Alums lead Bolivar County

By | Alumni, General | No Comments

Walk into Bolivar County Administrator Will Hooker’s office, and he and his staff will proudly profess their passion for the Statesmen and Fighting Okra.

The office of three is composed completely of Delta State alumni — Hooker ‘94 and ‘04; administrative assistant Sharon Johnson Hurns ‘83; and executive assistant Deja Carter ‘08 and ‘12.

Hooker, a chemistry undergrad major and a Master of Business Administration student while at Delta State, has held the county administrator title since 2008. He takes great pride in knowing his alma mater has prepared his entire office for a role in county government.

“Our office shows the result of the product Delta State yields,” said Hooker. “We are walking proof of the product because of our direct correlation to the university. I don’t think any of us would be where we are without Delta State.”

As county administrator, he is responsible for organizing all county affairs falling under the control of the Bolivar County Board of Supervisors. These duties include: budget planning, work projections, purchasing acquisition, cost control, personnel management goals and more.

Johnson Hurns, a Cleveland native and business administration student at Delta State, said the institution is a common ground that has helped the staff mesh well as a team.

“There is a special connection because we all went there,” said Johnson Hurns. “Even though we attended at different times, it’s something that keeps us bonded every day — something that’s common for all of us.”

Carter, a former business and MBA student, said the university equipped her in numerous ways for her current role.

“The classes I took provided the skills I use every day,” said Carter. “The course work was very helpful in the advancement of my career. It’s also unique because there are so many people working in the community that have ties to Delta State.

“There are people I work with or interact with throughout the county on a daily basis that went to Delta State. It’s a great sense of community when I come across former classmates.”

And Hooker said the green and white pride found in his office is representative of the special relationship Bolivar County shares with the university.

“We are very lucky to have a quality school like Delta State in our county,” said Hooker. “I was educated in Bolivar County, reared and retained — because of Delta State.

“We have close ties with the new administration under the leadership of President LaForge. We have partnerships in the making and want to continue to utilize the resources at Delta State to better serve the citizens of Bolivar County. We have every intention in my office to support LaForge’s initiatives. It’s a two-way street.”

The office agreed sharing the Delta State bond, internally and with county citizens, is something that never grows old.

“We appreciate having the university so close,” said Carter. “They provide a lot of activities for the community to partake in, and it’s great having them right at our back door.”

To learn more about the responsibilities of Hooker’s office, visit


Burchfield honored as Employee of the Month

By | Academics, Faculty/Staff, General, Staff Council | No Comments

Patsy Burchfield, assistant to Provost/Vice President of Academic Affairs at Delta State, was recently honored as Delta State’s December 2013 Employee of the Month.

Originally from French Camp, Miss., Burchfield graduated from French Camp Academy, Holmes Junior College and Mississippi State University with a degree in business education before moving to the Delta.

“I started working at Delta State in 1988 and I just completed my 25th year of service,” she said. “My husband, Mike, and I have two sons, John and Jay, who graduated from Delta State. We also enjoy visiting and spending time with our three grandchildren.”

Outside of her job, she is active at First Baptist Church-Cleveland, and enjoys shopping with her twin sister, working in her flower garden, collecting cook books and cooking new recipes.

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

Each winner receives a plaque, monetary award, WalMart 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.
For an archived list of previous Employee of the Month 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.


Conserving energy this holiday season

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The Delta State University Energy Conservation Program will be in effect again this year during the winter holiday break.

Steven McClellan, Vice President for Finance and Administration and Chief Financial Officer for the university, announced the news this week.

“Your support of these conservation measures is very much appreciated. We all have an important role in saving energy and should not see this as a responsibility of Facilities Management or Finance,” said McClellan. “It is truly amazing what can happen when we all do our part in energy conservation.

“I extend my best personal wishes for a happy and safe holiday break.”

Campus employees have been asked to turn off all energy-consuming equipment and devices (lights, computers, lamps, radios, etc.) over the holiday break. Building managers will ensure that all interior lights, hall lights and restroom lights are turned off.

Facilities Management will lower building temperatures but will monitor temperatures and humidity levels, particularly in buildings with materials and equipment sensitive to dramatic environmental changes.

“If work requires you to be in your building during the break, we ask that it be during regular business hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.,” added McClellan. “It is very important that you turn off all lights and make sure doors are locked behind you when leaving your building.”

Usage of portable space heaters on campus during the break must meet energy and safety specifications, and lighting in the quadrangle and parking lots, as well as exterior building lights, will remain on but in a reduced capacity.

It was announced earlier this year that Delta State was number one in reducing energy consumption and costs in the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) system. Responsible energy behavior and awareness helped the campus reduce energy consumption by 50 percent since 2006. Lower consumption led to more than $4.2 million in realized cumulative savings.

The cumulative cost avoided by Mississippi’s entire IHL system between fiscal years 2006 and 2012 was more than $42 million. Delta State has participated in IHL’s energy management efficiency plan by performing activities that include reducing energy use over holidays, identifying high priority energy conservation capital projects, developing and monitoring a self-evaluation checklist and implementing a high-level energy management plan.

