Alumni encourages Go Green Weekend attendance

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

The Delta State University Alumni Association will participate in Delta State’s upcoming event Go Green Weekend March 27-29.

Director of the Alumni Association Jeffrey Farris said tailgating will begin at noon Saturday, and the Alumni Association will be handing out clappers for the baseball game as well as information on the group.

“We encourage alumni and friends to come out and enjoy the weekend that is packed full of activities including a kids zone, live music, a cooking competition, Spring Visit Day and baseball and softball games,” said Farris.

Crustacean’s Crawfish, Domino’s, South Style Snow Cones and Aramark Concessions will be selling food throughout the day Saturday.

The second annual jambalaya cooking competition sponsored by the Alumni Association will also take place through Saturday with the announcement of winners at 2 p.m.

On Friday at 9 p.m., live entertainment will be provided by Patty and the Mayonnaise in Statesmen Park. For a full schedule of events for the entire weekend, visit

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).

Board of Trustees extends contract for Delta State University president

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

The Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning voted recently to extend the contract of Delta State University President William N. LaForge following a careful review of the university under his leadership.

“President LaForge is the perfect example of the right person at the right time for the university,” said Trustee Aubrey Patterson, president of the Board of Trustees. “He grew up in the Delta, graduated from Delta State and understands the challenges the university and region face. He also understands how the university has been and continues to serve as a catalyst for change. One example of this is the “Winning the Race Conference” he established to bring together diverse communities and promote a broad discourse on race relations.”  On behalf of Delta State, President LaForge accepted the 2014 Civil Rights and Social Justice Award during the fourth National Civil Rights Conference.

President LaForge was named the eighth president of Delta State University on February 28, 2013 and began serving in the role in April 2013. He was formally sworn in on November 1, 2013.

“President LaForge has made a tremendous amount of progress at Delta State in a short period of time,” said Rob Armour, President of the National Alumni Association. “He understood what the challenges were when he accepted the presidency, and he has tackled the issues with a hands-on, grass roots approach. I know I speak for the alumni of this institution when I say we hope he makes Delta State his home for quite some time.”

During his tenure, President LaForge has focused on telling the Delta State story, especially to the young people in the Delta and throughout the state, and helping all Delta State students succeed. His initiatives have included:

  • Recruiting visits to more than 75 high schools and several community colleges, resulting in the university’s first enrollment increase in eight years.
  • Recruitment initiatives for international students, resulting in the establishment of exchange agreements with universities in Poland, Russia, and Bulgaria.
  • Placing greater focus on student retention through the Student Success Center and expansion of the First Year Seminar, with positive results already demonstrated.

“In his relatively short tenure as President of Delta State, President LaForge has clearly inspired the faculty, the students, and the community to join together in achieving a shared vision for the success of Delta State,” said Trustee Alan Perry, vice president of the Board of Trustees. “Those efforts have resulted in remarkably positive results as shown by many objective indications of success, including increased enrollment and increased giving to the Foundation.”

President LaForge has been actively engaged in development efforts. The DSU Foundation raised more money over the last two fiscal years than any two years combined in the history of the Foundation and the university received the largest gift in its history with a $3.1 million gift from the late Robert E. Smith.

“The fiscal year ending June 30, 2014 resulted in a total of $8.2 million in gifts and pledges,” said Anne Wynn Weissinger, Past President of the Foundation Board. “The $8.2 million represents our largest total in the 50 year history of the Foundation and nearly doubled our previous record set in 2004. The Delta State University Foundation Board thanks President LaForge for his commitment to supporting the fund raising goals of the Foundation. He has been a significant reason for the record setting year.”

In addition to reaching out to alumni and supporters, President LaForge has expanded personal outreach to students with a number of events, including meeting with student organizations; holding residence hall meetings; hosting student forums; meeting with Greek organizations; and, establishing the Council of Student Presidents and a Presidential Leadership Class.

“In the short time that he has been here, President LaForge has made a lot of decisions that have benefited this university,” said Mikel Sykes, President of the DSU Student Government Association. “He has brought a sense of pride to the university and the boost in morale is evident throughout the student body. He is a president who puts students first and he always makes himself available to any student who reaches out to him.”

