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U.S. District Judge Gustavo A. Gelpi to provide Colloquia address

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The Delta State University Colloquia Distinguished Speakers Lecture Series kicks off the fall semester featuring United States District Judge Gustavo A. Gelpi.

Gelpi’s speech, titled “Police Reform Though the Eyes of a United States District Judge,” will begin at 6 p.m. on Sept. 20 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 LiveStream channel: https://livestream.com/DeltaStateUniversity.

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.

Gelpi was appointed to the federal court bench in 2006 by former U.S. President George W. Bush, following his unanimous Senate confirmation. He holds life tenure and sits in the District of Puerto Rico.

Currently, he presides over the nation’s largest police department reform case, which was filed by the United States Attorney General in 2012 as a result of systemic police practices violative of civil rights, such as excessive use of force, racial and ethnic profiling, as well as sexual and political discrimination in the hiring and promotion of officers.

During his judicial tenure, Judge Gelpi has presided over hundreds of prosecutions for narcotics, firearms, child exploitation, immigration, white collar, government corruption and other federal crimes. He has also presided over a large number of civil cases in the areas of civil rights, environmental litigation, medical malpractice, bank shareholder class actions, corporate litigation and personal injury.

Gelpi has had an illustrious career spanning 25 years of public service, previously serving on the federal bench as a United States Magistrate Judge, as Solicitor General of Puerto Rico, and as Assistant Federal Public Defender and judicial law clerk.

He is a graduate of Brandeis University and Suffolk University School of Law in Boston, from which he also holds an honorary doctorate.

LaForge and Gelpi have known each other for about 12 years, and they first met when LaForge was serving as president of the national board of the Federal Bar Association. LaForge’s son Clayton also spent two years as a law clerk for Gelpi in Puerto Rico.

“Judge Gelpi is an outstanding jurist who has had an amazing career on the bench,” said LaForge. “He brings an outstanding amount of expertise on the issues related to police reform. We are looking forward to hosting him on campus.”

In addition to his speech, Gelpi will spend time visiting classes and with student organizations at Delta State.

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.”

U.S. Congressman Bennie Thompson will follow Gelpi with the next colloquia address on Nov. 9 for a unique and timely look back at the 2016 national election.

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

A Letter from President William N. LaForge

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Dear Campus Colleagues and Students:

Welcome to the new academic year!

As I shared with the faculty and staff at Convocation, this promises to be a terrific year, filled with exciting programs, intercollegiate athletics, campus changes, and the first steps toward realizing the university’s vision for a successful future.

We recently rolled out ten building-block visioning principles that will help guide us to that future success.  Many of the ideas and strategies that will pave that pathway are already in place or in the development stages.  All of us in the Delta State family have a huge stake in this vision, and I invite you to join in as we plan and shape that future.  I have attached the full list of visioning principles.

Delta State’s highest priorities are academic excellence and student success.  As a student-centric university, our mission is to help guide each student on the path to success, and to provide our students with the very best experience possible in and out of the classroom.  College is a time for exploration and discovery for our students, and this university is committed to providing an outstanding platform for student engagement.

Students…I encourage all of you to get involved with student government, intramurals, religious life, cultural and service organizations and projects, and fraternities and sororities.  Doing so is an important part of a college experience, and your involvement will make you a more versatile person as you prepare for your career.  As our tagline says, “Join In.  Stand Out!”

We have just rolled out a new and expanded healthcare service plan for all students, and this plan will also be available for faculty, staff, and the community.  In partnership with Bolivar Medical Center, we will have a more modern healthcare delivery system—in the same facility on campus, the Reily Health Center—that will provide enhanced medical care.  Please take advantage of these new services.

