Delta State University Alumni Magazine March 2021

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MARCH 2021





Wyconda Thomas tackles health disparities with clinic


Ronald Chance: Problem Solver


Steve Azar finds the perfect harmony

Delta State alumna committed to changing the health outcomes of the Mississippi Delta

Delta State alumnus making a global impact

Music, Mississippi and Delta State









Music & Culture Ambassador of Mississippi, Steve Azar is a modern-day Renaissance man, hit songwriter, recording artist, music producer, consultant, golfer and philanthropist. Steve likes to call his own breed of 24 music “Delta Soul,” Events Alumni 4 AROUND THE QUAD a mixture of country, rock and blues. His debut album Waitin’ On Joe was released in 2001. The title track went to #1 on CMT and featured 26 Academy Alumni Updates 12 DEVELOPMENT award-winning actor Morgan Freeman. From the same album the hit single “I Don’t Have To Be Me (‘til Monday)” received three BMI Million-Air awards for over 3 million in air plays and is one of the top five most played songs of 28 Future Statesmen the past decade22 on country radio. Turn on the radio today, and you’ll likely hear it. FACULTY/STAFF SPOTLIGHT:

& Lady Statesmen

Taylor Swift told People Magazine in 2010 that her favorite song of the year was Steve Azar’s “Sunshine.” Slide On 30 Favorite In Memoriam Over Here, featuring the hit single “Sunshine,” was spotlighted in Oprah’s O Magazine in her Oprah’s Michelle Johansen Things edition in 2011. “Sunshine” was also featured in US Weekly Magazine in June 2012 as one of the most popular celebrity wedding songs. Steve hasON written, recorded songs foralumnus film andSteve has been THE and COVER: Delta State Azarthe ’ supervisor for a number of movies. “Doin’ It Right” (Delta Mix) off of the latest release Delta Soul Volume One, was the feature track for Sony Steve wrote “Fly”, the official song for the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Vail. His performance at the opening ceremonies reached an audience of one billion households. “Fly” was also used as the feature song for Sony Pictures movie: Paul Blart Mall Cop 2 starring actor Kevin James. Pictures 2013 movie Here Comes The Boom starring Kevin James and Salma Hayek. As a songwriter, Reba McEntire among many others has cut his songs.

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Dear Fellow Alumni and Friends, Welcome to this edition of the Delta State University Alumni Magazine! Delta State has an extraordinarily strong and positive impact on its students and the surrounding communities it serves. So, it is quite fitting that the theme of this issue focus on “impact.” One need only look at the quality and diversity of instruction, the prowess of our faculty and staff, the determination of our leadership teams across campus, and the engagement of our students to see that this positive impact is embedded in the fabric of the institution—and our graduates! Even in midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Especially now! In the pages that follow, story after story tells the tale of the terrific impact Delta State is having, or has had, on so many individuals, especially our students and alumni. Those stories further reflect the extended impact Delta State graduates are having on their communities and the world around us. Alumni in divergent fields such as healthcare, music, and the environment are making a difference every day. Recent students with vision and ambition are taking their professions by storm. Witness an incredible new development just recently reported that Mr. Malik Sinegal (’19), a 23-year-old aviation graduate, has become the youngest AfricanAmerican certified Boeing 777 pilot in the world. Our alumni are making a difference in their chosen careers, and these success stories are a source of pride and inspiration for Delta State. While the current pandemic has presented many challenges to university life, our focused academic mission continues, even with adjustments in how faculty teach and students learn. Delta State has worked very hard to create as safe an environment as possible during this challenging time. Our programs are flourishing, and our students are progressing, despite the very real challenges of the times. Eventually, we will get through this difficult period of time together and even stronger as a university family. As we all anxiously await a return to some semblance of normalcy in our lives that have been upended by the COVID-19 pandemic this year, I want you to know that Delta State continues its finest traditions of quality instruction, caring faculty, student success, and a hospitable, welcoming environment on a beautiful campus—all of which provide a wonderful venue and foundation for work and study. As you browse the pages of this issue, I encourage you to reflect on the major impact Delta State has had on you personally and on many others in your life. It is my hope that the inspiration you draw from these stories will make Delta State ever more worthy of your continuing personal loyalty and financial support. Here’s to a healthy, safe, and productive 2021! Stay safe and be well. Very best regards,

William N. LaForge ’72 President

Follow President LaForge on social media, including his new series, Statesmen Insider! Visit for more info.

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Dear Alumni and Friends, The active involvement of our alumni by supporting and providing voluntary contributions to Delta State is essential for maintaining and expanding our programs and outreach. Maintaining a dynamic alumni network is essential to our success on campus and in the community. Good alumni relationships bring a myriad of benefits to both our university and alumni. We have worked and continue to work to establish avenues that can create even closer ties between alumni, the university, and ultimately our students. These types of relationships are critical in enriching the student’s experience while at Delta State. As we graduate and begin to pursue other life goals and career aspirations, I am here to remind you there is opportunity for all alumni to contribute in different ways and scale. It is time to make an IMPACT! The Alumni Association is only as successful and impactful as our donors. The alumni’s role is material to the continued development of the university. As alumni, we can provide support in various ways that are beneficial to our student body. During these times of change and uncertainty (I mean, we are still in the middle of a pandemic), there is an especially unique opportunity and it is imperative for alumni to stand up and show up to support our students. By whatever time, talents or means with which you are blessed—mentor, coach, train, open channels for career opportunities, provide actual work experience and donate. We can make an IMPACT! I am not sure what brought each of you to Delta State, but I know for me, it was one of the best decisions I could have made. Because of my experiences here and the IMPACT Delta State has had on my career and my family, I have vowed to give back to the university in any way that I can. I am beyond honored and grateful to have had the opportunity to serve as secretary, treasurer, vice-president, and for the last two years, as president of our distinguished Delta State University National Alumni Association. I look forward to all the great things the association will accomplish with our incoming President, John Fletcher and his Board.

Patrick Davis ’96 National Alumni Association President

National Alumni Association President Patrick Davis ’96 welcomes incoming president John Fletcher ‘91. March 2021 • Delta State Magazine • 3


President LaForge delivers State of the University address Delta State University cares about its constituents, even more so in an upheaval like a global pandemic. That was the theme of DSU President William N. LaForge’s ’72, State of the University Address, delivered virtually on Aug. 13, 2020, for opening convocation for the fall semester. “The title of my remarks today is ‘Delta State University Cares!’ That maxim has always been the case for this university. But, it is truer today than ever before,” LaForge began. “With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early March, almost everything about the way we do business on campus changed—except carrying on the academic mission and caring.” He thanked colleagues “for applying creativity and ingenuity to keeping this university open and functional, and to making our academic processes work for our students during this challenging time.” That meant online instruction for the spring and summer terms. The fall term, which began Aug. 17, added hybrid instruction— primarily online, reinforced with strategic face-to-face sessions. The coronavirus outbreak signifies both a “black swan” and a “silver lining,” LaForge said, with changes likely permanent as well as temporary—and DSU must heed accordingly. The test becomes finding “the right academic mix that will serve our students best in the short-term and over the next decade and beyond.” This will be “a learning experience for all,” requiring “dedication to our mission” and “patience with our processes.” LaForge summarized other tough roads traveled in 2019-20. Budget challenges spanned enduring another reduction in state


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funding; trimming $3.2 million from the operating budget ($1.7 million in permanent cuts and $1.5 million in temporary cuts); adding “creative” revenue streams; and bumping up tuition 6 percent. DSU “looked deeply inward to ensure that our budget reflects and supports our university goals and priorities,” he said. The result is “the most accurate and priority-reflective budget in place that we have likely seen in any recent year”—with “no major personnel cuts.” He also emphasized many positive developments during the past year. Facilities improvements included new roofing on the Wright Art Building, Blansett Hall, and Sillers Coliseum; repairs to lighting around the football stadium and adjacent facilities; and refurbishment of residence halls. The food court in the H.L. Nowell Union underwent a $2 million renovation, bringing a fullmenu Chick-fil-A, a Firehouse Subs, an expanded Burrito Bowl, along with the popular Starbucks. LED lighting was installed across campus and funded through hundreds of thousands of dollars of Entergy grants. Delta State also secured $3 million in bond funding for additional building repairs and renovations. LaForge concluded, “As we commence this challenging and uncertain year, I ask you to join me in continuing to demonstrate what it means to be part of the caring culture for Delta State and our students. Not only is special caring important in this moment, it is a fitting legacy for all of us to leave to this university.”

Delta State alumna contributes to Mississippi Heritage-the African American Influence mobile app The Delta Center and the McNair Research Scholars Program at Delta State University collaborated to provide an enriching cultural heritage education experience for a Delta State student. Jayla Miller, now a Delta State alumna who was born and raised in the Mississippi Delta, dedicated the fi nal semester of her senior year to interning with The Delta Center, where she researched Mississippi Delta African American cultural heritage landmarks. Her research was used to develop the Delta portion of the Mississippi Heritage-The African American Influence (MS Heritage AAI) mobile app.

The app is available on Google Play and the Apple App Store by searching “MS Heritage AAI.” It also is available at and “Doing this research project with MS Heritage AAI mobile app and The Delta Center allowed me to see my generation’s connection to Mississippi Delta culture and history,” said Miller. Her Delta Center internship was a requirement toward completing the McNair Research Scholars Program. “We are so excited about Jayla’s accomplishments, especially this one,” said Wendolyn Stevens, former McNair project director. “Jayla was extremely invested in making sure the stories were told and captured with as much authentic thought as possible. Her research internship is what our program strives for our Scholars to accomplish. Jayla’s contribution to this app will continue beyond her immediate reach.” The mobile app was created by Mississippi Delta native Hermon Cotton. As reported by WJTV News, the app connects African Americans from Mississippi and their past and present contributions to Mississippi and the world through technology that is widely accessible. “Everybody has a mobile phone. And it’s kind of our tool for information,” said Cotton. “My hope is to actually serve every individual with a positive and inspiring cultural influence by taking a look at the many facets of African American contributions here in Mississippi.” Cotton continued, “Both Jayla and Delta State’s contributions to the Delta section of the MS Heritage AAI mobile app have been invaluable. Th is is an expression of Delta State’s commitment to preserving Mississippi Delta history and culture. We look forward to continuing this informative and inspiring relationship.” The app features various Mississippi Delta African American cultural heritage sites, including the historic town of Mound Bayou, the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center in Indianola, and the Cleveland-based Amzie Moore House Museum and Interpretive Center, which is managed by Delta State. “We are thrilled to be included in the app,” said Malika Polk-Lee, executive director of the B.B. King Museum. “Th is is an excellent

Delta State alumna Jayla Miller (center) poses with mobile app creative team members Hermon Cotton (left) and Dr. Teresa Moore at a recent app launch event in Jackson.

tool for educating Mississippi Delta residents and visitors about our living history and culture.” “We help to create spaces and platforms for Mississippi Delta communities to tell their cultural heritage stories and take pride in historically significant places,” said Dr. Rolando Herts, director of The Delta Center and executive director of the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area. “Whenever we can engage Mississippi Delta students and youth in that process as a learning opportunity, all the better. Preserving African American cultural heritage is a win for Delta State, the Mississippi Delta, and the nation.” The mission of The Delta Center is to promote greater understanding of Mississippi Delta culture and history and its significance to the world through education, partnerships, and community engagement. The Delta Center serves as the management entity of the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area and is the home of the International Delta Blues Project. The Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program was established in memory of astronaut-physicist and Challenger crewmember, Ronald E. McNair. The program is administered through Delta State’s Office of Graduate and Continuing Studies. McNair is one of eight TRiO programs funded by the U.S. Department of Education. The goal of McNair Research Scholars to increase the attainment of Ph.D. degrees by students from underrepresented segments of society. March 2021 • Delta State Magazine • 5


Delta State receives $3,500 grant from LGBTQ Fund of Mississippi for Safe Space Program

The admissions staff at Delta State display a sticker to affix to their office space as a visible indicator that they have completed a two-hour training session on March 9, 2020, on LGBTQ issues and are knowledgeable and empathetic about them.

