Homecoming Archives - Page 2 of 6 - News and Events

Homecoming award winners announced

By | Academics, Alumni, Athletics, Community, Faculty/Staff, Foundation | No Comments

The Delta State University National Alumni Association is excited to announce the 2015 alumni award recipients, who will be honored during a series of events set for Nov. 6-7 during Delta State Homecoming weekend.

The Alumni Association will recognize the Outstanding Alumnus of the Year, the Hall of Fame inductees and the Alumni Service Awards. The Delta State Department of Athletics will honor the Athletic Hall of Fame, Coaches Hall of Fame and Distinguished Statesmen Award. In advance of formal announcements to follow, the alumni association released just the names of the winners today.

The Outstanding Alumnus of the Year is presented to a graduate who has made significant contributions to human or institutional programs in which a situation, an institution or a movement has been materially changed for the better due to that individual’s personal participation. This year’s recipient is Lucy Janoush ‘78, of Cleveland.

Induction into the Delta State University Alumni Hall of Fame is the highest honor bestowed upon an individual by the DSU Alumni Association. Established in 2007, the Alumni Hall of Fame is extended to alumni and friends who have achieved professional distinction and made significant community service contributions at the local, national and/or international level, and who have thus brought honor and distinction to Delta State. This year, three distinguished alumni, along with Janoush, will be inducted into the hall: Colonel Gentry Boswell ‘91, of Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota; Dwight Herlong ‘91, of Santa Clara, Calif.; and John C. Cox ‘96, of Cleveland.

The Hugh Ellis Walker Alumni Service Award is presented to recognize outstanding service and contributions to Delta State by an alumnus. Charlie McGuffee ‘67, of Clinton, Miss., will receive the award this year.

The Kent Wyatt “Young Alumnus” Service Award recognizes outstanding service and contributions to Delta State by a graduate 36-years-old or younger. The 2015 recipient is Hays Collins ‘04, of Brandon, Miss.

The Gladys Castle “Friend” of Delta State Service Award recognizes outstanding service and contributions to Delta State by a non-alumnus or institution. This year, the Bolivar Medical Center of Cleveland will be recognized.

The Legacy Award is presented to an alumnus who made an institutional changing impact at the university. Accepting the award on behalf of the Hill Demonstration School will be John Lewis ‘67, a graduate of Delta State College. The Hill Demonstration School was founded by Laurie Doolittle in 1927 under the leadership of Dr. William Marion Kethley.

The Dr. Henry Outlaw Faculty/Staff Service Award was established in 2014 as a way to recognize former Delta State faculty or staff members who have had a significant influence in the life of the university and/or the National Alumni Association. Established by the National Alumni Association Board of Directors, and inspired by the Dedicated Statesmen Association, the award will be given this year to Vicki Fioranelli ‘68, Delta State Alumni director emeritus.

The National Alumni Association will be releasing more information about the 2015 winners as the Homecoming weekend draws near.

The alumni association has a variety of activities planned throughout the weekend. This year’s featured reunion is the class of 1965, which will be celebrating 50 years since graduating from Delta State College. The 1965 class will be inducted into the prestigious Golden Circle, which is a constituency group of the association that honors alumni who graduated at least 50 years ago.

The official hashtag for the 2015 Homecoming is #DSUHC15. For more information, contact the Alumni Association at 662-846-4660. To purchase tickets to the Alumni Awards Gala, contact the association at 662-846-4660 or http://www.deltastategiving.org/alumniassociation/homecoming2015.

To stay up to date on the Alumni Association’s activities, follow these social media sites: Facebook (Statesmen Graduates), Twitter (@DSU_Alumni), Tumblr (www.dsualumni.tumblr.com), LinkedIn (DSU alumni), Instagram (dsualumni) and You Tube (dsualumni1).

Delta State hosts successful 2014 Homecoming

By | Alumni, Athletics, Community, Delta Music Institute, Faculty/Staff, Foundation, Students | No Comments

The Delta State University Alumni Association recently wrapped up another successful homecoming. The schedule included a multitude of activities for alumni, friends, faculty, staff and students, and many alumni returned to their alma mater for the festivities.

Friday night, the Alumni Association teamed up with the Athletics Department to host the annual Alumni Awards Gala at the Bologna Performing Arts Center. The association honored several alumni and friends who have dedicated their time to Delta State. Richard Myers, past president of the National Alumni Association, presided over the program.

