Delta Center hosts Amherst, Mississippi State, Wisconsin and Yale students

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University of Wisconsin students visited Dockery Farms as part of their Geography of the Mississippi Delta course.


The Delta Center for Culture and Learning recently hosted several groups of college and university students conducting experiential learning tours of the Mississippi Delta.

Yale University students gather at The Delta Center's Cast of Blues exhibit.

Yale University students gather at The Delta Center’s Cast of Blues exhibit.

Students from Amherst College in Massachusetts, Mississippi State University, University of Wisconsin-Madison and Yale University traveled to the Delta as part of a variety of structured educational and cultural programs. These included spring break service learning initiatives, Jewish Hillel student organizations and a formal course on the Mississippi Delta.

The students from Yale stayed in the region for a week, touring Mound Bayou and Po Monkey’s Lounge while completing service projects with Delta Hands for Hope of Shaw, Mississippi. The Amherst and Mississippi State groups visited The Delta Center on the same day, visiting Dockery Farms and the Fannie Lou Hamer Memorial Garden in Ruleville.

The University of Wisconsin students visited The Delta Center for the first time as part of a course about the geography and culture of the Delta.

“We learned that the geography course has been offered at the University of Wisconsin for several years now,” said Dr. Rolando Herts, director of The Delta Center. “It is fascinating and exciting to know that such a course about the Mississippi Delta exists at a major research university like Wisconsin.”

Over 40 students from the University of Wisconsin visited the Delta as part of their enrollment in the course. Based on feedback from the visiting faculty and students, interest in the culture and history of the Delta at Wisconsin is strong.

University of Wisconsin students receiving their orientation to the Mississippi Delta at Delta State.

University of Wisconsin students receiving their orientation to the Mississippi Delta at Delta State.

“Their university administration, including the president, is very supportive of that course,” said Lee Aylward of The Delta Center. “We look forward to working with them and the other groups again.”

The mission of The Delta Center is to promote greater understanding of Mississippi Delta culture and history, and its significance to the world through education, partnerships and community engagement. The Delta Center serves as the management entity of the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area and is the home of the International Delta Blues Project. For more information, visit

Woodward to provide Colloquia address April 12

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The Delta State University Colloquia Distinguished Speakers Lecture Series continues this semester featuring Dr. LouAnn Woodward, Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

Woodward’s speech, titled “Health Care in Mississippi: What You Need to Know,” will begin at 6 p.m. on April 12 in the Jobe Auditorium on campus.WoodwardColloquia

Woodward, who completed her residency and board certification in emergency medicine at the UMMC, has served on the faculty for nearly 20 years. In addition to her role as vice chancellor, she also serves as a tenured professor of emergency medicine.

Woodward’s unique combination of experience as a professor, physician and seasoned administrator, has led to honors ranging from awards for teaching to recognition as one of Mississippi’s leading businesswomen.

Her personal and professional commitment to the medical center, and deep understanding of health care in Mississippi, have helped to keep UMMC at the forefront of health care, education and research — both in Mississippi and nationwide.

A native of Carrollton, Mississippi, Woodward earned her bachelor’s degree in microbiology from Mississippi State University and doctor of medicine degree from UMMC.

Delta State President William N. LaForge established the Colloquia program when taking office in 2013. The platform is an ongoing series of top-flight lectures and addresses featuring prominent speakers. William F. Winter, former Mississippi governor, was honored as the first speaker in 2013.

LaForge said the Distinguished Speakers Lecture Series is another commitment to bringing excellence to Delta State.

“The university colloquia program gives our institution a chance to hear from and engage with experts from a wide array of professions and interests,” said LaForge. “It especially allows our students and faculty to rub elbows with professionals and resources we sometimes have the rare opportunity to engage. Great universities have great programs, and this is one.”

