May 2012


DSU Named as Tree Campus USA

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(L-r) DSU Provost Alton Thompson, research professor Dr. Arthur Tucker, herbarium educator Dr. Susan Yost, DSU President Harry L. Williams, Gov. Jack Markell, assistant professor of agriculture Dr. Sathya Elavarthi, and Delaware State Forester Michael Valenti, celebrate the award designating DSU as a Tree Campus USA.

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Delaware State University’s observance of Arbor Day included being honored with a new distinction – it has been named a “Tree Campus USA.” As part of the state observance of Arbor Day, Gov. Jack Markell and a local youth plant a new American Holly tree -- the official state tree -- outside of the MLK Jr. Student Center. DSU hosted Gov. Jack Markell’s annual observance of Arbor Day on May 3 in the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Center, where the governor announced the honor to DSU. The Tree Campus USA designation goes to schools that have an implemented plan for tree care that is supported by school allocations, an established Campus Tree Advisory Committee, related education outreach, as well as an annual observance of Arbor Day. While being among 148 schools in the country to have the Tree Campus USA designation, DSU is the only school in Delaware with that title and is currently the only Historically Black College or University in the nation to be recognized as such. DSU main campus in Dover currently has hundreds of trees  that are represented by 130 different species. DSU President Harry L. Williams commended the University’s Herbarium staff for their work in identifying the species of trees on our campus. “That work led Dr. Susan Yost, who is the Herbarium educator, to create the Campus Tree Walk and the DSU Tree Map in 2006 on campus,” Dr. Williams said. “The tour – given about seven to eight times a year – gives our students and the public an opportunity to learn more about the different species of trees and other plants on campus.”

DSU Class of 1962 Returns to Alma Mater With $18,250 Donation

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Phil Sadler and DSU President Harry L. Williams hold a display check representing the class of 1962's donation of $18,250 to go toward DSU scholarships. The returning members of the Class of 1962 stand behind him.

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Fifteen members of DSU’s Class of 1962 celebrated their 50th anniversary by returning to their alma mater for the May 19-20 Commencement Weekend. The 1962 class was joined by other alumni and University officials during a May 19 reception in the Bank of America Building on campus. During the event, the 1962 alumni presented DSU President Harry L. Williams with a check for $18,250 to go toward scholarships. The next day, the Class of 1962 members donned robes and took part in the May 20 Commencement ceremony. Click on the below slideshow to see images from the Class of 1962 weekend, followed by a group shot and the names of the class members that returned for the weekend:   Seated (l-r): Patricia Snead Minor, Joyce King, Dolores Blakey, Delema Burris-Carter, Phyllis Hayes-Dixon, Janice Knight Boettger, Hortense Swiggett Macon, Juanita Coverdale Williams; (standing) Adele Hill Reed, Peggy Hunter Swygert, Barbara Willis, Patricia Dormaan Randall, Rev. Bill Granville, Alonzo Kittrels, Cleo Pearson, Alex T. Norwood, Phil Sadler, Hewitt Joyner, and J. Frank Marshall              

DSU, First State Manufacturing and Milford sign collaborative accord

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(Seated l-r) Milford Mayor Ronnie Rogers, DSU President Harry L. Williams, FSM co-owner Eli Valenzuela sign collaboration agreement  to develop a business accelerator in the MIlford-area. Standing (l-r): U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, Dr. Michael Casson, Dr. Nanda Viswanathan, Sher Valenzuela, and Ashley Wolfe. The collaboration is expected to bring increased economic development and job growth to Kent and Sussex counties.

