April 2014


DSU's Dr. V. Kalavacharla named DelBio's HE Educator of the Year

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Dr. Venu Kalavacharla, associate professor in the DSU College of Agriculture and Related Sciences, receives the DelawareBio’s 2014 Educator of the Year in Higher Education from Dr. T. Ben Hsu, CFO of QPS Holdings, LLC.

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Dr. Venugopal "Kal" Kalavacharla, director of CIBER (Center for Integrated Biological and Environmental Research) and associate professor of plant molecular genetics and genomics, has been recognized by the Delaware BioScience Association as the 2014 Educator of the Year for Higher Education. The award was presented April 16 at the annual DelawareBio Award Gala at the DuPont Country Club in Wilmington. Dr. Kalavacharla was nominated by Lori Maramante and Barbara Wiggins, both instructors at Delaware Technical Community College who are well acquainted with his academic instruction programs. Ms. Maramante said Dr. Kalavacharla was deserving of the award due to “his role in developing undergraduates through the well-designed National Science Foundation Research for Undergraduates summer internship program he has spearheaded and for his leadership in developing an academic pipeline for bioscience students in the state.” Ms. Wiggins noted that Dr. Kalavacharla is the principal investigator of the DSU portion of the Delaware-EPSCoR grants shared by the University of Delaware, DSU, Delaware Tech, and Wesley College. She also noted the benefit gained by students involved in DSU's National Science Foundation-funded Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) in Molecular Genetics and Genomics program. “Delaware Tech students who participate end up transferring to a four-year school to get a bachelor's degree, and some have continued on for graduate programs,” Ms. Wiggins said. “Kal is a professional, knowledgeable, skilled instructor, a great collaborator and a pleasure to work with.” Upon receiving the award, Dr. Kalavacharla -- who has been a DSU faculty member since 2006 -- acknowledged and thanked the collaboration and active participation of faculty colleagues, staff and students from within DSU, as well as Delaware Tech, Wesley College and UD for helping to develop integrated STEM research and education programs that benefit Delaware and the region. Delaware BioScience Association is a unified voice for Delaware’s thriving bio community, dedicated to facilitating growth of the life science industry, advancements in research as well as supporting education initiatives in Delaware and the surrounding region. The mission of the Delaware BioScience Association is to become the catalyst to ensure Delaware becomes a global leader in life sciences by developing a cohesive community that unites the region's biotechnology, pharmaceutical, research, financial and agricultural strengths.

DSU Announces 3rd Annual Speech Tourney Winners

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(L-r) Kemal Atkins, vice president of Student Affairs, and the top winners of this year's Speech Tournament: Thomas Jordan (1st place), Ashlee Bruner (2nd place), and Ruby LeGree (3rd place). Also with them on the far right, Dr. Sam Hoff, professor of political science and tournament coordinator.

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University officials recently presented prizes to the winners of the 3rd annual DSU Speech Tournament, which was held on Feb. 25 in Longwood Auditorium. The each contestant had to give a three-minute speech on the topic of “The Legacy of a Leader.” The winners, their prizes and hometowns are: First place $600, Thomas Jordan, junior business management major, Harrisburg, Pa., Second Place, $300 – Ashlee Bruner, sophomore political science major, Harrisburg, Pa. Third place, $150 – Ruby LeGree, senior mass communications major, Milford, Del. The Speech Tournament honorable mentions: (l-r) William Justice, Brandon Boyd, Dorian McDonald and Byron Dixon. The following honorable mentions each won $50: Bryon Dixon, junior mass communications, Baltimore Brandon, Boyd, junior criminal justice, Wilmington William Justice, freshman movement science major, Philadelphia Dorian McDonald, senior mass communications major, Orange, N.J. The Speech Tournament was sponsored by the Delaware Barrister Association, the DSU College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, the DSU Law Studies Program, and the DSU Office of Student Affairs.

