Campus update from President William N. LaForge

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Happy Birthday to the Ol’ School We Love Best!  It’s Delta State’s 92nd anniversary!  On September 15, 1925, Delta State Teachers College opened for business.  So, here’s to another great year as we march toward our centennial celebration in 2025!

With a month already under our belt into the new academic year, it is my pleasure to report that we have started the fall semester with a high-spirited campus climate and several points of great news.  There is a distinct “buzz” of excitement on campus as we begin what promises to be a super year.  From the hustle and bustle around the Union due to the temporary relocation of the dining hall, to new and exciting student activities, to the major construction projects underway on campus, to two season-opening football victories, Delta State is teeming with excitement.  New students are choosing Delta State because they see our momentum, our quality programs, and our fun and welcoming environment.  And, we have the stats and some terrific news to back it up.

  • Delta State’s fall 2017 enrollment is up 201 students over last year’s numbers, bringing our fall total to 3,789 students.  That represents a 5.66% increase in one year, and our fourth consecutive year of increased enrollment.  It is also the highest percentage increase in enrollment of all eight public universities in the state this year.  In the area of retention, we experienced a 6% increase in the retention of freshmen students over the last year, and a 14.8% increase over the last three years.  Credit and thanks are due to many DSU family members and campus enterprises — our faculty and staff; our Enrollment Management Office and recruiters; our Student Success and First Year Seminar programs; our “growth areas” on campus, including Delta Music Institute, Aviation, Nursing, and Health, Physical Education, and Recreation; our international student program; and, our student life programming that is creating a welcoming and engaging campus environment for our students.
  • As it turns out, we are great conservationists in addition to being smart budgeteers.  I am pleased to report that we saved a total of $163,724 for the months of May – August, 2017, as a result of the university’s summer utility savings program.  We had budgeted conservatively and expected savings of $96,000.  We exceeded that goal by $67,724.  These savings, realized mostly from reduced HVAC/electricity costs, helped us offset the state budget cuts, so that we could avoid laying off any employees or closing any campus programs.  The summer utility savings program was successful because of campus-wide support from faculty, staff, administrators, and students alike, and I extend my thanks to all.  This project was led by our CFO, Mr. Jamie Rutledge, with great advice and assistance by our Facilities Management Director, Mr. Jeff Barkman, and his outstanding staff. The program included the closure of some buildings and prudent temperature control in all others, plus the move to a four-day, ten hour per day workweek from mid-May through early August, with key university units remaining open on Fridays.  We intend to continue this energy-saving and cost-saving program next year.  Once again, I thank the Delta State family for helping us conserve and be frugal in these challenging budget times.
  • This year’s Delta State University Colloquia Distinguished Speakers Program will feature Dr. Rod Paige, former United States Secretary of Education, on Tuesday, October 10thin Jobe Auditorium, and Mr. Fred Smith, founder and CEO of FedEx, on Wednesday, March 21st.  Please plan to attend these lectures, and encourage students to do so as well.
  • Dr. Temika Simmons has been selected to head the university’s new Local Government Leadership Institute that will help provide guidance to Delta municipal and county leaders on effective methods of governance.  This community outreach program, funded by grants from private foundations, will be headquartered in the Center for Community and Economic Development complex on College Avenue, and will begin operation this fall.  Special thanks to the Hearin Foundation and Casey Family Foundation for their partnership and support.
  • Senior Finance major, Juwan Burney, a star member of Delta State’s baseball team, and Chair of the Delta State Student- Athlete Advisory Committee, has been appointedby the NCAA as a member of the Division II National Student-Athlete Advisory Committee representing the Gulf South Conference.  He joins other student-athlete leaders from around the country in providing student representation and perspectives in NCAA decision-making.

I am very grateful to our campus team — faculty, staff, and administrators — for your commitment to Delta State, and for making this the best year ever!  Onward and upward!

Very best regards,

Bill LaForge


Country music star Tracy Lawrence to take BPAC stage

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Multi-platinum Country Music Association and Academy of Country Music award-winning recording artist Tracy Lawrence will perform live in concert at the Bologna Performing Arts Center on Sept. 21 at 7:30 p.m.

The concert is locally sponsored by Robinson Electric.

