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Senior Tyler Sullivan will serve as a 2017 Thad Cochran Fellow.

DSU quarterback selected for prestigious Congressional Fellowship

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Delta State University Statesmen quarterback Tyler Sullivan was recently selected as a 2017 Congressional Fellow for U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi.

Sullivan, who is a biology premedical science major, will move to Washington D.C. in January and remain there through the spring semester. The program selects one Delta State student each year to serve on Cochran’s staff, with the goal of providing a better understanding of the legislative process.

“I am extremely grateful to be selected for the fellowship,” said Sullivan, a native of Louisville, Mississippi. “It’s hard to actually wrap my mind around the fact that I’ll be moving to D.C. in January to work for such a prestigious senator. The fact that Delta State and the Delta Council have chosen and trust me to be their representative for the fellowship is a very high honor.”

Sullivan said he was excited to learn how the legislative process works, having never previously delved into politics.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge of seeing what I’m made of,” he added. “This is an opportunity to not only get a solid foundation in politics, but also an opportunity that will benefit me no matter what I do in the future. I want to learn what it takes to be a valuable Mississippian like Sen. Cochran is, and how to make tough decisions that will affect many people.”

Delta State has a long-running tradition of sending fellows to Washington, and Delta State President William N. LaForge served as Cochran’s chief of staff during the 1980s.

“I am thrilled that Tyler Sullivan has been chosen to be our Congressional Fellow,” said LaForge. “He is confident, capable and is the perfect candidate for this opportunity. He will be of great value to Sen. Cochran’s office while representing Delta State in grand fashion.

“It is professionally and personally gratifying to me that we continue this wonderful relationship with the senator’s office in cooperation with Delta Council and Staplcotn because of the affiliation with Sen. Cochran going back to my days as his chief of staff. Tyler will have an excellent experience there, and their office will benefit from his outstanding background at Delta State.”

Sullivan, who will graduate in December, is currently applying to medical school. He was recently named a finalist for the 2016 William V. Campbell Trophy, which is presented to the best football scholar-athlete in the country. Sullivan was one of only 12 athletes to make the final list and will travel to New York on Dec. 6 for the awards ceremony.

The fellowship program is funded through Delta State University, the Delta Council and Staplcotn. Additionally, Sullivan will receive a stipend from Cochran’s office.

The Delta Council is an area economic development organization representing the 18 Delta and part-Delta counties of Northwest Mississippi. The organization pioneers efforts to solve common problems and promote the development of the local economy. Founded in 1921, Staplcotn (Staple Cotton Cooperative Association) is the oldest and one of the largest cotton marketing cooperatives in the United States.

President’s Statement Regarding the Mississippi Flag

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Statement Regarding the Mississippi Flag

William N. LaForge, President, Delta State University

November 3, 2016

Today, I am announcing that Delta State University has lowered the flag of the State of Mississippi, and will retire it to the University Archives.

The discussion about the Mississippi flag on the Delta State campus has continued for well over a year.  The conversation increased this fall when the remaining public universities lowered their flags.

I wish to make it clear that this university is making an institutional decision on this issue because the state government has declined to change the flag.  This is a painful decision in many respects because this is a highly charged emotional issue for many people.  The University finds itself in the untenable position of making a decision that will disappoint some, no matter the outcome.  But in the absence of state action, we are making a decision that I believe is right and just on all levels.

In the spirit of open academic discussion, our various university constituencies — especially our students, faculty, and staff — have given thoughtful consideration to this issue.  As expected, there are differences of opinion and divergent viewpoints. However, my Cabinet and I have carefully weighed the input from all quarters, and it is now my responsibility to speak for the University on this matter.

The objectionable portion of the state flag — the stars and bars — presents a polarizing symbol that is a barrier to progress and improved understanding of our state, our university, and our people.  Delta State recently completed a visioning process, during which we set a course of excellence for the university’s future.  Included in our visioning principles are a number of core values that we promote and embrace, including civility, respect for all, diversity, inclusion, fairness, hospitality, and a welcoming environment that is conducive to the success of our students, faculty, and staff.  We believe that continuing to fly the state flag — with its divisive symbol that sends a confusing message, at best, and that has increasingly become a distraction to our mission — is contrary to our core values and to an accurate understanding of who we are and what we stand for as a university.

In 2015, the University announced its strong support for the adoption of a new flag by the State of Mississippi that would be a symbol of unity rather than one of divisiveness.  But, that change, unfortunately, has not occurred. So, today, I renew Delta State’s support and call for that change.

While taking the flag down is a symbolic act, its removal, nevertheless, underscores the numerous positive things we do on this campus to advance inclusiveness, fairness, and transparency in our various enterprises.

