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DSU, Amir Mohammadi Recognized for Financing Innovation

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The Mishoe Science Center was one of a number of the buildings on campus that received energy upgrades made possible by a financing innovation that was brainchild of Dr. Amir Mohammadi, executive vice president and University treasurer. The innovation was recently recognized by the Obama Administration's Better Building Challenge as a financing solution for institutions.

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– The sustainability efforts and financial creativity of DSU and Dr. Amir Mohammadi, its executive vice president and University treasurer, were recently recognized by Obama Administration’s Better Building Challenge.     Dr. Amir Mohammadi   During the May 7-9 Better Building Challenge Summit in Washington, D.C., DSU was among seven entities recognized for “Sharing Innovative Solutions” to achieve energy reductions.   Specifically, DSU was recognized for coming up with an innovative way of mobilizing capital – the brainchild of Dr. Mohammadi – to finance energy upgrades on campus that will save the University millions of dollars in energy cost over the next 20 years.   In order to achieve its sustainability goals of reducing its energy consumption through energy technology upgrades, DSU had to first overcome the strict debt capacity limits. To accomplish that, r. Mohammadi developed a novel “on balance sheet, off-debt capacity approach, in which the University obtained permission from the state of Delaware to utilize previously restricted appropriations to create a revenue-neutral debt structure.   That enabled the University to access large-scale bond financing to support energy efficiency upgrades on campus. DSU worked with a variety of Delaware stakeholders – including the Office of the Governor, the State Senate Finance Committee, the Bond Council, State Office of Management and Budget, the state Department of Natural Resource and Environmental Control, the state’s Sustainable Energy Utility, as well as a number of financial advisors and external auditors – to make the new approach a practical reality.   As the result of this “on balance sheet, off-debt capacity” approach, DSU was able to obtain bond financing totaling $19.3 million, which paid for energy efficiency work. The energy upgrades has been validated by a Guaranteed Energy Saving Agreement (GESA) with Johnson Controls, the company that won the contract for the work. The agreement ensures that the University will realize the long-term energy savings as a result of the upgrades.   As a result of the GESA, DSU will experience at total of $24.6 million in savings over 20 years, with a net savings of $5.3 million as well as a 26% reduction in greenhouse gases.   According to the U.S. Department of Energy website, “DSU has pioneered a unique financing approach for state universities” that will enable to overcome similar debt capacity limitation challenges that are prevalent throughout the country for other institutions.   Dr. Mohammadi noted that without the novel financial approach, the university would not have obtained the necessary bond financing for the GESA energy upgrade work.   “The implementation of this approach was made possible by Delaware Gov. Jack Markell and by State Sen. Harris B. McDowell III, who both through their leadership and support made this financing solution a reality,” Dr. Mohammadi said.   DSU shared the “Innovative Solutions” spotlight with six other honorees – the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, the City of El Paso (Texas), the City of Gillette (Wy.), HEI Hotels & Resorts, Saint-Gobain Corp., and TIAA-CREF (Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association – College Retirement Equities Fund).   The Better Business Challenge is a national leadership initiative launched by President Barack Obama in 2011 with the goal of making American commercial and industrial buildings 20 percent more energy efficient by 2020. Beginning with about 60 university, corporate, community and industrial partners, DSU was one of the invited 10 higher education partners when the initiative was launched, and the only HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) that was included.

Detroit Alumni Donate $25,000 for Scholarship

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(L-r) Woodrow Hayward, class of 1964, DSU President Harry L. Williams, and Loretta Washington, class of 1978, hold a display check representing a donation of $25,000 by the Greater Detroit Michigan Alumni of DSU.

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The Greater Detroit Michigan Alumni of Delaware State University have donated $25,000 to the DSU Foundation. The donation establishes the Greater Detroit Michigan Alumni Scholarship, which will provide an annual $5,000 to full-time DSU students in need, with out-of-state students from Detroit given priority. Representing the Detroit alumni, Woodrow Hayward, class of 1964, and Loretta Washington, class of 1978, presented the check to DSU President Harry L. Williams on May 10. In addition to the efforts of Mr. Hayward, Ms. Washington and other Detroit-area DSU alumni,  the late Colene Pearson, Esq., class of 1971, is also credited for being a driving force in the creation of the fund.