Delta State University received a $3,500 grant from the LGBTQ Fund of Mississippi to apply to the Safe Space initiative on campus. The mission of Safe Space is to further safety, value, and inclusivity for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning people at Delta State by fostering a supportive learning and working environment. The $3,500 grant is the maximum amount awarded by the LGBTQ Fund of Mississippi in the planning category. The money will be used to purchase curriculum and promotional materials, provide incentives for participants and make other improvements to the longstanding campus effort. Delta State’s Safe Space is part of a national training program. “As the new Safe Space coordinator, it was imperative for me to delve into this program so that it informs as many faculty, staff, students and community members as possible on crucial matters such as gender and sexual identify, homophobia, discrimination, fear of reprisal, and being an ally for the LGBTQ community,” said Dr. Jacqueline Goldman, assistant professor of psychology. “The money from this grant will extend the reach of this vital program and enhance the trainings for our campus.” Dr. Merideth Van Namen, interim division chair of counselor education and psychology, added, “This grant will provide the means for Dr. Goldman to expand contributions in both breadth and depth to educate and support the university faculty, staff and students on such an important topic as LGBTQ.” LGBTQ Fund of Mississippi grant evaluators praised Delta State in an email “for the wonderful work you’re doing for Mississippi’s LGBTQ citizens. We are very proud to have your organization among the first group of grant recipients.”

DSU receives $1.2 million from CARES Act to assist students Delta State University has received $1,262,219 from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act through the U.S. Department of Education to assist students during the COVID-19 pandemic. The money will go directly to current DSU students. It comes from the $14 billion Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund portion of the $2 trillion CARES Act; the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund supports postsecondary education students and institutions. “DSU is grateful for this federal funding that will be very helpful to many of our students whose on-campus matriculation was abruptly interrupted,” said Dr. Vernell Bennett-Fairs, former vice president for student affairs. “Students will receive information about the qualification criteria and a link to the grant application via their Okramail accounts. We encourage all who qualify to apply.” “We have received an additional $1,388,337 for institutional

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CARES ACT support,” said Heather Kovarcik Miller, director of the Office of Institutional Grants. “Delta State will use this round of funding per the Department of Education federal guidelines.” The CARES Act was signed into law on March 27, 2020, and is the third and largest major legislative initiative to address COVID-19.

94th Commencement held virtually Aug. 3, 2020

On Aug. 3, 2020, Delta State University hosted its first-ever virtual commencement in honor of its Spring 2020 graduates. While the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated a new way to connect and celebrate, the 94th Commencement Exercise remained a memorable event for the Delta State community. “I sincerely regret that we are unable to honor you in person—back in May and even today,” said Delta State President William N. LaForge as he welcomed graduates and their families via live stream. “We’re doing the best we can to cope with the COVID-19 crisis, and we appreciate your flexibility and understanding during this challenging time. But even the pandemic cannot rain on your parade today. We honor you today, and I hope that you take the

knowledge, the lessons, the experiences and the relationships that you have garnered here at Delta State into a very productive and fulfilling life and career.” During a brief commencement address, LaForge hoped for the new graduates a group of “Cs”— including “competence” in the skills and the knowledge gained from their DSU experience; “confidence” in their abilities to have vision, set goals and perform the work; “commitment” to a life that is fulfilling; and “concern” about the world around them. “I wish that for each of you today as we celebrate you as an honored graduate of Delta State University,” he said. “I know that our degree candidates will fondly remember this occasion and the uniqueness of it.”

358 131

undergraduate degrees

graduate degrees

The 358 undergraduate degrees: College of Arts and Sciences, 156; College of Business and Aviation, 79; College of Education and Human Sciences, 85; School of Nursing, 38. The 131 graduate degrees: College of Arts and Sciences, 9; College of Business and Aviation, 31; College of Education and Human Sciences, 85; School of Nursing, 6.

NASA’s James Morhard returns to DSU for Fall 2020 Colloquia As with most events hosted during the COVID-19 pandemic, In his opening remarks, Mohard applauded Delta State for its the Fall 2020 Colloquia Distinguished Lecture Series at Delta State unique Aviation program. University featured many “firsts.” “We need graduates like you for your technical expertise in It was the first time that aeronautics, as well as for your audience members received the technical backgrounds,” he said. option to attend the event inThe event then proceeded person or virtually. with the lecture, followed by a It was also the first time two-part question and answer the colloquium featured a period. repeat distinguished lecturer— Part I of the question period NASA’s Deputy Administrator included a panel comprised of James Morhard— and that the Associate Professor of Physics address was delivered via live and Planetarium Director Dr. stream. Maria Weber and students In spite of its novelty, Devonte Henderson, a marketing the event remained a highly major from Grand Prairie, Texas, anticipated occasion for the and Justin Schluter, a geospatial Delta State community. analysis and intelligence major “This distinguished from East Wareham, Mass. lecture series affords the Part II included questions Delta State community, and posed by audience members, both especially our students, the virtual and in-person. opportunity to meet and “We’re really at the dawn of President LaForge formally presents James Morhard with his Colloquia medal. hear outstanding speakers a new space age,” said Morhard. from a wide array of professional endeavors. It provides a forum for “My job is to get us to the moon to prepare us to go to Mars. We have a important exchanges on the issues of the day—a vital function of any lot of support both in science and in human exploration.” thriving university,” said Delta State President William N. LaForge Morhard concluded by encouraging DSU students to consider a as he welcomed guests. career with the world’s leading space agency. Themed “The Future of Space Exploration,” Morhard’s lecture “We need you, from all of the fields at Delta State—not just included information regarding NASA’s exciting year involving the aeronautics,” he said. “There are a lot of different parts that we’re recent mission to the International Space Station and the Mars rover, going to need to make this a success, and I hope all of you will as well as details of NASA’s next chapter of human space exploration. consider NASA as place to start your careers.” March 2021 • Delta State Magazine • 7


Bennett-Fairs named to AASCU’s Millennium Leadership Initiative

During her tenure as vice president for student affairs at Delta support as I seek this level of professional development.” State University, Dr. Vernell Bennett-Fairs was named one of 31 Over its more than 20-year history, MLI has produced 632 senior-level higher education professionals to participate in graduates, of which 131 have become first-time presidents or the 2020 Millennium Leadership Initiative (MLI). chancellors. MLI is a premier leadership development program of “It is important that leadership within higher education the American Association of State Colleges and Universities represent our institutions’ diverse student body—imple(AASCU). The program provides individuals traditionally menting efforts to help our students succeed, shaping incluunderrepresented in the highest ranks of postsecondary sive and effective learning environments, and continuing to education with the opportunity to develop skills, gain a advance equity, diversity, and social and economic justice philosophical overview, and build the network and knowlacross our campuses,” said Dr. Mary Evans Sias, director Bennett-Fairs edge needed to advance to the presidency. of the program and assistant to AASCU’s president. “I am “I am so pleased that Dr. Bennett-Fairs has been chosen proud to welcome our stellar 2020 MLI class.” for this prestigious program,” said Delta State President William Bennett-Fairs joined DSU as vice president for student affairs in 2016 after holding a similar position at Kentucky State University. N. LaForge. “At Delta State, she is responsible for a very important portfolio of responsibilities. She is the ideal participant for one of She earned a doctorate in instruction and administration from the University of Kentucky, a master’s degree in vocal performance from AASCU’s premier programs, and I salute AASCU for selecting her.” Eastern Michigan University, and a bachelor’s degree in vocal perfor“I’m honored to have been chosen as a member of the 2020 MLI mance from Fisk University. cohort,” said Bennett-Fairs. “I’m grateful for President LaForge’s

DSU’s Tricia Walker raises money for PPE with new album

How do retired Delta State University employees spend their time? If you’re Tricia Walker, former director of the Delta Music Institute (DMI), you give back through your craft, especially in a time of crisis. Walker, who spent 26 years in Nashville as a performer, music publisher, and music producer before coming to Delta State in 2006 to develop the DMI program, co-created a new album about hospice professionals, “The World Around the Bed: Songs of Hope and Healing.” Proceeds from it will support the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE) for them in the COVID-19 pandemic. An initiative of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO), the album features 11 original songs written and performed by various Nashville artists and based on reflections from hospice workers. “I was part of this special project last fall and earlier this year, writing songs with some of their members and doing a studio recording,” said Walker, who earned a Bachelor of Music Education from Delta State in 1974. “As a DSU alumna/retiree, I wanted to share this with Delta State during this time of pandemic. It’s another great connection with how ‘music heals.’” Walker’s vocal and guitar parts for the lead song of the album, “Joy in a Teardrop,” which launched the project, were recorded at DMI. Walker, an acclaimed singer/songwriter, co-wrote the popular 8 • Delta State Magazine • March 2021

single, “Looking in the Eyes of Love,” with Kostas Lazarides in 1990. Country music star Patty Loveless recorded it, and Allison Krauss earned a 1997 Grammy Award for Best Performance for her cover. Debby Boone and The Imperials also recorded Walker’s material. Her eighth and most recent CD, “Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter Eye,” came out in 2019 and was recorded at Fighting Okra Studios at Delta State. Early credits also include Walker being a backing musician with Connie Smith, Paul Overstreet, and a young Shania Twain. Walker performed at Robert Redford’s Christmas Cantata at his Sundance Mountain Resort in Utah. In 1988, Walker started Women in the Round at the renowned Bluebird Cafe in Nashville with fellow songwriters Karen Staley, Ashley Cleveland, and Pam Tillis; a version of the show headlines downtown Cleveland each year. Walker retired from DSU in June of 2019. Last July, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Mississippi Writers Guild. “The World Around the Bed: Songs of Hope and Healing” may be purchased online through the NHPCO Marketplace or by calling NHPCO at 800-646-6460. The album is also available on Amazon Music and iTunes.