2014 DSU Earth Day Events -- Photo Slideshow

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As part of Earth Day, DSU was recognized for the 3rd straight year as a Tree Campus USA by the Arbor Day Foundation. With the award: (l-r) Vita Pickrum, chair of the DSU Go Green Committee; Dr. Susan Yost, DSU Herbarium educator; Dr. Michael Valenti, administrator of the Delaware Forest Service; DSU President Harry L. Williams; Dr. Richard Barczewski, chair of the DSU Dept. of Ag & Natural Resources; and Amir Mohammadi, exec. vice president and University treasurer.

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DSU held its annual observance of Earth Day on April 22 with a number of events, including the planting of a new tree outside the MLK Student Center, a number of exhibits and displays, a program and the first-ever #DSUNoShoes event. During the morning program, DSU was also recognized for the third consecutive year as a Tree Campus USA. For images of the Earth Day event, click on the below photo slideshow:

CMNST Presents Dr. Alden Landry, Guest Lecture April 10

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The DSU College of Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Technology’s Dean’s Distinguished Lecturer Series will present guest speaker Dr. Alden Landry, co-director  of the organization Tour for Diversity in Medicine, at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 10 in lecture hall 139 in the Mishoe Science Center South.                    Dr. Alden M. Landr Dr. Alden Landry will speak on “Preparing Students Today for Careers in Health Professions Tomorrow.” The event is free and open to the public. His Tour for Diversity in Medicine is an organization whose mission is “to educate, inspire and cultivate future physicians and dentists of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds by forming local connections in order to fulfill a national need.” Dr. Landry’s research interest is in emergency department utilization trends, disparities in care and quality of care. Dr. Landry co-instructs two courses at Harvard School of Public Health and teaches cultural competency to residents. He holds several academic positions at Massachusetts General Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and within the Office of Diversity Inclusion and Community Partnership at Harvard Medical School. In addition, Dr. Landry is the founder of Hip Hop Health, Inc., a non-profit promoting health education ot the “hip hop” generation. He is also passionate about raising awareness of the increasing ethnic disconnect between those providing today’s health care and those receiving it. Dr. Landry received his BS from Prairie View A&M University (2002), MD from the University of Alabama (2006) and completed his residency in Emergency Medicine at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in 2009. He earned an MPH from the Harvard School of Public Health, has completed the Commonwealth Fund/Harvard University Fellowship in Minority Health Policy in 2010, and has earned a number of awards, including the Disparities Solutions Center/Aetna Fellow in Health Disparities award (2010).

Senior SGA Group Lunches With DSU President

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(L-r) Chascidy Reeves, Palesa Motshidi, Jere' Hutson, Delvise Fogwe, Clarence Banks, DSU President Harry L. Williams, Jamil Huggins, Teryn Chamberlain, Johnnie London and Brieana Spraggins pose for a photo after having an April 17 lunch together.

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Nine DSU seniors can count a recent lunch with DSU President Harry L. Williams as one of the culminating highlights of their undergraduate academic journey. The seniors – all representatives of the DSU Student Government Association – had lunch with Dr. Williams in the Hardcastle/Selby Board of Trustees Conference Room on April 17. During that time, the DSU president got to know the students -- most of whom are graduating on time this May -- and also shared some of his life experiences. “I really appreciated him taking the time to get to know us on a personal level, and especially for the advice he gave us, because it came from the DSU president,” said Chascidy Reeves, the 2013-2014 Miss DSU. Teryn Chamberlain, president of the Campus Activities Board, said their time with the president was a reflection of their accomplishments that have taken place over four years. “It was an honor to share a lunch with him and for him to give us his experience and words of wisdom,” she said. Throughout his presidential tenure – which begin in January 2010 – Dr. Williams meets frequently with different groups of students to get know them and hear first-hand their concerns.

