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Colloquia Archives - News and Events

Mississippi Congressman Bennie Thompson will provide his Distinguished Speakers Lecture Series address Nov. 9 at 6 p.m.

Congressman Thompson to provide colloquia address following election

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The Delta State University Colloquia Distinguished Speakers Lecture Series continues this semester with U.S. Congressman Bennie Thompson of Mississippi on Nov. 9.

Rep. Thompson’s speech, titled “A Look Back at the 2016 National Election,” will begin at 6 p.m. on Nov. 9 in the Jobe Auditorium on campus — just one day after the 2016 national elections. The presentation is free and open to the public.

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.

“We’re thrilled to bring Congressman Thompson here for our Distinguished Speakers Lecture Series,” said LaForge. “It seemed fitting to invite him to campus the day after the national election to give us a snap-reaction to the election results. It’s an ideal opportunity for our campus to engage him, as our congressman in Washington, and at the same time, allow him to share his knowledge about what’s going to happen at the top of the ticket.”

Rep. Thompson has spent his entire life giving a voice to the voiceless. His lifelong public service record is a testament to his unwavering dedication to fulfill and exceed the expectations of the constituents of the Second Congressional District of Mississippi.

A native of rural Bolton, Thompson has always been aware of the realities that plague the South. Viewing the experiences his family endured firsthand became the catalyst for his passion for those who were often times underserved.

He is a product of the Hinds County School District and later earned a Bachelor of Science from Tougaloo College and a Master of Science from Jackson State University. While pursuing his education, Thompson began to cultivate his passion for grassroots political activism. A product of the Civil Rights movement, he joined the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and helped to organize voter registration drives for African Americans in the Mississippi Delta. After graduating from college, he followed in the footsteps of his mother and worked as a schoolteacher. It was during this time that he began to aggressively pursue a career in politics.

Thompson has served the Second Congressional District since 1993. He is the longest-serving African American elected official in the state of Mississippi, and he is also the only Democrat in the Mississippi Congressional delegation. Thompson’s voting record is indicative of his determination to be an activist for reform. In 2000, he authored legislation creating the National Center for Minority Health and Health Care Disparities, which subsequently became law. Thompson also received a presidential appointment to serve on the National Council on Health Planning and Development.

In 2006, during the 109th Congress, Thompson’s Washington colleagues expressed their overwhelming confidence in his abilities and selected him to serve as the first Democratic chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. As chairman, he introduced and engineered House passage of the most comprehensive homeland security package since Sept. 11, 2001 — H.R. 1, the “9/11 Commission Recommendations Act of 2007.”

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: https://livestream.com/DeltaStateUniversity. Learn more about the series at www.deltastate.edu/president/colloquia.

United States District Judge Gustavo A. Gelpi continues the Delta State University Colloquia Distinguished Speakers Lecture Series on Sept. 20 at 6 p.m.

U.S. District Judge Gustavo A. Gelpi to provide Colloquia address

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The Delta State University Colloquia Distinguished Speakers Lecture Series kicks off the fall semester featuring United States District Judge Gustavo A. Gelpi.

Gelpi’s speech, titled “Police Reform Though the Eyes of a United States District Judge,” will begin at 6 p.m. on Sept. 20 in the Jobe Auditorium on campus. The presentation is free and open to the public.

Those unable to attend the event can view the live stream speech online through the university’s official LiveStream channel: https://livestream.com/DeltaStateUniversity.

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.

Gelpi was appointed to the federal court bench in 2006 by former U.S. President George W. Bush, following his unanimous Senate confirmation. He holds life tenure and sits in the District of Puerto Rico.

Currently, he presides over the nation’s largest police department reform case, which was filed by the United States Attorney General in 2012 as a result of systemic police practices violative of civil rights, such as excessive use of force, racial and ethnic profiling, as well as sexual and political discrimination in the hiring and promotion of officers.

During his judicial tenure, Judge Gelpi has presided over hundreds of prosecutions for narcotics, firearms, child exploitation, immigration, white collar, government corruption and other federal crimes. He has also presided over a large number of civil cases in the areas of civil rights, environmental litigation, medical malpractice, bank shareholder class actions, corporate litigation and personal injury.

