Statesmen assist Louisville tornado victims

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

A number of departments across campus are coming together to assist residents of Louisville, Miss. following devastating storms that ripped through town and much of the South on Monday.

Louisville was one of the hardest-hit spots, with officials reporting at least nine deaths in the area due to a powerful tornado. The storm had a preliminary rating of EF4, just shy of the most treacherous tornadoes on the scale.

Multiple Delta State students and staff were also victims to lost or damaged property.

With a coordinated effort from faculty, staff and students, Delta State will be providing relief items to Louisville. The drop-off site for donations is the Forrest Wyatt Gymnasium from Thursday-Monday, with Todd Davis as the point of contact (662-846-4570).

Greek organizations will also be collecting supplies in a long-term effort for a truck run once Mississippi Emergency Management Agency reopens local roads. This will most likely occur after exams.

In the short-term, coach Jesse Ward will run a small load to Louisville on Thursday, as he has access to his home.

The following items are being sought: Visa Gift Cards, Wal-Mart Gift Cards, Restaurant Gift Cards (KFC, McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Sonic, Subway, Taco Bell, Wendy’s), Bottled Water/Gatorade, Snack Foods (Chips, Crackers, Granola Bars), Hand Sanitizer, Toothbrush/Toothpaste/Dental Floss, Towels, Paper Towels, Toilet Tissue, Kleenex, Flashlights, Batteries, Aspirin, Benadryl, Ibuprofen, Tylenol, Band-Aids, Eye Drops, Bandages, Peroxide, Brushes/Combs, Toiletry Items (Shampoo, Conditioner, Deodorant, Soap, Razors, Lotion), Laundry Detergent, Dish Detergent, and Baby Food, Formula, Nursery Water, Diapers, Wipes, and Socks of various sizes.

The Delta State Staff Council is seeking volunteers to help sort, pack and load items May 6 at 9 a.m. Please contact Suzanne Simpson at 662-846-4051 to sign up.


Bell ‘82 to keynote commencement

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Delta State University welcomes a powerhouse alumnus as the keynote speaker for spring commencement May 10 at 10 a.m. in the Walter Sillers Coliseum.

William Bell ‘82, president and CEO of Casey Family Programs, promises words of inspiration as the highlight speaker at this year’s ceremony. A native of Bolivar County, Bell graduated from Delta State with a bachelor’s in biology and behavioral science.

Casey Family Programs, based in Seattle, is the nation’s largest operating foundation focused entirely on foster care and improving the child welfare system. Founded in 1966, the organization works to provide and improve, and ultimately prevent the need for, foster care in the United States.

“It’s exciting to be coming home and forming a connection to a brand new generation of graduates — a future crew of people who will continue the work that the graduates before them have started,” said Bell. “Delta State has been very significant in my life. It means a great deal to me to be invited as the commencement speaker and it’s an incredible honor.”

Bell, who keynoted last month’s International Business Symposium at Delta State, said he would share personal stories in his speech to encourage the institution’s most recent graduates.

“I will share what I’ve learned from my life and what I would say to my sister or brother were they getting ready to take the same step these students are about to take,” he said. “Hopefully some of what I’ve learned will make a difference for them.”

Bell was honored as the university’s 2012 Outstanding Alumnus of the Year, and has forever remained loyal to his alma mater. Many members of his family have also attended the institution.

“Delta State has been very significant in terms of an educational opportunity for my family,” he said in a previous Delta State press release. “I’m grateful for the opportunity Delta State has given me as I try to not only nurture and support all vulnerable children and families in this country, but also my own family.”

And the concept of family runs deep for Bell both personally and professionally.

“What I hear from the graduates of Delta State is one of the hallmarks is family orientation,” he added. “There is a strong network of support for young people while they are in school and a network of support for young professionals once they leave school.

“It is vitally important that we never forget the connection that exists between us and other people. That’s one of the things that stands out for me at Delta State.”

Bell has over 30 years of experience in the human services field. Some of his positions prior to Casey include: commissioner of the New York City Administration for Children’s Services (ACS); deputy commissioner of ACS’s Division of Child Protection; deputy commissioner of field services and contract agency case management for the New York City Human Resources Administration; and associate executive director for Miracle Makers, a private sector minority-owned, not-for-profit child and family services organization in New York City.

Bell received his doctorate in social welfare and his masters of social work at Hunter College School of Social Work. He is a trustee for America’s Promise Alliance, chair of the board of directors of the Association of Black Foundation Executives, and a member of the board of Grantmakers for Children, Youth & Families and United Way of King County.

