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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

By | Alumni, Community, Faculty/Staff, Foundation, President | No Comments

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 www.deltastategiving.org/alumniassociation 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 (http://www.dsualumni.tumblr.com), 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).

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

By | Alumni, Foundation | No Comments

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 www.msstate.edu, meridian.msstate.edu, facebook.com/msstate, instagram.com/msstate, pinterest.com/msstate and twitter.com/msstate. Invest in the MSU Foundation at infiniteimpactmsu.com.

Delta State University, a regional university of national distinction, is online at www.deltastate.edu, facebook.com/deltastateuniversity and twitter.com/deltastate. Support Delta State through the DSU Foundation online at deltastategiving.org, and use the hashtag #booferriss on all related media.

The annual Bolivar County Alumni Crawfish Boil returns to campus April 16  at 6 p.m. in front of Walter Sillers Coliseum.

Bolivar County Alumni Crawfish Boil returning to campus

By | Alumni, Community, Faculty/Staff, Foundation, Students | No Comments

The Delta State University Alumni Association has been busy planning the annual Bolivar County Alumni Crawfish Boil. This year’s event will be April 16  at 6 p.m. in front of Walter Sillers Coliseum.

In addition to crawfish, BBQ plates can also be purchased. Free pizza will be available to children 12 and under with the purchase of an adult ticket. There will also be a silent auction and a Kids Zone. Live entertainment will be provided by Southern Halo and the CE All Stars.

Tickets for crawfish are $20 and $8 for BBQ and can be purchased at the Hugh Ellis Walker Alumni-Foundation House, online at www.deltastategiving.org/alumniassociation/bolivarcountycrawfishboil, or at the door.

All alumni, friends, students, faculty and staff are invited to attend. Proceeds from tickets, the silent auction and sponsorships benefit the Liza Vaughn Memorial Scholarship Fund, which provides scholarships to incoming Delta State students from Bolivar County. This scholarship was established in 2011 and was named for past assistant director of Alumni Affairs Liza Vaughn, who lost her battle with cancer in April of 2012.

“We are very proud of the scholarship we have been able to give out in memory of Liza Vaughn,” said Will Bradham, president of the Bolivar County Chapter. “It is very important for us as a chapter to help area students further their education at Delta State University. We all know how much a little money can help one of our area students achieve success in college, and we feel our scholarship program is a great avenue to that success.”

The event would not be possible without the generosity of our sponsors — 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; 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.

Join the Facebook event at Statesmen Graduates, Bolivar County Crawfish Boil. To stay up to date on the Alumni Association’s activities, follow these social media sites: Facebook (Statesmen Graduates), Twitter (@DSU_Alumni), Tumblr (http://www.dsualumni.tumblr.com), 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).

Alumnus Will Simpson '00 was selected for the inaugural Presidential Leadership Scholars Program.

Simpson selected for inaugural Presidential Leadership Scholars Program

By | Alumni, Community, Foundation, President | No Comments

Delta State alumnus William Simpson is one of 60 scholars selected to participate in the inaugural class of The Presidential Leadership Scholars Program, a leadership development initiative supported by former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

The program allows scholars like Simpson to interact with distinguished professors and former administrative officials as a way to develop their talents. The initiative also utilizes the presidential centers of George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Lyndon B. Johnson, and George W. Bush.

Simpson discovered the six-month program while reading the Wall Street Journal, and his interest grew when he watched its promotional video on C-SPAN.org. From there, he logged onto http://www.presidentialleadershipscholars.org and submitted an application, which required the submission of essays, three references and details of a personal leadership project.

“I almost talked myself out of applying,” Simpson said. “I didn’t want to inconvenience people with writing recommendations for me.”

The program is non-degree bearing, entails approximately 100 hours of informative sessions and case studies, and covers expansive approaches to leadership theory while drawing upon examples from recent presidents.

After being evaluated and later interviewed by three panelists online, Simpson was notified of his acceptance over the Christmas holidays. The inaugural program began in February.

While in the scholars program, Simpson aims to develop the skills he uses daily as deputy administrator at the Mississippi Department of Human Services.

“I want to do my job here better and grow personally,” he said. “I want to help Mississippi. I live and I work here.”

The alumnus, who graduated in 2000 with a degree in social science, is a Jackson, Miss. resident who grew up in Clarksdale. He is also involved in a leadership project, the Oakley Youth Development Center. As part of the initiative, Simpson reaches out and aids troubled youth.

Simpson, a former SGA president at Delta State, credits the university for being a critical source of leadership at an influential time in his life.

“Delta State is where I first recognized what leadership is and its importance,” he said. “Most of what I bring to the table as a leader traces back to a skill or concept introduced to me at the university. Those skills — particularly communication — make me a better lawyer and public administrator.”