Gelpi has had an illustrious career spanning 25 years of public service, previously serving on the federal bench as a United States Magistrate Judge, as Solicitor General of Puerto Rico, and as Assistant Federal Public Defender and judicial law clerk.

He is a graduate of Brandeis University and Suffolk University School of Law in Boston, from which he also holds an honorary doctorate.

LaForge and Gelpi have known each other for about 12 years, and they first met when LaForge was serving as president of the national board of the Federal Bar Association. LaForge’s son Clayton also spent two years as a law clerk for Gelpi in Puerto Rico.

“Judge Gelpi is an outstanding jurist who has had an amazing career on the bench,” said LaForge. “He brings an outstanding amount of expertise on the issues related to police reform. We are looking forward to hosting him on campus.”

In addition to his speech, Gelpi will spend time visiting classes and with student organizations at Delta State.

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.”

U.S. Congressman Bennie Thompson will follow Gelpi with the next colloquia address on Nov. 9 for a unique and timely look back at the 2016 national election.

Learn more about the series at www.deltastate.edu/president/colloquia.

U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker will present at the Delta State University Colloquia: Distinguished Speakers Lecture Series March 22 at 6 p.m. in the auditorium of E.R. Jobe Hall.

U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker to present at Distinguished Speakers Lecture Series

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The Delta State University Colloquia: Distinguished Speakers Lecture Series continues this semester with U.S. Sen. Roger F. Wicker.

Wicker will speak on campus March 22 at 6 p.m. in the auditorium of E.R. Jobe Hall at a free and public event. There will be a reception in Wicker’s honor immediately following the speech.

“On behalf of the university, I am thrilled to welcome Senator Roger Wicker as our next lecturer in the Distinguished Speakers Lecture Series — The Delta State University Colloquia,” said Delta State President William N. LaForge, who established the lecture series in September of 2013. “Senator Wicker is a prominent figure in Mississippi politics and has enjoyed a long and distinguished career in state and federal government. The Delta State family is honored to host him on campus.”

Wicker has represented Mississippi in the United States Senate since December 2007. During his time in the Senate, he has championed pro-growth policies to create jobs and has worked to reduce spending, limit federal overreach and maintain a strong national defense.

He is a member of the Senate Republican leadership team, serving as chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, he chairs the Subcommittee on Seapower.

Additionally, Wicker has actively supported cancer survivorship programs and efforts to fight heart disease with the American Heart Association, diabetes and childhood obesity. He has been recognized as a champion of polio eradication for his work to wipe out polio worldwide. He is also the co-founder of the Senate Malaria Caucus and has worked to eliminate the preventable disease.

Prior to his service in the Senate, Wicker was elected seven times, beginning in 1994, to represent Mississippi’s First Congressional District in the House of Representatives. Before being elected to Congress, he served in the state Senate on behalf of Lee and Pontotoc counties.

Wicker is also a veteran, having served active duty in the U.S. Air Force and then the Air Force Reserve. He retired from the Reserve in 2004 with the rank of lieutenant colonel.

LaForge encouraged Delta State professors to alert their students of this rare opportunity to hear Wicker speak.

“This is a university-wide program that continues to bring a unique and diverse array of speakers — from judges, government officials, lawyers, artists, and business professionals — to our campus to address and interact with our students, faculty and staff,” LaForge said. “I encourage the campus and Cleveland communities to join us for this special event.”

Each Colloquia lecture is streamed live online through the official Delta State University uStream channel. Learn more at www.deltastate.edu/colloquia.

Mississippi Poet Laureate and former United States Poet Laureate, Natasha Trethewey, will present through the Distinguished Speakers Lecture Series Oct. 22 at 6 p.m. in Jobe Hall Auditorium.

Mississippi Poet Laureate to present colloquium address

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Former United States Poet Laureate and current Mississippi Poet Laureate, Natasha Trethewey, will return to Delta State’s campus as part of the institution’s Distinguished Speakers Lecture Series Oct. 22 at 6 p.m. in Jobe Hall Auditorium.

