Delta State University Provost Dr. Charles McAdams (left) and President William N. LaForge (right) present UPS CEO David Abney '76 with an honorary doctorate at today's 89th Commencement ceremonies.

Graduates and Abney honored at commencement

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Delta State University celebrated its 89th Commencement in grand fashion today with a traditional graduation ceremony and a presentation of an honorary doctoral degree.

The institution, friends and family united to recognize the accomplishments of over 400 graduates.

While his list of accomplishments is already lengthy, alumnus David Abney ’76, CEO of UPS, added another milestone to his résumé after being granted an honorary doctoral degree as part of Delta State’s long-running tradition of recognizing green and white greatness.

Delta State confers the honorary degree to individuals who have made significant and meritorious contributions to the university, higher education generally or other areas of society.

Achievements can include, but are not limited to, outstanding creative and scholarly work, distinguished leadership or service, significant accomplishments or exceptional philanthropic support.

Abney, who became UPS’s CEO in 2014, is also the creator of Delta State’s annual International Business Symposium in the College of Business. The IBS provides a unique look at current trends in the business world. The symposium celebrated its 10-year anniversary this April. Abney and his wife Sherry, both Delta natives, have sponsored the IBS since its inception.

Abney studied marketing at Delta State and was named the 2007 Outstanding Alumnus of the Year. He currently serves on the Delta State University Foundation Board of Directors.

The esteemed alumnus offered these words of wisdom in relation to time during his keynote address.

“Take time to fail, take time to believe in yourself, take time to shine a spotlight on others, take time to listen and at the end, of course, take time to dream,” said Abney. “I think you’ll find this will be time well spent.”2015 spring commencement small

Delta State President William N. LaForge provided introductions at the ceremony, while presentations of candidates and degrees were led by Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Charles McAdams.

“This spring, we are graduating more than 400 students, and we are happy to have them and their loved ones on campus to celebrate this momentous occasion,” said LaForge. “Thank you to our faculty and staff who have helped make this semester another successful one for Delta State. I also extend congratulations to Dr. David Abney on receiving a honorary doctoral degree. He delivered a powerful and meaningful commencement address, and we thank him for sharing his experiences and advice with all of us.”

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The Delta State University Alumni Association recently hosted the annual Bolivar County Alumni Crawfish Boil.

Bolivar County Alumni Crawfish Boil a success

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The Delta State University Alumni Association held its annual Bolivar County Alumni Crawfish Boil April 27 in front of Walter Sillers Coliseum.

“This year’s crawfish boil was a smashing success. The Alumni Association staff did a fabulous job, and everyone readily got into the spirit of the event,” said Delta State President William N. LaForge. “The great entertainment, food and large attendance by loyal alumni and friends of Delta State combined with a perfect location and ideal weather to make a fun event for all.”

This year’s event featured crawfish, BBQ and free pizza for children 12 and under thanks to Domino’s. Entertainment for the night was provided by Southern Halo, CE All Stars and Fusion Gymnastics.

LaForge, head football coach Todd Cooley and Jeffrey Farris, director of Alumni Affairs, spoke to the crowd of over 400. Bolivar County chapter president Will Bradham presented Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Wayne Blansett with a service award in honor of his upcoming retirement. Kappa Delta Sorority also recognized Elsie Lynn Ervin, who is retiring this June.

The chapter also held a silent auction with all proceeds going to the Liza Vaughn Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship was named for former assistant alumni director Liza Vaughn ’95 who passed away in April of 2012. It was established for incoming Delta State students from Bolivar County.

The event would not have been possible without the help of the volunteers and sponsors. This year’s Bolivar County officers are Will Bradham, president; Gary Crews, vice president; and Rob Shipp, secretary/treasurer. The Student Alumni Association also helped serve food and RC products, worked registration and monitored the kids area.

Prior to the event, the Alumni Association held a contest on social media for the chance to win a Yeti Hopper from Planters Equipment. Over 400 people pre-purchased tickets or liked and shared a status on the Alumni Association’s Facebook page, Statesmen Graduates, for a chance to win.

This year’s event sponsors were: National Alumni Association Corporate Sponsors: Air Evac Lifeteam, Bolivar Medical Center, Patrick Davis State Farm, Polk’s Meats; Okra Level: Bradham Enterprises, Domino’s , Needle Specialty, Nehi Bottling Co., The Image Specialist, Delta State Foundation; Green Level: Eddie S. Wilson, Kossman’s Inc., McNeer Mini Storage, OK Auto Sales and Lawn Equipment, The Cleveland Current, Planters Bank, Renasant Bank, Vowell’s Market Place; White Level: Backdraft, Bolivar Commercial, Byrd Service Station, Cleveland State Bank, Denton’s Dairy, Griffith Real Estate, H Squared Boutique, Meador & Crump, Mississippi Grounds, Partnership Properties, Security Services Inc. and Shelby Air Services.

