Staff Council feeding okra

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The Staff Council at Delta State University is doing its part again this holiday season to bring a little cheer to those in need of a helping hand.

The council has adapted its annual food drive, previously called Feed-A-Family, to the Feed Our Okra Family project.

“The Administrative Staff Council has sponsored the Feed-A-Family food drive around Thanksgiving for the past few years,” said Justin Chandler, project coordinator. “Last year we filled over 88 bags that were donated to families in the Cleveland community.”

This year, Staff Council Chair Robin Boyles challenged the Projects Subcommittee to consider donating the collected food items to staff members in the Delta State family.

“As chair of the Projects Subcommittee, I agreed that we should take care of our own ‘Okra family’ during the holiday season,” added Chandler. “We have dispersed 100 bags across campus to be filled with food items.”

If you and your family are in need of a Thanksgiving food bag, which includes a turkey, contact Julie Jackson by Nov. 13. at 662-846-4151 or Names will be kept confidential.

If you are aware of someone that works in your area that is in need of a bag, contact Jackson and she will be sure that they receive one.

Other items in the bag include canned ham, boxed stuffing, vegetable, boxed potatoes, corn bread mix, cake mix, tea bags and baby food.

If anyone would like to donate items, please contact Chandler at 662-846-4052 or An anonymous donor has agreed to provide the turkeys to each staff member that receives a Thanksgiving bag this year.


William N. LaForge inaugurated as Delta State's eighth president.

LaForge inaugurated as eighth Delta State president

By | Academics, Bologna Performing Arts Center, General, President | No Comments

The campus of Delta State University shined brightly Friday at the inauguration of the institution’s eighth president, William N. LaForge.

U.S. Senator Thad Cochran, Gov. Phil Bryant, national, state and local political leaders, members of the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning, former Delta State presidents, fellow institutional chief executives, honored platform guests, distinguished delegates from universities and learned societies, faculty, staff, alumni, students and friends of Delta State all gathered to honor the university’s new leader.

The Bologna Performing Arts Center on campus hosted a packed house as thousands congregated to witness LaForge’s official investiture ceremony, which was themed “Celebrating Excellence.”

“I am honored and humbled by the trust and faith placed in me by the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning,” said LaForge. “Last spring I accepted the charge to serve Delta State, and today I renew my commitment to give this position and this university my very best efforts.

“It is my distinct honor and privilege to have the opportunity to serve my alma mater.”

LaForge, a Cleveland native, has repeatedly said it was an easy decision to return home after a lengthy and distinguished career in Washington, D.C.

“Delta State has been near and dear to me since my early childhood,” he added. “I grew up on this campus. My dad was a professor and dean. I had four outstanding years as an undergraduate and came of age here. I met many of my best friends on this campus, and they are still my best friends today.”

Keynoting the inaugural address was Senator Cochran. LaForge and Cochran have maintained a personal and professional relationship spanning more than 30 years. LaForge worked for Cochran from 1983-1990, serving as chief of staff and chief legislative counsel during that time.

Dr. Hank Bounds, Commissioner of Higher Education, spoke high praise for the new president before placing the Chain of Office medallion over the head of LaForge, marking the official investiture.

“It is obvious that his dedication to Delta State University transcends both time and distance,” said Bounds. “He understands the mission of the university on a very personal level and I am certain he will utilize his extensive talents to help today’s students have every opportunity for success.

“Mr. LaForge understands the rich culture and history of both the institution and the region. He has lived and breathed it. It is part of him and he is part of it.”

LaForge addressed the crowd with high emotion and promised his full commitment to bettering Delta State.

“When I arrived on campus six months ago, I made a pledge to seek and build excellence in all we do at this university. Today I reaffirm that pledge.

“While we face many challenges at Delta State, I see many more opportunities and a bright future for our university. I will devote my best energies to making excellence a hallmark of this university — one in which we can all be proud.

“Today I ask the Delta State family and all the friends of this university to embrace this vision for our future. I am convinced that, together, we can build a tradition of excellence as a truly outstanding public regional university, and one of national distinction.”

Following the ceremony, attendees gathered along the campus quadrangle for a communal inaugural luncheon. Perfect autumn weather provided a textbook ending to the significant day in Delta State history.

For more information on the proud presidential tradition of Delta State, and more detailed coverage on the week of inaugural activities, visit




Community meeting for HIV/AIDS awareness scheduled

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Local leaders in the Mississippi Delta are forming a collaboration with AmeriCorps*VISTA and Walgreens to increase community awareness about HIV/AIDS. A community assessment meeting will be held Nov. 6 at Delta State’s Center for Community and Economic Development. Registration will begin at 8:30 a.m., and the meeting will start at 9:00 a.m.

The joint initiative will provide educational opportunities about HIV/AIDS as well as plan for a community event to help remove the stigma about HIV/AIDS. Director of the Mississippi Delta Service Corps/AmeriCorps*VISTA Linda Stringfellow is a spokesperson for the initiative.



“Our goal is to mobilize churches and other faith-based organizations to fight against HIV/AIDS. On average, someone in the United States is infected with HIV every 9 1/2 minutes. We must pay attention to what is happening nationally and take a closer look at what is happening in our communities,” said Stringfellow.

The Center for Community and Economic Development is located at 1471 College Street in Cleveland. Interested participants can register online at or contact David Tanner at 662-846-4848 or by e-mail at All registrations must be received by Friday, November 1.