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Delaware State University joined with First State Manufacturing (FSM) and the City of Milford, Del., to announce a new public-private partnership that is expected to stimulate economic development efforts in Kent and Sussex counties. With U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, DSU President Harry L. Williams and Milford Mayor Ronnie Rogers taking part in the media event held May 4 at the FSM facility in Milford, the Small Business Administration announced the launching of the “First State Moves the Nation” Small Business Accelerator. DSU's Dr. Michael Casson said the collaboration will leverage the resources of the partners. Sen. Carper noted the growth of DSU over the years. “Look at it now, with record enrollment and retention, and now DSU is on its way to be an economic engine in Delaware,” he said. As partners in the Small Business Accelerator initiative: DSU’s Center for Economic Development and International Trade (DSU CEDIT) will provide intellectual resources such as economic development forecast data, empirical analyses based on models of the state’s economy, as well as incubator-type services such as marketing research, accounting, project management and IT services. First State Manufacturing will provide 10,000 square feet of physical space at its Milford facility, which will service as an on-site business accelerator. The leadership of FSM will also work with DSU CEDIT to provide a standard and vision for its economic development model, and also serve as part of a  Solutions Group that will contribute information on business solutions and best practices in the area of manufacturing. The City of Milford will commit to leveraging  its economic development resources to provide opportunity and training, oversee the continuation of its Strategic Plan goals and initiatives that will support business development in the city, and actively promote partnerships among business, government and nonprofit sectors in support of job growth in the city. The DSU president noted that this is the type of initiative to which DSU desires to apply its expertise. “After I became president, we looked at how DSU can be a player in this state; and in the vision statement we developed in my first year, it was noted that DSU’s goal is to invigorate the economy of Delaware and the Mid-Atlantic Region,” Dr. Williams said. “This partnership actualizes that vision.” FSM – owned by Eli Valenzuela (president), his wife Sher Valenzuela (vice president), and Ashley Wolfe (executive director) – is an industrial upholstery manufacturing and solutions business in Milford that brings to the business accelerator initiative its experience starting as a small business operated out of a one-car garage in 1998 and developing into a highly successful award-winning company that carries out its work in a 70,000 square-foot facility and employs 70 people. (L-r) FSM's Ashley Wolfe, Eli and Sher Valenzuela; Milford Mayor Ronnie Rogers; Dr. Michael Casson, DSU CEDIT co-director; DSU President Harry L. Williams; Tony Leta, Del. director of the Small Business Administration; Dr. Shelton Rhodes, dean of the DSU College of Business; U.S. Sen. Tom Carper; Dr. Nanda Viswanathan, co-director of DSU CEDIT; and DSU Provost Alton Thompson. “Our story is a Delaware story, and we believe it be the story of others as well,” Mrs. Valenzuela said. She said the business accelerator can bring about an economic ecosystem that will result in “intelligent consumers” of resources. “This business accelerator is going to support the four sectors of business – manufacturing, agriculture, tourism and health care,” Mrs. Valenzuela said. Dr. Michael Casson, who along with Dr. Nanda Viswanathan serves as DSU CEDIT co-directors, noted that the state of the economy and the needed commitment to Delaware’s citizens are addressed by this initiative. “The accelerator will be home to the expertise and resources of DSU, the City of Milford and FSM, all working collaboratively to support entrepreneurship and job growth,” Dr. Casson said.  

DSU's 2012 Commencement has Record 656 Graduates

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The DSU class of 2012 was glad that  University officials decided to return the Commencement ceremony back outdoors for their graduation.

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Delaware State University awarded 656 diplomas during its 2012 Commencement ceremony – a record number of graduates in the institution’s 121-year history, surpassing the previous record of 646 in 2009. After moving the graduation ceremony indoors during the last two years, the May 20 Commencement returned to the outdoor confines of DSU’s Alumni Stadium. Among DSU’s 2012 graduating class’ 656 degrees – 496 bachelor’s degrees, a record 145 master’s degrees (surpassing the then-record 143 in 2008) and 15 doctoral degrees. This graduating class produced 136 honors students, which included 21 Summa Cum Laudes (3.75 GPA or above), 54 Magna Cum Laudes (3.5 to 3.74), 48 Cum Laudes (3.25 to 3.49) and 13 honorable mentions. DSU President Harry L. Williams congratulates Dr. Mable Morrison after she was awarded an honorary doctorate. Dr. Williams presented Presidential Academic Excellence Awards to Jazmyne C. Hefflefinger, a movement science major from Harrisburg, Pa. who maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA throughout her undergraduate years. In addition to her academic success, Ms. Hefflefinger was a member of the DSU Women’s Bowling Team. The DSU president also presented a Presidential Leadership Award to J. Jamel D. Smiley, who came to DSU from Augusta, Georgia. He worked as a residential assistant and senior residential assistant from 2009 to 2012, twice winner the Residential Assistant of the Year Award (2010 and 2011). During his undergraduate journey, he served as the vice president and then president of the DSU Rotaract Club. He was a McNair Research Program inductee, a member of the DSU Concert Choir, and also served as the president in 2012 of the Alpha Eta Rho Aviation Fraternity. As an aviation major Mr. Smiley maintained a 3.2 GPA. Darrell Peebles, Jr., a graduating aviation major and ROTC cadet, was also commissioned as an U.S. Air Force Officer during a DSU Commencement Ceremony. Mable R. Morrison, an associate professor of music and a 50-year faculty member of DSU, was presented with an Honorary Doctorate of Letters in honor her half-century of dedication and music instruction at DSU. During the DSU Commencement weekend, the University honored the 50th anniversary of the Class of 1962 during a reception on Saturday, May 21 in the Bank of America Building on campus. Fifteen 1962 graduates of then-Delaware State College returned to their alma mater this weekend, donned robes and took part in the Commencement ceremony. The Class of 1962 didn't show up empty-handed as they presented DSU President Harry L. Williams with a donation of $18,250 to go toward scholarships. Warren Brown, the 2012 keynote speaker The Commencement ceremonies featured Warren Brown, a nationally known entrepreneur, as this year’s keynote speaker. He told the graduates that when it comes to their life’s direction, to follow their heart. “Once you have identified your passion, you should do three things: first direct yourself to greatness, second answer to your call, and thirdly, answer to yourself,” Mr. Brown said. Warren Brown left a career practicing law as a litigator for the federal government to found CakeLove bakery in 2002. He has grown his organization to include six retail storefronts and has been recognized for his entrepreneurial spirit by local and national media including The Oprah Winfrey Show, Today, NPR, and national advertisement campaigns for American Express and Dell computers. From 2005 to 2007 Mr. Brown was the host of the television show Sugar Rush on the Food Network. He enjoys sharing the joys of baking and has authored three cookbooks to encourage others to bake from scratch: CakeLove in the Morning which celebrates weekend brunch (May 1, 2012), United Cakes of America featuring recipes from every state in the Union (2010), and CakeLove-How to bake cakes from scratch (2008).     

