Alumna Leslie Roark Scott '95 recently competed on the Food Network, seen here with host Ted Allen, and she will reenact a portion of the show at the Gulf Coast Alumni Event Aug. 27 in D'Iberville.

Alumna featured on Food Network to headline Gulf Coast meeting

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The Delta State University Alumni Association will host its annual Gulf Coast Alumni Event Aug. 27 at the home of Dr. Johnny Mallett in D’Iberville. The event begins at 6:30 p.m. with a social featuring the BBQ princess, Leslie Roark Scott ’95.

Scott was featured on the Food Network’s Chopped Grill Masters and made it to the finals where contestants prepared rattlesnake. In honor of her run on the show, Scott will do a reenactment of the competition and prepare rattlesnake for the crowd. Scott’s BBQ restaurant, Ubon’s, will cater the event.

“I’m thrilled to be sharing my Chopped experience with our DSU family on the coast,” said Scott. “We’ll be tasting some Ubon’s prize winning pork, and I’m giving my nemesis rattlesnake another shot on the grill. Our hearts may be in Cleveland, but the spirit of DSU will hit the coast soon.”

Delta State President William N. LaForge is the featured speaker for the program, which will begin after the social hour. Tickets for the event are $15 and can be purchased online or at the door. There will also be a silent auction and proceeds will benefit the Delta State Gulf Coast Scholarship.

For more information, contact the Alumni Association at 662-846-4660 or visit To stay up to date on the Alumni Association’s activities, follow these social media sites: Facebook (Statesmen Graduates), Twitter (@DSU_Alumni), Tumblr (, 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.

Dr. Bret Pimentel and Dr. Kumiko Shimizu, both associate professors in the Department of Music, present a free faculty recital on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in the Recital Hall of the Bologna Performing Arts Center.

Pimentel and Shimizu present recital

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The Delta State University Department of Music presents Dr. Bret Pimentel and Dr. Kumiko Shimizu, both associate professors of music, in a free faculty recital on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in the Recital Hall of the Bologna Performing Arts Center.

The program will include works for woodwind instruments and piano by Carl Maria von Weber, John Corina and John Williams.

In 2009, Pimentel joined the music faculty of Delta State, where he teaches woodwind instruments. He is at home with the classical solo repertoire of all the woodwind instruments, as well as chamber and symphonic music, jazz, rock and pop.

In addition to the major modern woodwinds, he is skilled at a number of world, historical and electronic woodwinds. Pimentel’s varied career has included performances with Dave Brubeck, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the King’s Singers, the O’Jays and more. For more information visit his website at

As a collaborative pianist, Shimizu has played for several competitions, including the National Opera Association, District Metropolitan, National Association of Teachers of Singing, Mississippi Music Teachers Association and Music Teachers National Association. In addition, she has played for several opera companies, such as Eugene Opera, Lake George Opera, Rimrock Opera and more.

Her research interests include: performance of art songs that are not commonly heard in the U.S.; collaborative teaching in the voice area; and performance of world premiere.

The recital is free and open to the public. For more information, contact the Department of Music at 662-846-4615.

An exhibit by artist Shara Rowley Plough opens Thursday at the Fielding Wright Art Center on the campus of Delta State.

Art gallery opening with Shara Rowley Plough

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Delta State University’s Fielding Wright Art Center begins its 2015-16 season on Thursday with an exhibition of Shara Rowley Plough’s “Pastoral Tableau.”An opening reception will be held from 5-7 p.m.

Plough is an installation and mixed media artist who has worked in Cleveland the last couple of years. Her work investigates social inequalities and consumer culture, often utilizing the materials of consumer culture itself.

Pastoral Tableau is a commentary on the pressures to consume. Advertisements hold up impossible promises on how purchasing a vast array of products will change our lives, make us more alluring, more fulfilled or more successful, and our social status is measured not by our accomplishments, but by our ability to consume. The chase for the latest must-have consumer items is represented by a life-size hunting scene consisting of a horse, pack of hunting dogs, slain fox and a fluffle of rabbits.

Horse and fox hunts are associated with the leisure activities of the affluent, and for Plough, become the ultimate symbol of success and aspirations. On the other hand, the cruelty of the hunt also stands for the cannibalistic nature of consumption.

The entire scene was painstakingly crochet from horsehair. Plough explained that the material used is an important aspect of her message, as she was interested in the contrast between an unattractive waste material – horse hair – and the beauty of the horse which comes to symbolize the different aspects of consumption.

Plough earned an MFA from the University of Arizona. Her work has been included in the Arizona Biennial, the Shore Institute of the Contemporary Arts Invitational, the Meridian Museum Bi-State Art Competition, the E. E. Bass Cultural Arts Center, and has been shown at the Art Museum at the University of Memphis. The exhibit was created with the support of a grant from the Mississippi Arts Commission.

Pastoral Tableau will run from Aug. 20-Sept. 24. Gallery hours are Monday-Thursday from 8 a.m.-8:30 p.m., and Friday from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. The gallery is closed on weekends, holidays and during semester breaks.

For more information, visit the Department of Art’s website at, or contact 662-846-4720. For updates and announcements of upcoming events, follow the department on Facebook and join the email list.

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 (, 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.