Debbie Brock introduced as MSHOF class of 2021 inductee

Former Delta State University Lady Statesmen basketball great Debbie Brock will become the fourth Lady Statesmen basketball player, and the 14th overall inductee from Delta State, inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame, which announced its 2021 Class on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. The date for the ceremony had not been determined at this point. Brock, who was announced as an inductee into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame 2021 class last spring, joins the ranks of 14 other Delta State Statesmen or Lady Statesmen athletes, coaches, or administrators enshrined into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. She joins Gerald Glass (MBB/2013), Langston Rogers (Administration/2013), James “Mike” Kinnison (Baseball/2011), Troy Ricks (Basketball/Coach, 2007), Lloyd Clark (Basketball Coach/2006), Earl “Jack” Gregory (Football/2000), Lusia “Lucy” Harris (Women’s Basketball/1990), Charles “Chuck” Thomas(Football/1975), Lily “Margaret” Wade (Basketball Coach/1974), E.B. Gene Chadwick (Football Coach/1973), Thurman “Blackie” Blacklidge (Men’s Basketball, 1971), and Dave “Boo” Ferriss (AD/Baseball Coach, 1964). “I think this is the highest award a Mississippi athlete can receive,” Debbie Brock said following Tuesday’s press conference. “It is such a humbling and thankful experience to be mentioned with these guys that I am going in with. Eric Dampier, Lanny Watkins, and Lindsey Hunter, it’s a super class and I am honored to be among them. When you drive up see a picture of Brett Farve and Jerry Rice on the side of wall, you really get humbled because you know how great this place is.” Brock was a four-year starter at point guard for Delta State and helped lead Coach Wade’s Lady Statesmen to an overall record of Brock 120-9, including three consecutive AIAW National Championships (1975, 1976, 1977). Brock scored 903 career points (7.2 per game) and connected on 277 of 335 free throws (82.7 percent). She also made 313 of 668 field goal attempts (46.9 percent), dished out 474 assists, the 9th best mark in DSU history, and pulled down 343 career rebounds as well. Brock excelled on both ends of the floor and was honored by her teammates as Delta State’s Best Defensive Player all four years while also being considered as the best pressure player on the team. She was selected to the 1977 Hanes Underalls and the 1978 Kodak All-America teams. Brock started at guard and helped lead

The Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum recently introduced their newest class of Inductees. The group includes three basketball greats, a football star, a tennis player and a golfer. Those selected are former Delta State women’s point guard Debbie Brock, Murrah High, Jackson State and NBA star Lindsey Hunter, Mississippi State and NBA standout Erick Dampier, Ole Miss lineman Terrence Metcalf, Ole Miss and ATP tennis great Dave Randall, and golf icon Randy Watkins.

the West squad to victory in the 1977 Underalls All-America Classic in Washington. She also played in the 1978 Hanes All-America Classic in Greensboro, N.C., and the Women’s All-America Classic in Philadelphia, Pa. “It was great playing with Lucy (Harris),” Brock added. “I always say she was the best center to ever play the game, and I think she would still be that today. Coach Wade, it was an honor to play for her and be a part of the team, just a piece of the puzzle. It was Lucy, Ramona, Wanda, Cornelia and myself that just happened to be there (Delta State) at the same time. As a team, everyone had a position that was built for us and Coach Wade was able to take people and put them in the right place to make a team out of us.” Although standing only 4 feet 11 inches tall and playing during an era of no three-point shots and a larger ball, Brock was considered one of the nation’s best ball handlers. She had the rare ability to break the press off the dribble. When defenses collapsed on Lusia Harris in the post, Brock made them pay with her accuracy from the top of the key or sett ing up teammates to score. Those skills translated to a 22-point outburst in the 1977 AIAW title game against LSU, where she did not turn the ball over. She also scored 17 points and had five steals to help bring Delta State back from a 13-point deficit to a 61-60 semi-fi nal win over Wayland Baptist in the 1976 AIAW national tournament. Delta State retired her uniform number 22 following her senior season and she was inducted into the Delta State Sports Hall of Fame in 1988.

For the complete Statesmen Baseball schedule, visit March 2021 • Delta State Magazine • 9


DSU School of Nursing ranks for best online, affordability Last year, Delta State University’s Robert E. Smith School of Nursing continued its longstanding positive evaluations. The School of Nursing was ranked third by for best online RN to BSN Programs in Mississippi in 2020. In addition, DSU’s Doctor of Nursing Practice/Family Nurse Practitioner online program placed fifth in the U.S. for affordability and was listed among the 12 shortest to complete, according to This marks the third consecutive year that the RN to BSN program measured high on the statewide list. “Geared toward professional registered nurses striving for management roles in hospitals and healthcare settings, the online RN to BSN program through Delta State University has a leadership focus. Courses in the toprated program are scheduled in a flexible format so they are achievable and within reach for working nurses,” wrote the assessors, a Carlsbad, Calif.-based advocacy group of registered nurses. Criteria included tuition and fees, ratio of tenured faculty, and ratio of total nurse program completions vs. total program completions awarded by the institution, among other factors. “We are honored that the RN to BSN program has been recognized again by this organization,” said Dr. Vicki Bingham, dean of Delta State’s School of Nursing. “The faculty of this program work diligently to ensure these registered nurses are equipped with the knowledge and skills to meet the needs of the current healthcare workforce.” analyzed every university with a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program for reputation, student outcomes, affordability, length, and other factors that contribute to overall quality. “I’m happy to report that we ranked Delta State University a top school for DNP education in multiple categories,” wrote Deb Molfetta, outreach coordinator at the website. From data analyzed, assessors praised the School of Nursing for “excellent” student-to-faculty ratios, “strong” DNP completion rates and flexibility. The School of Nursing is also included in the 12 shortest online DNP programs—and is the only Mississippi institution referenced—because it can be completed in three or five semesters and requires 31 credits, 420 clinical practice hours, and one to three campus visits per semester. “Our DNP program provides a quality education at an affordable price for students to advance their degree,” said Bingham. “Students have various program options to pursue the degree based up on their education needs, family, and work schedules.” DSU School of Nursing’s numerous degree offerings regularly rank high nationwide for quality, affordability, and efficiency. Earlier top rankings for DSU’s RN to BSN program include No. 1 in the country in 2015 by and No. 1 in the state in 2017 by Also, College Choice rated it No. 2 most affordable in 2016.

The Statesmen Club The statesmen club member benefits







Statesmen Store Discount







President’s Game Day Reception Invite














Reserved Parking Pass*



General Admission All-Sports Passes



team $100







Membership Decal Program/Web Recognition Appreciation Gift

Advance Ticketing Priority Athletics Christmas Social Invite Advanced Reserved Parking Priority General Admission Single Sport Season Passes

10 • Delta State Magazine • March 2021

Pillars Of The Program • Expanding Scholarship Opportunities • Facility and Locker Room Enhancements • Team and Staff Leadership Trainings & Events • Championship Awards and Recognitions • Travel and Recruiting Upgrades • Expanding Student-Athlete Services • Staff Professional Development


DSU Foundation DSU Box 3141 Cleveland, MS 38733 (662) 846-4300

Delta State alumnus makes history as world’s youngest African American Boeing 777 pilot The Boeing 777, the world’s largest and most technologically advanced twin-engine jet, typically appeals to more seasoned pilots. However, Delta State University alumnus Malik Sinegal made history recently when he became the youngest African American Boeing 777 certified pilot in the world. The 23-year-old Biloxi, Mississippi, native returned to his alma mater on Nov. 16 to share details of his record-breaking achievement with the Delta State community. The event was fittingly hosted at the DSU Flight Instruction Hanger, located at the Cleveland Municipal Airport, where Sinegal spent countless hours in flight training as he completed his bachelor’s degree in Commercial Aviation with an emphasis in Flight Operations. “Congratulations to Malik—Delta State is very proud of this young man,” said President William N. LaForge as he welcomed those in attendance both virtually and in-person. “Malik’s extraordinary achievement is a terrific testimony to his drive, to his ambition, to his success already in his young career and certainly to his ability. It’s also a testament to Malik’s education at Delta State in one of our signature programs, and we’re very proud of that as well.” DSU’s Commercial Aviation program is a premier choice for students who desire a career as a professional pilot and is the state university system’s only undergraduate and graduate aviation programs. The commercial aviation department, which attracts students from across the state, nation and world, offers three concentrations—Flight Operations, Aviation Management, and Logistics. “Our commercial aviation students have quite a rigorous and challenging workload. They take anywhere from 18 to 21 academic hours each semester, and on top of that, they also have to be prepared for their flight lesson each day,” explained Joe Saia, interim director of Flight Operations. Saia said Sinegal’s achievement is a significant credit to the program. “The commercial aviation department, which started in the early ’80s, has produced many successful pilots in the industry, and today marks one of our newest accomplished graduates, Mr. Malik Sinegal,” he said. “Achieving this at such a young age is a huge achievement. Malik has raised the bar for our future students.” For Sinegal, his interest in aviation developed early on. “My godmother was a flight attendant for Delta, and from the time I was about two-years-old, she would come down almost every weekend from Atlanta and pick me up and let me meet the pilots,” he shared.

In addition to its affordability, Delta State’s close proximity to home appealed to Sinegal. The 2019 DSU graduate said choosing Delta State was a great decision. “The people in the aviation department are some of the most amazing people you’ll ever meet,” he said.

Pictured, from left, are Charles Carr, Director of Intermodal Planning, MS Dept. of Transportation; Richard Munroe, DSU’s Vice President of University Advancement & External Relations; Malik Sinegal ‘19, DSU alumnus and the youngest African American Boeing 777 pilot in the world; and Joseph Saia, DSU’s Interim Director of Flight Operations.

It was Delta Airline’s longest-serving pilot, Captain Cal Flanigan, who inspired Sinegal to pursue the Boeing 777 certification. “Captain Flanigan was a top pilot at Delta Airlines for several years and never missed a day of work. After I met him, it was something I always wanted to do because the Boeing 777 was the largest airplane in Delta’s fleet at the time,” he said. After completing the rigorous certification process which included Computer Based Trainings (CBTs) and simulators, Sinegal said he was exhausted but felt a sense of accomplishment. “I was very proud that I could finally call myself a Boeing 777 pilot,” said Sinegal, who was initially unaware that he’d made history. He hopes his achievement inspires other young pilots and sparks an interest in students who haven’t been exposed to the career. “The impact I hope this will have, especially for young people, is to show them that there’s no age limit on success and that it’s never too early to start giving back,” he said. “Where I’m from, a lot of kids don’t think they can be a pilot…Some of them have never flown before. It’s all about going there, being present and letting them know that they can do it too.”

