September 2011


Photo Slideshow: DSU Fan Center Fellowship before UD game

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Gov. Jack Markell (left) and DSU President Harry L. Williams converse in the Hornet Fan Center prior to the Sept. 17 DSU vs. UD game 

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  The results of the Sept. 17 DSU vs. UD Route 1 Rivalry Game were far from the hopes of the Hornet faithful, but it was not for a lack of support from the DSU community, which showed up in strong support Hornet football team.   The game provided a wonderful opportunity for Hornet unity, as the large contingent of DSU Family got together for fellowship at the Hornet Fan Center outside of the UD stadium. See the below slideshow of photos of the pregame activities:  

DSU President Williams Establishes New Kirkwood Facility Task Force

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The DSU Kirkwood Planning Task Force will seek input from constituent group and make recommendations on the use of the new facility by April 30, 2012.

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    DSU President Harry L. Williams has established a new task force to study the possible academic uses of a newly acquired facility in New Castle County.   The former Robert Kirkwood Memorial U.S. Army Reserve Center west of Wilmington on Kirkwood Highway had been identified as a federal surplus real property that could be converted to an educational purpose. As the result of DSU’s application to acquire the property, the U.S. Department of Education awarded the property to the University in June 2011.   Dr. Williams has now established a nine-member DSU @ Kirkwood Planning Task Force to study the possible academic uses of the building. The task force members are:   Dr. Sheldon Rhodes (Task Force chair), dean of the College of Business Dr. Samuel Besong, chair of the Department of Human Ecology Lillie Crawford, director of the Center for Enterprise Development Tamara Crump, executive director of Continuing Education. Chief Harry Downes Jr., director of Public Safety Dr. Sheridan Quarles Kingsberry, associate professor of social work Amir Mohammadi, executive vice president of Finance and Administration Dr. Steve Newton, professor of history Vita Pickrum, associate vice president of Development Dr. Hanson Umoh, chair of the Department of Mathematics Genevieve Tighe (Ex Officio), assistant vice president of Academic Affairs/Institutional Effectiveness   The DSU Kirkwood Planning Task Force will determine the types of programs, educational opportunities, activities, partnerships with business, industry and professional organizations and agencies that would benefit the citizens of the greater Wilmington and New Castle County area in connection with that facility. It is expected that the group will be soliciting input from constituent groups.   The Task Force’s final report and recommendations are to be submitted to Provost Alton Thompson by April 30, 2012.  

DSU Holds Employee Recognition Ceremony -- Photos

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Dr. Fatma Helmy stands as she is honored for her 35 years of faculty service at DSU during the University's Sept. 15 Employee Recognition Ceremony.

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    Delaware State University held its annual Employee Recognition Ceremony and Dinner on Sept. 15 in the MLK Student Center.   In addition to honoring employees who had reached specific longevity anniversaries, Vice President Choice Awards and the President Inspire Award were presented to the below employees. Following the awards list are two sets of photo slide shows of the awardees and the event social hour candid photos.   Vice President Choice Award Winners   Division of Academic Affairs Lisa Dunning – Director, College of Business Advisement Center Candace Moore – Director, International Affairs Office   Division of Finance and Administration Debbie Roussell – Administrative Assistant, Finance and Administration Corrin Young – Data Entry Technician   Division of Student Affairs Jordin Williams – Associate Director, Department of Wellness and Recreation Keith Coleman – Director, Residence Life   Division of Institutional Advancement Henrietta Savage – Budget Analyst/Assistant to the Vice President – Chief of Staff Carlos Holmes – Director of News Services/Photographer   College of Math, Natural Sciences and Technology Vanessa Nesbit – Senior Management and Budget Analyst for the College Nicholas Quigley – Machinist, Department of Chemistry   Inspire Excellence Award   Henrietta Savage - Budget Analyst/Assistant to the Vice President & Chief of Staff  

Del. Aviation Hall of Fame Honors DSU's Dr. Dan Coons and Student

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Dr. Daniel E. Coons (l), founding director of the DSU Aviation Program, has been inducted into the Delaware Aviation Hall of Fame. Willie Gonzalez, sophomore DSU aviation major, has been presented with the 2011 Youth Achievement Award by the same organization.

