Inauguration Archives - News and Events

Administration fulfills Inauguration Scholarships

By | Academics, President, Students | No Comments

Since his first day in office, Delta State University President William N. LaForge has promised to put the student body first, understanding the student experience is of utmost significance.

LaForge had this in mind even as he and the administration planned the traditional celebrations that go hand-in-hand during a president’s inauguration at Delta State. From the beginning, LaForge stressed funding for events should not come at a cost to the university, but through private gifts from outside the institution.

“Thanks to the generosity of many donors who contributed to the Inauguration Fund that paid for our wonderful week of activities back in the fall, we found ourselves with a surplus in the Inauguration Fund and we decided to devote the entire surplus — nearly $30,000 — to immediate scholarships to students,” said LaForge.

Through this money, 15 students with special financial needs were granted a scholarship, ranging in value from $600-$3,200.

“These were important scholarships because they could be given now to needy students to help them stay in school,” said LaForge. “We have received wonderful words of gratitude from nearly all of them, and it is refreshing for all of us as administrators and faculty to be able to help students, even for smaller dollar amounts, to let them stay on course of their academic pursuits.”

Madison Simpson, a Greenville native and full time social work major, said the scholarship made all the difference for her being able to finish school this academic year.

“When I received the Inauguration Scholarship I was thrilled. It’s allowed me to concentrate on what’s important to me — my education,” said Simpson. “I’m a full time student doing my internship. Since I received this scholarship, I don’t have to get a second job, which is very stress relieving for me.

“I couldn’t thank everyone who made this possible enough. It’s a wonderful opportunity for students like me who can receive financial assistance for whatever reason. It’s been a dream of mine since I was a little girl — to goes as far as I can with my education. With this help and support, now I can. It means the world to me.”

Junior computer information systems major Quann Redmond echoed Simpson’s gratitude.

“It impacts me a lot. Before the scholarship I couldn’t quite finish the payments on the balance of my account,” said Redmond. “I feel blessed to stay on track and be able to finish on time. I’d like to thank the president and the donors for making this possible for me.”

Dr. Wayne Blansett, vice president for Student Affairs; Dr. Charles McAdams, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs; and Ann Margaret Mullins, director of Student Financial Assistance, were tasked with sorting through the scholarship applicants and selecting worthy recipients.

“The president made very clear that any funds from inauguration would be put into student scholarships, and really this is about retention efforts,” said Blansett. “We wanted to help students with special financial needs so the could stay here and continue their education.

“Most of the recipients are getting close to graduation, and this should help expedite the process. We believe the scholarships helped make a difference to people who definitely had a crucial financial need.”

While the leftover funding from inauguration has been distributed through the scholarships, Blansett said the university would continue to look for unique financial assistance opportunities for deserving students.

“Of course we want to help those in need turn the corner on their educational careers,” said Blansett. “We hope that future scholarships similar to this will become available for retention efforts.”

Retirees quickly meet grant match

By | Alumni, Faculty/Staff, Foundation | No Comments

During President William N. LaForge’s inauguration week in 2013, Delta State retirees got together to show support for their beloved green and white.

A letter was sent in early November to all retired faculty and staff announcing the $5,000 Delta State Retiree Matching Gift from the Delta Regional Foundation. In less than two months, donors impressively met the match.

The $5,000 was successfully matched on Dec. 20, 2013. This grant matched every dollar given to Delta State by retirees on a 1:1 basis.

Registrar Emeritus James Donald Cooper announced the grant at the Faculty and Staff Retirees Breakfast held on Oct. 28. Dr. Rose Strahan was the first individual to take advantage of the program.

“Anytime there’s an opportunity for a matching grant at Delta State, I think people should take advantage of it,” said Strahan. “I felt for a while that I needed to give a little to my personal scholarship fund, and this seemed like the perfect time.”

Cooper and Delta State alumnus Charlie McGuffee created the Delta Regional Foundation and have provided significant funding to the university and the Delta State University Foundation.