March 2021 • Delta State Magazine • 11


Meet the Team: DSU Office of Advancement

Vice President for University Advancement and External Relations Richard Munroe gives an inside look at Delta State’s Advancement office By Richard “Rick” Munroe HISTORY

On the 23rd of February, 1967, history was recorded for Delta State University. It was on this day that the Mississippi Secretary of State signed the articles of incorporation for the Delta State College Foundation. A Delta State University icon, Dave “Boo” Ferriss, was its first director. It was a late start for sure compared to universities around the country, but from its modest beginnings, we have adapted, changed and grown to be a substantial resource for our beneficiary—Delta State University and its students. Last fiscal year (ending June 30, 2020,) the DSU Foundation provided Munroe financial support of nearly $5 million to Delta State University students and programs. The ability to provide financial resources is only possible through the generous gifts of alumni, businesses, foundations, and friends of Delta State. Originally, the foundation was used as a depository for en12 • Delta State Magazine • March 2021

Alumni Affairs: Senior Secretary Phyllis Thornton, Alumni & Annual Fund Director James Forté, and Assistant Director Amanda Robinson

dowment funds, permanent funds set up to support DSU with the earnings alone. In 1987, under the direction of Hugh Ellis Walker, the foundation and the DSU alumni association staff merged in a concerted effort to pursue gifts of all types that would provide full benefits to DSU annually.


As pressure has been building on states to cut budgets, some states—including Mississippi—have reduced the financial support of their institutions of higher learning. These cuts have forced state universities and colleges to look at their foundations for increased private funding. University administrations have encouraged and supported foundations to improve performance and efficiency through developing and structuring improved working models for today’s fastpaced world. Fundraising has been occurring at American colleges and universities for hundreds of years, mostly in the private arena, so there are many schools that we can look at that model very efficient and effective methods of fundraising. Another source to include is the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), an organization that supports universities and colleges through the training and development of professionals in the areas of fundraising, marketing, alumni relations and media relations.

Okra Express Mailing & Printing Services: Postal Clerk Rhonda Williams, Printing Service Specialist Terrence Liddell and Manager of Mailing & Printing Leigh Street

Development: Academic Affairs Development Officer Mary Parker Janoush, Director of Donor Relations Lizzie Woodard, Athletic Development Officer Casey Key, Campaign Coordinator Corley Mullins, and Director of Advancement Services Paula Thompson. Not pictured: Director of Development Dr. Lori Spencer


In 2018, I came to Delta State University as the Vice President for University Advancement and External Relations, a new position that was the result of a reorganization to mirror what is currently the standard across the country. The advancement model combines all external communications into one large Advancement Office. In Delta State’s case this includes: Communications and Marketing, Radio Station, Print Shop, Post Office, Government Relations, Alumni Relations and Development (Foundation) offices. By combining each area under the same metaphorical roof, it allows for a responsive, straight-forward, honest and united message. We can cast a wide net to communicate to our constituents in different modes simultaneously. Although the methods are different, the message is the same—“Look at the great things happening at Delta State. Please enroll in classes, or support us with a financial gift.” On these pages are the individual departments that comprise the advancement office; diverse yes, but united in the goal of advancing the mission of DSU.

Finance: Senior Foundation Accountant Lyle Cole and Chief Financial Officer David Gladden

Communications & Marketing: Photographer Campbell Saia, Marketing Coordinator & Graphic Designer Holly Ray, Digital Media Coordinator Caroline Fletcher, Senior Secretary Patricia Malone, Director of Media Relations Brittany Davis-Green, Radio Station Manager Stephanie Sandlin and Website Developer Gregory Braggs March 2021 • Delta State Magazine • 13

Delivering Quality Care Where It’s Needed Most

Wyconda Thomas: Delta State alumna tackles health disparities with clinic

By Brittany Davis-Green ’11, ’14


ississippi ranks last, or near last, in nearly every leading health outcome in the nation. Mirroring trends nationwide, those health disparities are even more pronounced in rural communities among groups who have systematically faced health inequities. Delta State University alumna Wyconda Thomas is doing something about it. The 35-year-old family nurse practitioner is the owner of Healthy Living Family Medical Center (HLFMC). Located in the medically underserved community of Gunnison, Miss., the clinic is dedicated to “delivering quality care where it’s needed most.” “I strive to bring my patients the same standard of healthcare they would receive if they were in Desoto County or even Johns Hopkins,” said Thomas, who opened HLFMC in 2016. “We follow the same guidelines here that those healthcare providers follow, so you will receive the same standard of health care.” A native of Rosedale, Miss., Thomas received all of her post-secondary education at Delta State—a bachelor’s degree in biology in 2007, a bachelor’s degree in nursing in 2011 and a master’s degree in nursing in 2014. A graduate of West Bolivar High School, Thomas attended Delta State on a full athletic scholarship, playing point guard for the Lady Statemen basketball team from 2003 to 2007. While juggling basketball and academics left little time for socializing, she remembers her time at DSU fondly. “I always tell people when you can get a great education that close to home why not take advantage of it?” she said. “I met one of my best friends during that time, and while basketball and academics demanded so much of my time, I did enjoy campus life whenever I did get the opportunity.” When aspirations to attend physical therapy school after grad14 • Delta State Magazine • March 2021

uation didn’t pan out, Thomas taught science for a couple of years instead. “I did like it because I do love to teach, but it just wasn’t what I wanted to do long-term. I really aspired to do something in healthcare,” she said. That’s when she began looking into a career as a nurse practitioner. “I developed this vision of starting my own practice, but I knew that to be an effective nurse practitioner, I had to be a nurse first.” So that’s what she did. Thomas went back to school and began gaining experience at health care facilities across the region in a variety of specialties, including medical surgical, neonatal, intensive care, pediatrics, post-partum, hospice, home health and telemetry. “I learned so much and gained invaluable experience,” she shared. “I think that by working at many different places, I had the opportunity to take the best of what I learned and use it to build my own.” Unlike many young professionals who opt to relocate outside of the Mississippi Delta, Thomas has always been set on making a difference at home. “I chose to open my practice in the community of Gunnison because my parents grew up there, and this is a community with a significant number of children and older people,” she said. “Even though the nearest clinic was in Rosedale, that still was 10 minutes away. I decided to do it here because of that—for the people who couldn’t travel those 10 miles.” Thomas said she also had a desire to practice in a rural area. “I love to travel, but I like working and living here. I have my patients in Gunnison really spoiled, but I really would like to expand and open more facilities throughout the region,” she said. “I’m accustomed to doing more with less, and I really feel like I

can make a positive impact in the Delta.” One of the biggest benefits of her clinic is the sliding fee scale, which adjusts fees based on the patient’s ability to pay. “Trying to make it more affordable is almost a necessity when you’re serving a rural community like this,” she said. “A lot of people don’t have health insurance—whether it’s not a priority because they have so many other needs to cover with their money or they were denied coverage for whatever reason. Many people find themselves in the category where they don’t have health insurance, but they still have health issues,” she said. “That could be the biggest factor as to why someone is walking around with elevated blood pressure—they just can’t afford the visit or the medicine,” she added. Thomas said she’s already noticing improvements, especially with the blood pressure and blood sugar levels of community members. “We try to incorporate education at each visit, and we have several programs within the clinic that are designed to educate our patients,” she said. “I love being a nurse practitioner and seeing patients. Honestly, it’s always the highlight of my day.” She also enjoys training the next generation of health care providers with student interns from all across the region. “I try to incorporate compassion into my practice. I think that really influences the students and their views on practicing healthcare,” she said. “They always tell me when they leave that they’ve learned so much and that they feel so much more comfortable going into the workforce—especially if it’s their last semester. That makes me feel really good.” HLFMC recently began offering scholarships to local high school students who are also student-athletes. “It’s really hard to be an athlete and excel academically as well. It’s very time consuming and leaves very little personal time, so I wanted to do something to motivate them to keep going,” Thomas said. And, of course, she always encourages them to consider Delta State. “Delta State gave me a great education,” she said, “I tell anybody, Delta State prepares you like no other. That’s why they’re one of the top nursing schools in the nation. They train you to be well-rounded and, to me, Delta State’s nursing programs are designed to create leaders in the workforce.” March 2021 • Delta State Magazine • 15

Ronald Chance:

Problem Solver DSU alumnus making a global impact By Brittany Davis-Green ’11, ’14 From improving the effectiveness of vaccines to tackling climate change, Delta State alumnus Dr. Ronald Chance ’70 has been making a global impact through his research. With more than 130 peer-reviewed publications, over 30 US patents, two edited books, and more than 100 invited talks, the American Physical Society fellow has made significant contributions in the scientific world.


he year was 1974. While vaccines were revolutionizing global health in developed countries, the inoculation efforts in third world countries faced challenges. A good fraction of the vaccinations that were administered in developing countries were not effective because they were degraded by the time they were received by the nurse or doctor in the field. Dr. Ronald Chance had just finished up graduate school and joined Honeywell (then Allied Corporation) as a staff physicist when he and his team learned about the issue.

“I always had a love of math, so I was more into physical chemistry or physics,” he said. “I got a good background in math at Delta State, in statistics particularly.” Dr. Ronald Chance

“The systems there were not conducive to maintaining the cool temperatures that are required for vaccines,” said Chance. “What we invented was an ink used on the label of the vaccine that changed colors if the vaccine had been thermally abused.” As a result, the doctor or nurse in the field could simply look at the vial to determine the vaccine’s effectiveness. The invention would go on to receive funding from the World 16 • Delta State Magazine • March 2021

Health Organization and was recently credited for eliminating polio in India and saving hundreds of thousands of lives, as noted by global health advocate Bill Gates. “It’s for sure the most important thing I’ve ever worked on,” said Chance. A native of North Mississippi, Chance, who graduated high school at just 16, set his eyes on pursuing a college degree. It was an unlikely path for the first-generation college student, whose father had worked as a farmer. “I was the first one in my family to attend college at all. Then I went for a very long time,” he chuckled. Chance began his post-secondary education at the then Northwest Junior College. He was attracted to Delta State University because of the prospect of working at Baxter Travenol Laboratories to support his budding family while finishing up his bachelor’s degree. At Delta State, Chance, a math whiz, opted to major in chemistry which he felt was a more “practical” decision. “I always had a love of math, so I was more into physical chemistry or physics,” he said. “I got a good background in math at Delta State, in statistics particularly.” The combination paid off; after graduate school at Dartmouth College where he earned a Ph.D. in physical chemistry, Chance received the opportunity to join Honeywell where he spent the

next decade performing ground-breaking research and publishing scientific papers. In 1986, he was named a fellow of the American Physical Society. That same year, he left Honeywell to join ExxonMobil (then Exxon Corporation) as the director of the Polymer and Fluids Laboratory in their Corporate Research division in Clinton, New Jersey. After several internal management and nonmanagement assignments, Chance was named distinguished scientific advisor in 1998, the highest technical position within ExxonMobil. Most influential, though, was his research related to the capture and utilization of CO2— carbon dioxide. After retiring from ExxonMobil in 2006 and taking on the roles of distinguished scientific advisor emeritus, and professor of practice at Georgia Tech, Chance served as executive vice president and head of engineering for Algenol, a company devoted to CO2 utilization in algae production, from 2009 to 2019. Meanwhile, in 2010, he also joined Global Thermostat, a company that is actively working to take CO2 out of the air as a mitigation for climate change. Using its proven, breakthrough technology, Global Thermostat

economically captures and concentrates CO2, enabling its profitable re-use across multiple large and growing industries— reducing harmful emissions and helping to close the global carbon cycle. Chance served on Global Thermostat’s advisory board before taking on the role of vice president of research and development in 2019. “The goal is to identify a system that can economically remove CO2 from the air, to decrease the concentration of CO2 and lower the risk of climate change,” said Chance. “We’re actively doing that work and building big machines to do it. It’s a big challenge but can have a tremendous impact on human life.” Chance understands the gravity of his research, and so do his peers. In 2018, he was the recipient of the Evans Award for Lifetime Achievement from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. Despite all of his scientific contributions, Chance hopes to be remembered for the mark he’s left on people. “The most important impact I hope to have is on people—the people who have worked with me, my students I’ve trained and the people whose lives I’ve potentially saved through my work.” March 2021 • Delta State Magazine • 17