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    The Delaware Aviation Hall of Fame has honored Dr. Daniel E. Coons, the founder of Delaware State University’s Aviation Program, as part of its 2011 induction class.   In addition, the Delaware Aviation Hall of Fame also honored DSU sophomore aviation major Willie Gonzalez with its 2011 Youth Achievement Award.   Dr. Coons and Mr. Gonzalez were honored along with five other honorees during its 12th annual Delaware Aviation Hall of Fame Banquet on Sept. 24 at the University of Delaware’s Clayton Hall in Newark.   Dr. Coons was the founding director of the then-Airway Science Program at DSU from 1987 to 1992. After leaving DSU for a few years to do consultant work in Egypt, Dr. Coons returned to the University to serve as the special assistant for aviation to the DSU Provost from 1995-2005. Even after his retirement in 2005, Dr. Coons has continued to volunteer his time with the DSU Aviation Program   Considered a visionary in the development of the program, his creative proposals have resulted in the University’s acquisition of 10 aircrafts, making DSU the only Historically Black University or College in the country that owns and maintains its own fleet of aircraft.   “Being honored by my colleague in the Delaware Hall of Fame, my brother pilots, is one of the greatest honors of my life,” Dr. Coons said. “This program made it possible for a lot of young men and women to fly and pursue aviation careers, who otherwise may not have been able to afford such training at other places.”   Since its inception the DSU Aviation Program has produced more than 100 graduates with professional pilots or airway management degrees. The vast majority of those students have gone on to work in some facet of the aviation industry.   Dr. Coons, who was nominated to the Hall of Fame by retired Brig. Gen. Ernest G. Talbert of Bear, Del., was inducted along with NASA astronaut Col. Nancy J. Currie, World War II pilots John E. Knoening and David F. McCallister (posthumous), and Vietnam War helicopter pilots John A. Jordan and John P. Renzetti.   Mr. Gonzalez, a 2010 graduate of William Penn High School, was nominated for the Youth Achievement Award by Maj. Steven J. Michael, senior aerospace science instructor at the high school.   "Willie Gonzalez proved himself to be a superb leader in JROTC, and with his success in the DSU Aviation Program, I felt he was a natural to be nominated for the Delaware Aviation Hall of Fame Youth Achievement Award," Maj. Michael said. "Willie has demonstrated a natural ability to lead and motivate his peers and is most deserving of this award."   Mr. Gonzalez has demonstrated great motivation in his aviation education pursuits, both in high school ROTC and in DSU’s Aviation Program. Even after enrolling at DSU in the fall of 2010, he still returns to his high school frequently to give back to his William Penn ROTC Program by sharing his experience with the students.   Now at age 19 and just beginning his sophomore year in the DSU Aviation Program, Mr. Gonzalez has already earned his Private Pilot Rating and his Instrument Rating.   “This honor encourages me, because it lets me know I am going in the right direction and it gives me more motivation to continue,” Mr. Gonzalez said.  

DSU Awarded $500,000 to Establish new Economic Development Center

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    The Economic Development Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce has awarded Delaware State University a $500,000 grant to fund the establishment of a DSU Center for Economic Development and Trade on campus.   The new Center – which will be based in the University’s College of Business – will take a long-term strategic view of economic forces and will focus on providing state and local governments and other public and non-public organizations with timely economic information and reliable analysis.   DSU President Harry L. Williams said that the U.S. Department of Commerce grant will financially empower University to apply its intellectual resources to promote the economic well-being of the state of Delaware.   “This will be another way that the University will be able to work to fulfill its Vision Statement goal of invigorating the economy of Delaware by providing valuable information that will help guide entities in the state toward making sound and prudent economic decisions,” Dr. Williams said.   The grant was written by Dr. Michael Casson, the dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Research, and Dr. Nanda Viswanathan, professor of marketing. Dr. Casson said the DSU Center for Economic Development and Trade will serve the people of Delaware by improving their understanding of the state's economy while supporting Delaware’s efforts to make the First State the first choice of the global business community.    “To this end, the University Center for Economic Development and Trade will develop, and ultimately highlight through its First State Updates, State economy models and analyses, economic data banks, workforce development initiatives and international trade strategies for small to mid-sized enterprises,” said Dr. Casson, who is also an associate professor of economics. “The University Center will leverage the expertise available at DSU to equip the public and decision makers with timely information and reliable analyses necessary for efficient and thoughtful discussions surrounding public-policy issues.” The University Center will have seven main areas of responsibility: To compile data required to monitor and forecast economic developments in Delaware, specifically Kent and Sussex Counties To maintain models of the State's economy with specific attention to Kent and Sussex Counties, which the Center would use to conduct empirical analyses for State, municipal, and private groups. To serve state agencies, municipal governments, non-profit and private organizations and Delaware citizens through the data bank, research, publications, and outreach of the University Center’s Data Center. To develop and enhance marketable job skills through workforce development and coordination efforts with public and private providers To support entrepreneurial efforts through the provision of incubator type services such as marketing research, accounting, project management and IT services. Promote international trade amongst small to medium-sized enterprises through research and training. To promote Kent and Sussex County economies, through the Center’s First State Updates. The Center will build partnerships with state agencies, municipal governments, non-profits and private organization provide an array of resources for state print and electronic media, offer professional development workshops, and collaborate on research projects for the benefit of the people of Delaware.  

