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Delta State receives six-figure Christmas gift

By December 20, 2023Alumni, President
DSU President Dr. Dan Ennis, TSEF secretary/treasurer Kristi Lovelace, TSEF chairman Dr. Bob Ferguson.

CLEVELAND, Miss. — Delta State University recently received a substantial donation of $100,000 from longtime partner the Tri State Educational Foundation (TSEF). Dr. Bob Ferguson, Chairman of the Board of the foundation and his daughter, Kristi Lovelace, the foundation’s secretary and treasurer, presented DSU President Dr. Dan Ennis with a check saying, “You can spend this all at once, or you can spend it over ten years.”

Ferguson went on to say, “This investment in Delta State today is an investment in the university’s future for the next 100 years. We will continue to support DSU. We love to do it and look forward to doing it.”

Delta State has been training teachers since its inception nearly a century ago. The university is one of the foremost trainers of teachers in the southern United States, and one of the best investments in higher education, according to numerous lists such as U.S. News and World Report’s Best Colleges Rankings.

Dr. Leslie Griffin, Interim Provost and former Dean of the College of Education and Human Sciences, commented on Delta State’s significant reputation in regard to teacher training. “Throughout Delta State’s history, numerous superintendents and principals of K-12 schools have hired Delta State teachers ‘sight unseen.’ Delta State has had such a long and trusted reputation for preparing quality teachers that they felt certain that if a teacher graduated from Delta State that they would be well-prepared.”

TSEF is a long-time partner with Delta State. The foundation supports students in the elementary education and educational leadership programs at both the master’s and specialist’s levels. In total, the foundation has awarded almost $3 million to Delta State’s College of Education and Human Sciences to enable candidates at all levels of preparation to pursue their education.

Ennis said, “The Tri State Educational Foundation has provided extraordinary and repeated assistance to Delta State over the years. Such consistent, unwavering support is so important to a university. This latest gift is one of quite a few that, over time, has made it possible for students to come to Delta State and go on to become successful teachers in Mississippi and throughout the U.S.”

Bob and Sylvia Ferguson provided decades of leadership for schools across Mississippi, and Sylvia Ferguson championed early childhood education throughout her career, teaching and providing leadership for early childhood/elementary education until her passing in 2022. The Fergusons were named DSU’s Philanthropists of the Year in 2012.

Dr. Bob Ferguson is a 1962 graduate of Delta State, where he earned his B.S.E. in Art and Physical Education and was a member of the Statesmen football team. His tenure in P-12 education began with coaching and progressing through the positions of principal and superintendent in Long Beach Schools, Tishomingo County Schools, and the Picayune School District. Dr. Ferguson’s service extends to tenure as State President of the Southern Association for Colleges and Schools, and he has been a recipient of a Ford Foundation Fellowship.

Sylvia Hawthorne Ferguson received a Bachelor of Science in Education Degree from Delta State University in 1961. While a student at Delta State, she was a Delta Belle and cheerleader. Her diverse career in education included service as a home economics teacher, elementary school teacher, child development center director, and teacher of the gifted. She received the Leo Seal Outstanding Teacher Award and wrote numerous grants that were funded.

Ferguson said, “The foundation has been an avenue for us to do a lot of payback, and we have been blessed to be able to do that. Strong leadership for our schools greatly enhances educational outcomes for students and capacity for the future health of our state’s schools in general. As of last week, we have 648 students on scholarship, and we will award $1.7 million in scholarships this spring.”

Griffin, who has worked with TSEF for many years, summed up the Ferguson’s affection for Delta State and education by saying, “Their hearts are in providing opportunities for individuals who might otherwise not have the means to advance their education. They genuinely care about students, and follow their progress, making every effort to remove obstacles that might prevent them from finishing their education.”

For more information about donating to Delta State University or for information about programs and admissions, visit their website at