2014 Nurse Pinning Ceremony Celebrates its Graduates

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The 25 graduating nursing students are joined for a group shot by nursing faculty and administrators.

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Delvise Fogwe of Dover receives the Academic Excellence Award from Dr. Agnes Richardson. Delaware State University’s Department of Nursing held its annual Nurse Pinning Ceremony on May 10 celebrating its class of 2014 graduates. Charity Njeri receives the Clinical Excellence Award from Eunice Gwanmesia. Twenty-five nursing graduates received their official nursing pins and took their nursing oath – the Florence Nightingale Pledge – during the afternoon ceremony held in the Education and Humanities Theatre. Several nursing graduates were recognized with special awards: Delvise Fogwe of Dover, Del., received the Nursing Academic Excellence Award. Charity Njeri of Townsend, Del., received the Nursing Clinical Excellence Award. Juree Hopkins of Leonardtown, Md., received the Nursing Professional Growth Award. In addition, the graduating students honored Dr. Margaret Rose Agostino, assistant professor of nursing, who is retiring after six years as a DSU faculty member. The keynote speaker was Stella Chebe, a registered nurse in pediatrics and the president and founder of the Nkangwens Foundation, an organization that helps orphans and needy children in the country of Cameroon. Juree Hopkins receives the Professional Growth Award from Dr. Margaret Rose Agostino. The Department of Nursing – which is under the leadership of Dr. Sharon M. Mills-Wisneski , chair – comes under DSU’s College of Education, Health and Public Policy, which is led by Dr. Marshá Horton, interim dean. Dr. Margaret Rose Agostino is honored by the graduating students, represented by Kylishia Newton (l) and Morgan McKenzie (r)  

The 2014 May Commencement -- Photo Slideshow and Article

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There were many expressions of estatic joy among graduates during the May 11 Commencement Ceremony.

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More than 550 graduates walked across the stage to celebrate the completion of their degrees during the May 11 Commencement Ceremony at Delaware State University’s Alumni Stadium. To see images from the 2014 May Commencement, click on the below photo slideshow, followed by more information about the graduation. Because DSU’s Finals Week just ended on Friday, May 9, the spring semester 2014 grades and the final graduation totals will not be finalized until the coming week. However, the projected total number of graduates – combining the December Commencement confirmed total with the May total – is well above the DSU record of 671 set during the 2012-2013 school year. There were 193 graduates during the Dec. 14 Commencement. The Commencement Ceremony, held outdoor at the University’s Alumni Stadium, was presided over by DSU President Harry L. Williams. Also in attendance were U.S. Sen. Thomas R. Carper, U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, DSU Board of Trustees Chairman Dr. Claibourne Smith, as well as a number of other elected state officials. Dr. Williams presented Presidential Academic Excellence Awards to Noah Link of Dover, Del., and Roderick King of Wilmington, Del., who both earned bachelor’s degrees in mathematics education and biological science, respectively, and maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA throughout their undergraduate years. The DSU president also presented the 2014 Presidential Leadership Award to Clarence J. Banks, of Wilmington, who earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Finance and Banking. Mr. Banks was a senior resident  assistant, president of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, part of the Student Advisory Council for the College of Business, a member of the Men’s Council, and a DSU peer mentor. The keynote speaker was Charles J. Ogletree, Jr., prominent legal theorist, civil rights attorney and author. He is also a Jesse Climenko Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, and founding and executive director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice. Both President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle were students of Professor Ogletree when they attended Harvard Law School. He has continued to be a close friend of the First Couple and a confidant for the chief executive on a number of issues. Dr. Ogletree told the assembled graduates that they should not forget the sacrifices of those who made their degrees possible. He added that just like those who fought to open the doors of education for all, today’s graduates will be confronted with societal challenges that will need to be addressed as well. “The class of 2014 needs to understand that it is not just about going out to get a job as you leave DSU, but it is also about doing something to make a difference,” the keynote speaker said. Dr. Williams presented Dr. Ogletree and Bythema Byrd Bagley – a longtime educator and supporter of DSU – with an Honorary Doctor of Laws degrees.