2014-2015 SGA Elections -- Photo Slideshow & Results

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The newly elected 2014-2015 SGA Executive Officers, King and Queen: (l-r) Edward Doxen, president; Kimani Robinson; vice president, Kalea Phelps, corresponding sec.; Donametria Stallings, recording sec.; Jamila Mustafa, Ms. DSU; and James Jones, Mr. DSU

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The students of DSU casted their votes on April 3 and made their choices for the 2014-2015 Student Government Association.   For images of the Election Day activities and the announcement of the winners in the evening at the MLK Student Center, click on the photo slideshow, followed by the complete list of newly elected SGA officers. The following students were elected to the 2014-2015 SGA during the April 3 election:   SGA Executive officers President                                 Edward Doxen (“The Family”) Vice President                        Kimani Robinson (“The Family”) Corresponding Sec.                Kalea Phelps Recording Sec.                       Donametria Stallings   Royal Court Mr. DSU                               James Jones Ms. DSU                              Jamila Mustafa Mr. Senior                            Brandon Thompson Ms. Senior                            Kathleen Tadlock Mr. Junior                             Schmildt Seme Ms. Junior                             Britney Adams Mr. Sophomore                    Tevin Smith Ms. Sophomore                    Anjosanlynn Fulgham   Other SGA Officers Senior Class President         Nafis Nelson Senior Class VP                   Janae Wiggins Junior Class President         Jason Faustin Sophomore Class Pres.       Sharanda Martin Women’s Senate Pres.        Kellie Smith Women’s Senate VP          Danielle Davis Men’s Council Corr Sec.   Troy Davis CAB President                   Isaiah Covington CAB VP                             Allison Hazel CAB Spirit & Trad. Dir     Caprice King CAB Mkt. & Prom. Dir     Taiqium Johnson RHA President                   Noel Walker   Photos by Carlos Holmes

DSU's Dr. Michael Gitcho Receives $100,000 Research Grant

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Dr. Michael Gitcho, the recipient of a $100,000 grant for Alzheimer research, stands with Katie Macklin, executive director for the Delaware region of the Alzheimer's Association Delaware Valley Chapter, during her recent visit to DSU. The national Alzheimer's Association provided the research grant for Dr. Gitcho's work.

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Dr. Michael Gitcho, a DSU assistant professor of biological sciences, was recently awarded a $100,000 research grant from the Alzheimer’s Association to support his ongoing investigations in the area of Alzheimer’s disease.    Dr. Gitcho’s research focuses on a protein (TDP-43) that is critical to the normal function of the brain cell.  When TDP-43 is altered, this results in the development of neurological diseases, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and dementia.  Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, accounting for 70 to 80% of all cases, and the greatest risk factor is aging.    This progressive disease slowly destroys memory, thinking and reasoning, and over time it makes even the simplest tasks impossible to do.  Currently, there are an estimated 5.3 million people aged 65 and older with the disease and it is projected that over the next 10 years there will be an additional 10 million diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.    Dr. Gitcho and colleagues have observed that mice engineered to have a pathology similar to that observed in Alzheimer's disease also have an increased level of abnormal TDP-43 (TDP-43 has been found to be altered in up to 50% of those with Alzheimer’s disease).  Dr. Gitcho is hopeful that his research will provide insights into the relationship between TDP-43 and Alzheimer’s disease which could provide us a better understanding of how this devastating disease progresses and, in turn, lead to the development of new therapeutics.   Dr. Leonard Davis, chair, Department of Biological Sciences, stated that “Alzheimer’s disease is a major public health issue that devastates not only the patient but the entire family.  Dr. Gitcho’s research, supported by the Alzheimer’s Association, is opening new avenues of possible treatments that could remedy this disease.  It is a great opportunity for our students to participate in such ‘cutting edge’ research.”   Dr. Noureddine Melikechi, dean of the DSU College of Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Technology, said that DSU is proud to partner with the Alzheimer’s Association. “In particular, we are pleased to have Dr. Gitcho working on a disease that affects such a vast number of citizens. Out of this collaboration, we look forward to building a stronger relationship with the Alzheimer’s Association as we grow the sciences at DSU, especially in the area of neuroscience,” said Dr. Melikechi, who also serves as the University’s vice president for Research, Innovation and Economic Development.   Dr. Gitcho joined DSU in the Fall of 2013 and maintains a lab in the Biological Sciences department.   The Delaware Valley Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association is the local arm of the national nonprofit organization, serving 18 counties in Delaware, South Jersey, and Southeastern Pennsylvania. The Chapter provides programs and services to more than 294,000 individuals and families affected by Alzheimer’s or a related disorder. For information about the Chapter and the disease, visit alz.org/desjsepa, or call the 24/7 Helpline at (800) 272-3900. 