This year’s award recipients were: Patrick Davis, the Hugh Ellis Walker Alumni Service Award; Will Bradham, the Kent Wyatt Young Alumnus Service Award; Left Field Crew, the Gladys Castle Friend of Delta State Service Award; and Mary Ellen Leftwich, the Legacy Award.

This year’s Hall of Fame inductees are Gary Gainspoletti, Dr. Dwaun Warmack and Tony Garcia. Garcia was also named the 2014 Outstanding Alumnus of the Year. The Alumni Association featured a new award this year for a dedicated faculty/staff member of Delta State. Dr. Henry Outlaw received the inaugural honor, and the annual award will be in his name.

The Athletic Department also inducted the Delta State University Sports Hall of Fame at the gala. This year’s class includes: Chris Booker, football; Stacey Johnson, women’s basketball; Joy Long, softball; Alan McAfee, golf; Twentis Magee, men’s basketball; Justin Whitaker, swimming; Eli Whiteside, baseball; Langston Rogers, contributor; and Stan Sandroni, contributor, posthumously.

Delta State Athletics also honored former football player Rick Rodriguez with induction into the DSU Alumni Coaches Hall of Fame. Bryce Griffis, football/baseball, was presented with the Distinguished Statesmen Award.

Over 500 supporters attended the gala, which also featured the Class of 1964, this year’s featured class. They were inducted into the prestigious Golden Circle. Also recognized was the undefeated 1954 football team celebrating its 60th reunion.

Saturday’s festivities included the annual Veteran’s Atrium Program in Jobe Hall, tailgating and entertainment on Statesmen Park. The DSU Continuing Education All-Star Cheerleaders provided entertainment at the park, and the Delta Music Institute bands played at the H.L. Nowell Student Union.

Dr. Kent and Janice Wyatt also celebrated 50 years of service to Delta State. A luncheon was held in their honor Saturday afternoon in the State Room. To donate to the Wyatt Retention Fund, visit www.deltastategiving.org/giving/scholarships/kentandjanicewyattretentionscholarshipfund.

Taylor Holland was crowned the 2014 Homecoming Queen by Student Government Association president Mikel Sykes. National Alumni Association president Rob Armour presented flowers to the Holland on behalf of the association. The Grenada native is a senior biology/pre-physical therapy major and is also a member of the Delta State softball team.

Delta State was victorious in an exciting 27-3 win over Mississippi College to claim the Gulf South Conference Championship. It was the first meeting of the Mississippi school since the 1995 season.

For more information, contact the Alumni Association at 662-846-4660.  To stay up to date on the Alumni Association’s activities, follow these social media sites: Facebook (Statesmen Graduates), Twitter (@DSU_Alumni), Tumblr (http://www.dsualumni.tumblr.com), LinkedIn (DSU alumni), Instagram (dsualumni) and You Tube (dsualumni1).

Margaret Wade: A Fitting Tribute

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Delta State coaching legend Margaret Wade, the first female inductee into your Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame will be honored once again Friday with the dedication of a statue in honor of her indelible legacy.

The dedication ceremony on the Delta State campus will begin at 2 p.m. on the West Plaza of Kent Wyatt Hall. Delta State President Bill LaForge will host the event that features former presidents Dr. Kent Wyatt and Dr. Aubrey Lucas, and former Ole Miss and WNBA head coach Van Chancellor, another Mississippi Sports Hall of Famer.

Wade, inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 1974, served as head coach of the Lady Statesmen from 1973-79, leading Delta State to three consecutive AIAW National Championships from 1974-75 through 1976-77. During that time, Wade amassed a remarkable 157-23 record and helped pave the way for future female head coaches like Pat Summitt to excel in the sport they love.

“Her first four years back in coaching have been called one of the most amazing accomplishments in sports history,” said Langston Rogers, former Delta State and Ole Miss sports information director and still another MSHOF inductee.

During those four years, Delta State went from having no team at all to Wade leading the Lady Statesmen to a 109-6 record and the three national titles.

Rogers, who was the Delta State publicist for all three of those national championships, consented to answer a few questions about Wade, who died Feb. 26, 1995, at the age of 82.

What is the first word you think of when you think of Margaret Wade? And, why?

Courage.It would have been easy for Margaret to have turned aside President Lucas’ coaching request, but the challenge before her wasn’t nearly as great as she had faced in the past. After all she had won a bout with cancer and survived a near fatal auto accident during the years away from the court.

While success at Delta State brought much joy, it was accompanied by pain for the lady we all came to love and respect. The cancer and automobile accident had taken its toll. Severe attacks of arthritis, especially to her knees, made us wonder how she kept going. At times the travel was almost unbearable. One night in the Louisiana Superdome, the next in Madison Square Garden.