1st Lady's Tea for May 2014 Graduating Women -- Photos

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Dr. Robin Williams (center) takes a pose with some of the graduating women that attended her First Lady's Tea in the MLK Jr. Student Center.

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Dr. Robin Williams held the May Commencement Weekend 1st Lady Tea for about 50 graduating senior women in a May 9 event that was a rich mix of professional etiquette tips, gifts, food and fellowship in the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Center For images from the event, click on the below photo slide show:

DSU Receives $1.4M Grant for West Africa Project

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The USDA Foreign Agricultural Service has enlisted a team of DSU faculty members to provide technical expertise in researching and evaluating ongoing USDA projects in the West Africa region DSU ASSESS Team: (l-r) Dr. Hankoua Bertrand, Dr. Samuel Besong, Dr. Marikis Alvarez (principal investigator) Dr. Albert Essel and Dr. Michael Casson. The team has been awarded a five-year, $1.4 million USDA grant to evaluate U.S. government agriculture, environmental and trade programs in 21 countries of West Africa. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is providing the DSU faculty team with a $1.4 million grant over five years as part of its “Analytical Support Services and Evaluations for Sustainable Systems in Agriculture, Environment and Trade (ASSESS)” program. The program is a partnership between DSU, University of Rhode Island and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana. Dr. Marikis Alvarez, associate dean for research in the DSU College of Agriculture and Related Sciences, is the principal investigator, heading a DSU team that includes: Dr. Albert Essel, associate dean for Cooperative Extension; Dr. Samuel Besong, chair of the Department of Human Ecology; Dr. Hankoua Bertrand, senior research scientist; and Dr. Michael Casson, director of the University Center for Economic Development and International Trade. As part of the ASSESS Program, the DSU team will evaluate the impact of U.S. government projects related to agriculture, the environment and trade in 21 countries of West Africa.  The team will assist in the development of a Regional Center of Excellence, which will be a facility in Ghana where monitoring and evaluation training will be given to West African countries. Dr. Alvarez said the information gathered through the evaluation process will be used in future USDA Foreign Agricultural Service decisions and policy making. “This project is catalyzing an interdisciplinary approach in its implementation by using DSU’s relevant expertise from diverse areas,” Dr. Alvarez said. He added that the project will help DSU build additional internal capacity for such activities, as well as provide the University some leverage that could result in future significant grants.

Gov. Markell Appoints DSU's Dr. Heckscher to Natural Areas Council

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Delaware Gov. Jack Markell has appointed Dr. Christopher Heckscher, DSU assistant professor of the College of Agriculture and Related Sciences, to serve as a member of the Delaware Natural Areas Advisory Council (DNAAC).   As an eight-member council created by state law, the DNAAC advises the cabinet secretary of the Delaware Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) on the administration of nature preserves and the preservation of natural areas.   As a governor’s appointment, Dr. Heckscher had to go through a state Senate confirmation hearing on March 26, during which time he received the legislators’ approval to serve on the council.   “In the field of conservation and the environment, it is a prestigious appointment,” Dr. Heckscher said, adding that he believes he is the first DSU faculty member to be appointed to the DNAAC.   Dr. Heckscher is both an entomologist (one who studies insects) and an ornithologist (one who studies birds).  Last year, he gained some notoriety within the entomology science community when he discovered a new species of firefly – Photuris mysticalampas –  which he substantiated in a published peer-reviewed paper.   In addition to his firefly research, he has also broken new ground in the study of the previously unknown migration patterns of the Veery songbird.   Dr. Heckscher has been a DSU faculty member since 2008.

DSU Dean and Doctoral Student Recognized by NASA

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(L-r) Dr. Noureddine Melikechi, dean of the College of Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Technology, and optics doctoral student Alissa Mezzacappa have been included in NASA's Group Achievement Award in recognition of the ChemCam Team's work on the Mars Curiosity Rover mission.