DSU Awarded Historic $1,050,000 for Osher Reentry Scholarships

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The Bernard Osher Foundation’s grant is also the largest scholarship contribution from a private source in the University’s 123-year history.

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Delaware State University has received a historic $1,050,000 grant from The Bernard Osher Foundation to permanently establish DSU’s Osher Reentry Scholarship Endowment, ensuring that significant scholarships will be annually available to nontraditional students. The Bernard Osher Foundation’s grant is also the largest scholarship contribution from a private source in the University’s 123-year history. The Osher Reentry Program at DSU is the only such program in the state of Delaware benefiting nontraditional students. Nontraditional students are defined as being over the age of 25 and either resuming their higher education after an interruption of five years or beginning the steps toward a degree later in life.  Osher Reentry Scholars – the scholarship recipients – can be full-time or part-time students and receive tuition scholarships of up to $5,000 each. Recipients may be awarded a scholarship again in subsequent years.  Dr. Harry L. Williams, DSU president, announced the gift at the State Capitol during the April 10 DSU Day at the Legislature. The DSU president said The Bernard Osher Foundation and Delaware State University are in agreement when it comes to prompting adults that degree completion is within their reach. “As a state institution, it is important for DSU to be a viable option on the undergraduate level not only for young people who just finished high school, but also for adults who never completed their academic journey or who long to begin their journey at an older age,” Dr. Williams said. “DSU has long had a diverse variety of academic offerings that address the professional dreams of nontraditional students. Thanks to the generosity of the Osher Foundation, the University now has a scholarship pathway to help the students fund what they thought could not be possible. It truly is the push so many may just need.” The Osher Foundation began its relationship with DSU during the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 academic years, when it provided grants during each school year for scholarships for nontraditional students. Osher Reentry Scholarships were awarded during those years to adult DSU students from Delaware who demonstrated academic promise and a commitment to complete a degree program.  According to Dr. Mary Bitterman, president of The Bernard Osher Foundation, confidence in DSU’s administration of the first two consecutive grants led to an invitation to apply for an endowment to permanently establish the Osher Reentry Scholarship Program.  “I am delighted that Delaware State University will now have an opportunity to continue supporting an increasing number of nontraditional students in the state of Delaware and the region,” Dr. Bitterman said.  “We have been impressed with DSU’s excellent stewardship of the Osher Reentry Scholars program, including the identification of processes that make the matriculation of nontraditional students easier and more productive. We congratulate the leadership of DSU and hold high hopes for the fine Osher Scholars at the University now and those who will follow them in the years to come.” Redinand Marcos, a junior nursing major at DSU, feels that becoming an Osher Reentry Scholar (2013-2014) means he is not alone in his journey to degree completion at DSU.  “There are times I want to give up, but I gather back my strength knowing that someday I can make a difference in somebody’s life being a nurse,” he said. “The scholarship has given me inspiration to continue on to strive hard for my dream.” Rebecca Sahraoui, a junior biology major, is honored to become an Osher Reentry Scholar (2013-2014).  “My ability to come back to school at my age has affected my life positively; the story of how I ended up at Delaware State University is filled with so many challenges that I have overcome. I am very passionate about the opportunities I was given at such a difficult time in my life.” At present, there are 90 universities and colleges in 50 states participating in this program. The Osher Foundation, founded in 1977, seeks to improve quality of life through support for higher education and the arts. The Osher Foundation provides post-secondary scholarship funding to colleges and universities across the nation, with special attention to reentry students. DSU is currently accepting applications for 2014-2015 Osher Reentry Scholars. Interested students should contact the Office of Development at dsufoundation@desu.edu or (302) 857-6055.  

DSU's Dr. Ladji Sacko named as a Fulbright Scholar for 2nd time

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Dr. Ladji Sacko will serve as a Fulbright scholar by teaching English instruction in West Africa.

