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Delta State University’s 15th Annual International Business Symposium to Take Place Feb. 18-19 and Tackle the Theme of “Evolving in International Business”

Dr. David Abney ’76 and ’15, chief executive officer and chairman of the board of UPS, answers a question at the most recent International Business Symposium in October 2018.


Delta State University’s 15th annual International Business Symposium will focus on the theme, “Evolving in International Business.” The two-day event, overseen by the College of Business and Aviation, occurs Feb. 18-19, 2020, in Jobe Hall on the DSU campus and is free and open to the public.

“The world grows increasingly complex, and so does the business world. We’re tackling some of the most achievable opportunities and pressing concerns in the international arena with this year’s impressive speakers,” said Dr. Tomeka Harbin, chair of management, marketing, and business administration and the symposium organizer.

“We remain committed to presenting topics that resonate with DSU students, our surrounding region, and the wider world,” she continued. “This has been the vision of the symposium since our notable alumnus, Dr. David Abney ’76 and ’15, chief executive officer and chairman of the board of United Parcel Service (UPS), and his wife, Sherry, established it in 2006.”

Abney returns to the symposium to give the keynote speech, per tradition. He began his career as a part-time UPS package loader while in college at Delta State before rising to become the 11th CEO in the 112-year history of the world’s largest package delivery company.

Other speakers include Natalie Allen, anchor/reporter at CNN International; veteran marketer Melia Christensen, best known in the Mississippi Delta for serving as director of the Leland Chamber of Commerce for four years; and Abney’s longtime colleague, Cher Porties, president of UPS Mid-South District. Laird Hamberlin, CEO of Safari Club International and a regular supporter of the symposium, will moderate a post-talk Q&A with each speaker, including Dr. Abney. For a complete list of the symposium, go online to

Natalie Allen

Melia Christensen

Cher Porties

Laird Hamberlin






“We remain honored that one of our most successful alumni, Dr. David Abney, continues to return to his alma mater to motivate the next generation of business professionals and leaders,” said Dr. Billy C. Moore, dean of the College of Business and Aviation. “Nowhere else in the Mississippi Delta can you find a symposium like this, which gives participants exposure to invaluable business principles and inspirational success stories. We celebrate our 15th anniversary this year by looking forward to another 15 years of informative gatherings.”

About the International Business Symposium: Hosted by Delta State University’s College of Business and Aviation, the International Business Symposium provides a unique opportunity for Delta State students and Mississippi residents to gain insights from and interact with some of the most successful business leaders in the country. Previous presenters include Charles Pleas, senior vice president and controller of AutoZone, and Stephen Cesler, retired vice president of global customer business development for Procter & Gamble. David Abney, chief executive officer and chairman of the board of United Parcel Service, and his wife, Sherry, established the symposium in 2006; a Delta State alumnus, he makes a point to return to campus to speak at the event.