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As members of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory ChemCam Instrument Development & Science Team, DSU’s Dr. Noureddine Melikechi and doctoral student Ms. Alissa Mezzacappa have received one of NASA’s Highest Honor Awards – the Group Achievement Award.    The ChemCam team has received this award “For exceptional achievement defining ChemCam’s scientific goals and requirements, developing the instrument and investigation, and operating ChemCam successfully on Mars.”   This NASA Honor Award is presented to a number of carefully selected teams who have distinguished themselves by making outstanding contributions to the NASA mission.   Dr. Melikechi, dean of the College of Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Technology, as well as vice president for Research, Innovation and Economic Development, along with Ms. Mezzacappa, a Ph.D. candidate in optics, have been active members of the ChemCam team and have assisted in the analysis of data sent back from the Curiosity Rover that has been on Mars since August 2012.   The ChemCam (Chemistry and Camera suite), one of 10 instruments on the Curiosity, is being used to study the soil and rocks at each place the rover stops. The ChemCam shoots an infrared laser – more than a million watts of power – at various rock surfaces on the planet. The resulting light is read by the unit’s spectrometer and the data is sent back to earth.

2014 OSLA Awards & Appreciation Ceremony -- Photo Slideshow

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Shashanna Simeon (l), recording secretary of the 2013-14 SGA, gives the installation oath to the 2014-2015 executive SGA officers, "The Family" -- (2nd from left to r) Edward Doxen, president; Kimani Robinson, vice president; Christen Thomas, treasurer; Donametria Stallings, recording secretary; and Kalea Phelps, corresponding secretary.

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The Office of Student Leadership and Activities held its 2014 Student Organization Awards and Appreciation Ceremony on April 30 in the MLK Jr. Student Center. For images of ceremony and the award recipients, click on the below photo slideshow, followed by the list of awardees: The following organizations and individuals were honored during the ceremony: Outstanding Student Leader – Anna Kay Davis, Allied Health Organization Student of the Year – Jonnie Lonon, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. Student Volunteer of the Year – Quira Parker Outstanding New Organization – iStep Organization of the Year – DSU Theater Society Fraternity of the Year Highest GPA – Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc. Sorority of the Year Highest GPA – Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. Outstanding Student Organization Program – HBCUs vs. PWIs Part 2, Kappa Alpha Psi, Fraternity, Inc. Advisor of the Year – Tina George, Culture Exchange Program Best Organization Portfolio – Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. Fraternity of the Year – Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. Sorority of the Year – Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. During the ceremony, the incoming 2014-2015 SGA executive officers – The Family – as well as other SGA student leaders all took their installation oaths. The ceremony was emceed by the incoming 2014-2015 Mr. and Miss DSU – James L. Jones and Jamila Mustafa.  

DSU Engineering Students to Benefit from Software Donation

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Lennea Davis and Brandon Davis (l-r at computers), engineering physics majors, with Dr. Mukti Rana, assistant professor of engineering and physic, will get hands-on experience in electrical power supply analysis.

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The Department of Physics and Engineering has received an in-kind donation of computer software valued at $430,750 from Operation Technology Inc. that will help DSU engineering students get hands on training in electrical power analysis. The ETAP electrical power systems design and analysis software will be used to train the engineering students in electrical power system analysis. This will be used as a Laboratory Simulation Software in a newly developed senior course “Power System Analysis” in the Department of Physics and Engineering. It will also be used in future courses that will be taught in the area of electrical power.   ETAP is a fully integrated electrical power system analysis tool for both direct and alternating currents. Engineers use ETAP in thousands of companies and electric utilities worldwide in the design, analysis, maintenance, and operation of electrical power systems. ETAP software can be used to perform network analysis, real time monitoring, protective device design, transient analysis, user defined dynamic modeling, cable thermal analysis, fault analysis, load shedding, stability analysis and many others to simulate and design the electrical power system. Dr. Mukti Rana, assistant professor of physics and engineering, facilitated the development of the department's relationship with Operation Technologies, resulting in the software donation. Dr. Rana noted that Dr. Noureddine Melikechi, dean of the College of Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Technology, was also helpful in the endeavor.

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