The goal of the platform was to encourage increased levels of giving among the institution’s retirees. Each gift and corresponding matching gift will go to the designation selected by the retiree. This was a great way to double the support in the donor’s area of interest.

For more information about the Foundation or giving opportunities, contact Gary Bouse at 662-846-4709, gbouse@deltastate.edu or visit www.deltastategiving.org.

Five Delta State presidents

More than half of presidential history

By | General, President | No Comments

Amidst all the energy and excitement during the inauguration week of Delta State University President William N. LaForge, one quick gathering brought together more than half of the university’s presidential history.

The five living Delta State presidents managed to assemble on Nov. 1 for a private portrait following the Delegate’s Breakfast, shortly before LaForge was officially honored as the institution’s eighth president.

In order of service, Dr. Aubrey Lucas, Dr. Kent Wyatt, Dr. David Potter, Dr. John Hilpert and LaForge came together for the five presidents photograph.

“At the institutional level, it was a wonderful tribute to Delta State to have the four previous living leaders here to join in as we celebrated excellence,” said LaForge. “The photo was a unique moment because so much of the history of Delta State was encapsulated in one space and one moment in time.”

Hilpert, who passed the torch to LaForge after leading the green and white for 10 years, said he was thrilled to be associated with the presidential past and present.

“I enjoyed seeing colleagues who also served as presidents of Delta State,” said Hilpert. “During our years of service, each of us met particular challenges and mined unique opportunities. Events prompted our decisions, and the efforts of the university community led to any and all successes.

“I join everyone in well wishes for the future.”

Potter, who served from 1999-2002, said Delta State’s future is bright in the hands of its new leader.

“I think the board made an excellent choice in President LaForge,” said Potter. “He knows the institution and its place in the Delta community, has an impressive statewide network of relationships from his years in D.C., and has strong academic credentials as well.

“In his inauguration speech, he articulated a strategy for development of the university that is right on target given the challenges Delta State faces — a remarkable understanding of the issues given the short time he has been in office.”

Wyatt (1975-1999), who remains a constant figure of support to the university, was reminded of the distinct connection the five share.

“It was very special for me coming together like that because I have served with all four of them,” said Wyatt. “I was an administrative assistant for Aubrey Lucas, and of course, served as President Emeritus with David Potter, John Hilpert and now, Bill LaForge.

“I feel fortunate to have become friends with this distinguished group of gentlemen, each providing unique leadership to Delta State.”

Wyatt added that the highlight of inauguration week was witnessing the official investiture and seeing LaForge take the realms of the beloved institution.

“I look forward to lending my voice in support of President LaForge’s quest for excellence in all of Delta State’s endeavors.”

For Lucas, who served from 1971-1975, convening for the photo provided a humorous realization.

“I’m getting older — all of them arrived at Delta State after I was there,” joked Lucas. “Being together gave me a sense of history and also reminded me, that through the years, Delta State has been blessed by the people of the institution who have wanted to serve it well.”

According to LaForge, it is his true honor to follow in the footsteps of the group’s great commitment. All of the past presidents have been faithful advisors in his transition.

“There are three moments that stick out as highlights during inauguration week,” said LaForge. “The first being when the picture was taken. I think it gave all of us a sense of pride by representing generations of leadership at Delta State.

“Second, when we were robing. Each of them came up to me to wish me well before the ceremony. And third, looking over at them all together on stage just after my investiture — it made me realize what a responsibility this is, and I thank them for their guidance.”

While it was just a brief occasion during the hectic inauguration schedule, the portrait brought all five leaders together for a notable presidential moment in Delta State history.

“It was extremely special to have all of them here for inauguration,” said LaForge. “They showed flags of unity and solidarity — as the Delta State family always should.”


William N. LaForge inaugurated as Delta State's eighth president.

LaForge inaugurated as eighth Delta State president

By | Academics, Bologna Performing Arts Center, General, President | No Comments

The campus of Delta State University shined brightly Friday at the inauguration of the institution’s eighth president, William N. LaForge.