I call your attention to a full slate of entertainment and activities that will fill the calendar this fall and beyond.  Be sure to keep up with all university events and activities by checking out the Delta State home page and announcements.  For example, superb BPAC programming is scheduled for this year, including music, dance, and Broadway shows.   Statesmen football offers six home games.  Our annual International Conference on the Blues is slated for October 2-4, and our signature Race Relations Conference will be held again in the spring.  I am pleased to announce two University Colloquia Distinguished Speakers Programs for the Fall—Federal District Judge Gustavo Gelpi of Puerto Rico on September 20th on the topic of police reform in the United States, and U.S. Congressman Bennie Thompson on November 9th for a unique and timely “next day look-back” at the 2016 national election.  Both will take place in Jobe auditorium at 6:00 pm on those respective dates.

Finally, Delta State is a special place for many reasons, and this university strives to provide a warm, inviting environment that is conducive for teaching and learning.  Imbedded in our culture are a number of core values that speak to who we are as a university community.  I ask that you review this element of our visioning principles, and embrace our core values as we continue to make Delta State a university of distinction.

I wish for each of you a prosperous and successful 2016-17 academic year!

All the best,

Bill LaForge

President

Parker casts historic first student vote on President’s Cabinet

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For the first time in Delta State University’s storied history, a student has earned an active voting role in the President’s Cabinet.

On Aug. 22, Allie Rose Parker, president of the Student Government Association, casted her first vote at President William N. LaForge’s weekly cabinet meeting.

“It’s a huge honor for me, and I’m very thankful to be part of a university that places so much responsibility with the student body. I know that’s not something you see every day,” said Parker. “It’s very humbling to have this opportunity, and I’m extremely thankful it’s happening during my years.”

LaForge, who has sworn to an all-inclusive approach during his presidency, said it was a no-brainer to include the SGA president as a voting member of his cabinet. During his inaugural State of the University address in 2013, LaForge announced the first addition of the SGA president on his cabinet as a non-voting member.

“We decided that the student voice should become a student vote as well,” said LaForge. “I think it’s the right thing to do to make sure our students are fully engaged to share in decision making on campus. It’s also the result of a great track record of the SGA presidents who have served during my time at Delta State.

“We are proud to have Allie Rose on board, and we are excited to have her as a voting member,” said LaForge. “I think this will be a more complete way to share the authentic shared governance on campus. I encourage full student participation, and I think we’ll be better off for it.”

Parker first started attending cabinet meetings in June after her election as SGA president.

“It’s really interesting to be part of the meetings and hear ideas bounce off all the important people on campus,” said Rose. “I’m the youngest in the room, so I was a little intimated when I first started attending — but they absolutely include me in everything. They really make sure the students are represented well on the cabinet.”

Parker said having the voting right is a big plus for the student population.

“The cabinet really does try and make the best decisions for the student body, but it’s also really helpful for them to be able to turn to an active student and ask if the student body will like a particular decision,” she said. “I think it’s really helpful for me to provide an opinion reflective of the student body.

“I’m very thankful to the SGA presidents before me who paved the way and gave me this opportunity to vote.”

Delta State now joins Mississippi Valley State University and the University of Southern Mississippi to include student body presidents as voting members of the president’s cabinet.

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

 

Campus to celebrate 91st anniversary

By | Academics, Archives and Museum, Community, Faculty/Staff, President, Students | No Comments

All campus members, friends and supporters of Delta State University are invited to a birthday celebration Sept. 15, as the university marks the 91st anniversary of its opening.

The public is encouraged to join the university as it kicks off its celebration of 91 years of excellence.

Delta State University President William N. LaForge, joined by members of the Dedicated Statesmen Association, will start the ceremony at noon at the Alumni Brick Plaza in front of Ward Hall. The event will conclude with a luncheon of sandwiches and pizza.

The program will begin with words from President LaForge, and a few DSA members will reenact some of the old campus rules that were established in the university’s rulebooks known as the Green Books. Members of the Delta State Wind Ensemble will also perform musical numbers at the affair.

Dr. James Robinson, president of the DSA committee, is exited to once again celebrate the university’s founding.

