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

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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, 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 (, 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

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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 From there, he logged onto 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

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 and

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

Dr. Henry Outlaw

University mourns loss of Dr. Henry Outlaw

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The collective Delta State University community is mourning the loss of Dr. Henry Outlaw, chair emeritus of the Department of Physical Sciences and professor emeritus of chemistry, who passed away in the early morning hours today at St. Dominic’s Hospital in Jackson, Miss. He was 77 years old.

Outlaw was a 1961 graduate of Delta State University with a Bachelor’s of Science in chemistry and biology. He obtained a Master’s of Science and a doctorate in pharmacology and toxicology from the University of Mississippi Medical School.

Outlaw was a professor of chemistry at Delta State University from 1966-2002 and served as chair of the Department of Physical Sciences from 1970-2002. After retiring from his position as chair, he began working as a program associate at the Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State. He also worked as a development officer at the Delta State University Alumni-Foundation Office. He was a member of the Delta State University National Alumni Association and a charter member of the Dedicated Statesmen Association comprised of retired employees of the university.

Among his countless contributions to the university, Outlaw worked tirelessly to recruit students to Delta State.

He was a National Institutes of Health Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Florida Medical School from 1965-66, and had been a visiting professor in the Department of Pharmacology at the University of North Carolina Medical School, a Fellow-in-Residence in the School of Theology at the University of the South, and was a Templeton Fellow in Science and Religion at Oxford University.

With the aid of grants from the Mississippi Humanities Council, he collected oral histories, artifacts and documents related to the Emmett Till murder and developed an travel exhibit that has won national attention. He also received the Chairs Award for Special Achievements in the Humanities.

Additionally, he was a member of the Mississippi Academy of Sciences and the American Chemical Society. In 1995, Outlaw was awarded the Outstanding Chemist Award in by the Mississippi Section of the American Chemical Society. He received the Delta State University Student Government Association Outstanding Teacher Award in 1998 and the Dr. Travis Richardson Outstanding Science Teacher Award in 2000. In 2006, he received the Chairs Award from the Mississippi Humanities Council.

In November of 2014, the National Alumni Association created the Dr. Henry Outlaw Faculty/Staff Service Award as a way to recognize former Delta State faculty or staff members who have had a significant influence in the life of the university. Outlaw was the inaugural recipient.

Arrangements are being made for funeral services. Dr. Outlaw will be greatly missed by his Delta State University family.

Delta State University’s Foundation, Delta State University, the city of Cleveland, Delta Arts Alliance and the Cleveland-Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce recently gathered to officially acknowledge the Levitt AMP Grant award. Those in attendance were: (sitting, l to r) Farae Wolfe, Robin Boyles, (standing, l to r) Jeffrey Farris, Gary Bouse, Hilda Povall, Lisa Cooley, Rori Herbison, Tricia Walker and Keith Fulcher.

Levitt grant officially acknowledged

By | Community, Delta Music Institute, Faculty/Staff, Foundation, Students | No Comments

Delta State University’s Foundation, Delta State University, the city of Cleveland, Delta Arts Alliance and the Cleveland-Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce recently gathered to officially acknowledge the Levitt AMP Grant award, which was selected by a public vote in November of 2014.

The grant provides a $25,000 matching fund to provide a free outdoor concert series featuring a diverse lineup of professional musicians. In conjunction with the Delta State Foundation, the city of Cleveland provided a letter of support for the project, and Delta State’s Delta Music Institute will take lead on the unique opportunity.

“We are grateful to Levitt Pavilions for selecting Cleveland to be one of the 10 small cities to hold a Levitt AMP Music Series,” said Robin Boyles, director of the Office of Institutional Grants at Delta State. “While being led by Delta State’s Delta Music Institute, the Levitt AMP Cleveland Music Series will be a collaborative effort with the city of Cleveland, the Cleveland-Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce and the Delta Arts Alliance, and there will be opportunities for other groups and businesses to participate.

“Because it is a $25,000 matching grant, there are partnership opportunities for sponsorships which will go towards the required match. We are already busy planning the 10-week concert series, set to begin in late August and continue through October.”

Thanks to online public voting, Cleveland became one of the 10 winning cities. Levitt Pavilions aims to serve small to mid-sized towns and cities up to 400,000 people through the program. Ten nonprofits, or municipalities partnering with a nonprofit, will receive the matching funds to produce their own Levitt AMP Music Series.

Lisa Cooley, Team Cleveland Main Street manager for the Cleveland-Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce, said the grant will be huge for Cleveland, especially the downtown area.

“Events that bring people to our community can provide a huge economic impact for Cleveland,” said Cooley. “These concerts will not only allow us to bring visitors to the area, but they also help improve upon the quality of place for our residents by providing more artistic programming opportunities.”

The concert series will reflect three goals defined by Levitt Pavilions — to amplify community pride and the city’s unique character; enrich lives through the power of free live music; and illustrate the importance of vibrant public places.

The Levitt AMP Cleveland Music Series is supported in part by Levitt Pavilions, the national nonprofit behind the largest free outdoor concert series in America. Dedicated to strengthening the social fabric of our communities, Levitt partners with cities to transform neglected public spaces into thriving destinations through the power of free, live music. In 2015, free Levitt concerts will take place in 16 cities across 14 states, all featuring a rich array of music genres and high caliber talent. In addition to Levitt AMP, Levitt forms the only national network of nonprofit outdoor music venues, each presenting 50+ free concerts every year. Within this region is the Levitt Shell ( in Memphis, Tenn. with concerts taking place this May, June, July, September and October. Learn more about locations and impact: