July 31, 2020 – The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs is pleased to announce the 24 U.S. colleges and universities awarded 2020 IDEAS Grants (Increase and Diversity Education Abroad for U.S. Students Grants) under its Capacity Building Program for U.S. Study Aboard, which includes two historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). With the support of the IDEAS Grants, these institutions will support the goals of U.S. foreign policy by developing and expanding their study abroad programming around the world.

Congratulations to the following colleges and universities on their 2020 IDEAS Grants.

  • Baldwin Wallace University, Berea, Ohio
  • Colorado Mountain College, Glenwood Springs, Colorado
  • Community College District 502 – College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn, Illinois
  • Community College of Baltimore County, Baltimore, Maryland
  • Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia
  • Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, Georgia
  • Lincoln University, Lincoln University, Pennsylvania Massasoit*
  • Community College, Brockton, Massachusetts
  • Mississippi Valley State University, Itta Bena, Mississippi*
  • Montana State University Billings, Billings, Montana
  • New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico
  • Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona
  • Oakland Community College, Farmington Hills, Michigan
  • Sinclair Community College, Dayton, Ohio Texas
  • Woman’s University, Denton, Texas
  • The University of Tennessee at Martin, Martin, Tennessee
  • Towson University, Towson, Maryland
  • Universidad del Sagrado Corazon, San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama
  • University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida
  • University of Houston-Clear Lake, Houston, Texas
  • University of Wisconsin – Stout, Menomonie, Wisconsin
  • Utica College, Utica, New York
  • Worcester State University, Worcester, Massachusetts

Panels of U.S. higher education representatives recommended these institutions for funding from a pool of 115 proposals. The winning institutions come from 18 states and Puerto Rico and represent the full diversity of the American higher education system, including five community colleges and eight Minority-Serving Institutions. Over the next year, these U.S. colleges and universities will receive funding and programmatic support to help build and strengthen their capacity to send more American students overseas to more diverse destinations for years to come.

“We are committed to continuing our support for U.S. colleges and universities as they build their study abroad capacity now, in anticipation of a strong return to U.S. student mobility in the future… When American students study abroad, they support critical U.S. foreign policy goals by building relationships with foreign peers, sharing American culture and values, and developing valuable career skills. With these international experiences, the next generation of Americans is being equipped with the skills necessary to compete and succeed globally,” said Marie Royce, Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

The Capacity Building Program for U.S. Study Abroad seeks to increase the capacity of accredited U.S. colleges and universities to create, expand, and diversify study abroad programs for U.S. students. In addition to the IDEAS Grant competition, the program also offers opportunities for faculty, staff, and administrators at U.S. colleges and universities to participate in a series of free virtual and in-person study abroad capacity building activities. For more information, including details on a free IDEAS webinar series on building study abroad resources for U.S. campuses, please visit the Capacity Building Program for U.S. Study Abroad website at www.studyabroadcapacitybuilding.com. Additional information on U.S. government resources to support study abroad can also be found at studyabroad.state.gov.

The Capacity Building Program for U.S. Study Abroad is a program of the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government and supported in its implementation by World Learning.

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ITTA BENA, MS – Students attending Mississippi Valley State University (MVSU) will benefit from a five-year $200,000 grant commitment from the Woodward Hines Education Foundation (WHEF) to support college retention, persistence, and completion through the Improving Mississippi’s Persistence and Completion Together (IMPACT) initiative.

WHEF is an endowed Mississippi non-profit organization that has focused it efforts on promoting increased postsecondary access among underrepresented students for nearly 25 years, and most recently expanded its mission to also support increased credential completion within the state.

“The need to support students and to improve the rates of college completion among Mississippians has always existed. But, in light of COVID, the need has never been greater and more pressing,” said Jim McHale, WHEF President and CEO.