President LaForge created the “Delta State University Colloquia:  Distinguished Lecture Series” program, which is an ongoing series of top-flight lectures and addresses featuring marquee speakers from a wide variety of backgrounds.  This Lecture Series has brought outstanding professionals to the Delta State campus from across the state and the U.S.—from a former governor, to the head of a major nursing organization, to a U.S. Senator, to the former Comptroller General of the United States, to a Mississippi Supreme Court Justice.  He also established the International Delta Blues Project which includes the development of a blues study curriculum, creation of a Blues Leadership Business Incubator, and an International Conference on the Blues.

“I am very appreciative to the IHL Board for the trust and confidence they have placed in me, and for the support they have provided me in my first two years on the job,” said LaForge. “It is a privilege for me to have the opportunity to work with Delta State’s superb leadership team and campus constituencies to advance the interests of my alma mater.  I look forward to continuing my service for our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and supporters.”

President LaForge, who grew up in Cleveland, has forged partnerships in the region and beyond to strengthen both the university and the state. He hosted the university’s first Mayors Summit to engage local leaders in university activities, and to discover new and meaningful ways that Delta State can partner with regional municipalities. He also created the Dedicated Statesmen Association to keep retirees, alumni, and friends of Delta State involved, encouraged, and informed on university activities and endeavors.

“As a Delta State University alumna, it is heartening to see the progress and excitement on the campus,” said Trustee Karen Cummins, a member of the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning. “As the GRAMMY Museum Mississippi is built, it is one illustration that President LaForge has positioned Delta State to continue to be a vibrant part of the fabric of the Delta, both reflecting its history and culture, while inspiring change and progress for the future.”

The partnership with the GRAMMY Museum Mississippi, which is being built on the university’s campus in Cleveland, will be a terrific complement to Delta State’s focus on music and culture — through its music department, Delta Music Institute Entertainment Industries program, Delta Blues project, and Delta Center for Culture and Learning.

“I am very pleased to hear that President LaForge’s contract has been extended,” said David Hebert, President of DSU Faculty Senate. “He fulfills the adage ‘right man at the right time.’  He has hired a wonderful leadership team, articulated a clear goal for the university, and has repeatedly demonstrated steadfast determination in seeing that we achieve the goal in an open and transparent fashion, all of which have been so desperately needed.”

President LaForge is also committed to keeping college affordable for all students, supporting  the decision to remove the non-resident surcharge on tuition. He has also stabilized and improved the university’s financial position by effectuating a significant reduction in fixed expenses.

“Delta State is very fortunate to have the leadership of President LaForge,” said Marilyn Read, President of the DSU Staff Council. “His vision of true shared governance has made a positive impact on the Delta State faculty, staff and students. President LaForge brings a renewed level of excitement to the campus and the Cleveland community.”

Before returning to his hometown of Cleveland, Mississippi, Mr. LaForge enjoyed a 36-year career, in both the public and private sectors in Washington, DC, that spanned the fields of government, law, business, higher education, and public policy.

In the private sector, he was an attorney, registered lobbyist, and principal of LaForge Government Relations, and three different law or public policy firms previously, where he specialized in federal government relations, and represented businesses and other organizations with public policy interests before the United States Congress and federal executive branch agencies.

On Capitol Hill, Mr. LaForge served as senior legislative counsel to Republican and Democratic lawmakers in both houses of Congress. He was chief counsel of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, and culminated his government career as Chief Legislative Counsel and Chief of Staff to United States Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi. Previously, he served as Congressional Liaison for the Peace Corps and as a legislative assistant to Mississippi Congressman David Bowen.

Mr. LaForge attended the public schools in Cleveland and graduated with honors from Delta State University.  He earned his law degree from the University of Mississippi School of Law, received an LL.M. in international law from Georgetown University, and studied international law at Cambridge University.  He received fellowships to study government and public policy in the European Union and at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and he is the recipient of an honorary doctorate of laws from the Stetson University College of Law.

As a DSU alumnus, Mr. LaForge has served as national president of the Delta State University Alumni Association and a trustee of the Delta State University Foundation.  He was selected Delta State’s Alumnus of the Year in 1992, and a charter member of the Delta State University Alumni Hall of Fame in 2007.

“President LaForge’s leadership expands beyond the campus and extends throughout the Delta,” said Dr. Jim Borsig, Commissioner-Elect. “He hosted the university’s first Mayors Summit to engage local leaders in university activities and to discover new and meaningful ways that Delta State can partner with regional municipalities. Nurturing this kind of town-gown relationship is critical for the success of both the university and the region.”