Having lived across Dean Street from Coach for seven years, I had often watched from my window the many times when it would take almost five minutes for her to get out of her car and into her home. The urge was always there to scurry over and help, but it didn’t seem appropriate, because deep down I knew this giant of a woman would find the strength to carry on. For most of us the return to coaching wouldn’t have been worth it, but for Margaret Wade it was just another chapter in her already successful life.

What does Wade mean to you personally?

Having lived across Dean Street from her, I appreciated the way she cared for our children, Laura and Bill. They called her “Aunt Margaret” and they were simply thrilled when they were with her. She loved all the kids in our neighborhood and they loved her back. Following her retirement, we became much closer. I always enjoyed the times she would ask me to come over to watch with her when women’s basketball games were on TV. She especially loved watching Tennessee and often told me that Pat Head Summitt would one day hold the collegiate record for coaching wins. She was right.

To the state of Mississippi?

She was an iconic figure in Mississippi long before her national championship success as a coach at Delta State. The fact that she was the first woman inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame is a testament to just how highly respected she was throughout the state.

To the sport of women’s basketball?

Being called the ‘Mother of Modern Women’s Collegiate Basketball’ pretty much sums it up when discussing her importance to the growth of the sport. When Title IX came along, many people trying to increase interest in the sport looked no further than Margaret Wade. She was the perfect example needed to help overcome some of the challenges if women’s basketball was to be seriously accepted. Her story of being denied the opportunity to compete in the 1930s was well known. Title IX would help give young women an avenue to participate in sports that had been blocked to Margaret Wade those many years ago.

Talk about her character.

There was never a question when it came to Coach Wade’s character. She represented so many outstanding qualities of good character. Things like courage, compassion, loyalty, trust, dedication, kindness, patience, respect, teamwork, and wisdom come to mind when I think of Coach Wade.

What was it like working with her?

It was great working with her, but she could be very demanding. It was all about fairness when it came to media coverage. She wanted the local, state and national media to give the Lady Statesmen just as much attention as the Statesmen. It was evident how important that was to her, because she believed the media could help grow the sport. She cultivated friendships and gained support from Mississippi journalists like Lee Baker, Orley Hood, Mitch Ariff, Michael Rubenstein and Sue Dabbs.

Talk about the dynasty she created at Delta State for women’s basketball.

Margaret Wade and the Lady Statesmen came along at just the right time. Women’s basketball on the collegiate level was in its infant stages. The NCAA hadn’t taken over at that point and the AIAW was the national organization providing all schools — no matter size, division or resources – a national championship in basketball. Immaculata had already won three straight championships leading up to that 1974-75 season, but there was little media attention on a national scale. Live television was not a serious option at that point and few schools packed the house with paying customers. Delta State fans responded to the popularity of the team by filling Walter Sillers Coliseum every time the Lady Statesmen played. It reached a point at home games where the men’s team would play first. Much of that support for the Lady Statesmen came from Cleveland fans who wanted to support Coach Wade. She had coached many of those fans when they attended Cleveland High School. Winning also helped.

Having never coached five-on-five before accepting President Aubrey Lucas’ request to come out of retirement, Coach Wade would be the first to tell you that she depended on her graduate assistant coaches — Brenda Parker, Mickey Miller, Phil Adair and Jimmy Butler – to help achieve the level of success the Lady Statesmen enjoyed. That combination, along with the recruiting of Melvin Hemphill, provided the foundation which led to those three AIAW national titles. Mr. Hemphill saw to it that Delta State got its share of Mississippi’s high school All-State players. Cornelia, Debbie, Lucy, Ramona and Wanda soon became household names to those who followed women’s basketball. The ESPN of today would have loved covering those five.

Another key factor to the dynasty came when Stan Sandroni set up a radio network to broadcast the games live, both at home and on the road. We can’t overlook the role that Stan played in that success and also the role Coach Horace McCool’s leadership provided when he scheduled games in places like New York’s Madison Square Garden, the Louisiana Superdome, Hawaii, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Miami. The Delta State administration provided financial support as did Alyce and Rich Richardson. It was truly a team effort by so many people.

Alumnus of the Year: Anthony “Tony” Garcia

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Tony Garcia leads a 140-year-old international financial services company that manages more than $25 billion in assets and employs nearly 2,000 people on two continents.