“According to Georgetown University, it is estimated that 65% of all jobs require some kind of postsecondary education. Currently, Mississippi sits at 45.2%. In order to improve the lives of Mississippians, to support Mississippi’s economic recovery, and to competitively position our state within a global economy, there is a critical need to not only have more students enroll in college, but to have them successfully complete their degree or credential.”

MVSU’s project, “The Road to Success: Retention, Persistence, Graduation (RPG)”, is designed to improve academic out-comes for a yearly minimum of 50 at-risk, particularly first-generation, low-income minority students. To this end, RPG will provide students with intensive, intrusive targeted services geared toward successful college completion.

Included among these services are regularly scheduled academic advising and counseling, face-to-face and online mandatory tutorial sessions and career counseling. The project has, at its core, coordination and integration of tutorial into MVSU’s First-and Second-Year Experience programs, as well as gateway courses.

The tutorial services are designed as an umbrella collective, which prevents the duplication of services, while maximizing student usage throughout the academic term rather than around test time. Students will participate in individualized and small group sessions that offer flexibility but require at least two (2) hours of weekly attendence.

“We are elated to partner with the Woodward Hines Education Foundation to enhance the support and resources available to MVSU students,” said Dr. Jerryl Briggs, Sr., MVSU President. “We know that a college degree is transformative not only for the lives of our students but their families as well. Though funding from the Woodward Hines Education Foundation, we will be able to assist students with educational barriers to ensure their academic and personal success. I am certain that Dr. (Kathie) Stromile Golden and her team will develop innovative and impactful programs that will resonate with our students.”

In addition to the grant funding, WHEF will underwrite biennial IMPACT convenings for all Mississippi public baccalaureate institutions, with the goal of creating a state-specific, facilitated community of practice for the exchange of findings, insights, and ideas; in addition, WHEF plans to provide coordinated access to high-quality professional development opportunities for institutional faculty and staff, innovations in data collection and usage, as well as platforms for peer learning.

“In addition to providing financial resources to individual schools, we hope to create a learning community where generative conversations about college success can happen,” said Shanell Watson, WHEF Program Officer and IMPACT Project Lead. “Although each Mississippi institution has its own unique challenges and opportunities, they are also working to solve the same problems. Our goal with the IMPACT initiative is to provide a place where our universities can share with and learn from one another, for the betterment of all our students.”

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About Mississippi Valley State University (MVSU)


Mississippi Valley State University, as a Carnegie Classified Master’s University, provides comprehensive undergraduate and graduate programs in education, the arts and sciences, and professional studies. The University is driven by its commitment to excellence in teaching, learning, service, and research~a commitment resulting in a learner~centered environment that prepares critical thinkers, exceptional communicators, and service-oriented, engaged, and productive citizens. MVSU is fundamentally committed to positively impacting the quality of life and creating educational opportunities for the Mississippi Delta and beyond. For more information, visit www.mvsu.edu.
Fannie Lou Hamer

ITTA BENA, MS – After months of intense planning, a group from Mississippi Valley State University (MVSU) has received approval to proceed with a project that will erect the first historical marker commemorating the historic stance taken by Fannie Lou Hamer to ensure voting rights for all Americans, according to the University.

MVSU Associate Professor of History Dr. C. Sade Turnipseed and students in her Public History course, led by Nigerian native Brian Diyaolu, have been given the greenlight by the Sunflower County Board of Supervisors to place a maker at the Sunflower County Courthouse in Indianola to commemorate Hamer’s legacy.

The historic marker will be unveiled on the Sunflower County Courthouse steps in March during the 2020 Women’s History Month celebration. The date and time will be announced soon.

“At MVSU, we pride ourselves by putting students first, and Dr. Turnipseed is truly a faculty member who does just that. I congratulate her and the students on this outstanding accomplishments,” said Dr. Jerryl Briggs, MVSU President. “Understanding the significance of our nation’s history is extremely important because through this knowledge we can build stronger communities today.”

