Campus Update, January 27, 2016

Welcome to 2016 and to what, I’m sure, will be a landmark year for this great university.  There are a lot of wonderful things happening at Delta State, and I appreciate your many contributions to our university’s success.

The spring semester is off to a busy start, and I want to share with you an update on several items of importance to the university community.

1)     Budget and Finances:  The good and the bad.  The good news is the university’s financial standing at this point in the year is good.  We have a positive cash position, and, thanks to all quarters of campus, we are maintaining prudent spending practices, which need to continue.

The bad news is that the Governor’s recent budget-cutting exercise, which is due to a shortfall in state revenue, is reducing our current year operating revenue by $400,000.  That is a huge hit to our budget, and we have to adjust for it with only five months remaining in the fiscal year.  This is a very unfortunate occurrence that is completely out of our control.

However, after careful review of our budget status and financial statement, I am pleased to report that we will not have to cut departmental budgets or layoff personnel in order to cover this deficit.  I applaud the diligent work of our budget managers across campus (directors, department chairs, program leaders, deans, and vice presidents), who have been good stewards of their budgets, and the great job all of you are doing to spend wisely.  Your continued efforts will help us get through this difficult time.

While that is good news, the bad news is that we will not have funds to pay for a number of projects and initiatives, such as new faculty and staff positions, office furniture and workstations, much-needed equipment, lighting upgrades, and overdue facility repairs. We will have to cancel or postpone those expenditures.

2)     VP for Student Affairs:  Our search for a new Vice President for Student Affairs continues, and Dr. Temika Simmons is leading the search.  We hope to begin interviews in February and have a decision by late spring.  A big shout-out to Dr. Butch Caston, our interim VP, who is serving the campus so well.

3)     VP for Finance and Administration:  Our Vice President for Finance and Administration and CFO, Mr. Steve McClellan, recently announced his departure.  He will take on the same role at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, effective March 1.  Mr. McClellan  has served Delta State admirably, and has helped us stabilize our budget and financial situation.  We owe him a huge debt of gratitude.   Our provost, Dr. Charles McAdams, is serving as chair of this search committee.

4)     Tuition:  Ensuring college affordability for as many students as possible is an important priority at Delta State.  We held tuition steady at $6,012 annually for the last three years; however, a tuition increase is needed to help support the university’s operations and the increased cost of doing business.  Beginning with the Fall 2016 semester, Delta State will increase its tuition to $6,312/year, which represents a 5% increase over current tuition.

5)     Paving project:  Our campus paving project is nearing completion.  As weather permits, the workers will iron out some uneven spots, do some patch work, and paint the parking lines.  We ask for your continued patience and understanding as crews finalize this much-needed project.

6)     Coliseum:  Structural repairs to the Coliseum should be complete within the next week or so, and the front/south entrance will reopen at that time. In the meantime, the back/north entrance will continue to serve as the primary entrance.

7)     GRAMMY Museum Mississippi:  The GRAMMY Museum Mississippi Grand Opening will take place March 5-6.  Events begin Saturday morning at 10:00 with the ribbon cutting and public opening. The opening exhibit is “Ladies and Gentlemen, The Beatles!” There will be musical performances by Steve Azar, Mac McAnally, and other groups at the museum all afternoon, and a main act and headliner at 7:30 pm at the BPAC. Sunday’s program will feature various musical groups beginning at 1:00 pm, including Gospel on the Grounds, the Ole Miss Gospel Choir, and other groups.

8)     Winning the Race:  Delta State’s third annual Race Relations Conference, Winning the Race, is scheduled for March 28 and 29.  Please mark your calendars, and plan to attend this award-winning conference…

Despite bad news regarding the state’s budget situation, the future for Delta State is bright.  It is time for us to take the next step toward excellence — to think big and to grab the next rung on the ladder of success and achievement as we strive to make Delta State the best possible place to learn, teach, and work.

I appreciate everyone’s contributions to the university’s current visioning process.   In the coming months, we will bring together all of your ideas, which will lay the foundation for our collective vision and for the development of the next steps on the path of excellence for Delta State as we approach the year 2025 — our centennial year as a university.

Here’s to another successful year together as we continue to bring national distinction to this great university!

Fireside Chat

On January 27, one of the Delta State Staff Council committees will host a special luncheon for Delta State employees who were recognized in 2015 as an Employee of the Month. These employees are just a few of the many dedicated and talented staff members who make Delta State such a success.

Each year, the Staff Council Incentives and Recognition Committee sponsors the luncheon and the monthly award for those individuals nominated and selected as an Employee of the Month. The luncheon also recognizes Dr. James Robinson, one of our beloved professors, who has spent more than a decade developing this successful recognition program.

The distinction of Employee of the Month is given to a staff member who has provided service or commitment to the university that would considered “going over and beyond” the duties outlined in his or her job description. Nominations are submitted by colleagues on campus, and the committee makes the selection of each month’s honoree.

While the recognition itself is an honor, each honoree receives a plaque, a monetary award, a Wal-Mart gift card from the Student Government Association, an engraved coffee mug, a free parking decal courtesy of the Campus Police Department, a box of treats from The Sweetery, and a parking spot of their choice for the month. These special staff members are also recognized on the marquee outside Kent Wyatt Hall and on the Delta State website. If you’d like to learn more about our previous winners, a full archive is available on our Delta State website.

In other news on campus, the Omega Psi Phi Blood Drive is set for this Thursday, January 28, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Please stop by the Blood Drive bus which will be parked outside of the H.L. Nowell Union to donate.

Be sure to stay up to date with all of our campus news and events by visiting our website

Fireside Chat

President LaForge is joined by Robin Boyles, director of the Office of Institutional Grants at Delta State, to discuss the Levitt Amp Series Grant.

For the second year in a row, Delta State University has been selected as a winner of the Levitt AMP Grant Awards which will be used to produce a 10-week series of concerts. As with last year’s concerts, Delta State and the city of Cleveland will use the grant to bring a wide variety of bands and performances to the community in the form of free, outdoor concerts set in the beautiful green space in downtown Cleveland.

The awarding of this grant for a second year is evidence of Delta State’s growing influence as a center of excellence in music and culture, and the concerts will celebrate the Delta’s rich musical legacy and the historic launch of GRAMMY Museum Mississippi which will open on our campus in March.

The grant provides a $25,000 matching fund, and the Delta Music Institute at Delta State will once again take the lead. The schedule will kick off in the fall season, and dates and artists will be announced at a later date. This grant award is due in part to the tireless work of a number of partners and to all of you who voted in the online contest this past fall to place us among the top. We are one of only 15 communities in the country to receive the grant.

In other news, the Wright Art Center Gallery on campus has opened its first exhibit of 2016 – “Napoleon’s Wallpaper” by Candace Hicks. Hicks is a printmaker and book artist from Texas, and her exhibit treats the gallery as a puzzle box to be solved by the viewer through a combination of prints that reveal secret messages when viewed through special colored glasses, kinetic sculptures that reveal clues, and puzzles that can be manipulated to reveal hidden compartments. The gallery is open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. and Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Everyone is invited to explore this interesting new exhibit.