Delta Center provides Emory University of Atlanta a learning tour

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The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University hosted Emory University of Atlanta for an experiential learning tour of the Mississippi Delta region.

Lee Aylward, program associate for education and community outreach for The Delta Center, provided an introduction of Delta history to the group, and Director Dr. Rolando Herts provided an overview of the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area.

The group traveled throughout the week around the Delta experiencing cultural heritage sites. The mission of The Delta Center is to promote greater understanding of Mississippi Delta culture and history and its significance to the world through education, partnerships and community engagement. The Delta Center serves as the management entity of the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area and is the home of the International Delta Blues Project.

For more information, visit

Delta Center provides two day tour

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The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University recently provided a two-day experiential learning tour of the Mississippi Delta region to students from Minnesota State University at Mankato.

The group, led by Dr. Jill Cooley, was treated to an introduction of Delta history by the Delta Center’s Lee Aylward. Dr. Rolando Herts, director of the Center, provided an overview of the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area.

The group traveled throughout the week around the Delta experiencing cultural heritage sites before proceeding to Jackson for a civil rights visit to Tougaloo College and Medgar Evers’ home. The students spent their evenings watching movies about the Delta and reflecting on lessons learned throughout the day.

The mission of The Delta Center is to promote greater understanding of Mississippi Delta culture and history and its significance to the world through education, partnerships and community engagement. The Delta Center serves as the management entity of the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area and is the home of the International Delta Blues Project. For more information, visit

Alexander to Headline The Art of the Piano event

By | Bologna Performing Arts Center, College of Arts and Sciences, Faculty/Staff, General, Uncategorized | No Comments

The Delta State University’s Department of Music presents pianist  Dr. Reid Alexander, professor of music (piano and piano pedagogy) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  Alexander will be featured in a recital of works by Debussy, Liszt, and Messiaen on Jan. 30, at 7:30 p.m., in the recital hall of the Bologna Performing Arts Center. This recital kicks off the annual Art of the Piano event held Jan. 30-31.

On Saturday, Jan. 31 from 9:30 a.m. through 4:30 p.m., pianists of all ages from Mississippi and Tennessee will come together for a day of recitals, master classes and workshops centered on making music through the medium of the piano. Delta State piano faculty Karen Fosheim, Kumiko Shimizu and Jung-Won Shin will also serve as faculty for the event.

Alexander is internationally known as an accomplished pianist, inspiring teacher and mentor, and widely published author. After making his orchestral debut with the Fort Lauderdale Symphony Orchestra at the age of 16 under the baton of conductor, Emerson Buckley, Alexander’s piano study continued with the Arthur Loesser student, Gerald Snyder, and later the well-known Artur Schnabel student, Stanley Fletcher. Additional coaching has occurred with major artists such as Ruth Slenczynska, and Mieczyslaw Horszowski. As a finalist in the first Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition, his many credits include recitals, presentations, and master classes in over 45 states and Canadian provinces and in several countries abroad.

As a doctoral graduate of Vanderbilt University and a long established author for Frederick Harris Music  and Stipes Publishing , the past decade has seen the release of the highly regarded volumes of the Celebrate Composer Series, approximately 2,700 pages of solo piano music with supporting study notes and commentary in 27 volumes, multiple editions of the Celebration Series Handbook for Teachers, and the 10th edition of Keyboard Musicianship, volumes I-II . The new fifth edition of the standard bibliographic resource on piano teaching literature, Piano Repertoire Guide: Intermediate and Advanced Literature (Stipes) was premiered March 2011 at the annual convention of the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) and is presently being translated into Korean for future release in 2015 by Sekwang Music Publishing in Seoul.

Earlier in his career, the University of Illinois honored Alexander as a faculty recipient of an all-campus award for teaching excellence, recognizing his teaching versatility with pianists of all ages. Each academic year he works with a stellar class of talented international and domestic pianists on the Urbana campus and in the summer supervises the highly respected pre-collegiate piano camps for Illinois Summer Youth Music.

In January 2014, Alexander journeyed to Taiwan to serve as a jury member for the Taiwan-Asia International Piano Competition. This year he is engaged to perform at Segerstrom Concert Hall in Los Angeles and the Seoul Arts Center in Korea.

The Art of the Piano is sponsored by the Dulce Fund and the Delta State University Department of Music. The recital is free and open to the public.

For registration information and schedule details, please call 662-846-4615 or visit