But for the seasoned executive, many of the values that shape his leadership style today can be traced back to a specific period in his youth —his experience on the campus of Delta State University in the 1980s.

“It was the perfect size university for me,” said Garcia, who received his Bachelor’s of Business Administration degree at Delta State in 1986. Currently, he is the president and CEO of Foresters in Toronto, Canada.

“A lot of what I learned in that kind of college experience that stayed with me was about working together as a team,” he said. “Whether it was with my fraternity brothers, on the tennis team or in study groups that would meet outside of class — the experience taught me a lot about sharing and responsibility, and about what it means to work with each other.”

Garcia, a native of Florida, went on to earn an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. He has led a successful career that has included executive positions in leading insurance and financial-services companies across the United States.

Garcia began reconnecting with his alma mater several years ago. He was both surprised and humbled to learn he would be honored as DSU Alumnus of the Year.

“There was no way, back in 1983 when I made that trek from Panama City to Cleveland to pursue my degree, that I would have imagined I would ever be acknowledged like this,” Garcia said. “I feel incredibly humbled.”

He came to Delta State when he was recruited for the men’s tennis team. Gina George, a childhood friend who had played on the women’s tennis team, made the connection for him.

On campus, Garcia joined Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity and soon found his niche.

“I met a lot of great people,” he said. Chief among them — his wife, the former Donna Ashby, who was born in Clarksdale and had graduated from Washington School in Greenville.

“For us as students, there was always something going on,” he said. “Cleveland’s a small town, but it was a terrific place to get an education.”

Tony and Donna wed soon after he finished college. Today, they have five children: Kristen, 28; Anthony, 24; Alex, 13; Ayden, 7; and Adam, 5. The chance to raise their three younger kids in a different culture was part of Garcia’s decision to take the reins at Foresters in May of 2014.

“In Toronto, we’ve experienced a very warm welcome,” he said. “Since I grew up in Florida, I have a bit of a Southern accent — not as much as my wife — but the Canadian community here has welcomed my family with such a warm embrace. We’ve found them to be very open, and to be the kind of people who welcome diversity — not only of race and religion, but also diversity of thought. It’s been a terrific move for us.”

Garcia and his family most recently lived in Cincinnati, where he was president of Western and Southern Agency Group. His previous posts include president and CEO of TIAA-CREF Life Insurance Company, senior vice president of HealthMarkets Inc., and senior vice president of Household International/HSBC. He also spent 11 years early in his career with Allstate Insurance Company.

According to Garcia, his success would not be possible without his wife Donna.

“Donna’s support, through all the moves and new roles, has been critical,” he said. “I could not have done this without her.”

In making the move to Foresters, Garcia was attracted by the company’s service-oriented focus.

“As a fraternal benefits society, we give back to the communities where we live and work in a significant way,” he said. “Since I’ve joined, we’ve marked the completion of the 100th playground we’ve built in North America. It’s exciting to see the fulfillment of our company’s mission to enhance family well-being for our members and their communities.”

Within the company, Garcia has spent the past few months getting to know the people who comprise Foresters across its three markets — Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. He’s also been focused on working to understand the challenges and opportunities of the business, in order to better pursue a long-term strategy for its next generation of growth.

Garcia has brought to the post a transparent, authentic leadership style that has aided him in his previous positions. It’s a gift that works to rally others around his vision for a business.

“I have high expectations for myself and for others, but it’s been important to communicate those expectations in a way that’s grounded in trust,” he said. “One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is how to be a good listener. And if you listen long enough, people will tell you how they want to be led.”

At the same time, he said, embracing a culture of ethics in business has helped him build trust among those he leads. The approach is so central to his leadership style, he was elected as a board member for the Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics in Financial Services at The American College.

He has served as a keynote speaker on the topic of business ethics, and also shares his perspective with the junior executives he mentors.

“No matter what stage you areat in your career, the most important thing you can do is to judge organizations by their culture — how they make decisions and how they view ethics,” he said. “The goal is to align with an organization that shares your value system — that aligns around not just your professional goals but your personal goals as well.”

For Garcia, leading a service-oriented business like Foresters has brought those two aspects together perfectly. Yet, as he dives into this new season of his career, he is able to reflect upon the way his skills and values took root on a small campus in the Mississippi Delta.

“In the ‘80s and ‘90s, the culture of the business world was focused on individual performance,” he said. “But what I learned at Delta State was the power of working in teams and helping each other out.

“I feel like that experience of teamwork and collaboration has helped shape the sense of personal responsibility I’ve carried with me since then.”