Saving energy not only saves money but also shows environmental responsibility. Delta State has numerous earth-friendly initiatives including recycling, campus cleanups and the Wiley Community Garden.

For more information on the university’s energy awareness, visit





Giving options available after Delta Music Institute flood

By | Delta Music Institute, Faculty/Staff, Foundation, General, President | No Comments

In the aftermath of flood damage to the Delta Music Institute’s Whitfield Building on Nov. 30, President William N. LaForge has taken initiative with a personal lead gift going directly to recovery efforts.

The cause of the flood was a ruptured old chilled water line that serviced an air handler on the east side of Whitfield. This line was on top of a rooftop air handler located directly above DMI offices and classrooms.

Since it ruptured above the air handler, instead of dripping directly down from one floor to the next, the water was somewhat blown through the air ducts throughout most of the area.

While the accident avoided the recording studios, most of the classrooms, offices, furniture, computers, ceiling tiles and teaching equipment were severely damaged on the eastern portion of the facility.

Delta State’s response to the emergency was quick, and the institution continues to pursue all necessary recovery procedures under the leadership of Steven McClellan, Vice President for Finance and Administration and Chief Financial Officer.

LaForge, a lifelong musician, developed a personal connection with the catastrophe shortly after arriving on scene to assist Facilities Management with cleanup.

“You hate to see such valuable things destroyed and instruments lost. We’re talking about several hundred thousand dollars when all is said and done,” said LaForge. “The DMI is an important component of the university, and as president of Delta State, I think this is one of the many programs that deserve our attention and support at this time.”

“If anyone wants to make a donation — completely on a volunteer basis — it’s not beneath me to ask, particularly in this season of giving,” added LaForge. “If anyone has charitable dollars to donate before the end of the year, it’s going to a very worthy cause.”

Those wishing to contribute to recovery efforts can do so online with ease and convenience through the Delta State Foundation link: Your tax-deductible contribution could go towards rejuvenating offices and classrooms, and purchasing replacement equipment.

Gifts can also be made over the phone by calling 662-846-4704, or through mail to: Delta State University Foundation, DSU Box 3141, Cleveland, MS 38733. A memo should be made indicating DMI flood recovery.

DMI Director Tricia Walker said the Delta State family has always been recognized as a giving community, especially to causes held near and dear to green and white faithful.

“So many people have an affection for the Whitfield Building — some alumni have come back and been devastated to see the damage,” said Walker. “We understand that people are asked to give often, and we are extremely thankful for everyone digging deep in their support.

“Replacing some of the damaged equipment quickly will be needed in order to continue our teaching and providing service to the community. In that regard, the help and support is needed.”

Walker added that a positive attitude from faculty and staff has helped DMI students adapt to a difficult situation, but returning to a sense of normalcy would be nice by the start of the spring 2014 semester.

“We have a very generous community and state, especially in the so-called ‘impoverished Delta,’” said LaForge. “So many folks give charitable support to Delta State, and we are very appreciative of everyone’s consideration.”

To learn more about the difference your gift can make to this fund, please email or call 662-846-4704.

For more information on the DMI, visit




Matching grant for Delta State faculty and staff

By | Alumni, Faculty/Staff, Foundation, General | No Comments

The Delta Regional Foundation, a charitable organization founded to support Delta State University, recently provided a $5,000 matching grant for monetary gifts made from Delta State faculty and staff.

The matching funds will be on a dollar-to-dollar basis, up to $500 per employee, and will be applied to first-time donors or increased levels of giving from current donors.

Several faculty and staff have already taken advantage of the program since the announcement on Friday. This opportunity is available until the $5,000 mark is reached.

Chief Development Officer of the Delta State University Foundation Gary Bouse expressed, “The Delta State University Foundation is very appreciative of the support of the Delta Regional Foundation. The establishment of this matching grant program serves as motivation for our faculty and staff to increase their level of support to the university, and an opportunity to double the impact of their giving to their areas of personal interest.”

Grants from the Delta Regional Foundation support such university priorities as scholarships for deserving students, faculty development and academic enrichment. Employees participating in the matching grant program have the option to designate their gifts to the Delta State University Annual Fund or to one of over 400 funds at the Foundation.

HPER department chair Tim Colbert said he was thrilled to take part in the opportunity.

“We’re using our Athletic Training Education Foundation account to help send our athletic training students to a conference in February,” said Colbert. “It will make a big difference to have matching funds on top of what we can give already.”

The board members of the Delta Regional Foundation include Charlie McGuffee, James Donald Cooper and Woodie Bounds. All three are alumni of Delta State University.

“Charlie and I have been lifelong friends,” said Cooper. “I finished Drew High School in 1959 and he finished in 1960. Both of us enrolled at Delta State and our close friendship continued through Delta State College.”

 “James Donald and I had a great experience as students at Delta State,” said McGuffee. “Several years ago we decided to establish a charitable foundation as a way to financially support Delta State and that is the reason the Delta Regional Foundation was created.”

This grant follows a similar grant that was established and successfully met by retired faculty and staff.

For more information about the Foundation or the matching grant, contact Gary Bouse at 662-846-4709 or or visit