Full slate of activities scheduled for Delta State’s Homecoming Weekend

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Delta State University will celebrate its annual Homecoming weekend with a full slate of activities scheduled, beginning Friday, Oct. 28 – Saturday, Oct. 29.

To commence the celebration, the Delta State University Alumni and Foundation will hold a press conference, Friday, Oct. 28, at 11:30 a.m. on the east steps of Kent Wyatt Hall, announcing the conclusion to its highly successful, five-year “Wings & Roots” fund-raising campaign. Representatives from faculty, staff, students and community will be in attendance including Delta State President Dr. John M. Hilpert and Foundation Board President Ned Mitchell. 

Delta State’s Homecoming parade is set for Friday, Oct. 28 at 4 p.m., with all floats in the parade set to line-up at 3 p.m. in the north parking lot of Kent Wyatt Hall and all other units to line-up at 3:30 p.m.

Floats will be judged in the parking lot prior to the parade and awards will be presented during half-time festivities of the homecoming football game, Saturday, Oct. 29.

Friday night will feature an induction ceremony and dinner for the latest “Golden Circle” honorees. Additionally, the M Club will hold its reunion at 6 p.m. in the east lobby, second floor of the H.L. Nowell Union.

Saturday’s activities will start early and last long into the evening, providing ample opportunity for all to become involved. The Jimmy R. Williams Bookstore will open its doors at 8 a.m. in the H.L. Nowell Union and will be providing a 10 percent discount with the presentation of an alumni membership card.

The Delta State art depart will be presenting an exhibition, Five Painters, which features the works of five former DSU art students. A coffee reception for the artists will be held on Saturday, Oct. 29 from 10 a.m. – noon in the Wright Art Gallery on campus.

Also that morning, the Alumni Association will host a brunch in the State Room of the H.L. Nowell Union to present its Outstanding Alumnus Award to Tim Harvey of Memphis, along with fellow service award winners, Dave “Boo” Ferriss; Judson Thigpen and Mandy Gardner. Also that morning, ninety five-year-old, Ava Abdo Breeden, the last living member of the famed Margaret Wade “Rabbit Foot Squad,” will be presented a loyalty award which will be accepted by Wilma Gilbow, her niece.

The day will also feature many class reunions throughout the day, highlighted this year by the Class of 1955, the 1965 football team and the 1970 track teams.

At 11 a.m., many departments across campus will be having “Open Houses,” including the Division of Language and Literature (Kethley Hall), Speech Pathology (Kethley) and the School of Nursing. The Roberts-Laforge Library will present its open house and tour at 1 p.m.

At noon, most of the day’s activities will shift to Shumate Park. All encouraged to tailgate and picnic before the football game. Activities are planned for both children and adults, alike.

Renaissance, Delta State’s poplar music ensemble, will perform at 1 p.m., with the Statesmen football squad set to walk through the park just minutes before at 12:45 p.m.

Kick-off is scheduled for 3 p.m. inside Travis E. Parker, as the Statesmen play host to Ouachita Baptist in their final home contest of the 2005 season. The Homecoming Queen will be crowned at halftime of the game.

Homecoming weekend will culminate that evening with a Student Hall of Fame Reunion Gala at 7 p.m. at the Cleveland Country Club.

For a more complete listing of the weekend’s schedule, please contact the Alumni Association at (662) 846-4706 or visit the Delta State website at



Art alumni exhibition on display in Wright Art Center Gallery

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                                                           Jewel Triptych by Jim Seale

Now all successful in their own rights, five former Delta State University art students have returned to their alma mater for the exhibition, Five Painters, which is currently showing in the Wright Art Center Gallery. The showcase includes works from Katie Virden Byrd of Greenville; Robin Durand of New Orleans, La.; Jim Seale of Cleveland; Trevor Simpson of Memphis, Tenn.; and Robin Whitfield of Grenada. 

A coffee reception for the artists will be held on Saturday, Oct. 29 from 10 a.m. – noon to coincide with Delta State’s Homecoming activities.  Friends and community are cordially invited to attend the reception and view the exhibit.

Katie Virden Byrd received the BA in art education and is presently teaching art at Eastside High School in Cleveland while also working on a Master’s degree at DSU.  A member of the Delta Artists Association, she is a prolific artist working in diverse media and styles.  Byrd’s inspiration comes from a love of color, the beauty of nature, and the grace of God. She began creating art in early childhood, and today presents both figurative and abstract works with intense use of color.

