Frederick W. Smith, the chairman and CEO of FedEx

Joining President LaForge is Frederick W. Smith, the chairman and CEO of FedEx.

Fred is the most recent speaker in one of our signature programs, the Delta State University Colloquia Distinguished Speakers Lecture Series. This ongoing series brings to campus high-profile professionals who share career and life stories with our students, employees, and the community, and provide an opportunity to hear from, and engage with, experts from a wide array of professions and interests. William F. Winter, former Mississippi governor, served as the first Colloquia speaker in 2013.

We’re honored to have Fred with us today, especially because of his Delta ties to Marks, Mississippi. Fred left the South in 1962 to enter Yale University. At Yale, he wrote a paper for an economics class outlining an overnight delivery service in a computer information age — and thus began his early ideas for FedEx.

After finishing at Yale, Fred was commissioned in the U.S. Marine Corps, serving for three years as a platoon leader and a forward air controller. He served two tours of duty in Vietnam, flying with pilots on more than 200 combat missions. He was honorably discharged in 1969 with the rank of Captain, having received the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, and two Purple Hearts.

In 1970, Fred purchased the controlling interest in an aircraft maintenance company, Ark Aviation Sales, and by 1971, turned its focus to trading used jets. On June 18, 1971, Smith founded Federal Express with his inheritance, and he raised $91 million in venture capital.

And, if these accomplishments weren’t already enough to write home about, Fred is also a co-owner of the Washington Redskins National Football League team in our nation’s capital.

To keep up with all of our news, events and activities, please visit our website at

Campus Update from President LaForge – Welcome Back!

Greetings Colleagues and Students!

Welcome back from Spring Break, and happy “soon-to-be” spring this week!

Thanks to our hard-working colleagues in Facilities Management and good progress with major projects, the campus is looking great.  The Quad is DSU green, flowers are popping up around campus, and we are anticipating the reopening of Zeigel Hall soon, as well as the dining hall and Statesmen Boulevard later in the year.

We are in the midst of a very good year and productive semester, with spring-to-spring enrollment numbers up eight percent, and a six percent increase in the retention of first-time, full-time freshmen.  We received the coveted designation as a “military-friendly” school, and, in the area of community outreach, we rolled out the Local Government Leadership Institute that will assist Delta municipal and county leaders in building skill sets that will enable them to run their communities more effectively.

The academy has implemented our two new requirements for all graduates — participation in upper-division courses that provide enhanced writing experiences, and the completion of a capstone project as a requirement for graduation.  This boost in academic requirements should make our graduates more prepared and competitive as they move on to jobs and/or graduate or professional schools, as well as ratchet up Delta State’s academic reputation in the eyes of the public and student prospects.  Additionally, our Student Success programs are providing superb services to our students, and making a difference in the academic progress of students across the spectrum of disciplines.

We started the month of March with the announcement of the Gertrude Ford Foundation’s $3 million pledge in support of our Center for Teaching and Learning, our internal professional development program for faculty.  Be on the lookout for more major gift announcements in the near future that will support scholarships and other vital programs on campus.

The next two weeks promise to be Delta State’s version of non-basketball “March Madness!”

On Wednesday of this week, FedEx founder and CEO, Frederick W. Smith, will be our distinguished lecturer at the spring Colloquium in Jobe Hall at 6pm.  There will be a reception for him — and you — immediately following.  He will also meet with student leaders the next morning.

On Thursday evening, the BPAC hosts the legendary Gladys Knight.  At this point, tickets may only be available from scalpers!

Next week features the 5th annual Winning the Race Conference, and the 13th annual International Business Symposium.  I hope you will make every effort to attend both programs.

Our baseball, softball, golf, and tennis teams are all in full action, so come out to support them when you can.  And, a shout-out is due to Statesmen basketball for going to the conference championship finals, and to men’s and women’s swim-dive for their outstanding showing at the NCAA national meet last week.

We are pleased to report that we have a record number of international students enrolled — 134 — from 48 countries.  Efforts are underway to bolster our international programs abroad for students and faculty.  We have formal relationships now with universities in Poland, Bulgaria, Russia, and Korea, and a DSU delegation is in China now working with seven universities on student exchange and recruiting opportunities.

In April, look for specifics about this spring’s campus forums we will host for students, faculty, and staff, respectively.  These forums will be live opportunities to hear about and discuss current campus activities and plans for the future.  Our annual Go Green Weekend for student recruitment is slated for April 27th and 28th, and will provide an opportunity for us to welcome prospective students to campus.

In early April, we should be able to report to you the results of the current state legislative session.  We are hopeful that we will be able to secure increased operational dollars for the university, as well as bond authority to fund campus infrastructure improvements.

As we approach spring graduation on May 5th, I am pleased to announce that our commencement speaker will be Dr. Glen Jones, President of Henderson State University (Arkansas) and President of the NCAA Division II Presidents Council.  And, we will bestow an honorary doctorate on music legend Mavis Staples.

Finally, I continue to enjoy the opportunity to meet with faculty and staff through my departmental visits and periodic luncheons.  It is refreshing to learn about all of the good things our professionals on campus are doing for our students and the university.

Thanks to all of you in the Delta State family for making this university a great place to live, work, and learn.

Onward and Upward!


Very best regards,

Bill LaForge

Delta State students in Washington D.C.

Joining President LaForge are Delta State students Paxton Stratton, a junior who is working as a Congressional Fellow for Sen. Cochran, and Delta State’s former Student Government Association president and 2017 graduate, Allie Rose Parker, who is serving as a fellow for Congressman Gregg Harper, a representative from Mississippi’s Third Congressional District.

Students, for more information on applying to a future Congressional Fellowship, please contact the Office of Career Services at 662-846-4646. To keep up with all of our news, events and activities, please visit our website at