LaForge pushes diversity

Featured in the DeSoto Times Tribune

LaForge pushes diversity

New DSU leader talks to seniors

By BOB BAKKEN
Staff Writer

SOUTHAVEN – New Delta State University president William LaForge aims to make his school an example of diversity that works.

LaForge spoke to DeSoto County high school seniors on a visit through the district Friday, touting the advantages of the Cleveland, Miss. university.

LaForge has been at work since April and was inaugurated as the school’s newest leader earlier this month.

He immediately made a statement about his concerns on diversity days after his inauguration.  He ordered a sorority on campus to apologize and take diversity classes for having a white student dress up in “black face” during a musical number from the Whoopi Goldberg movie, “Sister Act.” It came during an event connected with the school’s homecoming activities.

LaForge called the incident “an error in judgement” and said it does not take away from the school being a beacon of diversity.

“We have a wonderful diversity committee on campus,” LaForge said.  “We also have some outreach to the local high schools where we’re doing some basic training under a Kellogg Grant to make people in the community understand issues of social and cultural importance.”

LaForge noted the Delta State student population is more than 40 percent African-American and more than 60 percent female.

LaForge added that money and enrollment remain major issues at all of the state’s public universities.

“Our budget is the toughest thing we have to deal with,” LaForge said.  “Managing scarce resources while trying to keep tuition down are difficult.”

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