Robin Durand grew up in Hawaii and is the son and grandson of painters who became seriously interested in the color principles practiced by Tommy Thurmond, Gerald DeLoach, and Sammy Britt, Professor Emeritus of Delta State.  He received a BFA from DSU and an MFA from LSU and is affiliated with Cole Pratt Galleries in New Orleans and Gregg Irby Fine Art in Atlanta.  Durand feels that painting is the result of collaboration between the outer world and the mind. He further contends working with the materials of painting contributes to the exploration of the mysteries of human perception. Jim Seale, whose paintings are influenced by the subtle colors, shapes and textures of the Mississippi Delta, is currently pursuing a career as a fulltime studio artist after an extensive period of being involved in applied art fields.  A BFA in Commercial Design and an MFA in Advertising Design from Syracuse University provided him with the opportunities to be an art director for advertising agencies in South Louisiana and Memphis, teach graphic design and painting at the college level, and serve as the director of the Fine Arts Division with the John Richard Companies where he originated the Grand Boulevard Collection.  His paintings are included in the Horchow and Neiman-Marcus catalogs.

Trevor Simpson is a 2003 graduate of Delta State with a BFA in painting and recently received his MFA from the Memphis College of Art.  While there, he was a graduate assistant and an instructor in the summer arts program and has been actively exhibiting since his graduation date. Simpson’s work in this show is multi-layered imagery comprised chiefly of relief printmaking, drawing and painting.  The layering correlates with his underlying ideas about human interconnectivity as well as the cross-referential information found in our science, history, literature, mythology, religion, and personal narratives. Simpson urges, “I invite the viewer to become interlaced with my ideas, my expression, and myself…leaving an imprint, an impression on the viewer.”

Robin Whitfield received her BFA in 1996 and continues to study with her professor Sammy Britt.  She is listed in the Mississippi Arts Commission Artists’ Roster as a painter and teacher of naturalist studies through the arts and is a professional painter who studies the seasons, weather, plants, animals and geology of Mississippi, working plein-air in watercolor and other media.  She currently is a Core Arts instructor for Communities in Schools of Greenwood-Leflore, Inc.  Whitfield emphasizes, “Painting is a discipline that feeds my curiosity, sharpens my senses, and deepens my awareness of life—I hope my work reflects a fraction of the beauty I experience.”

Gallery hours are 8 a.m. – 8:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Friday. Five Painters will run through Nov. 9. For more information, please contact the Art Department at (662) 846-4720.




Prominent Delta State alum returns to campus, speaks with College of Business

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Dr. Billy C. Moore, Dean of Delta State’s College of Business, and Jamye Long, DSU Instructor in International Management, pose with David Abney, President of UPS International and 1976 Delta State graduate.

It had been almost 29 years since Delta State University alumnus David Abney stepped foot into Broom Hall on the DSU campus. But Thursday, Oct. 27, Abney returned to the building that housed then and still continues to house many of the College of Business courses.

While he has returned to campus several times since his 1976 graduation, Abney had not visited the building he, as a business administration undergraduate, spent so many hours preparing for his current post as President of UPS International.

“I’m sure the administration would love for me to say that I was an ideal student, but I was not. I did exactly what was required of me, but nothing more,” Abney joked as he addressed a crowd of over 350 Delta State faculty, staff and students inside the State Room of the H.L. Nowell Union Building.

Abney delivered a riveting keynote address as part of the Delta State University’s College of Business annual lecture series.

“What I do remember about Delta State University and what I see has not changed is the education with a personal touch,” the Greenwood native continued. “Delta State University gave me confidence and taught me how to learn.”

Both assets he has used daily in his climb to the top of the business world. As President of UPS International, Abney is charged with the strategic development and management of UPS’s international package division. As part of UPS’s Management Committee, Abney is also responsible for overseeing UPS’s international package services within the United States.

Abney spoke to the qualities it takes to become a successful leader in the market place, emphasizing the constant need for self-education and self-assessment. “You are good, but are not good enough,” he maintained. “The business world is changing at 100 mph. While you may be fully-equipped today, you will not be fully-equipped tomorrow. It is your responsibility to constantly train yourself, to stay current.”

To that end, Abney admitted to reading over three daily newspapers each morning and over 20 magazines a month, offering, “If I don’t know, I would bet my competitor knows. I’ve got to stay current and stay up to the minute.”

A 30-plus year veteran of the UPS Corporation, Abney has never dreaded one day of work, offering, “Each day is like the Super Bowl to me and I want to win everyday.”

He shared his own philosophy of “living up to your potential, believing in yourself, and holding yourself accountable,” counseling those in attendance to, “Ask yourself, do you know? Should you know? Only you really know.”

To close the lecture series, Dr. Billy C. Moore, Dean of Delta State’s College of Business, and Jamye Long, Instructor in International Management, presented Abney with a small token of their appreciation for his visit.  

Earlier this year, Abney and his wife, Sherry, made a generous gift to the University, which will help to enhance the International Business and Development program, a new program introduced this fall under the Division of Management, Marketing and Business Administration. This program is designed to prepare students for the constantly expanding world of business.



