Delta State named College of the Year

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Delta State has been named Mississippi Blood Services’ College of the Year for 2013. The donor busses visited campus 11 times this past year, accepting a total of 413 donations from the Delta State community.

Delta Representative for Mississippi Blood Services, Dawn R. Woods, nominated Delta State for the award after she saw an improvement in participation on campus from previous years.

“It has been my privilege since coming on board with Mississippi Blood Services to see such a turnaround with the selfless donations from the students, faculty and staff at Delta State University,” said Woods. “In 2012, there were 3 blood drives with donations totaling 91 — whereas the year of 2013 saw 11 drives that on average touched 1,239 lives. It is a wonderful testament to all on the Delta State campus and those associated with the university, and that is why I felt Delta State University should be nominated for College of the Year.”

Student Government Association President Sydney Hodnett appreciates the support from the Delta State community in the blood drives.

“It’s awesome to see the student body donate to such a great cause. Being presented this award, with the size of our university, shows how dedicated each one of our students truly are,” said Hodnett.

There has been one blood drive on campus so far this spring semester, and Delta State hopes to hold several more.

“Someone needs blood every two seconds,” added Woods. “Help us make 2014 just as successful by setting up a blood drive. Contact me at to schedule a blood drive.”

The award was presented at the annual meeting in Jackson by Dr. William A. Rock, Jr., director of the clinical lab at University Medical Center, and David Allen, president and CEO of Mississippi Blood Services. Raybon greeted over 100 attendees at the reception and meeting.

“I could not be more thrilled and excited that the award went to this university. I have seen firsthand what can happen when everyone comes together because they understand how vitally important the need for blood throughout our state is,” said Woods. “Thank you so much Delta State University. You have made the difference in life and death.”

Keep up with blood drives held on campus through the university calendar at


Howell attends NYC arts conference

By | Bologna Performing Arts Center, Faculty/Staff, General | No Comments

Laura Howell, executive director of the Bologna Performing Arts Center on the campus of Delta State, recently took part in an intensive leadership seminar in New York City.

The Emerging Leadership Institute, held Jan. 10-14, provided Howell the opportunity to engage in professional networking, exchange ideas in a confidential environment and reflect on her role with the BPAC.

The ELI conference is specifically designed for arts professionals, including presenters, managers, artists, agents, artistic company managing directors, marketing directors, arts council personnel and other related positions in the performing arts industry.

The seminar operates under the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, an organization that the BPAC is a part of.

“It was a valuable series of different sessions that focused on leadership styles and how to create your own toolbox of leadership skills,” said Howell. “It was also a great networking opportunity with other professionals in similar positions across the country.”

Howell said the conference allowed her to reflect on her role as executive director, as well as the BPAC’s impact on campus, the community and across the region.

To learn more about the impressive opportunities at the Bologna Performing Arts Center, visit

Staff Council hosts Employee of the Month luncheon

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The Staff Council Incentives and Recognition Committee hosted a successful luncheon today to honor the Employee of the Month (EOM) recipients for 2013. The annual event takes place each January in the Simmons Room of the Hugh Ellis Walker Alumni-Foundation House.

The Staff Council of Delta State University takes great pride in recognizing the exceptional service among its staff, and the EOM program continues to see growth thanks to the support of the campus community.

EOM distinction is given to a staff member who has provided service that is considered over and beyond those duties outlined in his or her job description. Nominations are submitted by colleagues on campus.

2013 winners include: Kimberly Cooley, January; Chris Gaines, February; Kirk Mansell, March; Dianne Serio, April; Michael Kemp, May; Lee Rowland, June; Donald Bradshaw, July; Justin Chandler, August; Gloria Hudson, September; Laura Walker, October; De’Andrea Eason, November; and Patsy Burchfield, December.

Each winner receives a plaque; monetary award; Wal-Mart gift card from the Student Government Association; an engraved insulated coffee mug; a free parking decal courtesy of the Campus Police Department; a box of treats from The Sweetery; a parking spot of their choice; two Okra gift cards (one from Athletics and one from a private donor); marquee announcement; and website recognition.

Dr. James Robinson and Bert Herbison

Dr. James Robinson, a semi-retired professor in the history department, also sends flowers to all the ladies who receive EOM recognition.

The program has developed greatly for more than a decade thanks to ongoing financial donations from Robinson. Through his support, the luncheon is made possible each year.

Robinson, who graduated from Delta State in 1966, never stops brainstorming ways to give back to his beloved university.

“The program was already in place when I first donated, but it was something I wanted to contribute to as a way to say thanks to all the wonderful people we have at Delta State,” said Robinson. “I’m happy to see how much it’s grown and that the staff continue to be recognized.

“This shows that Delta State truly is a family.”

Also honored at this year’s luncheon was Bert Herbison, chair of the Incentives and Recognition Committee for the past nine years. Herbison has worked at the university for 24 years and will be retiring at the end of the year.

“The Employee of the Month program has been my ‘baby’ while at Delta State,” said Herbison. “It’s bittersweet attending my last luncheon, and I’m going to have a hard time giving it up when I retire.”

Herbison said working with Robinson to develop the program has been a true privilege.

“Words can’t describe what an honor it has been to work with a man who is so hardworking, caring and selfless when it comes to others — staff in particular,” said Herbison. “He constantly is looking for ways that we can honor our staff.”

