U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker will present at the Delta State University Colloquia: Distinguished Speakers Lecture Series March 22 at 6 p.m. in the auditorium of E.R. Jobe Hall.

U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker to present at Distinguished Speakers Lecture Series

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The Delta State University Colloquia: Distinguished Speakers Lecture Series continues this semester with U.S. Sen. Roger F. Wicker.

Wicker will speak on campus March 22 at 6 p.m. in the auditorium of E.R. Jobe Hall at a free and public event. There will be a reception in Wicker’s honor immediately following the speech.

“On behalf of the university, I am thrilled to welcome Senator Roger Wicker as our next lecturer in the Distinguished Speakers Lecture Series — The Delta State University Colloquia,” said Delta State President William N. LaForge, who established the lecture series in September of 2013. “Senator Wicker is a prominent figure in Mississippi politics and has enjoyed a long and distinguished career in state and federal government. The Delta State family is honored to host him on campus.”

Wicker has represented Mississippi in the United States Senate since December 2007. During his time in the Senate, he has championed pro-growth policies to create jobs and has worked to reduce spending, limit federal overreach and maintain a strong national defense.

He is a member of the Senate Republican leadership team, serving as chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, he chairs the Subcommittee on Seapower.

Additionally, Wicker has actively supported cancer survivorship programs and efforts to fight heart disease with the American Heart Association, diabetes and childhood obesity. He has been recognized as a champion of polio eradication for his work to wipe out polio worldwide. He is also the co-founder of the Senate Malaria Caucus and has worked to eliminate the preventable disease.

Prior to his service in the Senate, Wicker was elected seven times, beginning in 1994, to represent Mississippi’s First Congressional District in the House of Representatives. Before being elected to Congress, he served in the state Senate on behalf of Lee and Pontotoc counties.

Wicker is also a veteran, having served active duty in the U.S. Air Force and then the Air Force Reserve. He retired from the Reserve in 2004 with the rank of lieutenant colonel.

LaForge encouraged Delta State professors to alert their students of this rare opportunity to hear Wicker speak.

“This is a university-wide program that continues to bring a unique and diverse array of speakers — from judges, government officials, lawyers, artists, and business professionals — to our campus to address and interact with our students, faculty and staff,” LaForge said. “I encourage the campus and Cleveland communities to join us for this special event.”

Each Colloquia lecture is streamed live online through the official Delta State University uStream channel. Learn more at

A portion of Delta State University President William N. LaForge's personal Beatles memorabilia collection is on display at GRAMMY® Museum Mississippi, including this 1966 ticket stub he saved after attending the band's final performance.

LaForge displays Beatles memorabilia at museum

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Delta State University President William N. LaForge has made it no secret that he qualifies as a fan of the legendary band The Beatles.

“They’ve been a big influence in my life,” said LaForge. “In fact, ‘In My Life’ was a song played at my inauguration. The tribute band, 1964: The Tribute, was also at my inauguration. The Beatles had a big influence on those of us who grew up in the ‘60s. They have the best music on the planet, and there will never be another group like them.”

LaForge, who’s been known to play his guitar with Delta Music Institute students and faculty, credits The Beatles as his major musical influence.

“I remember being 14 in the summer of 1964 when they first came to the United States,” he said. “Everything on the radio was The Beatles. Since then, I’ve listened to them, and I love playing their music. They were a window into music for me. I’ve learned a lot of music, and a lot about music, through their songs.”

And his love for The Beatles was on full display this weekend — literally — as GRAMMY Museum® Mississippi opened its doors on Delta State’s campus March 5.

Just the second GRAMMY Museum in the world, the new facility honors Mississippi for being the birthplace of American music. Fittingly, The Beatles were a major part of the opening with an entire exhibit, “Ladies and Gentlemen…The Beatles!,” which celebrates the Fab Four landing in America and changing pop culture forever.

Stop by the museum, and one of the first things to catch your eye is a case full of LaForge’s unique items. LaForge, being the major Beatles fan that his is, has a large memorabilia collection.

“I offered a few things for the display to be supportive of GRAMMY Museum Mississippi’s opening and The Beatles exhibit,” he said. “One thing lead to another, and Emily Jones, our university archivist, helped assemble it. She found a showcase for everything and put it all together in great style.”