Delta State unveils final fundraising tally at over $37 million

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 In a culminating press conference on the east steps of Kent Wyatt Hall, Delta State University announced the conclusion of its highly-successful, five-year “Wings & Roots: Let our Legacy Soar” fundraising campaign.

Amidst confetti cannons, cheerleaders and a band, a banner detailing the final tally was unfurled to reveal $37,025,042, an amount that tripled the campaign’s initial goal.

The “Wings & Roots” campaign, which began in January 2000 and ended in September 2005, stands as the largest collection of private support in the history of Delta State University.

Campaign chair Ned Mitchell, of the campaign offered, “This is an extremely proud moment for Delta State University. It’s dynamic, uplifting. This campaign has created synergy that lays the foundation for so much future success.”

The support provided as a result of “Wings & Roots” is already being utilized to fund scholarships, faculty development, athletics, and other campus priorities. By just examining a handful of the projects funded to date illustrates the far-reaching benefits being realized: $2.4 million in new scholarship money for endowed and annual scholarships; creation of the Hazel and Jimmy Sanders Sculpture Garden at the Bologna Performing Arts Center; inception of the Delta Music Institute and the initiation of two federally-supported programs, the Delta Health Alliance and the Delta Education Initiative.

Delta State’s seventh president, Dr. John M. Hilpert, who came to the University during the third year of the campaign, said, “Remarkable. That is the word that keeps going through my head – remarkable. “Wings & Roots” started out as a concept and nothing more. When I arrived in 2003, the original goal had already been quickly passed, so the question became why not make a good thing even more of a good thing?”

That “good thing” was made possible, in part, because of Delta State faculty and staff donations, and as such, Elsie Lynn Ervin, current chair of Staff Council, and Debbie Allen, current chair of Faculty Senate, presented Hilpert with a check totaling $292,457.

Today’s press conference stood as the commencement activity for an entire slate of Homecoming weekend festivities.

Proposed Cut Line: Dr. John Hilpert, left, looks on as a banner unveiling the final tally to Delta State University “Wings & Roots” campaign is unfurled.



Delta State University hosts Student Hall of Fame reunion

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Pictured are (from left): John Cox, representing the 1990’s; Bill LaForge, representing the 1970’s; Sayward Ely Fortner, representing the 2000’s; and George Bassi, representing the 1980’s.

As part of the recent Homecoming festivities, Delta State University hosted a reunion honoring past inductees into the Student Hall of Fame. Over 55 Hall of Fame inductees attended the reunion social and banquet held at the Cleveland Country Club. As part of the ceremonies, one Hall of Fame member from each decade was chosen to speak, with Bill LaForge representing the 1970’s; George Bassi, the 1980’s; John Cox, the 1990’s and Sayward Ely Fortner representing the 2000’s.

The Delta State Hall of Fame was established in 1972 to give recognition to the most outstanding students in the greatest endeavors. These ventures reflect excellence in various areas of student life, such as academics; athletics; service leadership; Greek life and overall involvement at Delta State. It is the highest honor a student can receive at Delta State.

A shareholder at Winstead Sechrest & Minick P.C. specializing in government relations/public policy, LaForge was recently named president-elect of the Federal Bar Association. A 1972 graduate of Delta State, LaForge served as president of the Student Government Association and as charter president of Omicron Delta Kappa, national leadership honor society. He also wrote legislation to establish the DSU Student Hall of Fame and was one of the first four students to be inducted. He received a law degree from the University of Mississippi, an LLM in international law from Georgetown University and studied international law at Cambridge University.

Bassi is a 1987 graduate of Delta State, where he received a degree in accounting and computer information systems. While at Delta State, Bassi served in the Student Government Association as senator, treasurer, vice president, and president. In 1994, he received a Master of Science in Mass Communications from the University of Southern Mississippi. Currently, Bassi is the Director of the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art in Laurel.

Cox is a 1996 graduate of Delta State, earning a degree in English and a minor in political science. At DSU, Cox was vice president of the Student Government Association,  member of Omicron Delta Kappa, national leadership honor society; a member of Lambda Iota Tau, literature honor society; and an orientation leader. In 1999, Cox received a law degree from the University of Mississippi. He is currently an attorney with Cox & Moore in Cleveland. Cox also serves as Cleveland’s Municipal Court judge, and president of the Bolivar County Bar Association. In 2002, Cox was selected by the Mississippi Business Journal as the youngest member of the Top 40 under 40 in the state.

A 2004 graduate of Delta State, Fortner received a degree in English. While at DSU, she served as President of the Student Government Association, a member of Omicron Kappa Delta, national leadership honor society, and Lambda Iota Tao, literature honor society, and was an orientation leader. Fortner is currently working on a law degree at the University of Mississippi, where she is also a member of Phi Delta Pi legal fraternity.