“We should celebrate each year with growing excitement as the 100th birthday approaches,” said Robinson. “A yearly celebration allows more of our students to be on campus to learn about the school’s history and its exciting future. The Founders’ Day activities help our spirits and bring us closer as students, alumni, faculty, staff and friends.”

Emily Jones, university archivist, has been working closely with the DSA to bring the event together.

“We celebrate our anniversary not for our own benefit, but for those before us and those who will come after us,” said Jones. “I enjoy spotlighting our history, and I’m thankful that we have the platform of our anniversary to do that each year.”

Stay up to date on all university events and activities at http://www.deltastate.edu.

President outlines vision for university’s future

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

The address was titled “A Vision of Excellence” and began with a welcome to faculty and staff at the start of Delta State’s academic calendar.

LaForge characterized the state of the university as “strong and stable.”

“We have made solid advances in several key areas of endeavor,” he said. “As the saying goes, we are trending in the right direction — onward and upward.”

The president highlighted Delta State’s continued efforts to improve and stabilize its budget situation, a second consecutive year with an enrollment increase, the first pay raises for faculty and staff in four years, and the implementation of a visioning process that will lay the groundwork for the university’s future.

A major area of focus in his speech was the budgeting challenges the institution has faced in recent years, including two unexpected mid-year budget cuts by the state in 2015-16.

“Because we have put our financial house in order through prudent budgeting and spending, we are able to absorb the recent $435,000 reduction in state support, as well as a three percent cut equating to an additional $725,000 less in state funding in our new budget, all without any reductions to programs or personnel on campus,” said LaForge.

With savings the university is realizing from outsourcing campus health services, previous program reductions, and other efficiencies, Delta State is continuing to make headway in another focus area for LaForge — pay raises for faculty and staff. Efforts will continue to bring salaries to at least minimum levels of compensation based on regional market comparisons.

In this year’s facilities and equipment budget — completely separate from Delta State’s general operational budget — the university is providing funding in the following areas:

– science building furniture and equipment
– renovation and furniture replacement in the Union
– a new power generator for Bailey Hall to back up technology services
– temperature control upgrades in Broom, Gibson-Gunn and the Union
– pre-planning and design for a new president’s home
– security camera equipment for residence halls
– a chiller upgrade
– roofing repairs on a number of buildings.

Grander scale projects that will commence this year include major renovation of the dining hall and Zeigel Hall, razing of the old president’s home, and the building of Statesmen Boulevard connecting Highway 8 to the athletic complex.

Beyond this year, LaForge also outlined the detailed visioning process that will guide Delta State to a better and brighter future.

“Our mission has been to look forward and help determine where and what Delta State should be three, five, 10 and 25 years down the road,” he said.

LaForge explained the 10 elements of priority in the visioning process:
– academic excellence and student success
– providing a student-centric focus
– establishing a solid business and financial platform
– increasing efforts in the areas of marketing and student recruitment
– pursuing new revenue and funding streams
– providing programs that encourage a lifelong Delta State experience for graduates
– complementing the academic mission with first-class intercollegiate athletic experiences
– embracing and enhancing the distinguishing factors that define Delta State
– promoting and embracing traditional core values
– embracing community engagement and programs.

“This visioning process has given us a good jump-start on our future,” said LaForge. “But to elevate our game and support our vision for the future, we will certainly need significantly more revenue than provided by the State and generated by tuition. It is very clear that we will need substantial private resources to pursue our dreams. The plans for a major fundraising campaign are already underway through the good work of the Delta State Foundation.”

“With our vision to guide us, let us continue to think and act boldly and wisely, while marshaling all the resources we can to move Delta State toward excellence,” he added. “We are off to a great start. Terrific opportunities lie ahead for us. It is now time to create the path that will guide us to our vision.”

Visit www.deltastate.edu to stay updated on university news and event coverage.