According to LaForge, the signature piece of the display is the ticket stub he saved after attending the band’s final paid live concert on Aug. 29, 1966 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California. The only other saved ticket LaForge has seen from this show is at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.

Other items in the showcase include Beatles bobbleheads, records, vinyl 45s, DVDs, a complete library of sheet music, pictures, chord books and many other collectibles.

“Really, I’m just an amateur collector, nowhere near the level of the guys who put together ‘Ladies and Gentlemen…The Beatles! I’m happy to share the collection I have as long as the museum wants,” said LaForge.

Just days after the grand opening, LaForge said both the campus and community remain in awe of GRAMMY Museum Mississippi.

“It’s incredible that we have a Grammy Museum here on this campus, and that we’re connected with it through our educational collaborations and partnerships,” he said. “The grand opening was a superb event and we look forward to endless opportunities.”

One such opportunity is the upcoming Beatles conference, “Beatles Symposium 2016: From the Cavern to Candlestick,” a two-day event being presented jointly by Delta State and the museum on April 1-2.

The symposium will celebrate the lasting influence and impact of The Beatles with a weekend full of activities, headlined by distinguished Beatles authors Ivor Davis and Jude Southerland Kessler.

Other activities will explore The Beatles’ musical and cultural impact, including discussions with noted Beatles historians, live music, recipe classes and film screenings, including a special screening of “Good Ol’ Freda,” which documents Freda Kelly, former head of The Beatles Fan Club.

“Beatlemania” is certainly in the air at Delta State University and GRAMMY Museum Mississippi.

Visit to follow schedule updates as the conference date approaches.



Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Social Business Challenge is today in Jackson

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JACKSON — Students from Mississippi Public Universities will present their ideas for addressing one of Mississippi’s most pressing problems: Obesity and related health issues in the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Social Business Challenge, which will be held on Wednesday, February 10, 2016.

Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi is the title sponsor for the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Social Business Challenge, which gives teams of students the opportunity to showcase their ideas, creativity and ingenuity as they present plans for businesses focused on reducing obesity and related health issues rather than making a profit.

Each team has developed a business plan, which will be presented to the judges in a brief oral presentation at the Institutions of Higher Learning Board Room, 3825 Ridgewood Road, Jackson, on Wednesday, February 10, 2016 at 9:00 a.m. The Awards Ceremony will be held on Wednesday, February 10, 2016 at 2:00 p.m. in the Second Floor Rotunda at the State Capitol.

Open to any public university student, the challenge requires students to work in teams of three to six with at least one faculty adviser. Eleven teams, representing each public university, Alcorn State University’s School of Agriculture, Research, Extension and Applied Sciences, Mississippi State University’s Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine and the University of Mississippi Medical Center, will compete. The teams may enlist the assistance of professionals or alumni that have expertise in the topic or in building a business plan.

“Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi is pleased to support the Social Business Challenge and its efforts in encouraging the next generation of Mississippians to think creatively and strategically to support a healthy Mississippi,” said Sheila Grogan, Vice President, Community and Public Relations with Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi. “We appreciate the vision of these students as they develop plans to build a healthy Mississippi.”

Now in its second year, the Challenge asks each team to outline how the proposed business will help reach one of the nine goals identified by Blueprint Mississippi. In 2012, Blueprint Mississippi, an independent cooperative of organizations and leaders, conducted an objective review of Mississippi’s economic opportunities and recommended actions for putting Mississippi in the place of greatest opportunity. This included enabling a more prosperous, vibrant and resilient Mississippi built upon a foundation of economic opportunity for all citizens.

The nine Blueprint Mississippi goals include:

  1. Increase the Educational Achievement of Mississippians
  2. Cultivate a More Robust Workforce in Mississippi
  3. Strengthen and Expand Mississippi’s Economy
  4. Promote Health Care as an Economic Driver
  5. Support Mississippi’s Creative Economy
  6. Continually Develop the Infrastructure for a Competitive Economy
  7. Increase Availability of Financial Capital
  8. Cultivate Diversity, Community Cooperation and Racial Reconciliation
  9. Improve Communication and Coordination Among Public, Private and Non-profit Leaders

In addition to encouraging students to develop ideas for Mississippi’s most pressing problems, the Challenge also aims to support learning important lessons about planning, teamwork and presenting ideas.