Civil rights activist Charles McLaurin of Indianola accompanied the MVSU team to present a case to the Sunflower County Board detailing Hamer’s significance to Sunflower County and the implementation of the historical marker.

McLaurin, along with several other members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), escorted Hamer in 1962 as she made her first attempt to register to vote at the Sunflower County Courthouse.

President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the 1964 Voting Rights Act due in large measure to Hamer’s advocacy.

Dr. C. Sade Turnipseed

Turnipseed said she’s appealing to the public to support this worthy cause and commemorate this true American heroine.

“My students have a set goal of $5,500 for the completion of this historical marker project,” said Turnipseed. “We hope to achieve this goal by January 30, 2020. Thus far, we have received $3,000 commitment from the Sunflower County Board of Supervisors. We’re giving a special appeal to local churches, social groups, educational institutions and individuals to get involved by making a contribution for the remaining balance.”

The complete list of donors will be listed and acknowledged during the unveiling ceremony, Turnipseed said.

According to Turnipseed, the marker will also ensure that visitors of the courthouse are aware of its historical significance for years to come.

“At MVSU we sincerely care about historical figures in American history. We want to make sure these cherished and important individuals are remembered in the sands of time,” she said. “Mrs. Hamer falls in this category of people, so we make it our sacred duty to honor her contributions, so that she is not forgotten.”

Turnipseed said the project was also a great opportunity for MVSU students to learn about Hamer’s significance to American history. 

“MVSU is committed to positively impacting the quality of life and creating extraordinary educational opportunities for the Mississippi Delta and beyond,” she said. “This endeavor allows MVSU students to reach new heights by demonstrating their appreciation for the contributions that Mrs. Hamer and her contemporaries made to America.”

Hamer was born in Montgomery County, MS on Oct. 6, 1917—the 20th and final child of Lou Ella and James Townsend. 

Her parents were sharecroppers, and Hamer began working in the fields picking cotton when she was only 6-years-old. She learned to read and write and became one of the most important, passionate, and powerful voices of the civil and voting rights movements and a leader in the efforts for greater economic opportunities for African Americans, particularly for women. 

Hamer was internationally acclaimed for her uncompromising fight to combat white supremacy, whilst being subjected to attacks and assassination attempts. Her work with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and her testimony at the 1964 National Democratic Party’s Convention on behalf of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) helped change the nation’s perspective on the true meaning of democracy in America. 

For more information, or to support the Fannie Lou Hamer historical marker project, contact Turnipseed at (662) 347-8198 or cassie.turnipseed@mvsu.edu.

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About Mississippi Valley State University

Mississippi Valley State University, as a Carnegie Classified Master’s University, provides comprehensive undergraduate and graduate programs in education, the arts and sciences, and professional studies. The University is driven by its commitment to excellence in teaching, learning, service, and research–a commitment resulting in a learner-centered environment that prepares critical thinkers, exceptional communicators, and service-oriented, engaged, and productive citizens. MVSU is fundamentally committed to positively impacting the quality of life and creating extraordinary educational opportunities for the Mississippi Delta and beyond. For more information, visit www.mvsu.edu.

ITTA BENA – A Mississippi Valley State University alumnus recently teamed up with his employer to present the institution with a $5,000 grant.

According to a press release by the university, Itta Bena native Kortney Haymore, a 2017 graduate of MVSU’s Environmental Health program, currently serves as an industrial hygienist with Gobbell Hays Partners (GHP), Inc. in San Antonio.

The company recently awarded its inaugural $5,000 community grant to MVSU by way of a nomination made by Haymore.

“When GHP first announced the contest, I knew I wanted to nominate MVSU – particularly the Environmental Science program. Valley is the only school in the Mississippi Delta with an Environmental Health program and that makes it unique,” said Haymone.

In a post announcing MVSU as the recipient of the award, GHP stated, “Thank you, MVSU for equipping bright minds like Kortney to improve environment health in Mississippi and across the world.”