HARMONY Music, Mississippi and Delta State

By Brittany Davis-Green ’11, ’14

“Bom bommmm. Be de bom bom de dum….” Steve Azar effortlessly hums an improvised tune during a recording session at Delta State University’s state-of-theart Recording Studio A of the Delta Music Institute. Intrigued by the melody, a student offhandedly offers to recreate the melody on her trumpet. “You’ve got it!” Azar exclaims as she echoes the notes. The riff is now a part of Azar’s song “Midnight,” featured on his latest work, “My Mississippi Reunion.”

18 • Delta State Magazine • March 2021

March 2021 • Delta State Magazine • 19



Azar’s Country Trail Marker #32 was in the class with Jerry Lee Lewis, Jimmy Rodgers and Johnny Cash.

20 • Delta State Magazine • March 2021

he discussed the unique program. “It gives students the opportunity to learn and become prepared in all facets— from the music side to the production side, booking side and the legal side.” With today’s evolving music scene, that insight is invaluable, Azar said. “Record labels aren’t signing anyone to develop them anymore, you have to come developed; you have to be prepared, and the Delta Music Institute gives students who take advantage of it the opportunity to be just that.” Azar’s own love for music began early on. He was first exposed to the Delta blues genre as a boy listening to Eugene Powell (Sonny Boy Nelson), who recorded blues records in the 1930s, singing behind his father’s liquor store. That opened him up to a wide range of blues artists who deeply influenced the development of his musical repertoire.


It’s the kind of creativity that the award-winning songwriter and recording artist is proud to be a part of at his beloved alma mater. “The Delta Music Institute offers students the ability to get all this knowledge without taking the hard road,” said Azar, who was visibly excited as


Azar at DMI recording “Midnight.”

After graduating from St. Joseph Catholic School, the Greenville, Miss. native continued his education at DSU. “My time at Delta State was fantastic—it was fun. I fell in love with Delta State, and I just really enjoyed the experience,” Azar recalled. “I got to know the folks in administration—all the way up to the then President Kent Wyatt. Boo Ferriss—some of my friends played baseball, and he treated me like I was on the team. It was an element of just feeling like you belong. Everyone was so engaging.” Yet, music remained in his heart and soul. In between classes for his bachelor’s degree in Business Management, Azar continued to pursue his music career. He quickly became a regional headliner playing at the biggest clubs throughout the Southeast, was a regular on the college campus circuit and played at nearly every blues festival. “We were able to really get my band going while attending Delta State,” he shared. “By the time I graduated in ’87, we had 200 dates booked for the next year.” At 27, Azar relocated to Nashville where, over the next several years, he made a name for himself as a songwriter, recording artist and music producer. After touring the world for two decades and resettling back in his native region in 2011, things came full circle for Azar when he was approached about returning to DSU as an artist-in-residence. “I played basketball in Whitfield Gym where the DMI is now. I played golf where the Grammy Museum is sitting right now,” said Azar. “These spaces have now transformed into my own musical playground, and I knew I could offer a lot of real-life advice to students because

Barry Bays, Steve Azar, and Cedric Burnside during the making of Coldwater in Studio A.

One of his proudest DMI projects is the “Okra Sessions.” “When I attended Delta State, we were just the Statesmen, but I do love the Okra,” he said with a chuckle. “I came up with the ‘Okra Sessions’ with (DMI Director) Richard Tremmel as a way to record more at Delta State. Another goal is to entice more artists to make the trip down to Recording Studio A, which is just world class.” As part of the project, Azar and Grammy-nominated blues artist Cedric Burnside recorded the hit single “Cold Water,” which was written by Azar and featured on his latest release, “My Mississippi Reunion”—a collection of past and new songs about his native home all coming together on one record project. “It’s been doing really well for us, so we’re excited about that,” he said. “I want to celebrate and bring awareness as much as possible to the DMI and my second home, Delta State. It’s also bragging rights for me because we have the best music studio arguably in the region, maybe even the country.” In addition to his role at DSU, another one of Azar’s greatest honors is serving as Mississippi’s Music & Culture Ambassador.

“I feel like I’ve been wearing it on my sleeves for years, but to be officially bestowed the title really means a lot,” he said. “I think I’m becoming more effective each year. The partnerships we’ve been able to develop so far have been really impactful.” Despite his numerous awards and accolades, Azar hopes to be remembered for making a positive impact in his native region. “To be recognized and appreciated in your home state—especially when it’s a music mecca—is truly humbling,” he said. “When I came home, I didn’t want to only co-exist; I wanted to make a difference. The impact that the Delta has had on me—I feel like I can never repay it; I will never give back enough.” For Azar, receiving the opportunity to combine his love for music, Mississippi and Delta State has created the perfect harmony. “There have been so many people from our school who have done great things and impacted the world,” he said. “I’m proud and blessed to be a small part of that legacy.”


DMI recording in Rosedale.




I’m still heavily involved in the business managing up and coming acts, as well as making new music and touring.” It’s an opportunity that Azar doesn’t take lightly. “I truly appreciate President (Bill) LaForge for the being so supportive of me and the arts. It’s always a highlight for me to be there working with the team,” he said. “I feel like it’s just a great fit, and I’m honored to do it. I make myself extremely accessible, meaning every student gets my phone number. A lot of students take advantage of the opportunity, and many of them have gone on to do some really cool things.” But it isn’t just Azar who is doing all the teaching. “The older we get as singers and songwriters, we’re getting better—I truly feel like that. But you also learn a lot from the next generation. The technology is constantly changing, so in the end it’s a mutually beneficial relationship.” In addition to his time, Azar has also been a generous financial supporter of DSU. He and his wife Gwen founded the Steve Azar St. Cecelia Foundation in 2006 to aid charitable organizations, particularly in the Delta region, that focus on education and the needs of disadvantaged children. The foundation has been an avid supporter of the DMI program. “Anything that has to do with Delta State means so much to me. In fact, our foundation has donated almost a quarter of a million dollars now to the DMI program, and we don’t want to slow down,” he said. “It really fulfi lls my soul and warms my heart to see kids make music, and we’re located in an area where it’s almost a genetic guarantee…there’s just so much talent here.”

March 2021 • Delta State Magazine • 21

FACULTY/STAFF SPOTLIGHT What drew you to Delta State? What keeps you here? As a Teach for America corps member, I had the chance to earn a Master of Education in History at Delta State while I taught elementary school in Ruleville. I loved the smaller graduate courses I was able to take in the evenings and during the summer semesters. The professors challenged me to become a better student of history, especially of the Mississippi Delta. Delta State is special because it’s a close-knit campus, and professors can get to know students more easily than at a larger institution. Both as a student and as an employee, I have received mentoring which has had a tremendous impact on me and kept me at Delta State. What is international education, and why do you think it is important? International education is the opportunity for students, faculty, and staff to broaden their global perspectives by studying, researching, and/or teaching abroad. At Delta State, international education means I advise students about study abroad options, work with faculty and staff to lead unique study abroad courses and collaborate with international higher education partners for academic exchanges and online learning activities. By increasing awareness of and respect for different cultures, international education can prepare Delta State’s students for a highly globalized society, whether continuing to graduate school or to a workplace.

A WORLD CLASS EXPERIENCE: JOHANSEN ADVANCES DIVERSITY AT DELTA STATE Since joining DSU’s staff in 2012, Michelle Johansen has worked to ensure that Delta State’s campus is reflective of the diverse world around us. She has coordinated cultural competency across the curriculum and campus, taught history, and worked with the institution’s international partners to increase opportunities for cultural and academic exchanges. In her newest role as diversity, equity and inclusion coordinator, Johansen ensures that all members of the campus community are not only accepted but appreciated for who they are. Tell us a little bit about yourself. I came to the Mississippi Delta with Teach for America and taught elementary school for three years. Before joining DSU’s staff, I spent six years as a program coordinator for the Sunflower County Freedom Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to creating a corps of academically capable, socially conscious, and mentallydisciplined young leaders in public middle and high schools. I have a B.A. in political science from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and an M.Ed. in history from Delta State University. 22 • Delta State Magazine • March 2021

What experiences have prepared you for your current role as the diversity and inclusion coordinator? Previous Diversity Committee chairs, Professor Emerita Georgene Clark and Professor Arlene Sanders, provided visionary leadership for the campus, and countless faculty, staff, and students have served on the committee since 2008. Delta State is a more diverse and inclusive campus because of their relentless work. I am honored to follow in their footsteps and serve as DSU’s Coordinator of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). What are the benefits of fostering diversity and inclusion on campus? Diversity, equity and inclusion on campus benefits all constituencies. By creating a greater sense of belonging on campus, we can all learn about other cultures, understand cultural biases and differences, and improve intercultural communication skills. In an annual survey before graduation, Delta State students have self-reported that they are more open to people who live lives very different from their own lifestyles and they can discuss cultural differences from an informed perspective after their undergraduate time at Delta State. These are important skills which will serve Delta State’s graduates as they move into their careers. Tell us about a moment at DSU that you will always cherish. I recently received recognition from Delta State’s Administrative Staff Council for five years of full-time service to the university. My time at Delta State has been filled with growth, challenges, and adventure, and I am grateful for all of it. Share a fun or interesting fact about yourself. In the past four years, I’ve taken a stuffed Fighting Okra doll to a dozen countries on four continents as a companion in my personal and professional travels. The Fighting Okra is a great ambassador for Delta State! You can follow the Fighting Okra’s international adventures on the Instagram page @TheFightingOkraGoesGlobal.