To make a donation to the Liza Vaughn Memorial Scholarship, visit or call 662-846-4660.

To stay up to date on the Alumni Association’s activities, follow these social media sites: Facebook (Statesmen Graduates), Twitter (@DSU_Alumni), Tumblr (, LinkedIn (DSU alumni), Instagram (dsualumni) and You Tube (dsualumni1). Save the date for next year’s Pig Pickin’ (Sept. 19, 2015) and Homecoming (Nov. 7, 2015).

Sammy Britt (left), former professor of painting and drawing at Delta State, and alumnus Brandon Moon ‘03, will both receive awards from The Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters June 6 at the Lake Terrace Convention Center in Hattiesburg.

Artists Britt and Moon recognized by state

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The Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters (MIAL) has announced its award winners for works first published, performed or shown in the year 2014. The award recipients, chosen by out-of-state judges prominent in their respective fields, will be honored at the annual awards banquet to be held at the Lake Terrace Convention Center in Hattiesburg on June 6.

Two artists with ties to Delta State University’s highly-praised Department of Art will be recognized for their artistic excellence.

The Noel Polk Lifetime Achievement Award winner is painter Sammy Britt, a native of Ruleville who resides in Cleveland after a long career as professor of painting and drawing at Delta State.

Britt received his B.F.A. in painting from the Memphis Academy of Arts and his M.F.A. in painting from the University of Mississippi. In 1963, Britt began studying with Henry Hensche at the Cape Cod School of Art in Provincetown, Mass. He continued studying with this master of painting for 25 more years.

After learning from Hensche, Britt was inspired to teach thousands of students over his legendary 35-year career at Delta State. After retiring from the university in 2002, Britt received the Kossman Outstanding Teacher Award and was also named professor emeritus of art.

“I cannot tell you how surprised and honored I felt when I was nominated for the 2015 Noel Polk Lifetime Achievement Award,” said Britt. “I am very pleased and proud to be recognized by members of the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters as the recipient of this award.”

Britt reflected fondly on his interactions with students and faculty over his lengthy Delta State career.

“Delta State was the beginning of my career as a teacher of art. I was blessed with a great chairman, Malcolm Norwood, and a talented, diverse art faculty,” he said. “We grew together into a well-respected art department. I was also entrusted with very talented, hardworking students during my 35 years at Delta State. I am thankful God enabled me to learn and then to share with students during my years at Delta State and beyond.

“God, my family and Delta State are the foundation for my receiving the Noel Polk Lifetime Achievement Award.”

Britt has won many awards in competitive shows throughout his long career and has served as a juror for shows in several states. In 1999, Britt was featured at the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art in Laurel, Miss. in a show entitled “A Painter’s Painter: Charles Webster Hawthorne; The Influence of Provincetown and Henry Hensche on Sammy Britt, Gerald DeLoach, Richard Kelso, and George T. Thurmond Exhibition.”

He was also featured on Mississippi Educational Television, is a member of Omicron Delta Kappa Honorary Leadership Fraternity, was chosen as one of the Outstanding Educators in America and is listed in Who’s Who in American Art.

Britt continues to paint and teach workshops in the tradition of Hensche.

Brandon Moon is this year’s MIAL winner of the Visual Arts Award for “10 Works by Brandon Moon.”

A native of Jackson, Moon received his B.F.A. in painting from Delta State in 2003 and continued his studies in the graduate painting program at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Ga. He continues to create art in Jersey City, N.J. and New York City.

His work has been featured in shows in New York, Mississippi and Ohio.

“It is extremely difficult to express the surprise and elation upon hearing of the honor,” said Moon. “I work and create because I must — and to have such personal output not only recognized but lauded as well, is quite extraordinary.”

Moon added that his time as a student at Delta State prepared him for his career as an artist today.

“My time at DSU was really my stepping stone into the exploration of techniques and color,” he said. “I owe so much to the faculty at DSU from 2000-2003, from the encouragement to find myself, to the challenges my professors put forth. I can’t think of a more compacted influential period before or after.”

While Moon now resides outside Mississippi, he said the Magnolia State would always be home. He is humbled to be included with this year’s award winners and is thankful to MIAL for promoting the arts in Mississippi.

Moon is the son of Dr. Beverly Moon, dean of Graduate & Continuing Studies & Research at Delta State.

For information on the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters, visit

The Simmons Room in the Alumni House is available for rent to the campus and community.

Delta State Alumni to hold event in Hattiesburg

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The Delta State University Alumni Association announced plans for the Southeast Alumni Chapter Meeting Thursday, April 30. The event will be held at Mack’s West in Hattiesburg and will begin with a social at 6:00 p.m. followed by dinner and the program at 6:30 p.m.

