Fireside Chat


Joining President LaForge is Dr. Glenn Boyce, who assumed the role of IHL Commissioner in April of 2015.

This past week, Delta State had a once-in-a-six-year opportunity to host the monthly meeting of the Mississippi Board of Trustees of Institutions of Higher Learning—the university’s governing entity.  Board members, Commissioner Glenn Boyce and IHL staff, and the leaders from the other state universities, and their top staff were on campus to meet on issues related to the operation and objectives of the public four-year universities in Mississippi.

The twelve board members, who make policy, establish programs, and determine priorities and funding allocations for the state’s eight state-supported universities, convened on Thursday, providing a rare opportunity for many to see the governing board in action. Dr. Boyce served previously as the Associate Commissioner of Academic Affairs at the Institutions of Higher Learning and as President of Holmes Community College for more than nine years before joining IHL.

In other news on campus, The Delta State University Community Blood Drive, sponsored by Omicron Delta Kappa, is set for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday in front of the H.L. Nowell Student Union. And on Wednesday, the Delta Music Institute will host the first Okrafest. Open to all students, the event will feature food, games, and great music. It’ll be held on the Quad starting at 5:30 p.m. Information on all of these events and many others can be found on our website at www.deltastate.edu.

Campus Update, April 22, 2016

This week, Delta State hosted the monthly meeting of the IHL Board, along with my fellow university presidents.  It was a very productive meeting that gave us the opportunity to showcase Delta State.  I extend my sincerest thanks to those who organized and supported all of the great events, and special thanks to everyone on campus for helping to roll out the green carpet for our guests—from event set-ups and landscaping to hosting and transporting visiting dignitaries.

Ironically, some very disappointing news was announced by state government officials during the same time that these meetings were taking place on campus.

It saddens me to inform you that Delta State has been hit with more budget cuts from the state.  These cuts come on top of the mid-year reduction we received just three months ago.  Our sister institutions around the state are sharing this pain as well.

Included in the cuts for Delta State are: (1) an $88,000 cut, effective immediately, and (2) a $725,000 reduction in the fiscal year 2017 budget that becomes effective July 1.  Both of these cuts are due to the state experiencing a significant reduction in revenue.  These newest cuts follow the $434,000 budget reduction Delta State received from the State in January, which also was imposed because of a shortfall in state revenue.  All eight state universities, and most state agencies, are experiencing similar cuts.

For Delta State, the combined cuts result in a decrease of more than $1.3 million for this coming year’s budget.  These are permanent cuts, and they strip badly-needed dollars from our already austere annual budget of $46 million.  These huge hits to our budget directly affect our ability to manage this campus sufficiently, and they undermine our budget planning.

Happily, there are a few bright spots and good news items coming out of the legislative session that just mercifully ended, and I am very grateful for this funding. Delta State will be provided $434,000 for facility repair projects on campus, and supplemental funding has been continued for DMI, Aviation, E-Learning, and the Delta Center for Culture and Learning.  Also, Delta State will receive nearly $8 million in bond funding, which supports major capital improvements on campus, such as building renovations.

Ultimately, we cannot control the revenue shortfall at the state level.  But, we can control key internal operational issues such as prudent budget management practices, operational efficiencies, recruitment and retention efforts, and smart budgeting that supports our priorities.  Administrative and management decisions, as well as changes put in place over the last couple of years, have helped us prepare for this difficult time.  Examples include:  student retention procedures; improved debt collection practices; the new purge procedure for outstanding tuition payments; more aggressive student recruitment; and, tighter management practices across the board.  All of these efforts have helped support our financial bottom line.  And, the budget cuts and program eliminations we instituted last year are now yielding savings that we badly need at this time.  In addition, we will realize savings from reorganizing our Student Health Center operation, which will also result in a higher level of service to our students and the university community.

We have already begun working vigorously to determine the best approach for managing the new budget reductions in a manner that has the least negative impact on our students, academic programs, and general operations.  To the great credit of our university family across campus, we have pulled together over the last two years to stabilize and tighten our budget.   As a result, I am hopeful that we will be able to weather this storm without additional reductions in programs or personnel.

However, plans for a number of initiatives, including another comprehensive round of salary increases across campus, have been gutted as a result of these drastic cuts from the State.  I am disappointed that—just when we were beginning to reach the point of having a stabilized budget, a positive cash position, and optimism for advancement in several areas of campus enterprise—the imposition of these state budget cuts restricts our ability to move forward.  Sadly, the new revenue we are scheduled to realize, due to a modest tuition increase this fall, will now be totally offset – and more – by these untimely cuts.

Nevertheless, we will press on, and we will continue to marshal our resources wisely for Delta State.  This is a time for thoughtful planning, and I want you to know we are on that task.  The combination of our recent visioning process and the wise use of our limited financial resources will help us move forward—despite the budget cuts.  I ask for your understanding and patience as the Cabinet and I address these new challenges.

At a higher level, we will continue our advocacy with state officials in the quest for adequate resources to run this university.  And, we will continue to promote the value of higher education—and especially our unique mission and challenges in serving the Delta.  The IHL Board, our governing entity, is solidly behind us, and they are supportive of what we are doing on this campus and what public higher education means to this state.  The IHL Board, the Commissioner and his staff, and our sister institutions are unified and committed to doing everything possible to communicate to state leaders the compelling case for higher education and the state’s need to invest in this vital enterprise at a significantly higher level.  Clearly, our students, our university, and the future of this state depend on it!

 

Onward and upward!

Fireside Chat


Delta State is distinguishing itself as a center for music and culture within the state of Mississippi and across the nation. At the cornerstone of this emphasis is the Delta Music Institute, an independent center of study under the College of Arts and Sciences. The DMI offers students a broad and thorough education in the technological, creative, and business areas of the music and entertainment industry. One of those practical and valuable learning experiences is provided through Fighting Okra Records, a student-run record label housed within DMI.

Each year, the students who operate the label host a three-step audition process that includes an interview and live performance in order to select the Fighting Okra Records artist of the year. Students who operate the label then work with the artist to plan recordings, complete a photo session and schedule performances across the region. The record label is the driving component of the DMI’s Record Label Practicum course, and its mission is to provide a variety of independent artists with professional quality music industry services.

In other news on campus, we are beginning to wind down the spring semester and will soon be preparing for May commencement ceremonies. Commencement is set for 10 a.m. on May 7 in Walter Sillers Coliseum, and this event is always a particularly exciting time for the university. This week, the university will host a meeting of the Institutions of Higher Learning board, the governing board for all of the state’s public universities. The Board oversees degree-credit courses, research, public service activities and programs at the universities. The meeting also will be attended by university leaders from across the state, and we look forward to welcoming them to our campus. To stay up to date with all of our news, events and activities, visit our website at www.deltastate.edu.