about the nervous system. Topics will range from how the brain functions normally to what goes wrong in the brain in connection with disorders like Alzheimer's disease, addictions, Lou Gehrig’s disease and depression.    Getting young men and women interested and excited about the brain is important given the urgency of finding cures for devastating illnesses such as Alzheimer's disease, said Dr. Princy Quadros Mennella, DSU assistant professor of biological science and the Delaware Brain Bee lead coordinator.     “Additionally, there is a greater need for better treatments for disorders such as depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as their incidences are on the rise,” Dr. Mennella said. “It is quite possible that one of our own Delaware high school students may be the next neuroscientist to solve enigma that is the human brain.”   This competition is not only an opportunity for the community to support our high school students, but also to learn more about the brain. In addition to the competition, there will be demonstrations on sheep brain dissections as well as a real human brain and spinal cord for display.    This year there will be contestants from the Charter School of Wilmington, Cab Calloway School of Arts, Cesar Rodney High School, Indian River High School and Polytechnical High School.   The winner of the Delaware Brain Bee gets to compete in the National Brain Bee, to be held in March 2011 in Baltimore, Md. Last year Amy Forster from the Charter School of Wilmington won the Delaware Brain Bee and competed in the 2010 National Brain Bee Championship, placing 17th out of 35th high school competitors from across the country                                                                 

DSU to Present Two One-Act Dramatic Plays

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Jazmyn B. Duncan (l) and Tyree Evans star in the one-act play Soul Gone Home

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    Bill Jamerson and Trawick star in Wine in the Wilderness, a story of love, art and urban unrest in the 1960s.     A group of Delaware State University student-thespians and community actors will take the stage to perform two separate one-act plays at 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, Feb. 24-25 in the Education and Humanities Theatre on campus   The evening of dramatic productions – which is free and open to the public – will include the one-act plays:   Soul Gone Home by Langston Hughes; a play that deals with a relationship between a mother and a son as explored by the two posthumously. Starring student-thespians Jazmyn B. Duncan and senior Tyree Evans.   Wine in the Wilderness by Alice Childress; a play that deals with the perceived images of African American women against the backdrop of the 1960s riots in Harlem. Starring student-thespians Jeremy Rodgers, Nicklas “Pete-Bailey” Robins, Gelila E. Asfeha and community actors Tiffany Trawick and Carlos Holmes.   Shirlyn Brown, a DSU adjunct professor, is the director of the one-act plays. Technical support is being provided by John Samardza, theatre manager, and the DSU Play Production II class.  

DSU to Present the Dramatic "Fannie Lou Hamer Story" on Stage

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    Delaware State University will present the powerful Mzuri Moyo one-woman dramatic production “The Fannie Lou Hamer Story: Songs on a Rugged Road” at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 8 in the Education & Humanities Theatre on campus. Mzuri Moyo in her portrayal of Fannie Lou Hamer.   The dramatic play – which is being presented by the DSU Office of Student Affairs as part of the Black History Month observance – is free and open to the public.   Fannie Lou Hamer, one of the most talked about activists of the golden age of civil rights, was a prominent Mississippi freedom fighter during the 1960s. Her work with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee to promote voter registration in the South and her deep commitment to grass-roots anti-poverty projects made her a force to be reckoned with.   Ms. Moyo has traveled the country with her signature performance in the one-woman musical play on the life of the 1960s civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer. The play, first showcased in 2001, has become the backdrop for voter registration wherever it is performed.   In 2002, Ms. Moyo received an AUDELCO Award – given annually to honor New York City African American Theatre works and thespians – for the Best Solo Performance.     A talented vocalist, the native of Patterson, N.J., has been enthusiastically received on cabaret and concert stages internationally. Ms. Moyo recently sang in Paraguay with the Opera for Peace, performing as one of three sopranos in a performance with the New York City Symphony.  

DSU's Feb. 26 "A Tribute to Donald Byrd" to Honor the Famed Musician

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DSU will celebrate the famed musician and artist-in-residence with performances of prose and gospel-jazz.

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    The Delaware State University Foundation, Inc., will celebrate a legendary jazz musician as it presents “Amazing Grace – A Tribute to Dr. Donaldson T.L. Byrd” from 2-4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 26 in the Education & Humanities Theatre on campus. Doors open at 1:30 p.m. Legendary jazz musician and DSU artist-in-residence Dr. Donald Byrd.   The Tribute to Dr. Byrd will feature an exciting afternoon of prose and gospel jazz highlighted by jazz artist and DSU alumnus Dr. Carlton Cannon and his group JABARI, which has performed with the legendary musician in the past.   JABARI features Mr. Cannon on sax (who as a DSU student was mentored by Dr. Byrd in the 1990s), longtime Philadelphia pianist Dennis Fortune, Baltimore guitarist Ron Smith, world traveled bassist Karl McNeil, master percussionist Kenyatta Henry, renowned drummer Vernell “Dooder” Mincey, as well as vocalist/trumpet player Crystal J. Torres, who is billed as a “modern-day musical trailblazer who has performed with Roy Hargrove, Beyonce Knowles, Paquito D’Rivera and other renowned performers.   The Tribute event will also feature performances by some of DSU’s top student musicians.   In addition to being renowned in the jazz world as a stellar trumpet musician and composer, Dr. Byrd is also an Artist-in-Residence at DSU.   Tickets are $10 for general admission and $5 for DSU students and can be purchased online at www.desu.edu/drbyrdtribute. The proceeds from the Dr. Donaldson T.L. Byrd Endowed Scholarship will benefit music students.   Dr. Byrd, a professional jazz musician since the 1950s, became known as one of the top trumpeters of the jazz “hard-bop” genre as he performed with musicians such as John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Herbie Hancock and Thelonious Monk. Ironically at one point in the 1950s, Dr. Byrd actually replaced Clifford Brown in Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers band.   In the 1970s, Dr. Byrd began to record jazz fusion that combined jazz with funk, soul and R&B. While teaching music at Howard University in 1974, Dr. Byrd formed a jazz fusion group that consisted of his best students and called them the Blackbyrds. The group produced the 1972 album Black Byrd, which became Blue Notes Records’ highest-ever selling album. In the 1990s, Dr. Byrd jazz fusion explorations expanded to the hip-hop genre.   Dr. Byrd has recorded 38 jazz albums and performed on countless other musicians’ recording projects. In 2002, the National Endowment for the Arts recognized Dr. Byrd as one of its NEA Jazz Masters. As an educator, Dr. Byrd has developed a “Music + Math = Art” education program that he has introduced to youth across the country.   A native of Detroit, Mich., Dr. Byrd is an alumnus of Wayne State University and the Manhattan School of Music. In 1982 he earned an Ed.D from Columbia Teachers College of New York City.   For more information about the Tribute to Dr. Byrd, call (302) 857-6055.  

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