Hornet Editor-in-Chief Recipient of William P. Frank Scholarship

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Synquette K. Wilks, editor-in-chief of The DSU Hornet student newspaper, is the 2012 recipient of the $10,000 William P. Frank Scholarship.

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Synquette K. Wilks, a junior mass communications major at Delaware State University, has been awarded a $10,000 William P. Frank Scholarship. The scholarship was presented during the May 5 annual First State Gridiron Dinner in Wilmington. Ms. Wilks is majoring in the convergence (journalism) concentration of mass communications undergraduate degree program. Since the fall of 2011 she has served as the editor-in-chief of The DSU Hornet student newspaper and has written for the campus publication since her freshman year. She is also in the McNair Research Program at DSU. Ms. Wilks, of Wilmington, said that the Frank Scholarship will greatly help her development as a journalist. “It will enable me to continue my education as well as learn more about print and internet journalism,” Ms. Wilks said. “I believe this opportunity will provide me with the foundation to build up my journalism career and give me the skills that I will need to compete in the journalism world.” A graduate of Newark High School, Ms. Wilks is the daughter of Kevin Moore and  Shavon Wilks-Taylor William P. Frank (1905-1989) was one of Delaware’s best-known journalists of the 20th century. His career spanned 65 years, during which he became a prominent newspaper columnist and radio commentator. He was also a Delaware historian, a Judaic scholar, a Shakespearean actor and a social activist. Although he was listened to by powerful people, he made the concerns of ordinary people his concerns, according to the Gridiron event program. In 2011, three DSU students were awarded the William P. Frank Scholarship – Deborah Miller ($10,000) from New Castle, Del.; Krystina Muhammad ($5,000) from Newark, Del.; and Desiree Williams ($5,000) from Dover.

2012 DSU Commencement -- Photo Slideshow

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The 2012 Commencement presented diplomas to a record 656 graduates during the May 20 ceremony. Click on the below photo slideshow to see images from the event:

DSU's Vita Pickrum Named Certified Fund Raising Executive

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CFRE International has named Vita Pickrum, associate vice president of development at DSU, as a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE). Ms. Pickrum joins more than 5,299 professionals around the world who hold the CFRE designation. Vita Pickrum, associate vice president of Development and a Certified Fund Raising Executive Individuals granted the CFRE credential have met a series of standards set by CFRE International, which include tenure in the profession, demonstrated fundraising achievement, and  a commitment to service to not-for-profit organizations. They have also passed a rigorous written examination testing the knowledge, skill and abilities required of a fundraising executive; they have also agreed to uphold Accountability Standards and Donor Bill of Rights. CFRE recipients are awarded certification for a three-year period. In order to maintain certification status, such fundraising executives must demonstrate ongoing fundraising employment and fundraising results, as well as continue their professional education. CFRE International is an independent organization dedicated to the certification of fundraising executives by setting standards in philanthropic practice. Consistently meeting the highest standard of certification excellence, the CFRE International is itself accredited by the National Commission of Certifying Agencies. Ms. Pickrum has been a fundraising executive at Delaware State University since September 2008.  

