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Joseph Jackson Turner Jr., spoke Tuesday as the first speaker of the semester for the Delta State University Colloquia Distinguished Speakers Lecture Series.

Turner draws large crowd for colloquia address

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Joseph Jackson Turner Jr., CEO at First Sun Management Corporation, which owns 50 Wendy’s franchises in the Southeast, drew a packed house Tuesday as the first speaker of the semester for the Delta State University Colloquia Distinguished Speakers Lecture Series.

Faculty, staff, students and the community filled Jobe Hall Auditorium to capacity to take advice from one of the region’s most successful entrepreneurs.

During his speech, titled “Just the Right Amount of Ketchup…Life Lessons from an Entrepreneur,” Turner provided life tips he has utilized in becoming the leader of one of the world’s largest Wendy’s franchise businesses. In addition to serving as the First Sun Management CEO, Turner is co-founder and chairman of the company and has been with the business since its inception in 1985. Prior to that, Turner worked in fundraising for Clemson University and was one of the people behind the still popular IPTAY (I Pay Ten a Year) campaign for Clemson alumni and supporters.

Turner gave Delta State students a number of tips he’s learned throughout his career, both in fundraising and as an entrepreneur. One of the most important tips, he said, is to learn how to listen.

“Learn to communicate well, and then learn to listen even better,” Turner said. 

In addition, Turner said students must be willing to be aware of themselves, to invest in their communities and to want to help the people around them.Tuner 2015 Colloquia-27

“If you help enough people get what they want, you will have everything you need,” he said, cautioning that doesn’t necessarily mean money, but does mean fulfillment and purpose.

After his lecture, which drew a standing ovation from those in attendance, Turner took questions from a panel of campus leaders and the audience.

Delta State President William N. LaForge established the colloquia program when taking office in 2013 and said he was thrilled so many students were in attendance for Turner’s address.

Join Delta State Oct. 22 for the next distinguished speaker in the series, United States Poet Laureate and Mississippi Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey. In 2012, Trethewey, born in Gulfport, Miss., became the first Southerner to hold the U.S. Poet Laureate post since Robert Penn Warren of Tennessee and Kentucky in 1986, and the first African American since Rita Dove in 1993.

Learn more about the series at www.deltastate.edu/president/colloquia.

Joseph Jackson Turner Jr., CEO at First Sun Management Corporation, will be the first colloquia speaker of the semester on Sept. 1 at 6 p.m. in Jobe Auditorium.

Turner of Wendy’s to be first colloquia speaker of semester

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The Delta State University Colloquia Distinguished Speakers Lecture Series kicks off the fall semester featuring a speaker with extensive experience in the restaurant world — Joseph Jackson Turner Jr., CEO at First Sun Management Corporation, a 50-store Wendy’s franchise located in the Southeast.

Turner’s speech, titled “Just the Right Amount of Ketchup…Life Lessons from an Entrepreneur,” will begin at 6 p.m. on Sept. 1 in the Jobe Auditorium on campus. The presentation is free and open to the public.

Those unable to attend the event can view the live stream speech online through the university’s official uStream channel: www.ustream.tv/channel/delta-state-university.

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.

Turner, who has been a lifelong entrepreneur, will discuss his success as the leader one of the world’s largest Wendy’s franchise businesses. In addition to serving as the First Sun Management CEO, Turner is co-founder and chairman of the business. He has been with the company since its inception in 1985.

He previously served as the executive secretary for the Clemson IPTAY Club, an athletic fundraising organization for Clemson University. In this role, Turner helped raise over $26 million for the institution. He also served as the associate director and alumni field representative for the Clemson Alumni Association.

Turner received his Bachelor’s of Science in industrial management, and Master’s of Science in management at Clemson University.

Additionally, Turner served as president and trustee for the Wendy’s International National Advertising Board of Trustees, and he is currently on the board of directors for the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.

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

“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,” said LaForge. “These are all folks our students can look up to.”

Learn more about the series at www.deltastate.edu/president/colloquia.

Delta State University  President William N. LaForge said the university is “solid and progressing quite well” in today's State of the University address.

LaForge envisions excellence in State of the University address

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Delta State University President William N. LaForge delivered the annual State of the University address during opening convocation today at the Bologna Performing Arts Center on campus.

The address was titled “On the Path to Excellence” and began with a welcome to faculty and staff as the university begins the new academic calendar and the 91st year of Delta State’s storied history.

LaForge characterized the state of the university as “solid and progressing quite well.”