More information is posted online:

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The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.

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Winning the Race returns for third year

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Off the heels of last year’s successful Winning the Race Conference, Delta State University is gearing up for the third year of the award-winning race relations symposium scheduled for March 28-29.

This year’s conference is titled “Winning the Race: Advancing Social Justice in Communities and Institutions.”

The inaugural program spearheaded by Delta State President William N. LaForge in 2014, was designed as an innovative academic conference, and the 2016 schedule promises to build on the meaningful dialogue presented at the previous conferences.

“Delta State is a cultural ‘mecca’ that champions and celebrates the multicultural identity of the Mississippi Delta, and provides leadership and programming for the community and region,” LaForge said of last year’s conference.

The schedule of events will place special emphasis on engaging campus and community dialogue regarding current issues related to social justice, and working to rekindle opportunities for municipalities of the Mississippi Delta to collaborate and promote racial healing.

Co-chairs for the conference are Dr. Temika Simmons, assistant professor of psychology, and Dr. Garry Jennings, professor of political science.

“In 2016, we are looking forward to expanded and depended conversations around social justice issues as a continuation of conversations held at previous conferences,” said Simmons. “Participants have asked for more information regarding how they can get more involved on campus and in their communities. This conference will provide that information.”

Members of the 2016 Winning the Race Committee: Front (l to r): Paula Lindsey, Arlene Sanders, Elizabeth Joel, Garry Jennings, President William N. LaForge, Temika Simmons, Lekeitha Morris, Jeanna Wilkes. Back (l to r): Emily Jones, Sam Washington, Edwin Craft, Paulette Meikle-Yaw, Charles Westmoreland, David Breaux. Missing from the photo: Georgene Clarke, Rolando Herts, Billy Moore, Michelle Johansen, Michael Lipford, Davlon Miller, Tricia Walker, Ahm Reza and Robin Boyles.

Members of the 2016 Winning the Race Committee: Front (l to r): Paula Lindsey, Arlene Sanders, Elizabeth Joel, Garry Jennings, President William N. LaForge, Temika Simmons, Lekeitha Morris, Jeanna Wilkes. Back (l to r): Emily Jones, Sam Washington, Edwin Craft, Paulette Meikle-Yaw, Charles Westmoreland, David Breaux. Missing from the photo: Georgene Clarke, Rolando Herts, Billy Moore, Michelle Johansen, Michael Lipford, Davlon Miller, Tricia Walker, Ahm Reza and Robin Boyles.

Two highlight speakers will be featured during this year’s schedule.

Tim Wise is the author of seven books, including his highly-acclaimed memoir, “White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son.” He has contributed chapters or essays to over 25 additional books and his writings are taught in colleges and universities across the nation. Wise appears regularly on CNN and MSNBC to discuss race issues.

Wise is among the nation’s most prominent antiracist essayists and educators and has spent the past 20 years speaking to audiences in all 50 states, on over 1,000 college and high school campuses, at hundreds of professional and academic conferences, and to community groups across the nation.

Ari Berman is a contributing writer for The Nation magazine and an investigative journalism fellow at The Nation Institute. He has written extensively about American politics, civil rights and the intersection of money and politics. His stories have appeared in the New York Times, Rolling Stone and The Guardian, and he is a frequent political commentator on MSNBC, C-Span and NPR.

His new book, “Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America,” was published in August 2015 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Berman graduated from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University with a degree in journalism and political science. He lives in New York City.

Other event highlights include a special mayor’s roundtable, designed to provide a platform for local governmental leaders to discuss race and the challenges and successes they’ve experienced while leading and governing municipalities across the Delta.

The conference also features a student poster competition, a gallery talk and tour of the home of Amzie Moore, an African American civil rights leader and entrepreneur in the Delta whose home was declared a historical landmark in Cleveland in 2008. Breakout sessions feature topics covering social justice; civil rights and law; economic opportunities; education and community; and culture and community.

Simmons added that the conference allows the campus and community to focus on underreported positive race relations efforts across the nation.

“Over the past several years, tensions around race and ethnicity have increased nationwide,” she said. “Although there has been an increase in media coverage on many pervasive issues, not as much attention has been paid to the many individuals, organizations, movements and institutions that have played a critical role in helping people to fully understand and positively affect the current racial and cultural climate across the country.