DSU Welcomes Dr. Eric Kmiec as New Chemistry Chair

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Dr. Eric Kmiec is a recipient of many research and community service awards and hold numerous patents. He has also established several biotechnology companies.

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    Dr. Eric B. Kmiec, an established scientist, inventor, leader and entrepreneur, has been appointed professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry at Delaware State University.   Dr. Kmiec will begin his DSU tenure on Oct. 15, said Dr. Noureddine Melikechi, dean of the College of Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Technology, who added the new department chairperson will be a “great addition” to DSU, Kent County and the state of Delaware.   “With his vast experience, and scientific knowledge, he will contribute to the growth of DSU’s STEM efforts, both in terms of quality and impact,” Melikechi said. “I am confident that as the new chair of the Department of Chemistry, Professor Kmiec will provide the leadership necessary to make the Department a first-class unit on campus.”    Prior to his arrival, Dr. Kmiec was the director of the Marshall Institute for Interdisciplinary Research at Marshall University from 2009-2011, where pioneering biotechnology advances were made under his leadership. Dr. Kmiec is a renowned expert in gene editing – a technique that employs synthetic DNA molecules to repair mutations in human chromosomes. His research aims to identify therapies for diseases including Huntington’s disease, Muscular Dystrophy, and Spinal Muscular Atrophy. A recipient of many research and community service awards, Kmiec holds upwards of 60 patents.    He also established several biotechnology companies including OrphageniX Inc. of which he is co-founder. Prior to his arrival to Marshall University in 2009, he was a professor of biology at the University of Delaware and director of the Delaware Biotechnology Institute.    “In bringing Dr. Kmiec here to lead our Department of Chemistry, such a caliber of scientist sends a clear message concerning the direction of the Delaware State University in its research and STEM endeavors,” said Dr. Alton Thompson, DSU provost and vice president of Academic Affairs. “Exciting new developments will occur as the result of his presence in the College of Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Technology.”  

DSU Researchers Achieve New Findings in Veery Migration Studies

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Undergraduate student Syrena M. Taylor and Dr. Christopher Heckscher, assistant professor of natural resources, have determined the previously unknown migration pattern of the Veery songbird species.