The event will feature guests from campus including the Delta State Alumni-Foundation staff as well as other university officials. Prospective students are invited to attend as guests of the Alumni Association. To RSVP, contact the Alumni Association at (662) 846-4660 or visit

“Come and enjoy a great evening with fellow alumni and friends as we celebrate Delta State University in Golden Eagle country,” said Chris Shivers ’94, National Alumni Association Board Member.

There is no cost for the meeting; attendees only need to pay for dinner. Donations may be made for the Southeast Alumni Chapter Scholarship.

For more information on the South East Chapter Meeting, contact Jeffrey Farris at There is also a Facebook page for the event:

To stay up to date on the Alumni Association’s activities, follow these social media sites: Facebook (Statesmen Graduates), Twitter (@DSU_Alumni), Tumblr (, LinkedIn (DSU alumni), Instagram (dsualumni) and You Tube (dsualumni1).Save the date for next year’s Pig Pickin’ (September 19, 2015) and Homecoming (November 7, 2015).

Delta State University President William N. LaForge, right, presented a donation from the DSU Foundation to Mississippi State University’s Dudy Noble stadium baseball project to MSU President Mark E. Keenum, left, prior to Thursday’s meeting of the state College Board in Jackson. The gift honors former MSU baseball great and longtime DSU coach and administrator David M. “Boo” Ferriss. Ferriss was MSU’s first scholarship baseball player and went on to a remarkable career in Major League Baseball with the Boston Red Sox.

DSU Foundation honors Coach “Boo” Ferriss with MSU donation

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The Delta State University Foundation has made a $10,000 donation to the Mississippi State University Dudy Noble Stadium project in honor of MSU baseball great and former longtime DSU head baseball coach David M. “Boo” Ferriss.

The Shaw, Miss., native is a member of the Mississippi State University Sports Hall of Fame, the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame. Ferriss, 93, played at State in 1941 and 1942 and holds the distinction of being the first player to attend Mississippi State on a baseball scholarship.

“Boo Ferriss is one of our state’s most beloved sports figures,” said MSU President Mark E. Keenum. “He will forever be both a Bulldog and a Statesman, and because of his association with the great baseball programs at our two institutions, it is most appropriate that we join with Delta State in honoring Coach Ferriss in this manner. We are grateful to the Delta State University family for this most generous gift.”

Delta State President William N. LaForge noted the significance of this donation.

“This contribution, from one institution’s foundation to another, is significant because it’s yet another way for all of us to pay great tribute to this outstanding man — particularly because it’s Boo Ferriss’s alma mater where he also played,” said LaForge.

“This gift is a win-win — meaning the Delta State community can once again hold up our hero and legend Coach Boo Ferriss, while supporting a very worthwhile endeavor at the school where he first made his name,” LaForge added. “It also serves to honor him and provides donor satisfaction to the contributors for this project, all of which are private dollars. No institutional funds are being used for this project.”

LaForge presented the gift to Keenum on Thursday prior to the meeting of the Board of Trustees of Institutions of Higher Learning in Jackson.

After his playing days, Ferriss entered the coaching profession and is credited with building the legendary baseball program at Delta State. In his 26 seasons at Delta State, Ferriss’s teams won 639 games and lost only 387. He led the way to four Gulf South Conference championships, three National Collegiate Athletic Association regional titles, and placed second once and third twice in the College World Series.

Ferriss served as the first executive director of the Delta State Foundation until he retired from the institution in 1988. Keith Fulcher, executive director of the DSU Foundation, has worked closely with Ferriss throughout the years.

“The Delta State University Foundation Board of Directors is pleased to honor Coach Ferriss through this gift, especially since he was named the first director of the Foundation in 1967. The successes we’ve enjoyed in private support are due to his years of building lifelong relationships with our alumni and donors. No one has done it better than Coach Ferriss,” said Fulcher.

Coach Ferriss has left a lasting impact on the current president of the Delta State Foundation James T. Harvey and many others.

“As President of the Delta State University Foundation Board of Directors and a former player for Coach Dave ‘Boo’ Ferriss, I am pleased to honor him with this gift of $10,000 to his alma mater, Mississippi State University,” said Harvey. “Coach Ferriss’s legacy and impact in the baseball world transcends universities and reaches across the United States. My hope is that the gift will help the next generation of baseball players and fans to emulate the love of the game that Coach Ferriss has imparted to so many of us.”

MSU, Mississippi’s flagship research university, is online at,,,, and Invest in the MSU Foundation at

Delta State University, a regional university of national distinction, is online at, and Support Delta State through the DSU Foundation online at, and use the hashtag #booferriss on all related media.