“Delta State University, by way of this conference, has taken a bold, leading step in advancing a rich, academic and positive dialogue about not only what’s happening nationwide, but what’s happening on our campus and in our local Delta communities,” she added. “Given Mississippi’s current reputation regarding issues around race and race relations, it is important for an academic institution like Delta State to highlight — despite stereotypes — what is actually happening on the ground in our state, particularly in the Delta.”

The university’s Winning the Race committee developed the conference with three overarching goals: engage in conversations with campus and community constituencies that will build an appreciation for diversity differences and a spirit of community through shared ideas; promote a broad discourse on race relations by building conversations to bring together diverse communities in the Delta through sharing of ideas and building cooperation; and to rekindle a hope that Delta communities will move toward greater equality, forward and open thinking, while reducing racial disparities and tensions.

In its inaugural year, the conference received the 2014 Civil Rights and Social Justice award and was accepted by LaForge at the 4th National Civil Rights Conference in Philadelphia, Mississippi.

A finalized schedule of events is still in progress. All conference updates will be published at


Delta State to complete cultural exchange with Polish university

By | Faculty/Staff, International, President, Students, Uncategorized | No Comments

When President William N. LaForge took office at Delta State University in 2013, he promised to develop the university’s relationships with international institutions and provide more exchange opportunities.

These efforts continue with an upcoming cultural exchange trip available to Delta States students to visit John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin (KUL) in Poland, an institution where LaForge has been a visiting professor four times in recent years. The trip is being coordinated by DSU International Student Services.

Delta State hosted a group of KUL faculty and students in October 2015, and the upcoming trip will mark the first opportunity for Delta State students to visit KUL’s campus. KUL is one of several universities abroad with which Delta State has signed a memorandum of understanding to further develop international exchanges.

LaForge said this trip would also serve as a way to build on future exchanges between both institutions.

While the exact itinerary for the two-week exchange has not been finalized, tentative plans are to visit KUL in early May following Delta State’s spring commencement ceremonies.

Students attending the trip will be selected through a competitive application process. All academic majors are eligible to apply, but preference will be given to fulltime undergraduate students interested in pursuing various aspects of law beyond graduation, such as law school, business law, international business, environmental law, etc. KUL’s law school specializes in the study of these aspects of law.

To apply, visit More requirements and trip details are explained on the application webpage.

Dr. A.H.M. Ali Reza, assistant professor of biology at Delta State, will lead the group as the university’s international partnership liaison.

LaForge continues to stress the importance of partnering with institutions abroad.

“I’m thrilled that we’re sending our first delegation to KUL,” said LaForge. “This will be a great opportunity for our students to see a very different part of Europe. Our students will get a flavor for the Polish culture and KUL’s university environment.

“International travel really helps broaden an individual’s outlook and experiences not available through just a textbook or travelogue,” he added. “The international exchange experience provides a terrific opportunity for our students. Secondly — in a very practical sense — international travel, study abroad and exchange programs help set students apart in the market competition for jobs and graduate programs. It helps a potential employer or graduate school say, ‘This student is engaged and interested in the world around them.’”

That’s the highest and best use of the international exchange experience. Secondly — in a very practical sense — international travel, study abroad and exchange programs help set students apart in the market competition for jobs and graduate programs. It helps a potential employer or graduate school say, ‘This student is engaged and interested in the world around them.’”

Dr. Christy Riddle, executive director of International Student Services and the Student Success Center at Delta State, added that the university will continue to strengthen ties with its partner schools.

“We are very excited to offer the Poland trip,” said Riddle. “These international partnerships offer the opportunity for our Delta State faculty and students and their faculty and students to travel, teach and study abroad through various exchange programs. It’s is a win-win for Delta State because the students traveling abroad gain a greater understanding of global issues, and it also exposes our on-campus students to other cultures.”

Along with KUL, Delta State has been developing exchange programs with Perm State University in Perm, Russia and The University of National World Economy in Sofia, Bulgaria, both schools at which LaForge has taught. Delta State is also in the process of developing partnerships with two additional international universities. Follow all news at as advancements continue with these schools.

For more information on the KUL trip, visit, or contact Dr. Reza at