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  The advent of a new tracking technology has enable a DSU assistant professor of natural resources to make his mark in ornithology research. A Veery songbird with an attached geolocator on its back, which will track its migration patterns.   Dr. Christopher Heckscher, with the assistance of junior year Natural Resources major Syrena M. Taylor, has taken advantage of the development of new lightweight tracking technology that has allowed them to determine the previously unknown migration patterns for a forest songbird, the Veery (Catharus fuscescens).   Because songbirds are so small, conventional tracking devices used on larger birds are too heavy for species such as the Veery – which is 16-18 centimeters in length and weighs about 30 grams. For that reason, very little was previously known about the annual migration habits of the Veery and other similarly sized birds.   A few years ago, Dr. Heckscher became aware of a new lightweight “geolocator” that had been used successfully by York University ornithologist Dr. Bridget Stutchbury in her research in tracking the migration of the Wood Thrush (Hylocichia mustelina), a medium-sized North American passerine bird.   Dr. Stutchbury’s success opened up a new area of ornithological research focusing on migration, and Dr. Heckscher did not hesitate in seizing this research opportunity.   With the knowledge that some Veeries came annually to nest at the White Clay Creek State Park north of Newark, Del., in June 2009, Dr. Heckscher and Ms. Taylor proceeded to capture 24 of the species. They then attached a lightweight geolocator to each Veery and freed them. By August, those birds had departed Delaware to begin their migration south.   “The trick is you have to catch the bird a year later in order to download data from the tracking device,” Dr. Heckscher said. “These Veeries made it easier because the same individuals return to White Clay Creek Park every year to nest.”   The following spring, the researchers set up netting in an attempt to capture some of the Veeries on which they had attached the tracking device the previous year. Dr. Heckscher said they imitated the Veery mating song, which attracted some macho male Veeries to come and investigate what bird was encroaching on their love territory.   Four male Veeries that had returned with the tracking device were lured into the net. Capturing female Veeries with the geolocator attached – which are not attracted by Veery song – was more of a challenge. However, the research duo managed to capture one female with the device, giving them a total research group of five Veeries.   It took several months to analyze the latitude and longitude data from the geolocators on those five birds. Meanwhile in spring 2010, the DSU researchers captured another group of birds and attached the tracking device.   By October 2010, Dr. Heckscher and Ms. Taylor’s data analysis had determined that all five Veeries had traveled to separate areas south of the Amazon River region in Central Brazil, South America, by the late fall. In addition, the tracking data revealed that the Veeries also made second migration stops during the mid-winter January-February months in other parts of Brazil (two birds went to sites north of the Amazon and three when south to sites south of the huge river system).   “Our most spectacular discovery was that our Veeries undertook three migrations rather than just two in spring and fall,” Heckscher said. “This is the first time a North American songbird has been found to have three different migratory periods.”   “Songbirds risk a lot each time they undertake migration, which can be very dangerous due to unexpected weather events, vehicle or building collisions, or predators,” Ms. Taylor added, “To think these birds have an extra migration is really remarkable.”   Representing the first time that this particular species’ migration patterns and wintering locations had been tracked, Dr. Heckscher and Ms. Taylor poured their findings in a peer-reviewed paper that they published in the 2011 edition of The Auk by The American Ornithologists’ Union. The work by Ms. Taylor was funded by the Center for Integrated Biological and Environmental Research, Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources. The Delaware Division of Parks and Recreation cooperated by providing the team’s study site.   Dr. Heckscher has continued the research with a second group of Veeries. In June of this year, he and some other students were able to capture seven males and three females on which they had attached units in the previous spring. That tracking data is currently being analyzed.  

Dr. S. Kingsberry Elected President of Del. Assoc. of Social Workers

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                 Dr. Sheridan Quarles Kingsberry     Dr. Sheridan Quarles Kingsberry has been elected as the president of the Delaware Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.   Dr. Kingsberry, who has been a DSU faculty member since 2003 and teaches primarily at the University’s Wilmington site, will lead a state chapter of about 400 members.   As president, Dr. Kingsberry said that she will work to get existing members more active in the chapter, as well as recruit social workers in the state who aren’t members to see the benefit of the organization and to join. She also hopes to raise the profile of the chapter in the state of Delaware.   “There are a lot of people who don’t know that we even exist,” Dr. Kingsberry said.   Dr. Kingsberry also hopes to begin discussions on the need for multi-tier licensing – separate categories for bachelor’s degree, master’s degree non-clinical, and master’s degree clinical – in Delaware.   “(Social Work) multi-licensing exists in all the surrounding states and many others in the country,” Dr. Kingsberry said. “Delaware is lagging far behind.”   Dr. Kingsberry has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Douglas College, a master’s of social work and a doctor of social work, both from Rutgers University.      

DSU Improves HBCU Ranking from 17th to 15th

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    Delaware State University has moved up to 15th among 72 Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the country in the annual ranking released today by U.S. News & World Report. DSU President Harry L. Williams said the University should be encouraged by its rise in ranking, but should not be satisfied with that level of achievement.   DSU is tied with South Carolina State University for 15th place. Among Mid-Atlantic Region schools, DSU joins Howard University (2nd), Hampton University (4th) and Morgan State University (18th) that made the top 20 HBCUs in the 2012 ranking.   DSU President Harry Lee Williams said while moving from 17th to 15th reflects well on the University, it also shows there is much work to be done to reach the ultimate goal of becoming the No. 1 HBCU in the country. Nevertheless, he said, the University’s current rise in ranking affirms that the University is moving in the right direction.   “It shows what happens when we focus, stay on task with clear goals and remain consistent with the vision that we have developed for this University,” Dr. Williams said. “We are happy, but not satisfied; we are encouraged by the latest ranking and remain steadfast in our efforts to become the best.”   When the U.S. News & World Report first published its HBCU ranking in 2008, DSU ranked #22, and then rose to #17 in 2009 and 2010.      The HBCU rankings are based on the following categories to assess academic quality: assessment by administrators at peer institutions, retention of students, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources and alumni giving.   Spelman College of Atlanta, Ga., is ranked as the No. 1 HBCU in the country by the magazine, a top distinction it has held since 2008.    