Trethewey’s event, “An Evening with Natasha Trethewey: Reflections from a U.S. Poet Laureate,” is free and open to the public.

The Mississippi native has been tied to Delta State for many years, having received an honorary Doctor of Arts and Letters degree during the university’s 2007 fall commencement ceremony.

Trethewey was last on campus in 2012 to launch her new book of poetry “Thrall.” The work was her poetic follow-up to her Pulitzer Prize-winning book “Native Guard,” which also won the 2007 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Book Prize. The visit was also her first Mississippi reading as U.S. Poet Laureate, and her first reading after she was officially introduced for the position at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

Additionally, Trethewey was the 2008 winner of the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts from the Mississippi Arts Commission.

Her Pulitzer-winning poems feature elements of her personal history as the daughter of interracial parents — and the story of her mother, who died at the age of 40.

Don Allan Mitchell, interim chair of the Division of Languages & Literature, has been instrumental in bringing Trethewey back to campus.

“We are so very fortunate to have a supporter of Delta State University like Natasha Trethewey,” he said. “She understands that memory has a special resonance in Mississippi and in the Delta, and I have made it a personal mission of mine to make sure she is properly honored in her home state.

“After two terms as U.S. Poet Laureate, and as the current Mississippi Poet Laureate, she has represented Mississippi and America well. She has shown that now, more than ever, poetry is vital to our understanding of our broader world.”

Delta State President William N. LaForge established the lecture 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.

“This is a university-wide program that will continue to bring a unique and diverse array of people — from judges, former government officials, lawyers and business people,” said LaForge. “These are all folks our students can look up to.”

Learn more about the lecture series at www.deltastate.edu/president/colloquia.

Joseph Jackson Turner Jr., spoke Tuesday as the first speaker of the semester for the Delta State University Colloquia Distinguished Speakers Lecture Series.

Turner draws large crowd for colloquia address

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Joseph Jackson Turner Jr., CEO at First Sun Management Corporation, which owns 50 Wendy’s franchises in the Southeast, drew a packed house Tuesday as the first speaker of the semester for the Delta State University Colloquia Distinguished Speakers Lecture Series.

Faculty, staff, students and the community filled Jobe Hall Auditorium to capacity to take advice from one of the region’s most successful entrepreneurs.

During his speech, titled “Just the Right Amount of Ketchup…Life Lessons from an Entrepreneur,” Turner provided life tips he has utilized in becoming the leader of one of the world’s largest Wendy’s franchise businesses. In addition to serving as the First Sun Management CEO, Turner is co-founder and chairman of the company and has been with the business since its inception in 1985. Prior to that, Turner worked in fundraising for Clemson University and was one of the people behind the still popular IPTAY (I Pay Ten a Year) campaign for Clemson alumni and supporters.

Turner gave Delta State students a number of tips he’s learned throughout his career, both in fundraising and as an entrepreneur. One of the most important tips, he said, is to learn how to listen.

“Learn to communicate well, and then learn to listen even better,” Turner said. 

In addition, Turner said students must be willing to be aware of themselves, to invest in their communities and to want to help the people around them.Tuner 2015 Colloquia-27

“If you help enough people get what they want, you will have everything you need,” he said, cautioning that doesn’t necessarily mean money, but does mean fulfillment and purpose.

After his lecture, which drew a standing ovation from those in attendance, Turner took questions from a panel of campus leaders and the audience.

Delta State President William N. LaForge established the colloquia program when taking office in 2013 and said he was thrilled so many students were in attendance for Turner’s address.

Join Delta State Oct. 22 for the next distinguished speaker in the series, United States Poet Laureate and Mississippi Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey. In 2012, Trethewey, born in Gulfport, Miss., became the first Southerner to hold the U.S. Poet Laureate post since Robert Penn Warren of Tennessee and Kentucky in 1986, and the first African American since Rita Dove in 1993.

Learn more about the series at www.deltastate.edu/president/colloquia.