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.



Delta State University Most Beautiful Pageant winners announced

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They are (from left): Alison Harden of Rolling Fork, Most Photogenic; Chelsea Shepherd of Cleveland, Beauty; Kelli Douglass of Clinton, Most Beautiful; Stephanie Batchelor of Canton, Beauty; Mary Beth Nolen of Yazoo City, Beauty; and Raenalda Palmer of Greenville, Beauty. The Most Beautiful Pageant held recently at the Bologna Performing Arts Center on the campus of Delta State University was sponsored by the Delta State University Student Government Association and produced by the Pageant Board Organization.


Delta State University crowns Robbie Young Homecoming Queen

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Delta State University senior Robbie Young (at left), a social science education major of Glen Allan, was crowned Delta State Homecoming Queen during halftime ceremonies at the Saturday home football game. Pictured with Young is her brother, Bobby Scott, who served as her escort. Young was elected by the DSU student body in elections sponsored by the Student Government Association.