As the state’s most racially diverse university, Delta State is proud of its multicultural heritage and identity.  We are leading conversations and programs of action on the important topics of race relations, the Delta Blues, international business, educational advancement, scientific research, and community engagement — most notably through our signature conferences on those themes and through our outstanding academic programs. Those who study, teach, and work on this campus, as well as those who visit Delta State from around the country and the world — especially our record number of international students — deserve to know that our welcoming community and commitment to inclusiveness are not encumbered by an outdated symbol in the state flag.  And, after a 15-year ban by the NCAA, Delta State University deserves the opportunity to host swimming and other athletic championships that are currently not allowed because of the design of the state flag.

As a public institution of higher learning, Delta State continues to honor and respect its relationship with the people and state that support this university.  That will not change merely because we choose to join our seven sister universities in solidarity in lowering a flag that contains an antiquated symbol that is offensive to so many, and that public universities are not required by law to fly.  Delta State will demonstrate its respect for the state by continuing to inspire its students and educate new generations of thinkers and leaders who will invest in this state’s future.

I am grateful to the Delta State community for engaging in a deliberate, thoughtful, and sometimes difficult conversation about the flag.  It is now time for us to turn our full attention to the more serious matters of teaching, learning, and service at a university that is working hard to guide and educate our students, while also helping to provide vision for the future of the Mississippi Delta and our state.

In a recent court decision involving a legal challenge to the state flag, U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves astutely wrote: “At times there is something noble in standing alone.  This is not one of those times.  The Confederate battle emblem has no place in shaping a New Mississippi, and is better left retired to history.”

In sum, Delta State’s decision to take down the Mississippi flag signals this university’s opposition to the design of the current flag, and sends the message to our state leadership that the time for a new, unifying state flag is long overdue. We look forward to raising a state flag that will represent the New Mississippi.  However, until that new flag becomes available, and as an added measure of respect for the state, Delta State will fly the state’s bicentennial banner that was recently unveiled by the Mississippi Economic Council.

Taking down the state flag on this campus is the right thing to do, and it is in the best interest of Delta State University because we are working to help shape the New Mississippi.

Allie Rose Parker, SGA president at Delta State, recently became the first student appointed to the board of directors for the Cleveland-Bolivar County  Chamber of Commerce.

Parker named to Chamber Board of Directors

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Allie Rose Parker, Student Government Association president at Delta State, recently became the first student member of the Board of Directors for the Cleveland-Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce.

Parker was appointed to the position at the recommendation of Board President Heather Robinson ’01, ’03. She will begin her duties next month.

“This is a special opportunity for me because I have the chance to interact with some of the people who work so hard to make Cleveland the awesome city that it is,” said Parker. “As a student, I feel that I’ll be able to learn from these men and women and gain experiences and knowledge for the future.”

“Cleveland is a unique city because the residents here care so deeply about DSU,” she added. “With this position, I hope to involve the city even more with events happening on our campus. Community events are such a big thing in Cleveland, and with the city and Delta State working together, I think we will see some really great things accomplished.”

Chamber Executive Director Judson Thigpen ’78 said he’s thrilled to bring a student voice on board.

“We feel a strong bond with Delta State, especially with the faculty and staff, and we wanted to become more mindful of the things students would like to see,” said Thigpen ’78. “We really value Allie Rose’s input as she represents the student body, and we expect that each year the SGA president would serve this role for the Chamber.”

Dr. Vernell Bennett, Delta State’s vice president of Student Affairs, said this is the perfect opportunity for Parker to strengthen the university’s bond with the community.

“This is a great opportunity for Allie Rose and very insightful of the Chamber to include the student voice on its board,” said Bennett. “In doing so, I believe they’ll see a marked increase in DSU students being engaged in their programming and activities. I think it’s mutually beneficial because it allows both entities to capitalize off of the strengths of the other. DSU students will benefit from the Chamber’s programming, services, networking opportunities and possible merchant mentorships.”

Bennett noted that this has become a semester of firsts for Parker. She also became the first Delta State student to have voting privileges on the President’s Cabinet.

Delta State President William N. LaForge echoed Bennett’s praise for this opportunity.

“We’re very moved that the Cleveland-Bolivar County Chamber invited our SGA president to be on the board,” said LaForge. “Just as Allie Rose will serve on the President’s Cabinet, now the Chamber has the benefit of student input for the community. It’s a wonderful illustration of town-gown relations and the engagement of students who have very important perspectives. She will be a great member of their board.”

Follow all Delta State news at www.deltastate.edu.

Mississippi Congressman Bennie Thompson will provide his Distinguished Speakers Lecture Series address Nov. 9 at 6 p.m.

Congressman Thompson to provide colloquia address following election

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The Delta State University Colloquia Distinguished Speakers Lecture Series continues this semester with U.S. Congressman Bennie Thompson of Mississippi on Nov. 9.

Rep. Thompson’s speech, titled “A Look Back at the 2016 National Election,” will begin at 6 p.m. on Nov. 9 in the Jobe Auditorium on campus — just one day after the 2016 national elections. The presentation is free and open to the public.

