Inaugural Greetings

Greetings delievered during the inauguration ceremony of President William LaForge.

From the City of Cleveland

The Honorable Billy Nowell, Mayor

On behalf of the City of Cleveland, I would like to welcome you all here today. This is a great day for Delta State University and Cleveland because we have one of our own homegrown men who has come back to lead this great university.

Cleveland and Delta State University will both benefit from Bill LaForge’s leadership and Delta State University will flourish under his guidance.

Bill and I are lifetime friends, which began when he moved to Cleveland at age 7. We graduated from Cleveland High School and Delta State together. While at Delta State, we were in different fraternities but, both served as SGA officers.

Some of my fraternity brothers asked me to run for President of SGA and I asked who else is running and they said “Bill LaForge”. I said, well I better run for Vice President then. I think that we all should know our capabilities and I learned a long time ago what mine were. So, Bill became President, and I became Vice President of SGA.

Bill’s leadership qualities are proven and he will make Delta State University and Cleveland a better place. Welcome home my good friend, Bill LaForge.

From the Foundation

Ann Wynn Weissinger, President, Foundation Board

Senator Cochran, Governor Bryant, President LaForge and Mrs. LaForge, alumni, supports and friends of DSU, Faucuty and Students, it is an honor to represent the Delta State University Foundation Board of Directors today in this historic occasion of your Inauguration. The Delta State University Foundation was created in 1967 by then University President James Ewing and he named Coach Dave “Boo” Ferriss has the first executive director. Dr. Ewing also made the first gift to the Foundation by tossing Coach Ferriss a $100 bill and said “Mr. Ferriss, here is your first gift. Now go and start a foundation.” Of course Coach Ferriss being the preeminent athlete caught the $100 bill in mid-air. From that first gift the total assets of the Foundation have grown to $20 million. That means the first gift of $100 has grown by a multiple of 200,000. Thank you Coach Ferriss and congratulations on the Red Sox World Series win.

I am taking Spanish IV now at Delta State University and one of my mother’s favorite Spanish words is Dulce’, which means “sweet.” In fact she established a Dulce’ Fund that supports faculty development and stated that she wanted to provide “something a little sweet for the faculty.” I stand before you today and the entire Delta State nation to pledge my personal financial support and the collective financial support of the Foundation Board to providing what we believe is one of the most resources for the growth and enhancement of a university – money!

Dichotomy, although not a Spanish word origin, describes my family’s relations with Delta State University since its founding. My grandfather was adamantly opposed to Delta State Teachers College being located in Greenville. I stand before you today and the entire Delta State nation to pledge my personal financial support and the collective financial support of the Foundation Board to providing what we believe is one of the most resources for the growth and enhancement of a university – money!There were many like my grandfather who did not understand the power of a college education for citizens of the Delta and who rejected the opportunity to have a public university located in their hometown. Since my association with Delta State in the 1970s when my mother enrolled in the College of Education. My three sisters and have earned Master of Education. My daughter Leila and my son Charlie have also earned degrees from DSU. My niece is currently enrolled in here, too I have personally witnessed five of my family members earn a degree from the college that my grandfather rejected And I now am serving as the first female president of the Foundation Board.

Of course, there are many people who have given generously to Delta State throughout its history. I would like to recognize a few of those walking in the procession repressing the Delta State Foundation.

1) Jutta Karnstadt Ferretti. She graduated in the year at the age of 84 and has the distinction of being the oldest person to ever earn a degree from Delta State University. Jutta, a native of Germany, and her deceased husband, Johnny, have endowed five scholarships at Delta State.

2) Azrie Moore who earned by MBA in 2008 at the age in her 50’s. Azrie’s legacy is that without any prompting – no letter asking her for a gift or phone call- she decided to make a monthly gift to the Annual Fund. We need more people like Azrie who step forward on their own volition to contribute on a regular basis to the University.

3) Anita Ford Bologna, the widow of Dr. Nino Bologna. Anita is a member of our Board. It was through her encouragement and support that Dr. Bologna made the decision to make the largest gift in the history of the University to name this wonderful facility in memory of his two children, Nina and Sam. Thank you Anita.

From the Staff

Robin Boyles, Chair, Administrative Staff Council

Senator Cochran, Governor Bryant, Members of the IHL Board of Trustees, Honored Delegates, Distinguished Guests, Faculty, Staff, Student Body, Alumni, and Friends of Delta State University, and especially President LaForge

It is indeed an honor to share this stage and, as Chair of our Administrative Staff Council, speak on behalf of the 450 members of Delta State staff that I represent. Whether we are keeping our grounds and buildings maintained, ensuring the security of our campus, supporting our academic units, or providing the myriad of services that support our students, DSU staff collectively provide the backbone for our institutional body. We provide the support to our administrative leaders and our faculty in order for our educational mission to be fulfilled.

President LaForge, as our president and leader, the head of our institutional body, we will look to you to provide Vision, a vision that is steeped in thought, that is based on listening to the ideas of others, and that is communicated clearly to all that are committed to advancing the mission of the university. We look to you to provide leadership that is built on a high level of ethics and integrity.

