Fireside Chat

Welcome. With the start of a new school year and cooler weather on the way, we have so much to look forward to on our campus, including our sports programs. Delta State has a storied history of success in athletics, including national championships in football, basketball, baseball and swimming.

Joining the chat is Ronnie Mayers, Director of Athletics, who has served the university for 38 years in various capacities and was named director last May after serving as interim since 2012. He earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Delta State and serves in many leadership and volunteer roles throughout the community.

The game-day experience is all about excitement and bleeding green, but comfort is an element as well. Mayers talks about actions that have been taken to elevate the facilities for game-day.

Some of these upgrades include renovated football locker rooms and field turf to the playing surface at Parker Field – McCool Stadium. This will be a safer playing surface and allow for better recruiting and also allowed us to relocate and expand our current picnic area for fans in the north end-zone.

Statesmen Boulevard will provide a new route into the athletic venues on the north end of campus and alleviate the traffic in the surrounding neighborhoods.The old football locker rooms under the stadium have been re-purposed to make way for on-site locker rooms for men’s and women’s soccer. A new scoreboard and 2nd level spectator restrooms have been added in the aquatic center.

Renovations to the grandstands and dugouts at Ferris Field will begin this fall and will provide chair back seating for fans and upgraded dugout facilities for players.

Thank you to the donors and contributors that continue to allow us to strive for excellence here at Delta State.

An exciting schedule provides us a few dates to keep in mind for this fall: Pig Pickin’ weekend on Sept. 26-27, the dedication of the Margaret Wade statue at 2 p.m. on Nov. 14, and Homecoming that following Saturday on the 15th against our old rival Mississippi College. The game wraps up a busy week of events including the Alumni Awards Gala Dinner and Kent Wyatt’s 50th Anniversary Celebration.

Academic Success – Our athletes are not only champions on the field but also in the classroom.  Delta State has one of the highest graduation rates in the country for our athletes. Our athletes have been honored over the years with the distinction of holding the highest team GPA in the country in an individual sport. We have been honored with Academic All-American accolades. Individual awards from the NCAA and Gulf South Conference have been received that are based not only on athletic performance but also on academic and personal achievement.

The Delta State family is proud of their athletes and the new facility upgrades. We invite you to come be a part of the game-day experience here in the green and white nation. Please visit gostatesmen.com to view all the program schedules and get your tickets today. We are looking forward to having your face in the stands!

Fireside Chat

Each week Delta State University releases a Fireside Chat video to the campus, community and friends featuring President William N. LaForge. This week, LaForge welcomes the campus and community to the 2014-2015 academic year. He notes the quest for Delta State’s 89th year is to continue to build quality and excellence.

As Delta State opens classroom doors and books for the fall, there are five key areas of focus for our university this upcoming year: enrollment, budget, compensation, capital improvements and a vision for growth and excellence.

President LaForge’s focus on enrollment is two-fold involving new students and retention. After experiencing a decrease in enrollment for the past eight years, LaForge says there is good news. The trend has stopped and reversed, and while official enrollment numbers will not be released until later this month, Delta State has more students on campus this fall. In fact, an additional residence hall, Cain-Tatum, was renovated and reopened to accommodate the increase.

LaForge reports that efforts to ensure student satisfaction and success are also key in enrollment. New retention strategies in place include academic advising, an early alert system, an improved first year experience and seminar, and retention data analysis. The first ever, major student retention scholarship program has also been established to honor President Emeritus and Mrs. Kent Wyatt.

The president speaks about our most serious challenge, the budget situation, which is due to several factors that we are working to improve. This year Delta State will operate under an adequate but realistic and conservative budget. Dollar allocation will be directed toward our main efforts of student recruitment, success, and retention and scholarships, but expenses must be evaluated to ensure we return to financial stability.

Long-overdue raises for faculty and staff will be supported when there is improved cash positioning over this next year and an increase in funding from state appropriations or tuition. Salary increases will occur in steps with those at minimum wage and regional minimum salary levels being addressed first, and then merit increases for the entire campus.

Bond dollars provided by the state will allow for some infrastructure maintenance and upgrades. Some of these include improvements to residence halls, academic buildings, our roads and sidewalks, roofs and the coliseum.

On the topic of excellence and looking to the future of our University, LaForge speaks about a new leadership team ready and in place to help carry out the shared mission and vision. The plan is to build on the numerous milestones recently achieved, including the accreditation reaffirmation, historical giving and donation efforts, diversity efforts and awards, international and alumni relationships, communication and outreach, grant funding for new and exciting programs, and strong athletic program activity and support.

Delta State’s first fall week will be busy. Many events will take place on campus including cookouts, information tables in the Union, and a blood drive sponsored by our Student Government Association on Thursday. To keep up with campus events, download the mobile app – OkraMobile – or visit deltastate.edu/events.

For more information on the video series, please contact commark@deltastate.edu or visit the Office of the President’s playlist on Delta State’s YouTube channel.

Fireside Chat

Each week Delta State University releases a Fireside Chat video to the campus, community and friends featuring President William N. LaForge. Typically a guest speaker joins the video to discuss important topics related to the university. For the 49th edition, Dr. David Breaux, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, talks with President LaForge about the upcoming academic year.

LaForge first discusses the upcoming fall semester. Move-in day is slated for Aug. 17 with classes starting the following Monday. The faculty and staff are busy preparing for the arrival of our new and returning students. There are some exciting changes in store for the fall, from the infrastructure including housing and dining to new professionals that will be leading the classrooms.

One new professional is Breaux, who began his role as dean on July 1. He was employed at Mississippi State University for 23 years before moving to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette where he was a professor of political science and once served as Dean of the Graduate School. He was selected by a search committee from several top candidates.

Breaux stresses the importance of engaging both students and alumni in the upcoming year and plans to work with a new advising committee to ensure student satisfaction. He recognized the family-like atmosphere at Delta State and energy of new leadership on campus, which inspired him to accept the position as dean.

LaForge notes the upcoming annual event on campus–Convocation–where the State of the University Address will be delivered on Friday at 10:30 a.m. in the Bologna Performing Arts Center. Important updates and a vision for the next year will be discussed. An update on the GRAMMY Museum Mississippi will be provided by Lucy Janoush, president of the Cleveland Music Foundation. The President of the Chamber of Commerce Michael Aguzzi will also be addressing the audience. Tune in to this session through the live stream at ustream.com/channel/deltastateuniversity.

To wrap up the chat, LaForge said it is not too late to register for classes, so if you have been putting it off all summer, there’s still time to do so. If you have not applied to Delta State yet, contact the admissions team or visit deltastate.edu/apply to reserve your seat in the classroom today.

For more information on the video series, please contact commark@deltastate.edu or visit the Office of the President’s playlist on Delta State’s YouTube channel.