His advice to those interested in applying for the scholars program is to “gear your program around helping people.”

This concept is embedded in the scholar program’s curriculum, which concentrates on four principles: vision and communication; decision-making; influence and persuasion; and building coalitions.

Utilizing program features such as leadership skill-building and peer learning group sessions, the program aims to aid its scholars.

During the program’s first week, the group visited George Washington’s Mount Vernon, where Dr.  Robert M. Gates, former Secretary of Defense, was a speaker.

“It was fantastic because you got to see him up close and personal,” Simpson said. “He was candid.”

Simpson is thrilled to be included amongst his selective peers and be meeting some of America’s most distinguished leaders.

“I almost have to pinch myself,” he said.

This week, the group will visit the William J. Clinton Presidential Center, followed by the George W. Bush Presidential Center in April, the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library in May and the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library in June.

The inaugural class will graduate at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas in July. Learn more about the program at http://www.presidentialleadershipscholars.org.

Principals of Gresham Petroleum and Double Quick (left to right), Bill McPherson, Tom Gresham and Walton Gresham, recently supported Delta State University and the Delta State University with record-breaking scholarships to the Delta State University College of Business.

Gresham Petroleum and Double Quick make record-breaking donation

By | Academics, Alumni, College of Business, Community, Faculty/Staff, Foundation, President, Students | No Comments

Thanks to the principals of the Indianola-based sister companies Gresham Petroleum and Double Quick, Delta State University and the Delta State University Foundation are pleased to announce the groundbreaking Gresham-McPherson Endowed Scholarships in the College of Business.

This Gresham Petroleum/Double Quick gift is the largest unrestricted scholarship gift in the history of Delta State University’s College of Business. Contributors include: Thomas & Louise Gresham Endowed Scholarship Fund, $75,000; Walton & Laura Gresham Endowed Scholarship Fund, $75,000; and the Bill & Draughon McPherson Endowed Scholarship Fund.

These monumental gifts total $225,000. Additionally, Gresham Petroleum/Double Quick is donating $10,000 each for the next five years to contribute $50,000 toward marketing.

Discussion of the scholarships began when William N. LaForge, president of Delta State University, and Keith Fulcher, executive director of the Delta State University Foundation, approached Gresham Petroleum/Double Quick — companies with long histories of supporting students through internships and hiring Delta State graduates.

“When President LaForge and Keith approached us about helping Delta State, we decided we wanted to help the College of Business,” said Tom. “We realized the importance Delta State has for the Delta, and we’ve hired so many Delta State graduates.

“We’ve had for several years an accounting internship program through Delta State. Many of those interns have gone on to be our employees, and we realized that Delta State has a great product. The students are ready for the working world and very prepared to join our team as soon as they graduate.”

McPherson added that the quality of students coming out of the College of Business played a major role in designating the funds to the business program.

“They come in able to learn our business, join our accounting team and some even move on to other areas of the company,” said McPherson. “Some came through the accounting internship and some came on right after college. There are Delta State graduates in all facets of our business.”

Giving back to a university that has consistently given them a great product seemed like a no-brainer to Walton and Laura.

“It’s important we give back to the area, and we felt like this was the way we could impact the Delta,” said Walton. “If the Delta is going to continue to grow and prosper, we need to make sure young students can depend on Delta State to further their education.”

LaForge said the contributions would greatly enhance to the quality of students who continue to graduate from Delta State.

“This is a perfect connection between academics at Delta State and business in the Delta. It provides the ideal loop,” said LaForge. “Students benefit from the scholarship support being provided to pursue their studies in accounting, excellent accounting students graduate from our program, and Double Quick/Gresham Petroleum is able to recruit newly-minted accountants to work in their headquarters.

“Delta State is immensely appreciative to Bill McPherson and Tom and Walton Gresham for their contributions and generosity. Their investment in our students is an investment in the Delta, as well as in their own businesses.”

Gresham Petroleum has been around since the late 1920s and is a wholesale fuel distributor throughout Northwest Mississippi and Southeastern Arkansas.

Double Quick has over 50 convenience stores primarily in the same regions. Learn more about both companies at http://www.greshampetroleum.com and http://www.doublequick.com.

Fulcher could not be happier with the generous support to the university.

“The gift amount demonstrates to others that Delta State University graduates are a vital part of the economic engine of the Mississippi Delta,” said Fulcher. “These graduates often comprise a significant percentage of the workforce of successful businesses like Gresham Petroleum and Double Quick.”

Learn more about giving opportunities through the Delta State University Foundation at http://www.deltastategiving.org.