Thanksgiving week provides a special opportunity to reflect on why we should be thankful.  It has, indeed, been a wonderful year at Delta State, and we, as a university, have many reasons to give thanks. So, in recognition of our progress and growth, President LaForge offers you 10 reasons we as a university are thankful this year, keeping in mind that this is just a sample from our very long list.

First, we are always thankful for our DSU family: for each of you who go to class or teach or work here, for our alumni, for our friends, and for everyone who is a part of the Green and White Nation. You make our successes possible, and we are deeply grateful for the contributions of time, support, donations and for your love for Delta State.

Second, we are thankful for our host community of Cleveland and Bolivar County.  We enjoy a special town-gown relationship with the leaders and citizens of this great community, and we value their friendship and support.

Third, we are thankful that our academic units continue to grow. For instance, the Division of Mathematics and Sciences received external grants worth $500,000 for STEM projects. And we have a record enrollment of 737 students in the Division of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation.

Fourth, we are thankful that our international partnerships thrive with our students and our faculty. We have our highest enrollment of international students—156 international students from 48 countries. We hosted a scrumptious and well-attended Thanksgiving feast for them for the second straight year. And Dr. AHM Ali Reza, associate professor of biology, spent this past summer at the Australian Museum in Sidney, and Chet Oguz, professor in painting, traveled to Shangqiu Normal University in China for a teaching residency.

Fifth, we are thankful that leaders across industries come to our campus to share their insights. Fred W. Smith, CEO of FedEx; Mark Emmert, NCAA president; and Delta State’s own Dr. David Abney, CEO of UPS, are just a few of the notables who spoke this year to great effect.

Sixth, we are thankful that businesses, foundations, and individuals give generously to us. Among many other examples, we have received $500,000 from FedEx’s Purple Runway Program for scholarships for commercial aviation; $3 million from the Gertrude C. Ford Foundation for the creation of the Center for Teaching and Learning; and $4 million from Dr. Fred and Joan Pittman for scholarships for students who show financial need.

Seventh, we are thankful that our beautiful camps continues to be upgraded. We renovated both Zeigel Hall and the dining hall; created Statesman Boulevard; and landscaped Caylor-White/Walters. And we’ve received rave reviews for them.

Eighth, we are thankful for our initiatives to improve our academic excellence. We identified a capstone requirement for all degree programs, for instance, and we have identified two writing-enahnced required upper-level courses in each major.

Ninth, we are thankful that culture remains a resounding presence in our community. The Bologna Performing Arts Center, the GRAMMY Museum Mississippi, the International Conference on the Blues, and the Delta Music Institute are some of the many jewels in our arts and entertainment crown.

Tenth, we are thankful for our successful athletics program. First baseman Zack Shannon was selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks. And after 42 years of service, Ronnie Mayers, our athletic director and an alumnus, will retire at the end of this year and be succeeded by baseball head coach Mike Kinnison.

As you enter this Thanksgiving week, I encourage you to take a few moments to express thanks for those who have positively affected your life over the past year.

In other news on campus, campus offices will be closed on Thursday and Friday this week as we celebrate the Thanksgiving holidays. In athletic news, Statesmen basketball will take on Cumberland University at Sillers Coliseum on Saturday, Nov. 24 at 4 p.m.

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

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