2012 DSU Faculty Excellence Award Recipients Named

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The 2012 Faculty Excellence Award recipients (l-r) Dr. Aristides Marcano (research and creative activities), Dr. Sathya Elavarthi (teaching), Dr. Sam Hoff (advising), with DSU President Harry L. Williams. Not pictured is Dr. Gulnihal Ozbay (University and community service).

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Delaware State University has named four faculty members as the institution’s 2012 Faculty Excellence Award recipients. The University has selected the below faculty members in the following categories of Teaching, Research/Creative Activities, University/Community Service and Advising: Faculty Excellence in Teaching Dr. Sathya Elavarthi, assistant professor in the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources, has been recognized for his innovative teaching techniques that utilize many varied tools to engage his students and retain them in the department’s majors. He is known for “going the extra mile” to expose his students to as many hands-on learning opportunities as he can. Dr. Elavarthi has developed six agriculture and plant science courses for the department, currently serves on the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee, as well as on the University’s Learning Communities Steering Committee. He has been a DSU faculty member since the fall of 2010. Faculty Excellence in Research and Creative Activities Dr. Aristides Marcano, associate research professor in the Department of Physics and Pre-Engineering, came out on top in the highly competitive category as the result of his prolific research activities in the areas of applied spectroscopy and optics. He has co-authored 9 peer-reviewed scientific papers that were published in high ranked scientific journals, and co-authored two book chapters. Dr. Marcano is the principal investigator of two scientific grants and the co-principal investigator of two others that combined were multimillion dollar endeavors. He is the co-author of a scientific patent on an optical fiber detector. He has also advised 14 undergraduate research projects and 12 graduate research projects, while also tutoring three graduate students. He has been a DSU faculty member since the fall of 2006.              Dr. Gulnihal Ozbay Faculty Excellence in University and Community Service Dr. Gulnihal Ozbay, associate research professor and Cooperative Extension specialist in water quality for the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources, has been honored for her numerous outreach endeavors that extend to writing and editing science publications, professional organization service and community service relating to her science areas of expertise. She has promoted a public oyster gardening program and the Mid-Atlantic Drinking Water Program, as well as been involved with the Delaware Bay Oyster Restoration Program. Dr. Ozbay has planned and presented more than 100 events regionally and nationally over the last nine years, reaching approximately 2,500 youths and adults. She has also lent her expertise in water quality and environmental issues through international outreach efforts as a lecturer and consultant in Belize, the Marshall Islands and Kenya. She has been a DSU faculty member since 2003. Faculty Excellence in Advising Dr. Samuel Hoff, George Washington Distinguished Professor in the Department of History, Political Science and Philosophy, has been recognized for his outstanding accessibility as an advisor and the results as demonstrated by his students. Dr. Hoff has served as the advisor of students in the Law Studies Program (of which he is the director), graduate students in the Historic Preservation Program, and has served on curriculum committees pertaining to his department and college, as well as on the subcommittee of the University’s Graduate Council. He has also served as a coach and advisor of the DSU Honda Campus All-Star Challenge, as a judge for the DSU Oratorical Contest, as the creator of the DSU Constitution and Citizenship Speech Tournament, and as a member of the Faculty Senate Teaching Effectiveness Committee. Dr. Hoff has been a DSU faculty member since 1989. Each recipient received a monetary award of $2,500.

DSU Donates Strength/Condition Equipment to Five High Schools

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(L-r) Trae Anderson, DSU project manager; Jeremy Jeanne, Glasgow H.S. athletics director; Marques Brown, Christiana H.S. assistant football coach;and Andrew Mears, Smyrna H.S. athletics coach, at the former Wellness Center to select the available donated equipment..

