A Letter from Delta State President

By | Community, Faculty/Staff, General, Students | No Comments

Dear Campus Colleagues, Students, Alumni, and Friends:

The tragedy at Delta State this week conjures up terms such as unspeakable, unimaginable, and surreal.

That sort of thing is not supposed to happen on our campus…to our people…in our community.

But it did.

Our hearts and prayers go out to the families affected by the events on Monday. We grieve with them and hope they find peace.

Now, it is up to us to pull together, renew, and heal. We are members of the Delta State family, and now is the time to demonstrate it. True, the world is looking in at us throughout this difficult time. But, more importantly, we need to look to each other — and inside of ourselves — as we face down the adversity we have encountered.

On campus, I’m seeing people reach out to others, check in on a colleague, and ask for help in understanding what has happened. We are providing counselors for students, faculty, and staff. If you would like a consultation, please contact Dr. Richard Houston at x4630.

My Cabinet and I have reached out to various departments and individuals on campus, and many colleagues are calling or visiting with us…and with each other. We are hurting, and we are sharing grief. That is okay. In fact, it can be helpful in the healing process.

I am moved by the heartfelt sentiments being expressed by students, faculty, and staff for the families involved, certainly; but, also about each other. What I am hearing is very telling — we care deeply! And, that is a vital ingredient in a family.

This week’s tragedy was an inexplicable anomaly; nevertheless, it has affected us in various ways — resulting in sadness, grief, disbelief, and even anger. But, we should not despair. Time, caring, and effort can help us heal.

Delta State has been a safe campus, and continues to be a safe campus. But, we are not immune to the dangers that exist in everyday life. We put systems and processes in place to guard our Delta State family, and we rely on each of you to help us safeguard one another.

Your actions on Monday played a big role in helping to keep the campus as safe as possible. Across the campus, I am hearing gratitude on many levels, and I express my own appreciation to you for how this campus reacted in the time of an emergency. We were purposeful, responsible, and caring. I thank everyone for the smart and quick reaction to the call for a lockdown, and for cooperating with law enforcement personnel whose job it was to address the incident and help make us all safe. And, we should all be exceedingly grateful to all the law enforcement agencies and professionals, and to those in our local community who came to our aid in the time of crisis. The outpouring of condolences and compassion from around the country and world has been truly inspirational.

We may never know the answers to many of our questions. We may never understand motives and actions. In the end, we may not even be able to bring closure to, or make sense of, something that seems to defy reason. But, we can talk about these things, comfort and support one another, and look for ways to bring a sense of healing to a situation that has left us all stunned and numb.

To aid in this healing, and in an effort to bring the DSU family closer together, the Delta State University National Alumni Association Board of Directors is offering one complimentary ticket to each faculty, staff, and student for the 30th annual Pig Pickin’ event on Saturday. Please visit the Hugh Ellis Walker Alumni and Foundation House by 5:00 p.m. tomorrow (Friday, September 18) to pick up your ticket. This event will be a wonderful opportunity to connect with colleagues and students, and lift up one another.

So, as we continue to transition from the shock and grief of the events this week to the healing and hope we all need and seek, I encourage you to stand strong — for yourself and for others — and help fashion a brighter tomorrow that will make this family we know as Delta State stand even taller. This is the time for healing, and we will get through this together.

Yours in solidarity,

Bill LaForge

Join the 90th Birthday Celebration for Delta State

By | Community, Faculty/Staff, General | No Comments

All faculty, staff, students and friends of Delta State University are invited to attend a day-long celebration of its 90th anniversary on Tuesday (Sept. 15) beginning at noon with a ceremony in front of the newly-restored Alumni Brick Plaza.

The complete schedule of events includes:

Commemoration at the Alumni Brick Plaza – noon, in front of Ward Hall
Lunch on the Quad – 12:30 p.m.
Celebration of “90 Years of Delta State” – 1:30 p.m., Jobe Hall Auditorium
Painting of the Green Mile (Campus Beautification Project) – 3 p.m.
A special meal sponsored by Aramark – 5:30-8 p.m.
SGA Talent Show – 7:30 p.m., Jobe Hall Auditorium
Birthday Party at Hey Joe’s – 9 p.m.

A special thanks to sponsors of the 90th celebration events:
Cleveland-Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce
Cleveland Trophy and Awards
Craig Verhage
Delta Dairy
J and G Pipe Supply
Mississippi Police Supply Company
Pafford EMS
Vicki and Charles Fioranelli
Will Bradham
Nehi Bottling
Lenny’s Sub Shop
Domino’s of Cleveland
Denton Dairy Products
Delta State University
Delta State University Alumni and Foundation
Delta State University Facilities Management