U.S. Senator Thad Cochran, Gov. Phil Bryant, national, state and local political leaders, members of the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning, former Delta State presidents, fellow institutional chief executives, honored platform guests, distinguished delegates from universities and learned societies, faculty, staff, alumni, students and friends of Delta State all gathered to honor the university’s new leader.

The Bologna Performing Arts Center on campus hosted a packed house as thousands congregated to witness LaForge’s official investiture ceremony, which was themed “Celebrating Excellence.”

“I am honored and humbled by the trust and faith placed in me by the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning,” said LaForge. “Last spring I accepted the charge to serve Delta State, and today I renew my commitment to give this position and this university my very best efforts.

“It is my distinct honor and privilege to have the opportunity to serve my alma mater.”

LaForge, a Cleveland native, has repeatedly said it was an easy decision to return home after a lengthy and distinguished career in Washington, D.C.

“Delta State has been near and dear to me since my early childhood,” he added. “I grew up on this campus. My dad was a professor and dean. I had four outstanding years as an undergraduate and came of age here. I met many of my best friends on this campus, and they are still my best friends today.”

Keynoting the inaugural address was Senator Cochran. LaForge and Cochran have maintained a personal and professional relationship spanning more than 30 years. LaForge worked for Cochran from 1983-1990, serving as chief of staff and chief legislative counsel during that time.

Dr. Hank Bounds, Commissioner of Higher Education, spoke high praise for the new president before placing the Chain of Office medallion over the head of LaForge, marking the official investiture.

“It is obvious that his dedication to Delta State University transcends both time and distance,” said Bounds. “He understands the mission of the university on a very personal level and I am certain he will utilize his extensive talents to help today’s students have every opportunity for success.

“Mr. LaForge understands the rich culture and history of both the institution and the region. He has lived and breathed it. It is part of him and he is part of it.”

LaForge addressed the crowd with high emotion and promised his full commitment to bettering Delta State.

“When I arrived on campus six months ago, I made a pledge to seek and build excellence in all we do at this university. Today I reaffirm that pledge.

“While we face many challenges at Delta State, I see many more opportunities and a bright future for our university. I will devote my best energies to making excellence a hallmark of this university — one in which we can all be proud.

“Today I ask the Delta State family and all the friends of this university to embrace this vision for our future. I am convinced that, together, we can build a tradition of excellence as a truly outstanding public regional university, and one of national distinction.”

Following the ceremony, attendees gathered along the campus quadrangle for a communal inaugural luncheon. Perfect autumn weather provided a textbook ending to the significant day in Delta State history.

For more information on the proud presidential tradition of Delta State, and more detailed coverage on the week of inaugural activities, visit http://inauguration.deltastate.edu.




Thursday rain plan set

By | President | No Comments

The rain will not put a damper on campus festivities scheduled for Thursday.

The 4th Annual Delta State Athletics Trunk-or-Treat, originally set to be held on the east parking lot of the Parker-McCool Football Stadium, will be moved indoors if it is raining at 2 p.m. on Thursday. In the case of rain, the event will be held in the Wyatt Gym across from the Young-Mauldin Cafeteria on the Delta State campus from 5 – 6:30 p.m.

The Community Cookout has been moved inside Walter Sillers Coliseum on campus. The event begins at 6 p.m. and will feature live entertainment, food and drinks and a pep rally.

Hamburger, hot dogs, chips and drinks will provided by the Cleveland-Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce. The DMI All Stars band will open the entertainment stage. Student members include Horace Wills, Ethan Frink, Brennan Barham, Charles Ross, Ben Murray and Amber Foster.

Headlining the event is the Beatles tribute band, 1964: The Tribute. President LaForge, a lifelong musician, has always been a fan of the Beatles and has seen this band in concert numerous times.

A pep rally will take place around 9 p.m. The fireworks show has been rescheduled to take place after the Homecoming game on Saturday.

For a complete schedule of festivities, visit the inauguration website at http://inauguration.deltastate.edu.

All inauguration events are funded by private support provided to the Delta State University Foundation. No university funds are being used during the week of activities.