Robinson’s support has also made other programs from the Incentives and Recognition Committee possible — such as the Smile On You award, which is a $25 gift certificate to a local restaurant that a staff member unexpectedly receives in the mail, and the “Take A Break” gift card from Aramark that can be used on campus at one of their facilities for a coffee, smoothie or snack. Quarterly birthday parties are also held for staff along with mailed birthday cards.

In October of 2013, Robin Boyles, Staff Council chair, and fellow council members attended the Mississippi Association of Staff Council Organizations meetings in Hattiesburg. Boyles quickly learned Delta State’s EOM program stands superior against the other Mississippi institutions in the Institutions of Higher Learning system.

“Meeting with other Staff Council officers affirmed for me that our Staff Council here at Delta State is an active and integral part of our campus,” said Boyles. “We clearly have the most structured and comprehensive Employee of the Month program in Mississippi and that is primarily due to the contributions of Dr. James Robinson and the dedication of Bert Herbison and the Incentives and Recognition committee.”

For an archived list of previous EOM winners, visit
Delta State’s Staff Council serves as a liaison between the administration and the staff to provide a formal process for staff to discuss issues involving university policies and procedures and to forward ideas, recommendations and opinions to the president.

Point in Time Count 2014

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The AmeriCorps*VISTA program at Delta State University’s Center for Community and Economic Development, the American Red Cross Northwest Mississippi Office, Gulf Coast Veterans Advocacy Council, Inc. and local service providers joined efforts in honor of Martin Luther King Day to prepare personal hygiene bags that will be distributed during the National Point in Time Count of People Experiencing Homelessness.

The count is mandated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for communities across the country to receive funding. The annual count is an important effort to make sure the voices of people experiencing homelessness in our communities are heard, and efforts are made to provide appropriate services. It also helps communities develop more effective plans and measure progress toward ending homelessness.

The VISTA program hosted a donation drive from Nov. 25, 2013 through Jan. 20, 2014 to collect items such as socks, blankets, travel size hygiene products, first-aid kits, small snacks, nabs, snack crackers, hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes, flash lights and coats. More than 2,300 items valued at more than $2,600 were received during the donation drive. Supporters included 11 VISTAs, three Red Cross volunteers and eight community members who were Drum Majors for Service by dedicating 118 hours sorting and preparing 202 personal hygiene bags.

The VISTA program has partnered with Ledger Parker, program director for Mississippi United To End Homelessness in Jackson and Joseph Herring with Gulf Coast Veterans Advocacy Council, Inc in Mound Bayou. These partnerships ensure the bags and other donations will be distributed to homeless veterans and homeless populations living in emergency shelters, transitional housing and domestic violence shelters.


Khayat featured as 2014’s first Colloquia Series speaker

By | Academics, General, President | No Comments

The Delta State University Distinguished Speakers Lecture Series kicks off 2014 with an impressive leader — Dr. Robert Khayat, former Chancellor of the University of Mississippi.
Khayat’s speech, titled “The Education of a Lifetime,” will begin at 6 p.m. on Wed., Jan. 29 in Jobe Hall Auditorium on campus. The event will be followed with a book signing and reception.
His speech will cover topics from his recent memoir, also titled “The Education of a Lifetime,” which will be available for purchase. The book was ranked 29th on the New York Times Top 75 Best-Selling Education Books of 2013.
Those unable to attend the event can view the livestream speech online through the university’s official uStream channel:
LaForge established the Delta State University Colloquia program when taking office in 2013. The platform is an ongoing series of top-flight lectures and addresses featuring prominent speakers. Former Mississippi governor William F. Winter was honored as the first speaker.
Khayat served as the 15th chancellor of the University of Mississippi from 1995-2009. He is also a former college football all-star, an Academic All American football and baseball player, all-pro kicker for the Washington Redskins, law professor and president of the NCAA Foundation.
His memoir covers a number of topics from his noteworthy career, including the 1962 riot at Ole Miss with the admission of James Meredith. At the time, Khayat was kicking for the newly integrated Washington Redskins in the National Football League. More than 35 years later he was leading the university through its controversial association with the Confederate flag.
LaForge, now following in his footsteps as a university president, has long shared a professional friendship with Khayat. They originally met at Ole Miss during LaForge’s first year in law school.
“We’ve stayed in touch through the years and I consider him a friend, advisor and mentor,” said LaForge. “He was there to support me in my candidacy for president and has continued to support me since taking office.
“We share similar backgrounds in the areas of law and education — it’s a pleasure and honor to welcome him to Delta State. The audience will get to hear about the significance of education in Mississippi, along with other topics such as leadership and community involvement.”
Following the reception, Khayat and LaForge will be doing a little “pick up play” at the Delta Music Institute, as they both share a passion for musical performance.
Khayat will remain on campus Thursday and meet with students to speak during classes, focusing on the areas of leadership principals and networking.
LaForge said the Colloquia program is another commitment toward bringing excellence to Delta State.
“As a university, we need to make available to Delta State and the community marquee speakers from across the country and the world,” said LaForge. “Great universities have great programs, and this is another step in the right direction. This is one of the hallmark items of what we’re trying to do here.
“This is a university-wide program that will continue to bring a unique and diverse array of people — from judges, former government officials, lawyers and business people. These are all folks our students can look up to.”
Learn more about the series at