Thanks also to the Dedicated Statesmen Association committee:
Johnny Arnold
Martha Biles
Diane Blansett
Wayne Blansett
Patti Boswell
Gary Bouse, University Liaison
Gloria Brister
James Donald Cooper
Joey Correro
Hines Cronin
Jerry Dallas
Betsy Elliott
John Elliott
Elsie Lynn Ervin
Vicki Fioranelli
Donna Fitzgerald
Becky Foster
Penney Gong
Darry Hardy
Bert Herbison
Teresa Houston
Elise Jenkins
Nancy LaForge
Debbie Leftwich
Porter Leftwich
Susan McCreary
Sarah Mosley
Ann Mullins
James Robinson, President
Peter Rocconi
Sally Rogers
Frances Scarborough
Tony Scarborough
Alinda Sledge
Jim Steen
Rose Strahan
Kim Tyrone
Eloise Walker
Sam Wilson

Federal Court dismisses civil lawsuit

By | General, President | No Comments

The United States District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi has dismissed a civil lawsuit filed against Delta State University President William N. LaForge by faculty member William Hays.

Following standard practices and procedures, the University did not renew Hays’ at-will contract as chair of the Division of Languages and Literature at the end of fiscal year 2014.  In his complaint, Hays alleged that LaForge violated his First Amendment right of free speech and retaliated against him for various things Hays said or wrote over a period of more than 20 years.

In a 34-page Memorandum Opinion Granting Defendant’s (LaForge’s) Motion to Dismiss, U.S. District Judge Glen Davidson concluded, “…Plaintiff’s (Hays’) Second Amended Complaint in its entirety fails to state a claim for First Amendment retaliation. Accordingly, Defendant’s motion to dismiss shall be granted on this ground.”

In the context of federal court litigation, the dismissal of a civil case in the early stages of the process is an extraordinary result indicating that the plaintiff has no cause of action and has failed to state any claim for relief permitted by law.  The outcome here is particularly telling, as Hays filed three different versions of his complaint in his attempt to avoid dismissal.

“This is an outcome well-deserved by President LaForge and Delta State,” said attorney Cal Mayo of Oxford. “Disgruntled employees cannot hold the institution hostage out of anger over decisions made in the best interests of the University and the students and broader community it serves. With the complaint properly dismissed, President LaForge and Delta State can now devote all their time and resources toward the future and continued fulfillment of the University’s higher education mission.”

Supporting documents include a Memorandum Opinion re Motion to Dismiss (051) and Order Granting Motion to Dismiss (050).

Literacy Institute hosted on campus

By | College of Education and Human Sciences, Faculty/Staff, General | No Comments

Delta State University’s College of Education and Human Sciences is hosting the 11th Literacy Across the Curriculum: Institute for Teachers of Grades 6-12 (LACI) June 1-26 this year. The Institute is designed to enable teachers in middle and secondary schools to effectively incorporate the teaching of literacy skills in their respective content areas.

LACI’s curriculum will be rigorous and broad in scope to enable both new and experienced teachers to attain highly qualified status according to the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Participants will gain skills regarding the Mississippi Curriculum Frameworks, test blueprints provided by the Mississippi Department of Education, College and Career Readiness Standards, national standards, MSTAR, data driven instruction and performance based assessments.

Teachers from across the state of Mississippi will attend the 22-day institute, which is provided through the support of the No Child Left Behind Act: Improving Teacher Quality State Grant.

The administrative staff for 2015-2016 includes Dr. Merideth Van Namen, director, Dr. Levenia Barnes, instructor, and Pat Kirkpatrick, instructor. Please contact Namen at or 846-4412 for more information.

Entergy Sponsors Free Performances for Children at the Bologna Center

By | Bologna Performing Arts Center, Community, General, Students | No Comments

On Wednesday, April 8, more than 1,700 elementary students from over five different counties attended The Reluctant Dragon, a special free performance sponsored by Entergy Mississippi and presented by New Stage Theatre’s Arts-in-Education statewide touring program.

New Stage Theatre is a professional not-for-profit theatre based in Jackson. The Reluctant Dragon is directed by Chris Roebuck and performed by New Stage’s Professional Acting Company members Augustus Bennett, Katie Beth Jewell, Pat Moran, and Valencia Proctor.

Students traveled from as far as Coahoma, Leflore, Tunica, and Sunflower counties to experience this special theatrical performance. Children and adults alike thoroughly enjoyed this highly energetic and interactive show. Several students were selected to perform with the actors on stage to help tell the story. Students left with smiles on their faces and great things to say about the performance. In an effort to ensure that each student receive an educational experience, teachers and families who attended the performance were provided with a comprehensive study guide for use before and after the performance.

The Bologna Performing Arts Center provides several opportunities throughout each school year for school groups and families to experience professional quality theatrical performances. The 2015-2016 School-Time Matinee Series will be announced in August of 2015. Please call Whitney Cummins, BPAC Arts Education Coordinator, at 662-846-4844 to be added to the matinee series mailing list.

For more information about New Stage Theatre’s Education Program, please contact Education Director Chris Roebuck at 601-948-3533 ext. 232 or Education Assistant Betty Wong at 601-948-3533 ext. 233.