Delta State President William N. LaForge established the colloquia program when taking office in 2013. The platform is an ongoing series of top-flight lectures and addresses featuring prominent speakers. William F. Winter, former Mississippi governor, was honored as the first speaker in 2013.

“We’re thrilled to bring Congressman Thompson here for our Distinguished Speakers Lecture Series,” said LaForge. “It seemed fitting to invite him to campus the day after the national election to give us a snap-reaction to the election results. It’s an ideal opportunity for our campus to engage him, as our congressman in Washington, and at the same time, allow him to share his knowledge about what’s going to happen at the top of the ticket.”

Rep. Thompson has spent his entire life giving a voice to the voiceless. His lifelong public service record is a testament to his unwavering dedication to fulfill and exceed the expectations of the constituents of the Second Congressional District of Mississippi.

A native of rural Bolton, Thompson has always been aware of the realities that plague the South. Viewing the experiences his family endured firsthand became the catalyst for his passion for those who were often times underserved.

He is a product of the Hinds County School District and later earned a Bachelor of Science from Tougaloo College and a Master of Science from Jackson State University. While pursuing his education, Thompson began to cultivate his passion for grassroots political activism. A product of the Civil Rights movement, he joined the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and helped to organize voter registration drives for African Americans in the Mississippi Delta. After graduating from college, he followed in the footsteps of his mother and worked as a schoolteacher. It was during this time that he began to aggressively pursue a career in politics.

Thompson has served the Second Congressional District since 1993. He is the longest-serving African American elected official in the state of Mississippi, and he is also the only Democrat in the Mississippi Congressional delegation. Thompson’s voting record is indicative of his determination to be an activist for reform. In 2000, he authored legislation creating the National Center for Minority Health and Health Care Disparities, which subsequently became law. Thompson also received a presidential appointment to serve on the National Council on Health Planning and Development.

In 2006, during the 109th Congress, Thompson’s Washington colleagues expressed their overwhelming confidence in his abilities and selected him to serve as the first Democratic chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. As chairman, he introduced and engineered House passage of the most comprehensive homeland security package since Sept. 11, 2001 — H.R. 1, the “9/11 Commission Recommendations Act of 2007.”

LaForge said the Distinguished Speakers Lecture Series is another commitment to bringing excellence to Delta State.

“The university colloquia program gives our institution a chance to hear from and engage with experts from a wide array of professions and interests,” said LaForge. “It especially allows our students and faculty to rub elbows with professionals and resources we sometimes have the rare opportunity to engage. Great universities have great programs, and this is one.”

Those unable to attend the event can view the live stream speech online through the university’s official LiveStream channel: https://livestream.com/DeltaStateUniversity. Learn more about the series at www.deltastate.edu/president/colloquia.

The international student body at Delta State has doubled in three years.

International student body sees major growth

By | Faculty/Staff, International, President, Student Success Center, Students | No Comments

In a span of just three years, Delta State University has seen a dramatic uptick in the number of international students attending the institution.

According to Dr. Christy Riddle, executive director of the Student Success Center and International Student Services, there are 129 international students attending this fall, doubling the amount enrolled three years ago. Additionally, Delta State is sponsoring 14 post-graduate internships, which brings this semester’s international student enrollment to 143 students.

“It’s so gratifying to see how quickly our international student population is growing,” Riddle said. “International students bring additional perspectives and diversity to campus, and we look forward to their contributions across campus. We look forward to even more international students in the years to come.”

According to Riddle, another success story is the current retention rate of 96 percent for international students, a figure of pride for Riddle and her staff.

Elise Mallette, coordinator of International Student Services, is also thrilled with the rise of students coming from abroad.

“Most of our students will probably never have the opportunity to travel to other countries or experience other cultures firsthand,” said Mallette. “Our international students allow all of us, not just our students, to learn about other cultures, life outside of the American norm, and broaden our prospective without having to leave the comforts of Cleveland.

“By increasing enrollment this semester, we now have 50 countries represented on campus compared to 39 last semester. In just one semester we have 11 new cultures right here at our doorstep. The more students we bring to campus, the more we can learn and appreciate other cultures.”

Delta State University President William N. LaForge, who has experience teaching at a number of institutions abroad, has long made it a priority to boost the international presence on campus. He has also spearheaded efforts for Delta State students to study abroad, which has led to cultural exchange trips in Russia and Poland.

“I am absolutely thrilled with the increase in the number of international students at Delta State,” said LaForge. “It’s incredibly exciting to have 50 countries represented here. Our international students add a terrific dynamic to this campus as they bring their cultures and experiences from other parts of the world to our Delta State family.”

To learn more about International Student Services and the Student Success Center at Delta State, visit http://www.deltastate.edu/student-success-center/international-student-services.