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Delaware State University is literally helping to strengthen the athletics programs of five Delaware high schools through its donation of used strength and conditioning equipment. University officials are donating a variety of fitness machines and equipment to the following high schools – Brandywine, Christiana, Glasgow, Brandywine, Mount Pleasant, and Smyrna. Since the 2009 completed construction and opening of the DSU Wellness and Recreation Center, the previously used Wellness Center – a 3,000-square-foot module building next to the Village Cafeteria – has remained idle. Because only new strength and conditioning equipment was installed in the new facility, the equipment formerly used in the old Wellness Center remained in that building. With plans in place to move the module building to another part of the campus to make room for a planned Optics Center on that site, University officials decided to offer the equipment to five high schools on a first-come, first-serve basis. After DSU contacted the state concerning the availability of the equipment, the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association sent a notice to all the high schools in the First State. The abovementioned high schools were the first five to respond. Athletics representatives from the high schools visited DSU last week to select the equipment – which included a variety of Tuffstuff strength machines, Trotter treadmills, stationary bikes, and other equipment.  

DSU's Dr. Francine Edwards Wins Mrs. Delaware USA Pageant

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DSU’s Dr. Francine Edwards, an associate professor of Mass Communications, is now representing the First State and the University as the 2012 Mrs. Delaware USA. DSU's Dr. Francine Edwards is crowned the 2012 Mrs. Delaware USA by outgoing Mrs. Delaware USA Angie Bell at the end of the May 11 pageant. Dr. Edwards, who primarily teaches public relations, found out that two times was the charm and the victory, as she won the Mrs. Delaware USA Pageant held on May 11 at Everett Meredith High School in Middletown. The previous year she came close, finishing as the first runner-up. The 43-year-old wife and mother noted that it was a challenge competing against eight other women in their 20s and 30s. “You never know what the judges are looking for,” Dr. Edwards said. “After finishing first runner-up the previous year, when you get that close and when you want to do it for the right reasons, you know that you have a good chance.” For Dr. Edwards, the “right reason” was to address the need for more role models who value marriage and family while balancing that with career responsibilities. “I am not perfect, but I have committed myself to my family and have been able to find a balance between that commitment and my happiness in my career,” Dr. Edwards said. “I have to invest as much time in the marriage as I do in work; I still have to be there for my husband and my children.” While clearly an attractive woman, Dr. Edwards said she liked the Mrs. Delaware USA Pageant because it doesn’t just focus on beauty. “This pageant values intelligence, and there is also an emphasis on service.” Dr. Edwards said her platform for the pageant was titled “Blended and Blessed; Stepparent Support,” a platform she was already well-versed in. She is the wife of Micah Edwards, and she is the mother of two (Tyler, 6 and the only girl; and Joshua, 2) and the stepmother of two others (Jordan, 14, and Madison, 11). Throughout the year leading up to the pageant she worked her platform by meeting with other stepparents one-on-one and in small groups to discuss the challenges of raising step-children and help them talk through some solutions to issues. “As I stepparent, I have found that you have to work on communicating,” Dr. Edwards said. “You have to focus on the children and not on the issues that the two parents might have.”    The pageant contest categories included: the interview, evening gown, fitness and on-stage question. She had the highest score in the interview (where she was able to share the work she had done on her platform) and fitness categories. Dr. Edwards said in the excitement of winning, she never found out how well she scored on the on-stage question: “If you were married for 25 years, what advice would you give a newly married couple?” Dr. Edwards said that she hopes her accomplishment shows her students that it's good to get out of one's comfort zone to learn and grow. In her answer, she used some sibling wisdom. “My sister is celebrating her 25th anniversary next month and she would say to keep the lines of communication open, put Christ first in your marriage and keep each other laughing” As the 2012-2013 Mrs. Delaware USA, Dr. Edwards said that she will continue to promote her platform as well as to promote literacy. “I also want to recruit more minority women for the pageant,” Dr. Edwards said. “I would love to see a diverse pool year after year, because it would represent the world that we live in.” Dr. Edwards, a native of Landover, Md., has been a DSU mass communications faculty member since 2006. As an associate professor who focuses on the public relations discipline, Dr. Edwards said her pageant accomplishment is reflective of what she teaches her students.  “I tell them that we market ourselves every single day,” she said. “I want to present myself as genuine, knowledgeable about whatever I am talking about, and always understand that the first impression is a lasting impression. When I go into the classroom every day that is how I try to present myself.” She hopes the take-away for her students from her Mrs. Delaware USA title is that you can accomplish anything you want to. “But sometimes you needs to step outside of comfort zone to learn and grow,” Dr. Edwards said. “Entering the pageant was new to me, and it gave me a way to grow and learn as a role model.”  

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