On behalf of the Administrative Staff Council and the greater staff body, President LaForge, we pledge to you our continued support and our commitment to excellence.

From the Faculty

Don Allan Mitchell, President, Faculty Senate

My name is Don Allan Mitchell, and I have come to sing the praises of The Ole School We Love Best. I am an Associate Professor of English. I also serve as President of The Faculty Senate, and on behalf of the faculty at Delta State, I welcome all of y’all.

I am honored to share the stage with so many eminent leaders of The Magnolia State, but especially Senator Thad Cochran.

Senator Cochran, Delta author Walker Percy wrote a great novel called The Last Gentleman. I am beginning to think that you, Senator Cochran, “The Quiet Persuader” as you are sometimes known, just might be the Last Gentleman in the United States Senate.

Some of you may know that earlier this week, Senator Cochran was recognized for his 12,000th vote on the Senate floor.

Senator Cochran, I hope you are around for another 12,000 votes. This state, and this great nation, need you now more than ever.

And that is the bridge to my advice to another distinguished Gentleman, William Norman LaForge, the 8th President of Delta State University.

Mr. President, we Americans live in a fractious, deeply divided time. We have forgotten the fine art of compromise. We neglect to hear out both sides of an issue, and we would rather shout at each other on a talk show or tear each other down on Facebook, then to have a civil discourse and a healthy dialogue.

The American university needs to foster this civil discourse as much as it can, as I firmly believe that colleges are here to pass down the best traditions of citizenry and civic engagement.

This is one of the greatest lessons I took away from my undergraduate alma mater—that the Academical Village, as Thomas Jefferson called it, is there to prepare us to lead the local village, the national village, and the world village.

Small universities like Delta State are unique in that they can provide willing students a proving ground to try out all the roles and responsibilities of leadership and citizenship.

We are not here to prolong adolescence. We are here to help our students become adults.

Mr. President, I now close with The Wesleyan Rule, which I have seen on many a wall in a many a country Methodist church—in these parts, and over yonder. It is great advice for you, and to all of us assembled here today.

“Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as you ever can.”

Thank You.

From the Students

Sydney Hodnett, President, Student Government Association

Senator Cochran, Governor Bryant, Mayor Nowell, Members of the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning, Commissioner Bounds, ladies and gentlemen:

On behalf of the Delta State University student body, I have both the honor and privilege to officially welcome you, President LaForge, to Delta State University.

Since you first arrived here back in April, you hit the ground running. You have been very visible – being seen all over the campus. You have heard our voices, and listened to our concerns. You have been active in attendance and participation of many student events, having positively impacted the lives of many students in this very short period of time. It has been exciting to see the overall vibrant impact you are having on the University as a whole.

On behalf of the student body, we pledge our support to you as you embark on your tenure as the eighth president of our great University. Together we can make a difference. We look forward to being a part of the LaForge Era at Delta State University. With your love for the

Delta and this University, the compassion you have for its faculty, staff, and students, along with the leadership, guidance, and direction you bring to this administration, we embrace the challenges we will face in the days and years ahead with a fierce determination to continue to strive for excellence.

President LaForge, once again I extend a heartfelt welcome to you, Mrs. LaForge, and your family. It is with warmth and gratitude that I say “Welcome home” to your University, the home of the famous “fighting okra”, to the “green and white”, to our Delta State University. We are grateful that you chose now to come home!

Thank You.

From Social Media

“Congrats to @deltastate’s eighth president William LaForge @presidentDSU. It was also a pleasure to be a @TexasTech Delegate! G’OKRA!!!” – Josh Armstrong ‏@JArmstrongPerc

“Very pleased to be part of the @deltastate investiture of @presidentDSU Bill LaForge today. Promising future for DSU.” – Senator Thad Cochran ‏@SenThadCochran

“Some of Thad’s best right there! Congrats to the great Bill LaForge.” – Geoffrey Yoste ‏@GOYoste

“I got to see @deltastate’s new president get installed today! It was an experience that doesn’t come often.” – Justin Hunsucker ‏@JustinKeith92

“Proud of our ole @SenThadCochran boss, Bill LaForge, new @deltastate prez! Beautiful Delta day.” – Mayo Flynt ‏@mayoflynt

“Got to witness @deltastate history today! President LaForge, our 8th school President was inaugurated today. Something you don’t see often!” – Preslie Long ‏@preslielong

“Happy Inauguration Day, President LaForge!!!!” – Beth Todd ‏@lavenderharmony

“Congratulations to Bill LaForge on his installation as the 8th president of @deltastate!” – Phil Bryant ‏@PhilBryantMS

“Happy @deltastate Inauguration Day!” – Michael Oleis ‏@MichaelOleis

“Delta State is number one!! –President Laforge!! Happy Inauguration Day!” – Lacey Rikard ‏@Lace_Tha_Face

“On way to @deltastate to support @presidentDSU great leadership and prosperous days ahead!” – Shane Hooper ‏@ShaneHooper14

“So proud of you and proud for DSU!!!” -Joni Battistelli Tyler

“Wish I could be there; I remember the dedication of his father to Delta State so many years ago.” -Carolyn Sue Postlethwaite