Among his numerous awards, Bell was honored with The Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps 2012 Embracing the Legacy Award for his endless work to prevent child abuse and neglect and build communities of hope for America’s vulnerable children.  He was honored in 2010 by New York City’s Court Appointed Special Advocates for his contributions and lifelong commitment to improving the lives of children in foster care.

For more information on Bell’s tireless work at Casey Family Programs, visit



Delta State Green Week to honor Earth

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Each April, the world unites to honor Earth Day and Arbor Day — both celebratory days acknowledging Mother Earth and the fragility of the environment.

Delta State continues its long tradition of environmental awareness in conjunction with Earth Day and Arbor Day through Green Week, to be held on campus April 21-25.

Under the direction of Steve McClellan, vice president for Finance and Administration and Chief Financial Officer at Delta State, a committee representing a number of campus departments has created the Green Week schedule to highlight methods of reducing waste and consumption, drawing attention to green spaces and Earth-friendly activities on campus, and getting students and faculty involved.

“Instead of celebrating them as individual days, we decided to hold small events throughout the week to help renew awareness of our responsibility to respect the Earth with which we have been blessed,” said McClellan.

“As a whole, the employees at Delta State have a great understanding of the need to take care of our Earth,” added McClellan. “It is our goal to not just celebrate Earth Day and Arbor Day, but to also further educate people on little things we can do that have a major impact.”

Lacey Fitts, Science Education program coordinator, is looking forward to the featured activities scheduled throughout the week.

“Delta State has a long history of celebrating Earth Day, beginning when President LaForge was student body president,” said Fitts. “We will highlight the Delta State Wiley Community Garden by recruiting volunteers and letting people know how the garden is being used by different groups on campus.

“Delta State Facilities Management will be setting up tire inflation stations, collecting old cell phones, and the university will be donating collected items to the St. Gabriel Mercy Center in Mound Bayou.”

In an effort to remain environmentally conscious, the committee agreed that no paper would be used in preparation of events. The schedule for the week is as follows:

Support all week!

·         Wear green everyday 
·         Save energy by using the stairs instead of the elevator
·         Ride a bike, walk or carpool to campus each day
·         Print only when necessary
·         Turn off computers at the end of each day
·         Use only re-usable containers for beverages and lunch
·         Spread the word! Mystery walkers may give you a prize

Tuesday, April 22

7:30 – 9 a.m. | Walter Sillers Coliseum, Library Rear Parking Lot, Facilities Management

·         Air For Spare 
- air up your tires for better fuel mileage and reduced oil consumption
·         Reuse to Reduce -
 donate gently used items to St. Gabriel’s
·         Cell Support 
- drop off old cell phones to support an Earth Day fund for next year

11 a.m. | Caylor 205

·         Environmental Celebration – 
join us to listen to experts speak about celebrating our Earth and learn more about the community garden

Wednesday, April 23

7:30 – 9 a.m. | Walter Sillers Coliseum, Library Rear Parking Lot, Facilities Management

·         Air For Spare – 
air up your tires for better fuel mileage and reduced oil consumption. 
Extended hours at facility plant (7:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.)
·         Reuse to Reduce -
 donate gently used items to St. Gabriel’s
·         Cell Support
 – drop off old cell phones to support an Earth Day fund for next year

11 a.m. – 1 p.m. | Roberts-LaForge Library

·         Walk to Lunch
 – take a stroll down Court Street for a discounted lunch to save fuel and enjoy the air

4 p.m. | Garden Work Day at Wiley Community Garden

·         Garden cleanup –  garden maintenance, transplant seedlings from the greenhouse and work on signage

Thursday, April 24

7:30 – 9 a.m. | Walter Sillers Coliseum, Library Rear Parking Lot, Facility Plant

·         Air For Spare
 – air up your tires for better fuel mileage and reduced oil consumption
·         Reuse to Reduce
 – donate gently used items to St. Gabriel’s
·         Cell Support
 – drop off old cell phones to support an Earth Day fund for next year

Friday, April 25

11:30 a.m. | Faculty/Staff Apartments

·         Arbor Day Donation
 – celebrate a tree donation from Delta State retirees at the employee apartments

While Delta State makes an effort to remain environmentally friendly throughout the year, McClellan said April is a special reminder of the obligations the campus and community have.

“We all must commit the time needed to take care of our Earth,” he said. “If we, the managers of Earth don’t, who do we think will?”




Winning the Race sparks diversity dialogue

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Delta State University, under the leadership of President William N. LaForge, continues to provide progressive opportunities for both campus and community. Most recently, the institution completed “Winning the Race: A Conference on Diversity and Community.”

The two-day program on March 18-19 featured a number of prominent speakers, including former Mississippi Governor William Winter, Congressman Bennie Thompson and Civil Rights expert John Dittmer.