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Dr. Ladji Sacko, associate professor in the Department of English and Foreign Languages, is DSU’s latest recipient of the J. William Fulbright Award. It is the second time that Dr. Sacko has been named as a Fulbright scholar. He previously received the award during the 2001-2002 school year, leading to his work in teaching English in Senegal that year. In connection with the current award, Dr. Sacko will spend the 2014-2015 school year at the University of Abidjan, in the country of Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) in West Africa. During his time there, he will be training teachers to give English instruction in secondary schools. Dr. Sacko has been a DSU faculty member since 2004.

Keith Walker Named DSU Men's Basketball Head Coach

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Newly named Hornet men's Head Coach Keith Walker and DSU President Harry L. Williams pose for the camera after the coaching announcement.

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DSU President Harry L. Williams today announced the hiring of Keith Walker – who served as the interim Delaware State men’s head coach for the last third of the 2013-2014 season – as the permanent Hornet men’s head basketball coach. Hornet Men's Head Coach Keith Walker said his goal is to restore the team to the level it was at during its MEAC championship years.   In announcing the head coaching appointment during a April 15 press conference, Dr. Williams said that Coach Walker made a strong case for himself by the way he took over the leadership of the team and energized the players as the Hornet men’s interim coach.   “Coach Walker did everything we asked of him when he agreed to be the interim head coach in last 1½ months of the past season,” Dr. Williams said. “He stabilized the team, resulting in a more competitive unit on the court and a higher winning percentage.”   The DSU president commended the Head Basketball Coach Search Committee, noting that it ultimately came up with a group of strong finalists for the post. “The fact that Walker emerged from this tough search process as the head coach selection reflects well on his most recent interim performance as well as on his long-time dedicated service as assistant coach,” Dr. Williams added.   DSU Director of Athletics Candy Young said the team’s performance under his interim leadership has led to the conclusion that he can move the men’s basketball program in the right direction. “The players responded positively to his coaching during his interim tenure and we believe that trend will continue and result in greater success for the Hornet men’s basketball program with Walker at the helm,” she said.   Walker said that he is “very appreciative” of the head coaching opportunity. “I look forward to getting this men’s basketball program back to the championship level where it used to be,” the new head coach said.   Walker, a DSU men’s basketball assistant coach since July 2000, was appointed as interim Hornet head coach on Jan. 30, 2014. In the subsequent 11 games, Walker led the Hornets to a 5-6 overall record and 5-5 mark in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Prior to the appointment, the team was 4-15 overall and 0-6 in the conference.   During Walker’s interim tenure, Delaware State posted a season-high three-game win streak and later achieved an upset victory over the 2014 MEAC Tournament runner-up Morgan State.      As an assistant coach, Walker worked primarily with the DSU forwards and centers. During the 2013-14 season, Walker’s work with 3rd-year player Kendall Gray was instrumental in the Hornet center’s team record of 81 blocks that year and being named on the All-MEAC Second Team. Walker’s defensive coaching was also validated during the 2011-12 season when the Hornets had a school-record 192 blocks, leading the MEAC in that category.   Walker was a part of the coaching staff that helped lead the Hornets to three consecutive MEAC regular season titles from 2004-2007, during which the Hornets posted a league record of 46-8 (.850). The Hornets appeared in three consecutive MEAC Tournament championship games, capturing the title and accompanying NCAA Tournament berth in 2005. The following year, Delaware State defeated Northern Arizona on the road in the National Invitation Tournament for the team's only national post-season win.   Prior to his arrival at DSU, Walker served as head coach at Division II Shaw University in Raleigh, N.C., from 1993 to 2000. He posted a 91-102 overall record at Shaw, including a 21-9 mark and the school’s first-ever NCAA Tournament berth during the 1994-95 season.   Before entering the coaching ranks, he enjoyed a playing career of seven years with various European and U.S. professional basketball leagues, including a brief stint with the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers during the 1985-86 season.   As a three-year collegiate player at Clemson, he helped lead the Tigers to a 23-9 overall record and an Elite Eight appearance in the 1980 NCAA Tournament.   Walker has a 1981 Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Clemson and a 1991 master’s degree in Student Personnel Services from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.   The newly appointed head coach and wife Kim have three children – Dockery, Zachary and Sawyer. Dockery is a member of the Brown University men’s basketball team.

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