DSU's Dr. Vulinec Makes her Mark as a Bat Ecologist in Brazil

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DSU's Dr. Kevina Vulinec carries out her Fulbright-funded research with a Brazilian scientist during her trip to the South American country last spring.

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    Dr. Kevina Vulinec records a captured fruit bat as part of her Fulbright research project.    Marvel Comics is not the only place you can find “Batwoman.”   While not counted among the pantheon of superheroes, Dr. Kevina Vulinec, an associate professor of natural resources, believes her missions relating to bat preservation are vitally important to the ecological balance that needs to be maintained.   Dr. Vulinec, who is also known as a bat ecologist, returned last summer from her spring semester in Brazil as a Fulbright Fellow, where she shared her bat expertise with scientists there who are working to preserve species of the fruit bats that are indigenous to that Amazon region.   Fruit bats are so-named because unlike the predominant insect-eating bats in North America, these Brazilian bats eat the fruits of the rain forests and then while in flight expel the fruit seeds back down to the ground, which is important in replenishing the forest.   “I was looking at areas of Brazil forest that have been cut for cattle pasture, interested in the impact on the bat habitat,” Dr. Vulinec said.   However to better understand fruit bat habitat and the foraging habits of the species, Dr. Vulinec spent a lot of her time capturing bat sounds that she believes will help scientists there better identify the different fruit bat species.   “A catalogue of bat sounds exists for North American species, but very few bat calls had been recorded in Brazil,” Dr. Vulinec said.   In Brazil, Dr. Vulinec and scientists of that country set up nets in the forest,captured bats and attached a leash to their legs. Once a bat calmed down (Dr. Vulinec said upon capture, the bats initially were screeching bloody murder) and began sounding its normal bat calls, the scientist recorded its sound.   “The recording device is sensitive and is specifically for high frequencies that humans can’t hear,” Dr. Vulinec said. “Certain species have bat calls that are distinct from others.”   A Brazilian fruit bat up close. Dr. Vulinec said she has returned to DSU with 200 gigabytes of bat sounds that she will analyze and then share that information with the Brazilian scientists. With that information, scientists there will be able to better understand more about bats, their migration habits, as well as the impact of forest destruction on the species.   While working to help Brazilians with their bat preservation issues, Dr. Vulinec also has challenges to the North American bat population to be concerned with as well.   Because most North American bats are insectivores, these species feast on pesky flying insects, reducing the number around to irritate and vex human populations and farm crops. However, that importance is being challenged by a disease – White Nose Syndrome – that is threatening bat populations.   “White Nose Syndrome” is a fungus that gets on the nose of bats while they are hibernating in caves,” Dr. Vulinec said. “The fungus makes the bats wake up prematurely, and then they fly out of the cave and starve to death because there are no insects out there in the wintertime.”   In addition to be threatened by White Nose, some bats are meeting their makers prematurely at the blades of turbine wind farms. “The bats either get whacked up by the blades circulating at 120 mph or the vacuum that is created causes bats to explode,” she said.   “There will be a big surge in the insect population if the population of bats is reduced,” Dr. Vulinec said.   Dr. Vulinec is in the beginning stages of a collaboration with researchers from Delaware Technical & Community College and the University of Delaware to study and gain a better understanding of White Nose Syndrome.   Dr. Vulinec is also guiding a student who is currently researching golf courses as a possible habitat for bats. “Golf course water hazards are good places for aquatic insects, a source of food for bats,” she said. “Bats really like places with big trees and mower cut grass,” she said.   A DSU faculty member in the College of Agriculture and Related Sciences since 2001, Dr. Vulinec focused her Ph.D. dissertation work on primates and dung beetles. However, upon arriving at DSU, chair Dr. Richard Barczewski directed her to identify a research specialty related to Delaware. That directive moved her into the bat realm.   “Dr. Vulinec has a diverse background in wildlife conservation and biology,” Dr. Barczewski said. “She has been able to take her good mix of experience and make it applicable to our state and region.”   In addition to being an ecologist and scientist, she is also an award-winning artist who actually did scientific drawings to help support herself while in college.  

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