Anthony James “A.J.” Delahoussaye, a junior from Cleveland, Miss., considers himself a humanitarian, reflective of his decision to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing through the Robert E. Smith School of Nursing (RESSON) at Delta State University. Humanity and nursing are interchangeable, as both hinge on a compassionate, sympathetic, and generous disposition. “Every nurse was drawn to nursing because of a desire to care, to serve, or to help,” Carol Moses, A.J.’s academic advisor, began with this quote from Christina Feist-Heilmeier. Moses continued, “I feel A.J. exemplifies this quote as a nursing student because he is eager to learn and willing to help his fellow students. He has a servant’s heart and a desire to provide compassionate care.” The nationally accredited and highly touted nursing program at DSU, coupled with the “homey” and friendly feel of the campus, made A.J.’s decision to remain in his hometown an easy one, stating he “grew more in love with it” as he got older. Delahoussaye answered questions about his journey as a nursing major and more. How has Delta State, particularly the professors, prepared you for your chosen career path? The professors at Delta State really care for their students and their success in the career path they have chosen. My past professors were always very helpful and held high standards which always motivated me to improve as a student. My current professors at RESSON are very caring for their students but still expect many things out of them. This allows me to prepare for the many tasks and stresses that I will experience as a future nurse.

by a culturally rich environment that many people can love and appreciate.

What sets Delta State apart from other universities? Delta State is much friendlier and closer than other universities. I believe it would be much easier to fit into Delta State compared to other universities.

What is your dream job and how is RESSON helping you get there? A job where I can help people and hopefully bring joy to their lives is my dream job. I believe that by becoming a nurse I will have the ability to do that and leave a positive impact on many people’s lives. The nursing program is preparing me for becoming a nurse by teaching me all the required skills and techniques it takes to be a great nurse. RESSON is one of the best nursing schools in Mississippi and provides a great education for many aspiring nursing students, and I am very proud and excited to be a part of this program.

Why should high school juniors and seniors and community college students consider coming to Delta State? Students from other schools should consider Delta State because of its friendly and welcoming environment. Being in the Delta, Delta State is full of friendly people and surrounded

What are your plans after graduation? I plan to work in an emergency room when I get out of school. I believe that is the best place that a new nurse can get the most experience and learn many new skills. I am not entirely sure yet, but I plan on coming back to school after getting many years of experience as a nurse and maybe becoming a nurse practitioner.

March 2021 • Delta State Magazine • 23

CLASS NOTES Jackson Chapter The Delta State University Alumni Association Jackson Chapter held its annual event on August 27, 2020, virtually. Delta State President William N. LaForge ‘72, and Athletic Director Mike Kinnison ’77, ‘78 spoke. The chapter awarded three scholarships to local students who started during the Fall 2020 semester.

Alyssa Praytor, scholarship recipient

Kelly Foster, scholarship recipient

Alumni and Friends of the Jackson Chapter

Taylor Sheriff, scholarship recipient

Hugh Ellis Walker Alumni Scholarship Recipients Through donations from Sustaining Life members, the Alumni Association was able to award three scholarships to incoming legacy freshmen. To learn more, go to

JonMiracle Hall, scholarship recipient.

Kressie Lindsey, scholarship recipient.

Leigh Tucker, scholarship recipient.


Halloween treats for DSU Child Development Center. Pictured from left: Director Kelsey Overstreet ’11, ’13, Director of Alumni Affairs and Annual Fund James Forté ’18, Assistant Director of Alumni Affairs Amanda Robinson ’10. 24 • Delta State Magazine • March 2021

Alumni Association showed appreciation for all elementary teachers in Bolivar County. Front row from left: Rufus Hill ’12, Rasheda Barksdale, Aretha Williams, Tiffanie Russell ’01, Renee LaMastus ’95, ’00, ’04, Anna Bennett ‘12. Back row from left: Patrick Davis ‘96, Amanda Robinson, James Forté, Phyllis Thornton, and Rick Munroe.

Delta State’s 88th Homecoming The Delta State University Alumni Association held its annual Alumni Award Gala virtually on Nov. 13, 2020, during the 88th Homecoming weekend. Delta State President William N. LaForge welcomed the class of 1970 into the Golden Circle and recognized DSU Hall of Fame inductees and service award winners. Delta State VP of University Advancement and External Relations Rick Munroe, Alumni Association President Patrick Davis ‘96, and Alumni Director James Forté presented awards to alumni.

Melanie Hudson ‘88, Hugh Ellis Walker Alumni Service Award

Commissioner Willie Simmons ‘76, ‘79, Hall of Fame inductee

Henry Outlaw Retired Faculty/Staff Alumni Service Award: Dr. Rose Strahan pictured with Patrick Davis and Rick Munroe.

Dr. Raenalda Palmer ‘05, ‘07, Hall of Fame inductee

Beau Garverick ‘93, Hall of Fame inductee

Outstanding Alumnus of the Year/Hall of Fame: Dr. Steven Clark ’90, ’92 pictured with Patrick Davis and Rick Munroe.

Jane Moss ‘91, ‘98, Hall of Fame inductee

Joshua West ‘05, Kent Wyatt Young Alumnus Service Award

Hugh Ellis Walker Alumni Service Award: Spring Nunnelee ’89 pictured with James Forté and Rick Munroe.

Golden Circle 1970 Recipients

Gaylene Litton Davis

Lloyd Clark

Chuck Cocke

Dr. Carlysle & Terry Meek

Frances Jean Rowland Neely Milton Kuykendall

Walter D. Robinson

Milton Plitt

Rita Calcote Long

Ronald Chance

T. Jeff Bogue, III

Amanda Robinson ’10 and James Forté ‘18 hosts Delta State Homecoming Trivia @ Hey Joes.

Anna Stringer ’08 and Team participating in the Statesmen vs the Okra 5K Run.

Thomas W. Graham

DSU Football players from Class of 1970-71, 72 March 2021 • Delta State Magazine • 25





David Gladden, of Cleveland, MS, has been named chief financial officer of the Delta State University Alumni Association-Foundation. David earned a BBA from Delta State in 1972, majoring in accounting and minoring in computer information systems.


Ricky Neaves, of Clinton, MS, has been selected as executive director of the Mississippi High School Activities Association. Davey Gaddy, of Clarksdale, MS, has served for 40 years as a New York Life agent, achieving lifetime membership in the company’s Council Program. He also earned lifetime membership in the Million Dollar Round Table.


Danny Abraham, of Cleveland, MS, recently released his album “Don’t Worry ‘Bout Me” which is available for download on iTunes and on Facebook


Judson Thigpen, of Cleveland, MS, recently announced his retirement as executive director of the Cleveland-Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce. Thigpen joined the Chamber as executive director in Aug. 2005. Prior to that, he was an active volunteer member of the Chamber for many years in various roles and served as the Chamber’s president from 1999 to 2000.


Ben Bufkin, of Cleveland, MS, recently started a new position as the assistant director of human resources at the University of Mississippi. Ben is also an adjunct instructor at Delta State this semester in the College of Business.

Johnston 26 • Delta State Magazine • March 2021




Roy Schilling, of Hollandale, MS, was recently featured in a “Today in Mississippi” article highlighting Stop-N-Shop stores and his family’s history.


Dr. James Shearer, of Las Cruces, NM, latest CD, “Secret Frets”, has been released on Summit Records and is available on Summit and other streaming platforms. Visit Shearer’s website at to find the entire set of liner notes from all of his recordings.


Steve Azar, of Greenville, MS, was the recent headliner for the Tallahatchie Riverfest that was held on Sept. 26, 2020. “With New Albany having this festival, I can’t thank them enough just to get out, sweat a little bit and play some music with my guys,” stated Azar, who also commented that he enjoyed the festival.


Philip Lawes, of Moorhead, MS, received the Trojan Teachers Award at Mississippi Delta Community College. Scott Nagy, of Dayton, OH, who serves as the head basketball coach at Wright State, was recently interviewed by HoopsHD. The interview covered his upcoming season and his career at Delta State. Nagy also discussed how he felt to be the No.1 ranked team in the country and to work alongside his father.


Beverly Johnston, of Madison, MS, has been inducted into the University of Mississippi School of Education’s Alumni Hall of Fame. Beverly works at Delta State in the Educational Leadership program and coaches aspiring principals from around the state.





Chris Fleming, of Senatobia, MS, has been named superintendent of the Senatobia Municipal School District. Michelle Enriquez, of Cleveland, MS, recently retired after teaching 28 years at the HamiltonWhite Child Development Center at Delta State University.


Dr. Robert L. Robinson, of Buford, GA, recently received a $10,000 grant from the University System of Georgia’s African-American Male Initiative. The grant will help fund a course at the University of North Georgia aimed at helping African American male students develop greater communication, decision-making and leadership approaches.


Patrick Davis, of Cleveland MS, the current national alumni president for DSU, was recently featured in the “Dedicated to the Community” section in the September Delta Business Journal. Curt McCain, of Cleveland, MS, has returned to Cleveland to serve as the new head of school at Bayou Academy.


Herbert Davis, of Madison, MS, was recently featured in an article written by Rick Cleveland for “Mississippi Today” highlighting his life and career. Herbert is the head football coach at Madison Ridgeland Academy.


Rory Bell, of Montgomery, AL, was named head football coach of Jeff Davis High School in Montgomery. Dr. Randy Grierson, of Choctaw, MS, was named director of Choctaw Tribal Schools.


H. Davis




Jon Pernell, of Tupelo, MS, was recently promoted to senior manager at Nail McKinney Professional Association.


Tessa Horn, of Kosciusko, MS, was recently named “Teacher of the Year” by the Kosciusko Foundation for Excellence in Education. Jenelle Dugan-Jones, of Fort Worth, TX, started a new position as a nurse practitioner with North Texas Area Community Health Centers’ Northside Center. Larson Frey, of Oxford, MS, was recently named Renasant Bank’s market president for the Oxford branch. Jason Miller, of Tupelo, MS, was recently named activities director at Tupelo High School.



and Employers (MACE). She will represent all four- year college and university members on the MACE board and will also serve on MACE’s nomination, audit and programming committees. Nakikke currently serves as the director of Career Services at Delta State.


Dr. Joe Griffin, of Meridian, MS, was recently named principal of Meridian High School. Corley Luckett Mullins, of Cleveland, MS, was recently named as campaign coordinator for the Division of University Advancement and External Relations at Delta State University. Holly Ray, of Cleveland, MS, was recently named marketing coordinator and graphic designer for the Office of Communications and Marketing at Delta State University.


Nakikke Wallace Johnson, of Cleveland, MS, was recently elected to serve as the four-year college director of the Mississippi Association

Amber Adcock Beall, of Wesson, MS, was recently named assistant softball coach at Copiah-Lincoln Community College.




Brittany Davis-Green, of Indianola, MS, was recently named as director of media relations in the Office of Communications and Marketing at Delta State University.

Brooke Rhodes, of Sylva, NC, was named the associate head coach of women’s basketball at Western Carolina University.