AmeriCorps*VISTA is a corporation for national and community service which aims to bridge the digital divide and promote welfare to work initiatives. VISTA members serve to create and expand opportunities for low income individuals and the organizations they serve. For more information about AmeriCorps*VISTA call 662-846-4358 or visit

First Lady Walking tour

First lady’s walking tour sheds light on campus history

By | General, President | No Comments

As Delta State and the local community are gearing up for the inauguration of President William N. LaForge on Nov. 1, first lady Nancy LaForge will also be paying tribute to the rich architectural and art history on the university’s striking campus — a campus the LaForge’s now call home.

“I walk here everyday. That’s my happy place,” said Nancy. “I especially love walking around the quad and that’s when I began to notice the beauty of Delta State. If you slow down a little you can appreciate the similarity and unification of architectural elements on campus.”

The first lady, along with University Archivist Emily Jones and Art Department Chair Ron Koehler, will be leading the First Lady’s Campus Architectural History and Arts Walking Tour at 10 a.m. on Oct. 30, beginning on the east side of the Bologna Performing Arts Center.

The trio will be providing details on some of the most unique architectural designs on campus, as well as some intriguing artistic elements like The Hazel and Jimmy Sanders Sculpture Garden and old presidential portraits.

“The theme for inauguration is ‘Celebrating Excellence’ and we felt it was appropriate to celebrate the excellent art and architecture we have,” said Nancy. “We want to show it off to every visitor who comes to Delta State.

“Some of these buildings have classic designs that have been around a very long time, and we want them to stay around for a long time too.”

Nancy has been preparing for her tour by researching from two main sources — “Physical Facilities: Delta State University” by Hugh C. Smith and “A Pictorial History of Delta State University” by Jack Winton Gunn and Gladys C. Castle.

All authors are former faculty and staff members at the university, and Smith is credited with establishing the uniform brick color specially designed for Delta State.

Jones said that the first lady’s tour is very timely considering the university will soon be celebrating 90 years.

“Nancy LaForge’s vision for this walking tour is perfect timing,” said Jones. “We are looking to celebrate 90 years on this campus and several of our buildings were constructed in those early, formative years.

“Studying the architecture around us, we can see what was important to generations before us. Education was of utmost importance and that is reflected in the careful construction of our halls and dormitories.

“Blending into that background of architecture is the artwork and statuary that has been incorporated over the years. We have portraits painted by famous artists adorning walls of offices and sculpture by up-and-coming artists. I am looking forward to the blending of the humanities presented in the walk.”

As a fellow tour leader with an expertise in art, Koehler said he’s also looking forward to paying recognition to the university’s distinctive sculptures.

“Delta State has many outstanding bragging points, and one is definitely the outdoor sculptures displayed across campus,” said Koehler. “There are 10 new sculptures by nine artists that were installed in front of BPAC in August as part of the 6th Outdoor Sculpture Biennial.

“We also have 21 other sculpture pieces that are part of the DSU Permanent Collection. I am grateful to the Sanders family for their generous endowment of the sculpture garden.”

There are talks that the tour could eventually be developed into a mobile app interactive experience available for future visitors to campus. The concept could become a potential tourist attraction for visitors beyond Delta State, especially if completed before the 2015 opening of GRAMMY Museum Mississippi.

“I think it would be a great project if it was done in collaboration with some community groups,” said Nancy. “A lot of this goes back to the town-gown relationship we have. Delta State has a great history significant in and of itself, but also in Cleveland.”

In the short term, the first lady is looking forward to hosting her first tour and joining in the inauguration fun.

“I’m very proud of the architectural beauty of Delta State University and I welcome the opportunity to share the experience with visitors to campus, Cleveland and the state of Mississippi,” she said. “We invite everyone to join all three of us leading the tour as we walk our wonderful campus.”

The event will take place rain or shine and a trolley will be available for those who prefer to ride. For questions about the event, contact the Office of the President at 662-846-4000.

— All inauguration events are funded through private support to the Delta State University Foundation. No university funds are being used during the week of activities.

Driving the need for breast cancer awareness

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The Derrall Foreman Golf Course at Delta State University is sponsoring a breast cancer awareness golf tournament on Oct. 26 beginning at 8:30 a.m. All proceeds from the two person scramble will go to the Breast Education Early-Detection Project (BEEP).

Teams may consist of any combination, man or woman, and the first 12 paid entries include a Delta State golf cart for the tournament. Fees are set at $25 for students and  $35 for men and women. Donations are accepted as well. This is the first year for the tournament, but it is planned to be annual fundraiser. To register, please call the golf course at 662-846-4586.

The Derrall Foreman Golf Course is a public course offering par-36 nine hole play and par-72 18 hole play on Bermuda fairways and greens. A driving range is available, and the pro shop offers cart/club rental among other things. The course is located off U.S. Hwy 8 and will soon be reconfigured to remain a 9 hole course while accommodating the Grammy Museum Mississippi.

The BEEP program at Delta State strives to eliminate breast cancer as a life-threatening disease through innovative and creative approaches in teaching awareness and prevention to women within the Bolivar, Sunflower and Washington counties who have limited access to preventive care. The program began in 2007 and has hosted over 200 workshops, health fairs and events year-round. Some signature events include Paint the Stadium Pink, Miss Pink Diva Pageant, Breast Cancer Awareness Walk, Saving Our Sisters and Wear Pink Day. Free mammogram screenings are available to eligible individuals.

For more information on the tournament, please call Johnny Glorioso at 662-846-4586. To find out more about the BEEP program at Delta State, visit or call 662-846-4863.