“We are successfully tackling major budget and enrollment challenges, building on our strong programmatic foundations, and realizing growth in some key areas,” LaForge said in his opening. “I am bullish on Delta State and our future, and I am confident that we are on a path to excellence. It continues to be my distinct honor to serve you, our students and alumni, and our community.”

The president organized the bulk of his speech into six categories: academics, student recruitment and student success, business and finance, campus facilities and grounds, the Delta State family, and visioning — the next steps on the path to excellence.

LaForge said the institution’s academic standing remains strong following recent accreditation reaffirmation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

“This past year, we successfully completed institutional reaccreditation by SACSCOC, our national credentialing agency — a result that is critical to our very existence,” said LaForge.

While highlighting a number of academic achievements, the president also praised a number of programs showing significant progress.

“Across the academy, we are seeing growth — in nursing programs, social work, DMI Entertainment Industry Studies, geospatial, and pre-professional health related programs in the sciences; in masters programs in teaching, counseling, and health, physical education and recreation; and, in health care administration, commercial aviation, and computer information systems — all programs that continue to distinguish the university and attract more students.”

In relation to student recruitment, LaForge said the university understands the challenges it faces, but recruitment efforts will remain at the forefront.

“The marketplace for new students is very competitive, especially in light of the shrinking pool of Mississippi prospects, the success of certain Division I football teams last fall, and the attractiveness of community colleges because of their low tuition,” he said. “Recruitment continues to be a major priority for us because it is our lifeblood and it drives our revenue — tuition dollars plus credit hour production that factor into our state funding formula.”

Major efforts have been made university-wide to boost student success rates on campus. LaForge credited the Student Success Center, Academic Support Lab, Okra Scholars programing and the Early Alert Program for being critical to student retention.

In financial news, a focus of the administration the past couple years has been budget-cutting exercises. These exercises led to permanent budget cuts and program eliminations that will produce $1 million dollars in savings over the next year. Due to these savings, the university was able to offer pay raises to faculty and staff for the first time in years.

While tuition rates have held steady at $6,012 annually for the past three years, LaForge said the time is right to implement a tuition increase for the 2016-17 academic year. The additional revenue will help support another round of pay raises, faculty professional development, and other needs.

Turning to the campus environment, LaForge said there will be a number of physical improvements taking place at campus facilities. Multiple streets will be torn up and repaved, the dining hall will undergo a multi-million dollar facelift, Caylor/White-Walters renovations will be complete this academic year, and planning is underway for renovations at Zeigel Hall and the Walter Sillers Coliseum over the next few years. Reconstruction of the baseball stadium is nearing completion and will be dedicated in October.

In November, GRAMMY Museum Mississippi will open on campus, and the event is sure to draw visitors from around the globe. Delta State has entered into a formal educational partnership with the museum, which promises to bring outstanding programs in the years ahead.

LaForge then turned to matters involving the Delta State family and noted the loss of some very special people this past year, including Billie Breland, Joe Garrison, Henry Outlaw, Stan Sandroni, Dorothy Shawhan and Hugh Ellis Walker — all of whom were key members of the university family. All were honored with a moment of silence.

The president then announced the fifth Legend of Delta State, renowned baseball coach Dave “Boo” Ferriss, whose induction will be Oct. 3, in conjunction with the dedication of the new baseball stadium and of a statue in his honor.

In his final topic, LaForge discussed what it would take to elevate the university and its programs to the next level of success.

“At the recent President’s Cabinet Advance, we began a discussion of ‘big-think’ issues that will lay the foundation for our collective vision and the next steps on the path of excellence for Delta State,” said LaForge. “We focused on increasing academic distinction by ratcheting up support for student achievement and faculty professional development. We envisioned myriad future projects and programs — too many to mention here — that will help determine what Delta State looks like in 2025, our centennial year.”

Like the university community as a whole, LaForge remains hopeful of more positive growth at Delta State. He urged faculty and staff to be a constant source of inspiration.

“I ask you to grasp and follow a vision for what you do, to make a commitment to that vision, to see purpose in what you do each day, and to have passion in the way you do it,” said LaForge. “Go boldly into this new academic year to prepare the next generation for the realities of the world and what we all hope will be a bright future.”

Milton Kuykendall (l to r), President William N. LaForge and Worth Steen at the recent DeSoto County Alumni Event. Officers of the chapter include Emily Ballard, president; Billy Sears, vice president; and Janie Michelle Stafford, secretary-treasurer.