Dr. Brian Peralisi, of Greenville, MS, was recently named cotton specialist for Mississippi State University’s Extension Service.

Leah Lamb Rybolt, of Clarksdale, MS, recently joined the Woman’s Clinic as a certified family practitioner.

Aallyah P. Wright, of Clarksdale, MS, was recently named to the Education Writers Association’s Journalist Advisory Board.

Jessica Tubbs, of Guntown, MS, was recently promoted to senior at Nail McKinney Professional Association.



Dr. Jacquelyn Brownlow, of Clarksdale, MS, was recently named president of the Mississippi Organization for Associate Degree Nursing Board of Directors.

Brent Grisham, of Blue Mountain, MS, was recently named the Mississippi History Teacher of the Year. The award is presented by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

Jeffrey Farris, of Cleveland, MS was recently selected as Guaranty Bank and Trust’s “Spotlight” recipient.


James (Eljay) Allen, of Greenville, MS, was recently named director of operations for Delta Landing Group. He will have direct management over Clarksdale, Greenwood, and Grenada hotel markets. Gregory Braggs, Jr., of Tutwiler, MS, has been named web developer for the Office of Communications and Marketing at Delta State University. Gregory has also launched a new web hosting company called Bragghost, which allows individuals to build their own website or have Bragghost build it for them. Caroline Fletcher, of Cleveland, MS, was recently named digital media coordinator for the Office of Communications and Marketing at Delta State University. Luke Mason, of Tupelo, MS, was recently named as head women’s and men’s soccer coach at Mooreville High School. Jonathan Moorman, of Oxford, MS, recently started a new position as staff accountant at Kinney and Associates PLLC in Oxford.

Shalia Smith, of Lambert, MS, was named Teacher of the Month for October 2020 at Lanier High School in Jackson, MS. Shalia teaches Art I and II.

Rebecca Hamilton, of Cleveland, MS, will be starting a clerkship with Mississippi Supreme Court Associate Justice Dawn Beam, who works with Child Advocacy. Rebecca won the Jack Winston Gunn Award among many other accolades. She also had a federal clerkship with Judge Wendy Beetlestone in Philadelphia, PA, and worked with the Mississippi Center for Justice. Luke Stanley, of Oxford, MS, was named head baseball coach at Mississippi Delta Community College. Shelby Tuttle, of Cleveland, MS, was recently featured in the “People at Work” section of the Bolivar Bullet Today. Shelby is a welcoming face at our local downtown boutiques, Kut Works and Mod & Proper.


Tanner Propst, of Jackson, MS, signed a freeagent contract with the Colorado Rockies organization on Friday, June 26, 2020. Kevin Sodachanh, of Greenville, MS, was recently accepted into the Physical Therapy doctoral program at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, TN. Libby Switzer, of Cleveland, MS, began in a new position as administrative assistant at the Delta Music Institute at Delta State University.

March 2021 • Delta State Magazine • 27


future statesmen & lady statesmen


Briana Bosworth Davey ‘14, and Jonathan Davey ‘15, of Cleveland, MS, welcomed Samuel George Davey on April 15, 2020.


Laken (Wilson) Winters ‘15, and Ricky Winters ‘15, of Gluckstadt, MS, welcomed Dean Wyatt Winters on April 21, 2020.

Callie (Outzen) Greco ‘08, and Robby Greco, of Lake Village, AR, welcomed Minnie Kate Greco on Aug. 6, 2020.


Lauren (Gentry) Cummins ‘16 and Brandon Cummins ’16 of Cleveland, welcomed Isaac Crue Cummins on May 5, 2020.

Kate (Kinnison) Van Namen ‘09, and Jacob Van Namen ‘09, of Memphis, TN, welcomed Claire Crisler Van Namen on Sept. 3, 2020.


Lacey (Mixon) Hilton ‘10, and Thomas Hilton, of Pensacola, FL, welcomed Fallon Lea Hilton on June 25, 2020.

Caroline Fletcher ‘15 and Jonathan Fletcher of Cleveland, welcomed Harper Ellis Fletcher on Sept. 15, 2020.

Rivers (Collins) LeGrand ‘12, and Dustin LeGrand ‘11, of Houston, TX, welcomed Rainey Olivia LeGrand on July 3, 2020.

Haley (Huerta) Kelly, and Eric Kelly ‘08, of Cleveland, welcomed Shepard Speakes Kelly on Oct. 12, 2020.

Marriages & Unions Savannah (Green) Aguzzi ’19 and Chase A. Aguzzi were married on Jan. 25, 2020. The couple resides in Cleveland, MS.

Leah (Santucci) Williford ‘11 and Sam Williford were married on Aug. 22, 2020. The couple resides in Cleveland, MS.

Destiny (McClain) Livingston ‘19 and Derek Livingston were married on Feb. 22, 2020. The couple resides in Cleveland, MS.

Brittany (Mann) Medders ‘15 and Donnie Medders were married on Aug. 29, 2020 at Dockery Farms. The couple resides in Cleveland, MS.

28 • Delta State Magazine • March 2021

Sarah (Shepherd) Makamson ‘14 and Jonothan Makamson were married on March 21, 2020. The couple resides in Cleveland, MS.

Teresa (Pongetti) Pentecost ‘11 and Eric Pentecost were married on Sept. 12, 2020. The couple resides in Cleveland, MS.

Caroline Moore ‘12 and William H. Somerville were married on July 10, 2020. The couple resides in Lafayette, CO.

Kathryn (McCainFlemmons) Hewitt ’19 and Ryan Hewitt were married on Sept. 19, 2020. The couple resides in Cleveland, MS.

Rachel Jean Huber ’14 and Corey Galvan were married on Aug. 15, 2020 at the Lyric Hotel at West End District in Cleveland, MS.

Shelby Love (Tuttle) ‘18 and Tyler Kitchings ‘19 were married on Oct. 17, 2020. The couple resides in Cleveland, MS.

GOLD Graduates of the Last Decade In an effort to reach out to our younger alumni, we now offer deep discounts on lifetime membership dues for graduates of the last decade. See the chart on the right for reduced prices. Life dues are regularly $500 individual and $750 joint. Become a member now and enjoy the rewards for life—at a huge discount! For more information, contact our office at 662.846.4660 or







2020 2019 2018 2017 2016

$75 $100 $150 $200 $250

$100 $150 $225 $300 $375

2015 2014 2013 2012 2011

$300 $350 $400 $450 $475

$450 $525 $600 $675 $700

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March 2021 • Delta State Magazine • 29


Senator Bob Dearing Alumnus Bob Dearing, a former Mississippi state senator, passed away on July 20, 2020, at the age of 85. Dearing was born Jan. 26, 1935, in Natchez, where he lived most of his life. Accomplished academically and athletically, he graduated from Delta State in 1957 with a Bachelor of Science in Education. In 1966, he earned a Master of Education Administration from the University of Southern Mississippi. He received an honorary doctoral degree from DSU in 2012. Dearing spent nine years as an educator, worked 21 years at International Business Machines (IBM) and later served as an agent for AFLAC, Inc. In 1979, he won the District 37 state senate seat, serving a total of 32 years. He is a past DSU National Alumni Association president, Outstanding Alumnus of the Year and DSU Alumni Hall of Fame member. Dearing is survived by his wife, Shelley Ditzler Dearing; two daughters, Stephanie Daye Dearing of Natchez, Clifford Paige Dearing of Natchez; and one son, Robert Montgomery “Bo” Dearing, Jr. of Houston, Texas.

Don Skelton Alumnus Don Skelton, a former coach and administrator, passed away on Aug. 26, 2020, at the age of 81. The Leland, Miss., native is a 1963 Delta State graduate and also earned his master’s degree from DSU in 1971. He served as a graduate assistant to former DSU Director of Athletics Horace McCool in 1970 and was promoted to defensive line coach and assistant to the athletic director. Skelton joined DSU’s football staff in 1986 and was elevated to the position of defensive coordinator/ linebacker coach in 1987. After his coaching days, Skelton served as executive director of the Delta State Alumni and Foundation from 1993-2000 and as Associate Vice President for University Advancement from 2000-2003. Skelton finished his career as Vice President of Advancement and Special Assistant to the President at the University of Louisiana at Monroe from 2003-2013. Skelton is survived by the former Dianne Garren of Leland along with his daughter, Judith Diane Skelton Dorch (Robert); son, Don Allen (Bubba) Skelton, Jr. (Tammie); grandsons, Don Allen (Trey) Skelton, III and Paxton Alexander Dorch; and brother, Robert Skelton (Dottie) of Spokane, Wa.

Michael Fields Alumnus Michael Fields ’98 passed away on March 19, 2020, at the age of 47. A native of Tupelo, Fields began working with youth at the C.C. Augustus Center as a teenager, teaching many community youth how to swim. His love for youth continued throughout his adult life, serving as a mentor. Fields was the co-owner of Cook & Fields Professional Tax and Accounting Services. A proud graduate of Delta State University, Fields was a vocal supporter of his alma mater. He is credited with encouraging African American alumni to participate in DSU’s annual Homecoming celebration. Fields was preceded in death by his mother, Shirley A. Fields. He is survived by his father, Milton (Nellie) DePriest; four brothers Kenneth (Gloria) Fields, Ross DePriest, Isaiah Terry and Marc Addison; five sisters Latosha Fields, Ashlea DePriest, Stacy Chism (Kevin), Culandra Paige and Tabthia Copeland. 30 • Delta State Magazine • March 2021

IN MEMORIAM 1940s Anita B. Burke, ‘41, Cleveland, MS, June 28, 2020

Carlene B. McCarthy, ‘43, Madison, MS, June 21, 2020

Jeraldine G. Orman, ‘47, Charleston, MS, June 27, 2020 Martha J. Dowdie, ‘48, Gulfport, MS, June 11, 2020 1950s Leah M. Thornton, ‘50, Cleveland, MS, April 17, 2020 Jack Bailey, ‘51, Collins, MS, Sept. 12, 2020

Frances J. Wisham, ‘51, Philadelphia, MS, Sept. 19, 2020 Vivian F. Brinson, ‘53, Kissimmee, FL, July 07, 2020 Betty L. Cobb, ‘54, Clarksville, TN, Aug. 21, 2020 Nell P. Stevens, ‘54, Indianola, MS, July 19, 2020

James O. Murrell, ‘55, Cleveland, MS, May 12, 2020 George W. Lipe, ‘56, Pine Bluff, AR, April 25, 2020

Robert M. Dearing, ‘57, Natchez, MS, July 30, 2020 Roger W. Dalton, ‘58, Newport, VA, Sept. 28, 2020

Nancy B. Tidmore, ‘58, Cleveland, MS April 26, 2020 1960s John H. Hines, ‘60, Yazoo City, MS, Aug. 23, 2020

Dari H. Burnside, ‘61, Little Rock, AR, Aug. 29, 2020 Carl D. James, ‘61, McDonough, GA, Jan. 28, 2020

