In this edition of Fireside Chat, President LaForge discusses the beginning of another year of excellence at Delta State and the progress achieved in 2015.
In academics, Delta State continues to grow and gain national attention for the quality and affordability of its programs. The addition of a new minor in blues studies and plans for its expansion sets the stage for Delta State’s rightful claim as the academic center of the blues. Delta State hosted hundreds of blues scholars on campus this past October for the International Blues Conference. Students heard first-hand from national leaders in business, a Fortune 500 CEO and a Nobel-Prize-winning Poet Laureate, and there is a new proposed geospatial program to prepare students to join the top ranks of military and U.S. intelligence offices. The university launched a new fundraising campaign, the Centennial Fund, aimed at equipping academic units to achieve even more. The commitment to providing unique and inspiring educational opportunities for students continues, and all of the academic offerings – from nursing and social work to the DMI entertainment industry studies program, geospatial programs and long-standing education programs – distinguish the university and attract more students.
Delta State’s reputation and influence continue to grow not only nationally but internationally. The university welcomed its largest group of international students this year, topping 100, and hosted visitors from John Paul Catholic University of Lublin in Poland as part of a growing exchange program between Delta State and international universities. President LaForge also spent several days in Cuba with a delegation of other university presidents , exploring ways to strengthen educational partnerships there and expects to see exchange programs between our two countries grow exponentially in the years to come.
Following two years of very difficult budget cuts, Delta State continues to identify smart ways to maximize every dollar spent and to conserve resources. Along with our other state universities, the university is asking the legislature to help bring faculty salaries to a competitive level in order to continue to attract bright and talented faculty and staff members to inspire students and guide the university. And, it has requested a tuition increase, which will help to better serve students and to maintain Delta State’s beautiful campus. Tuition has held steady for the last three years, and, even with a slight increase, Delta State’s tuition rates remain low enough to ensure college affordability for as many students as possible. Delta State is an incredible educational value and continues to rank high nationally for affordability in a wide array of programs and areas.
Improvements to campus facilities and grounds continue, and significant progress has been made in a repaving project for campus roads as well as the completion of the renovation project at Caylor/White-Walters Hall. Renovations of Young-Mauldin Cafeteria, Zeigel Hall and repairs to the Coliseum are underway or will be soon, and the university is looking forward to the grand opening of GRAMMY Museum Mississippi set for the weekend of March 5, which is just the beginning of increased educational and learning opportunities for students in addition to increasing cultural offerings for the entire Delta region and state.
The future for Delta State is bright, and in the coming year, university leaders will be discussing in depth what it will take for the university to continue on this path of excellence and achieve even more across our programs and campus. The idea is for everyone to think big and to identify the path to excellence. All areas of campus have been asked to engage in this process and will be implementing strategies to help the university provide meaningful upgrades to academic programming, student success and retention efforts, opportunities for faculty and staff both on and off campus, and its standing as a musical and cultural mecca.