Mavis Staples-Honorary Doctoral Degree Recipient

Joining President LaForge is Mavis Staples, the honorary doctoral degree recipient for May Spring Commencement.

At Delta State, we take great pride in recognizing excellence by conferring honorary doctoral degrees to individuals who have made significant and meritorious contributions to the university, higher education generally, or other areas of society.

At our May Commencement Ceremony, we were pleased to bestow an honorary doctorate to Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, a GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Blues Hall of Fame inductee, Kennedy Center Honoree, and a National Heritage Fellowship Award recipient — the one and only Mavis Staples.

Since Ms. Staples’ first recording at age 13 in 1954, the musical world has learned from her and worked with her, and she has schooled countless legends. And, each and every time on stage, she has performed with timeless talent.

Ms. Staples’ stardom began with the Delta-influenced gospel sound she helped create in the 1950s with her father, Pops, and her brother and sisters as The Staple Singers.

The Staple Singers, inspired by Pops’ close friendship with Martin Luther King, Jr., became the spiritual and musical voices of the Civil Rights movement.

Ms. Staples then topped the radio charts during the Stax era with hits like “I’ll Take You There” and “Respect Yourself.” She served as muse to both Bob Dylan and Prince at the peak of their careers, and later formed collaborations with Van Morrison, Billy Preston, Zac Brown, Ry Cooder, Chuck D. and Willie Nelson.

Few can rival her impact in American music history, and her family’s impact on Civil Rights.  These are just a couple of the many reasons Delta State University chose to award Ms. Staples with an honorary doctoral degree.

In other news on campus, Okra Kids Camp begins next week, and we will welcome youth to our campus to take part in activities like kayaking, canoeing, disc golf, and many others. And, various athletic teams will host camps throughout the summer. Visit to learn more about the campus being offered and to sign up your children or grandchildren.

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

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