Those unable to attend the event can view the live stream speech online through the university’s official LiveStream channel:

Learn more about the series at

Darrin L. Williams, CEO of Southern Bancorp, to present on campus

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Darrin L. Williams, CEO of Southern Bancorp, Inc., will lecture through the College of Business Lecture Series on April 25, with speeches at 9:45 a.m. and 10:50 a.m. in the Baioni Conference Center.

Williams’ career is a unique combination of business, law and politics. Currently serving as the CEO of Southern Bancorp, Inc., Williams oversees the strategic direction and operations of each of Southern’s three Community Development Financial Institutions — Southern Bancorp, Inc., a bank holding company; Southern Bancorp Bank, one of America’s largest rural development banks; and Southern Bancorp Community Partners, a nonprofit development finance and lending organization, collectively known as “Southern.”

Southern was founded nearly 30 years ago when some of the nation’s most notable political, business and philanthropic leaders, including Bill and Hillary Clinton, Rob Walton, Muhammad Yunus and the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation to name a few, came together around a central idea — that the economic challenges facing many underserved communities could in part be addressed through the creation of a values-based financial organization focused on providing these services to those who most need them.

With an initial investment of approximately $10 million and a mission to create economic opportunity, Southern has grown to become one of the most effective and largest community development organizations in the United States, as well as a model for an entire industry of mission-focused financial institutions known as Community Development Financial Institutions. Southern Bancorp today is a $1.2 billion asset organization with over 80,000 customers and 44 locations primarily in underserved markets in the Mid-South.

“The College of Business Lecture Series invites prominent scholars, governmental leaders, and practitioners to campus to expose our students, inform our community and contribute to the informed decision-making of our society,” said Dr. Billy Moore, dean of the College of Business. “This year’s lecture is especially significant because of the current challenges facing our economy. We honored to have someone of Mr. Darrin Williams’ caliber to come and share his experience and expertise with our College of Business family and Delta community.”

Prior to leading Southern, Williams served as managing partner at the law firm of Carney, Williams, Bates, Pulliam & Bowman, PLLC, where he focused on representing institutional investors and consumers in class action litigation against some of the nation’s largest publicly-traded companies. Williams also served three terms in the Arkansas House of Representatives (2008-2013), serving as Speaker Pro Tempore of the 89th Arkansas General Assembly. As a lawmaker, he was recognized nationally for his legislative accomplishments, including being named a Champion of Small Business by the National Capital Coalition, an Aspen-Rodel Fellow in Public Leadership by the Aspen Institute, and listed as one of 12 state legislators from around the country to watch by Governing Magazine.

Williams received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Hendrix College, in Conway, Arkansas, his Juris Doctor from Vanderbilt University School of Law, in Nashville, Tennessee, and his Master of Laws degree in Securities and Financial Regulation from Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C.

The lectures are free and open to the public. A luncheon will follow Williams’s lectures. For more information, contact the College of Business at 662-846-4200.

UPS CEO David Abney discusses International Business Symposium – Fireside Chat

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Joining President LaForge is David Abney, CEO and Chairman of the Board for UPS.

Each year, Delta State alumnus David Abney and his wife Sherry generously donate their time and treasure to support and sponsor our annual International Business Symposium on campus. This marks the 12th year for the event, which was held this past week. It is a wonderful opportunity for our students to learn from, and interact with, top business leaders, and we appreciate everyone who gives their time to make it such a successful event.

David is the CEO and Chairman of UPS. He started his career in 1974 as a part-time package loader at UPS while he was an undergraduate student at Delta State. He has lived the American dream of working his way up from the package loader all the way to the top seat in the company. David held various operational positions at UPS along the way, including president of UPS International, where he led the expansion of the company’s global logistics capabilities. He was named Delta State’s Outstanding Alumnus of the Year in 2007, and received an honorary doctorate from Delta State in May 2015. Dr. Abney has been an active ambassador for the university throughout his career, and he serves as role model for ways an alumnus can give back to his alma mater and provide today’s students with greater opportunities for success.