CLEVELAND, Miss. — Dan Ennis has more green shoes than you do.
12 pairs as of this writing, to be exact. Comparing himself to a modern-day Imelda Marcos, the ninth president of Delta State University began increasing his shoe collection shortly after arriving on campus to officially begin his new duties 100 days ago.
“I wasn’t really a shoe guy before, so I don’t really have a favorite brand,” he said. “These shoes were all purchased for color only, with no consideration of the designer. They don’t have any green Rockports. I checked.”
The collection runs from simple canvas Chuck Taylor-type high tops for the weekend to shiny patent leather wingtips that are only for special occasions.
“Right now, the ones I’m wearing are my favorite pair,” he said. “I like these because I walk a lot, and they look vaguely like Doc Martens.”
Ennis claims not to know how much he’s spent on shoes so far during his tenure at DSU, but it sounds like his wife, Jen, does. “I think she was surprised that a man who hadn’t ever really been into shoes was getting Amazon packages full of shoes day after day, week after week. Every time a pair would show up, she would say, ‘Is this the last one?’ and I’d say, ‘I think so…’ then I would find another pair that I wanted.”
Ennis put a great deal of thought into his wardrobe as he prepared to move to Cleveland. He said, “When I got the job, I thought, ‘Well, I’ll get some green ties.’ So I went to Belk and got all the green ties they had. Then I went on Amazon and bought more green ties. I had green ties rolling into my house all through the spring.”
He soon pivoted from his original plan, however. He said, “I got here, and I’m rocking my green ties, you know, and one of my staff tells me that the green tie thing has already been done. So I said, ‘Well, I need to show that I’m all in.’ I had some green belts, but they don’t show most of the time under a vest and suit jacket. Shoes are always visible, so I decided that would be my thing.”
For President Ennis, giving thought to his attire isn’t solely for the sake of appearances. “I’m still an old English professor at heart — symbols matter, and the symbols of a university connect to the past and inspire the future. I love that Delta State’s main color is green — it embraces the good and the great of the institution, our location in the agricultural heart of Mississippi, and our emphasis on providing folks the ability to live a new life through education. This seems a trivial topic — the president’s shoes — but symbolism is serious business; symbols are how we access our hearts.”