The conference placed special emphasis on student-level concerns, but also offered a wide selection of sessions for all attendees — including such topics as Civil Rights history, education, religion, healthcare and multi-cultural sensitivity.

LaForge pushed for the event from the moment he took office in 2013, and he was thrilled to see a dedicated commitment from everyone who brought it to fruition.

“We’re very pleased with the speakers, the program and the format of the conference,” said LaForge. “I can tell you that the feedback at this point is very, very positive. I’m thrilled with the outcome.

“Throughout the conference we had great resources and presenters that made this all possible. The power-packed trio of John Dittmer, Gov. William Winter and Congressman Bennie Thompson was really a great trifecta.”

Student Government Association President Sydney Hodnett said the experience provided students with a unique and necessary platform for meaningful discussion.

“It was an opportunity for us to meet significant leaders who had an influence on the Civil Right movement and diversity in the Delta” said Hodnett. “Some of the panels and lectures taught students to get out of their comfort zones — which made us realize how important it is to discuss these critical topics.”

The conference also developed a presence on social media. Twitter handle @paulbabba said, “We have to teach kids it’s about the heart of the person. Not their differences.” @deltastate #WinningTheRace.

@kmday95 said, “Yes thank you @deltastate for putting on such an awesome start to an engaging conference #proudstudent.”

Panelist and local small business owner @suzettematthews quoted Congressmen Thompson, “‘There’s no substitute for talking to each other.’ @BennieGThompson. Let’s start bridging racial gaps in MS. @deltastate #diversity #equity.”

LaForge added Winning the Race should become an annual tradition to highlight race relations in the Mississippi Delta.

“We think we have a solid foundation and platform to go ahead and continue this as a program,” he said. “We will be doing the evaluation of this conference soon and we certainly hope to establish an annual event that perpetuates a very important dialogue at Delta State University and in the Delta.”

For more information on participants and events from Winning the Race, visit





International Business Symposium to feature prominent experts

By | College of Business, Community, Faculty/Staff, General, Students | No Comments

Delta State University’s College of Business proudly presents the ninth annual International Business Symposium beginning at 9 a.m. April 4 at the Jobe Hall Auditorium.

This year’s program features top-ranking international business professionals, whose knowledge and experience is renowned and spans the globe. Senior business officials will provide a unique look at trends in the business world.

“This year’s event will be amped up,” said Cooper Johnson, event coordinator and chair of Entrepreneurship in Business Technology at Delta State. “We have President LaForge helping us bring together the campus, community and guests. We are seeking to involve more than just the College of Business and showcase the excellence at Delta State.”

The symposium is sponsored by David and Sherry Abney, Delta natives who currently reside in Atlanta. Abney is the Chief Operating Officer for United Parcel Service, the world’s largest package delivery company.

As COO, he holds responsibility for UPS logistics, sustainability and engineering. In these roles, Abney directs all facets of the UPS transportation network serving more than 220 countries and territories.

A 1976 graduate, Abney studied business administration at Delta State and was named the 2007 Outstanding Alumnus of the Year. To this day, he serves on the Delta State University Alumni Foundation Board of Directors.

Through UPS, he has traveled the world on business, but his Delta roots are forever ingrained.

“Sherry and I wanted to do something meaningful for the Delta. By bringing global leaders onto campus and sharing their experiences with students, I believe we’ll be able to expand Delta State students’ horizons in how they see and prepare for their futures,” Abney said in a previous Delta State interview.

Also joining Abney as a featured lecturer is William C. Bell ‘82, president and Chief Executive Officer of Casey Family Programs. The organization is the nation’s largest operating foundation, whose work is focused on safely reducing the need for foster care and building communities of hope for all of America’s children and families.

Bell has more than 30 years of experience in the human services field. Prior to becoming president and CEO of Casey Family Programs, he served as the foundation’s executive vice president for child and family services, providing strategic direction to nine field offices and leading a staff working directly with young people from the public child welfare system.

Bell was named the 2012 Outstanding Alumnus of the Year by Delta State and was inducted into its Alumni Hall of Fame and Omicron Delta Kappa, a national leadership honor society.

Also presenting is Dwight C. Herlong, a 1991 graduate of Delta State’s marketing program. Herlong joined Google in 2013 and is currently responsible for global store operations and logistics. He also spent four years on the Statesmen football team and was a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.

Prior to joining Google, Herlong spent 22 years working for multiple Fortune 100 companies in the Retail Supply Chain space. These companies included Best Buy, Macy’s and T Mobile USA.

The 2014 International Business Symposium is free and open to public.

“We encourage the public to join us as we welcome these esteemed business professionals to our campus and community,” said Johnson. “There is something we can all learn from what our speakers have to offer.”

For more information, contact Johnson at 662-846-4192 or email