Lawrence is one of the most recognizable voices in country music, with songs such as “Paint Me a Birmingham,” “Time Marches On,” “Alibis,” and “Find Out Who Your Friends Are.” The entertainer has enjoyed 22 songs on the Billboard Top 10 charts with 18 No. 1 singles, selling over 13 million albums. Few country artists have known the kind of success that Lawrence has earned. His iconic voice has influenced the country music genre like none other.

Prior to Lawrence ‘s concert, weather permitting, there will be a picnic-style dinner in the Sanders Sculpture Garden located in front of the BPAC. Moonlight Smokers and Catfish Cabin will have their food trucks on site for dinner purchases. Additionally, patrons can enjoy the recently installed sculptures in the sculpture garden. Dinner in the garden will last from 5:30-7:15 p.m., and the concert begins at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets to the concert are now on sale at or by contacting the BPAC Ticket Office at 662-846-4626.

2017 Men’s Conference scheduled for Sept. 20-21

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The Office of Student Affairs will present the 2017 Men’s Conference titled “The Bro Codes: Respect. Honor. Scholarship.” on Sept. 20-21 at Delta State University.

Under the direction of Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Vernell Bennett, the conference will focus on appealing to the social and civic conscience of male students at DSU.

“Conference participation will be a means to increase student engagement, foster a culture of students supporting one another, endorse a healthy mind, body and spirit, participate in community service, encourage regional stewardship, networking, and finally, recognize student excellence,” said Bennett.

Students are asked to register online for the event at The schedule of events will be free to students, and the first 100 registrants will receive a free T-shirt.

Events kick off at noon on Sept. 20 with “Chaos on the Quad,” an obstacle course offering prizes to winners. At 3 p.m. in the Baioni Conference Center, an opening speaker session will feature Mississippi representative Abe Hudson, District 29, and John Cox, a Delta State graduate and owner of Cox & Moore, PLLC, a full-service law firm in Cleveland. At 7:30 p.m, the Statesman Emerald Awards of Excellence will be given out, also in the conference center. The awards will recognize students for their scholarship and involvement on campus.

On Sept. 21 at noon, the conference continues with “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes,” where DSU males will walk around the quad to raise awareness about the causes, effects and remedies to sexualized violence against women. Those wishing to donate heels for the event are asked to drop them off at Suite 307 in the Student Union. Registration for the walk is available at Following the march, a BBQ will be held for participants.

“We’re going to have some fun while raising awareness about a great cause,” said Bennett. “We want our males to lose their inhibitions and don some red pumps to raise awareness, and we want our ladies to come out and cheer them on. Seeing the gentleman conquer the quad in red pumps will be quite a sight. Women are welcome to register for the march as well.”

“I hope the biggest takeaway for the students is that they’ll resolve to become more intentional about engaging on campus, in the community and with one another,” added Bennett.

For more information, contact 662-846-4150.

GRAMMY Museum® Mississippi presents Take me To the River

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GRAMMY Museum® Mississippi will present a live performance on the front lawn, educational programs and more on Sept. 26, based on the award-winning film and album, “Take Me To The River.” The events will celebrate Mississippi’s music history and how the region laid the foundation for American music.

This historic show will feature a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see GRAMMY® -winning legends William Bell, Bobby Rush and Charlie Musselwhite share the stage to perform classics and new “Take Me To The River” collaborations along with an all-star Memphis band. Other special guests include Hi-Rhythm Section, GRAMMY-winner Boo Mitchell, award-winning director Martin Shore, Academy Award winner Frayser Boy, and Critics Choice Award winner Al Kapone.

In addition to the live performance, there will be an educational program for students in the morning and a conversation with Charlie Musselwhite in the afternoon.

Admission is free for the live performance on the front lawn, but attendees are required to register online prior to the event. To learn more and register, click here.

The conversation with Musselwhite is free with the purchase of museum admission. To get more details, click here.

To learn about the “Take Me To The River” education program for students, click here.

Collectively, these programs at GRAMMY Museum Mississippi are an official bicentennial project made possible by a grant from the Mississippi Humanities Council, through support from the Mississippi Development Authority. Support for these programs also comes from the International Delta Blues Project, which is housed in The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University.