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Delta State Hosts Fall Convocation

By August 13, 2009General

From left: Institutions of Higher Learning Commissioner Dr. Hank Bounds, Delta State University Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Ann Lotven, and Delta State University President Dr. John Hilpert



Delta State University President, Dr. John M. Hilpert, delivered the annual State of the University address during opening convocation held today inside the Delta and Pine Land Theatre of the Bologna Performing Arts Center on campus.
Prior to Hilpert’s address, new Institutions of Higher Learning Commissioner, Dr. Hank Bounds, opened the program stating, “It’s always a delight to see legislative and community leaders participate and show their support. It is their cooperation and support that helps lead to the success of any university.”
While opening his address entitled “Asking and Answering the Right Questions,” Hilpert welcomed Delta State’s faculty and staff to the 84th academic year.
Hilpert then recognized positives and negatives regarding the 2010 fiscal budget, noting, “We can’t ignore the indicators of a downward slope in our budget for years to come: shortfalls in state revenue, student flight to less expensive community colleges, the temporary nature of federal stimulus funding, and pending cuts mandated by the board’s formula for distributing state appropriations.”
Hilpert said the fiscal year began with an appropriation from the state – including federal stimulus funds – that is slightly larger than was received at the beginning of 2009.  “That’s the good news,” he said.  “The bad news is because of eroding state revenue projections the legislature used the stimulus dollars for both 2009 and 2010 for this one year.” 
“Being honest with ourselves is tremendously important throughout this process,” stated Hilpert. “Excusing or overlooking reductions when they occur will mean fighting our way through large, accumulated deficits down the road.”
Hilpert continued his address on a lighter note by highlighting the many accomplishments from the previous year.
One of the prominent accomplishments was Teach For America’s selection of Delta State to host a Charter Summer Institute in 2010. Hilpert noted that Delta State was the first host site located in a rural area and recognized Commissioner Bounds for being the first to promote Delta State to the Teach For America organization.
Hilpert also announced the Healthy Campus/Community Initiative funded by Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Mississippi in the amount of $700,000. The project addresses wellness issues on the Delta State campus, in Cleveland’s K-12 schools, and throughout the community. 
He went on to discuss upcoming projects that include a new, 362-bed student residence hall, a 32-unit apartment complex for faculty and staff, a 50 station computer laboratory for the Robert E. Smith School of Nursing, a boulevard from Highway 8 directly into Delta State’s athletic complex, and other improvements. 
In keeping with tradition, Hilpert proclaimed 2009-10 as the “Year of the Arts” recognizing Collier Parker, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, as the leader of this year’s initiative.
Hilpert declared the state of the university as being sound and praised the efforts of the faculty and staff.
“You have exhibited time and again commitment to mission, creativity in effort, and excellence in results,” he said. “I’m proud of this university, and you should be proud of it as well. In the face of challenges even steeper than those we usually face, we just concluded an outstanding year.”
President Hilpert closed his address stating “We’ve gone from least to most important, from necessary, but boring questions about the budget to engaging, sometimes touching news about student successes. In between we’ve looked at last year’s accomplishments and this year’s agenda.  Set that one sheet with a few worrying financial issues over to the side.  We’ve got a whole desktop of opportunities to occupy our attention.”