Alumni Association travels to DeSoto County

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The Delta State University National Alumni Association recently traveled to Southaven for the annual DeSoto County Alumni Event, which was held at the BankPlus Training Center.

This year’s program featured President William N. LaForge; Emily Havens, executive director GRAMMY Museum Mississippi; and Jeffrey Farris, director of Alumni Affairs. Other faculty and staff in attendance were first lady Nancy LaForge; Ronnie Mayers, athletic director; Steve McClellan, chief financial officer; Keith Fulcher, executive director Alumni-Foundation; Ann Giger, director of Donor Relations; Jordan Thomas, assistant alumni director; Sarah Shepherd, senior alumni secretary; Gary Bouse, chief development officer; Stephanie Farris, director Child Development Center; and Dr. Clifton Wingard, professor of mathematics.

Over 200 alumni and friends attended the event.

Over $1,500 was raised through the silent auction. All proceeds benefit the DeSoto County Scholarship, which is given annually to incoming Delta State students from the area. This year’s recipients are Natalie Howarth and Kayla Savage, both of Hernando.

The chapter bestowed Milton Kuykendall, superintendent for DeSoto County Schools, with a service award for his dedication to both Delta State and DeSoto County. They also recognized Worth Steen for his dedication to the growth of the DeSoto County chapter.

Sponsors for the event included: Ryan T. England and Stephanie Morrison Strohm – State Farm Agents; BankPlus; BancorpSouth; Renasant Bank; Northcentral Electric Power Association; Sycamore Bank; Delta Law Firm, PLLC; First Security Bank; Cory Uselton; Grapevine Liquor & Wine; Williams, Pitts & Beard, PLLC; and A&B Distributors.

To stay up to date on the Alumni Association’s activities, follow these social media sites: Facebook (Statesmen Graduates), Twitter (@DSU_Alumni), Tumblr (www.dsualumni.tumblr.com), LinkedIn (DSU alumni), Instagram (dsualumni) and You Tube (dsualumni1). Save the dates for Pig Pickin’ (Sept. 19) and Homecoming (Nov. 7). Thank you to our National Alumni Association Corporate Sponsors: Air Evac Lifeteam, Bolivar Medical Center, Patrick Davis State Farm, and Polk’s Meats.

Top from left: Celia Manley, Rhonda Strickland, Lisa Patterson Milling and Tara Dunn Davis. Bottom: Will Crump, John Stringer and Jeffrey Farris.

Jackson Alumni Association holds successful meeting

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With over 200 alumni and friends in attendance, the Delta State University National Alumni Association hosted another successful event in Jackson last week.

The annual Greater Jackson Area Alumni Event was held at the Jackson Yacht Club and featured President William N. LaForge; Matt Jones, senior associate athletics director for external relations; and Jeffrey Farrism director of Alumni Affairs.

Other faculty and staff members in attendance included first lady Nancy LaForge, admissions recruiters Harrison Wood and John Mauney, head women’s basketball coach Craig Roden, executive director of Alumni-Foundation Keith Fulcher, director of Donor Relations Ann Giger, director of the Child Development Center Stephanie Farris, and assistant alumni director Jordan Thomas.

Each year, the chapter has a silent auction with proceeds benefiting the Jackson Area Scholarship, which is awarded annually to incoming Delta State students from the area. This year’s recipients are: Hampton Strickland of Madison, Geoffrey Arnold of Brandon and John Kaiser of Madison.

A new aspect to this year’s meeting was the live auction. The chapter auctioned off a tailgating package which included a Yeti cooler with a custom DSU logo, a picnic table in The Levee for Pig Pickin’ Weekend, which includes 10 football passes, four parking passes and a catering package. The auction raised over $1,600 this year.

The event would not have been possible without the support of sponsors: Polles Properties, BKD CPAs & Advisors, BankPlus, AvantGarde Strategies, IRR, Celia Manley Real Estate, MTM, Capitol Resources, Casey Myrick-Edward Jones, Magnolia Health and Sleeplinks-CPAP Works.

To stay up to date on the Alumni Association’s activities, follow these social media sites: Facebook (Statesmen Graduates), Twitter (@DSU_Alumni), Tumblr (www.dsualumni.tumblr.com), LinkedIn (DSU alumni), Instagram (dsualumni) and You Tube (dsualumni1). Save the dates for Pig Pickin’ (Sept. 19) and Homecoming (Nov. 7). Thank you to our National Alumni Association Corporate Sponsors: Air Evac Lifeteam, Bolivar Medical Center, Patrick Davis State Farm, and Polk’s Meats.