Dameon Shaw, MVSU’s interim vice president for university advancement, said that the grant will help equip more students with skills to make a different in a global society.

“We are thankful to GHP for being visionaries in giving back. We are also excited that one of our alums, Mr. Kortney Haymore, has found a place in this amazing company,” said Shaw. “Korney’s love for the University motivated him to nominate MVSU for the company’s first-ever community grant, which will enable us to touch the lives of more students and improve our capacity to serve our community.”

For Haymore, Valley has been a beacon of light and having the chance to give back means a great deal to him.

“The professors poured so much knowledge into me and countless others assisted me throughout my matriculation at MVSU, so now to be able to reach out and help another student means everything to me,” he added.

GHP specializes in the fields of Architecture, Forensic Architecture, Environmental Health and Safety (EHS), LEED/Sustainability and Project Management in Healthcare, Hospitality, Historic Renovation, Multi-Family, Government, Laboratories, Commercial and Education. This firm is one of the first to successfully integrate architectural design with environmental and industrial hygiene consultation.

To learn more about GHP visit, www.ghp1.com.

To learn more about MVSU’s Environment Health program, call (662) 254-3377 or visit www.mvsu.edu.

Dr. Elizabeth Evans

ITTA BENA, MS – Mississippi Valley State University President Dr. Jerryl Briggs has announced Dr. Elizabeth Evans as the Interim Vice President of Academic Affairs, according to a press release by the university. Her appointment comes after the sudden death of Dr. Constance Bland, who was the current Vice President of Academic Affairs. Dr. Bland passed away on October 9.

In this role, Evans will as the institution’s chief academic officer, overseeing the Office of Academic Affairs. As a member of the institution’s Executive and Extended Cabinets. She was also play an integral role in the overall management of the institution.

“Dr. Evans has had a remarkable career, both in the United States Air Force and here at Mississippi Valley State University,” said Briggs. “She is extremely committed to our students and university’s success, and I look forward to her continuing to more our academic mission forward.”

Evans, who most recently served as the associate vice president of academic affairs, said she is humbled by the opportunity to serve.

“My experience in the military and the field of education have converged to prepare me for this executive administrative position. I embrace the opportunity and welcome supportive ideas,” she said.

A 1975 graduate of Genty High School in Indianola, Miss. Evans earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from Mississippi Valley State University, where she was commissioned as a Distinguished Graduate of the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC) program (1979).

She is a 24-year veteran of the United States Air Force, where she spent the first 20 years of that time in the “Space Operations” career field working with satellites and their role in the defense of the United States of America. The remaining four years were spent recruiting, educating, training, motivating, and selecting college students for military service.

Her years of active military service and specialized training are foundational pillars for her experience in leading various technical, operational and research/study groups, leading various groups and project, managing organizational budgets, and developing and implementing organizational policies. She tire as a Lieutenant Colonel in November 2003.

Evans joined the Mississippi Valley State University faculty in the fall of 2003, serving in the Social Science Department. Her service included teaching as well as membership in and leadership of various university and departmental committees, academic program coordinator, program internship coordinator, membership in and leadership of the MVSU Faculty, Senate, and acting department chair.

She began serving as associate vice president of academic affairs in Feb. 2017. Her tenure included developing and implementing policies, procedures and practices designed to ensure effective delivery of academic programs at the undergraduate an graduate levels.

Among her responsibilities were planning and supervising the improvement of academic programs and faculty development, collaborating with department chairs and faculty to implement the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), communicating and advancing the mission and core values of the University by ensuring that Academic Affairs has positioned the University’s academic programs to carry out such, and collaborating with senior leadership in the periodic review of academic programs to monitor the institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) program productivity.

Evans’ primary interest in student achievement. She believes that teaching is more than the giving of information; is it working to ensure learning takes place.

Evans is the mother of two children, Constance Caesar and Lawrence Caesar, and on granddaughter, Caitlyn Caesar.