Charles R. Mitchell, ‘76, Marks, MS, Aug. 21, 2020

Ophelia N. Thompson, Tupelo, MS, May 3, 2020

Claytin R. James, ‘77, Brandon, MS, Oct. 2, 2020

Dean Wright, Hernando, MS, Aug. 27, 2020

Miller Stuckett, Jr., ‘76, Greenville, MS, Sept. 24, 2020 Billy N. Ferguson, ‘78, Duck Hill, MS, May 16, 2020

Elizabeth A. Adams, ‘79, Jackson, MS, July 5, 2020 1980s Paul W. Lee, ‘80, Melbourne, AR, July 12, 2020

Anastasia M. Wilson, ‘81, Biloxi, MS, April 26, 2020

Nancy L. Clements, ‘82, Indianola, MS, Aug. 21, 2020 Steve Still, ‘84, Batesville, MS, July 17, 2020

Jacqueline R. Voss, ‘85, Cleveland, MS, March 21, 2020 Jimmie L. Scott, ‘87, Greenwood, MS, June 7, 2020 Kenneth H. Priest, ‘88, Tupelo, MS, May 9, 2020 1990s Rodnay D. Hughes, ‘90, Memphis, TN, June 21, 2020 Jody M. Griffin, ‘92, Edmond, OK, May 18, 2020

Linda C. Bacon, ‘93, Greenville, MS, July 17, 2020

Cameron, M. Pigford, ‘94, Meridian, MS, Aug. 26, 2020 Edith D. Morgan, ‘96, Greenville, MS, July 22, 2020 2000s

Rev. Jack S. Smith, Jr., ‘61, Grenada, MS, April 19, 2020

Mildred H. Crocket, ‘00, Greenville, MS, June 19, 2020

Thomas S. Mays, ‘63, Water Valley, MS, June 28, 2020

Courtney L. Haynes, ‘05, Cleveland, MS, Aug 16, 2020

Larry W. Little, ‘63, Jackson, MS, April 30, 2020

Bobbette S. Foorehand, ‘64, Chipley, FL, April 21, 2020 Albert W. Blackwell, ‘65, Amite, LA, May, 29, 2020 Freddie J. Chillies, ‘65, Tupelo, MS, Sept. 4, 2020

Robert E. Steverson, ‘02, Hollandale, MS, July 1, 2020


Travis E. Kendall, ‘65, Castroville, TX, July 4, 2020

Adam N. Austin, ‘10, Brandon, MS, May 7, 2020

Wayland R. Clifton, ‘66, Biloxi, MS, May 29, 2020

David L. James, ‘17, Grenada, MS, June 5, 2020

Louise (Weegie) Walker, ‘65, Cleveland, MS, May 16, 2020 Del P. Lott, ‘66, Greenwood, MS, Aug. 28, 2020

John W. Miller, ‘67, Charlotte, NC, April 3, 2020

Blanton H. Parham, ‘67, Oxford, MS, July 17, 2020 Lynette S. Tindle, 68, Cleveland, MS, Oct. 2, 2020 John I. Myers, ‘69, Indianola, MS, July 25, 2020 1970s Varner L. Rencher, ‘70, Clarksdale, MS, Aug. 17, 2020 Albert L. White, ‘70, Lumberton, MS, May 20, 2020 Don A. Skelton, ‘71, Brandon, MS, Aug. 26, 2020

Richard M. Webster, ‘71, Clarksdale, MS, May 30, 2020 Maria L. Bourton, ‘72, Leland, MS, Aug. 12, 2020

Rutherford C. Berger, ‘73, Cleveland, MS, June 14, 2020 Bruce Pepper, ‘73, Salida, CO, Aug. 17, 2020

George M. Ray, ‘73, Oxford, MS, June 28, 2020

Hugh P. Boswell, ‘74, Weedsport, NY, July 11, 2020

Kenneth A. Burns, ‘74, Las Vegas, NV, May 24, 2020

Glen J. Steinman, ‘75, West Memphis, AR, Aug. 22, 2020

Thomas V. Scott, ‘10, Rolling Fork, MS, July 24, 2020

GRADUATED (YEAR UNKNOWN) Nell A. Atkinson, Carrollton, MS, Sept. 25, 2020

Frances J. Wisham, Philadelphia, TN, Sept. 19, 2020

ATTENDED Stephen F. Bounds, Vicksburg, MS, July 25, 2020 William S. Cayson, Tupelo, MS, July 25, 2020

Alice H. Dewson, Wilmington, DE, May 31, 2020

Joyee B. Dorrough, Greenwood, MS, Sept. 26, 2020 Roma V. Early, West Memphis, AR, Sept. 30, 2020 Patricia P. Ellis, Greenwood, MS, April 10, 2020

Allene B. Fitts, Greenwood, MS, June 19, 2020

Elizabeth T. Freeman, Olive Branch, MS, Aug. 20, 2020 Percy Noel Funchess, Jr, Cleveland, MS, Oct. 3, 2020

Barbara K. Hamblin, Cape Girardeau, Ml, April 10, 2020 Lamar Hays, Cleveland, MS, July 14, 2020

Sammie L. Henry, Monticello, MS, Sept. 30, 2020 Ted E. Kattawar, Southaven, MS, Sept. 13, 2020 Stephen M. Kazan, Newton, MS, May 14, 2020

Margaret E. Kimbriel, Greenville, MS, July 31, 2020 Emily R. Lamar, Southaven, MS, July 25, 2020

Teresa Lynne Locke, Winona, MS, Sept. 22, 2020

Bernardine H. Lawton, Franklin, TN, Sept. 2, 2020

James H. McShan, Greenwood, MS, Sept. 12, 2020 James L. Miller, Vicksburg, MS, Aug. 16, 2020

Ollie J. Mohamed, Greenwood, MS, Aug. 30, 2020 Patricia K. Moore, Ridgeland, MS, June 16, 2020 Billy B. Phillips, Greenville, MS, May 1, 2020

Dorothey A. Pernell-Saunders, Greenwood, MS, Oct. 3, 2020 Roby L. Stegall, Hattiesburg, MS, July 6, 2020 Joy G. Stroud, Grenada, MS, May 16, 2020

Randal G. Stull, Greenville, MS, Aug. 9, 2020

David J. Walton, Port Henry, NY, June 8, 2020 James E. Willis, Grenada, MS, Sept. 7, 2020

James Arnold, Columbus, MS, Sept. 18, 2020 Millie L. Morgan, Oxford, MS, Sept. 13, 2020 FACULTY/STAFF

Gerald Lee “Jerry” Burgess, Nettleton, MS, Oct. 7, 2020

Mary Alice Cates, Cleveland, MS, Aug. 5, 2020

Robert D. Cooper, Cleveland, MS, Aug. 13, 2020

Lillian P. Andrews, Cleveland, MS, Sept. 3, 2020

Howard C. Cave, Memphis, TN, Aug. 14, 2020

Janice S. Cox, Baton Rouge, LA, June 20, 2020

Lawrence Crawford, Greenwood, MS, July 9, 2020 Belle W. Frame, Jackson, MS, June 14, 2020 Glenn A. Green, Summit, MS, July 6, 2020

James W. Jacks, Cleveland, MS, Aug. 12, 2020

Bennie McNeill, Cleveland, MS, July 22, 2020

Wilbert C. Lason, Fruitland, MD, June 20, 2020

Carolyn P. Upton, Cleveland, MS, Aug. 31, 2020 Mary L. McCool, Cleveland, MS, Sept. 27, 2020 FRIEND

Richard D. Johnson, Saltillo, MS, Aug. 10, 2020

Dorothy G. Boyd, Antioch, CA, Feb. 2, 2020

Betty J. Mathews, Batesville, MS, July 12, 2020

Dorsey R. Howell, Cleveland, MS, Aug. 4, 2020

Ian A. Kamien, Cleveland, MS, Sept. 21, 2020

Jamelin D. McKlemurry, Brandon, MS, Aug. 10, 2020 Don P. Moore, Kosciusko, MS, April 21, 2020

Barbara A. Simons, Columbus, MS, June 17, 2020 Jim Spencer, Indianola, MS, Sept. 28, 2020

Jeneanne S. Story, Indianola, MS, June 9, 2020

John Gardner Jr., Brandon, MS, Jan. 2, 2020

Bobby M. Liles, Corudon, KY, March 20, 2020

Gloria Jean Guerieri McClellan, Cleveland, MS, June 18, 2020 Altie S. Patterson, Oxford, MS, July 6, 2020

Don W. Rogers, Nashville, TN, July 23, 2020

Submit an item for Class Notes, Future Statesmen or Lady Statesmen, Marriages/Unions, or In Memoriam to or DSU Box 3104, Cleveland, MS 38733. Due to space limitations, listing priority in the “Class Notes/In Memoriam” section of the magazine will be given to dues-paying members of the Delta State University Alumni Association. The Alumni Association relies on numerous sources for “Class Notes” information and is unable to verify all notes. To pay your dues online, visit: March 2021 • Delta State Magazine • 31

MISSION STATEMENT Delta State Magazine informs, celebrates, and engages alumni, students, faculty, staff, and friends of Delta State University.


Delta State Magazine is published by Delta State University Advancement & External Relations twice a year. Views expressed in them do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the staff or Delta State policies. In an effort to reduce our environmental impact, we mail one edition per household.

DELTA STATE UNIVERSITY President, William N. LaForge ’72 UNIVERSITY ADVANCEMENT AND EXTERNAL RELATIONS Richard Munroe, vice president Gregory Braggs Jr. ’15, ’16, ’19, communications and marketing web developer Lyle Cole ’13, senior foundation accountant Caroline George Fletcher ’15, communications and marketing digital media coordinator James Forté ’18, alumni relations director, annual fund director (and alumni magazine publisher) David Gladden ’72, chief financial officer Brittany Davis-Green ‘11, ‘14, communications and marketing director of media relations (and alumni magazine editor) Mary Parker Janoush, academic affairs development officer Casey Key, athletic development officer Terrence Liddell, printing service specialist Patricia Malone, communications and marketing senior secretary Corley Luckett Mullins ‘06, ‘10, campaign coordinator Holly Ray ’06, communications and marketing graphic designer, marketing coordinator (and alumni magazine art director) Amanda Robinson ’10, assistant alumni director Campbell Saia ‘19, communications and marketing photographer/ videographer Dr. Lori Spencer ‘86, director of development Leigh Street ‘94, manager of mailing and printing Paula Thompson ‘88, ‘00, director of advancement services Phyllis Thornton, alumni affairs senior secretary Rhonda Williams ‘10, postal clerk Lizzie Woodard, director of donor relations

NATIONAL ALUMNI ASSOCIATION BOARD OF DIRECTORS Patrick Davis ’96, president John Fletcher ’91, vice president George Miller ’00, secretary Hays Collins ‘00, treasurer Sayward Fortner ’04, past president Hank Ludwig ’00, district 1 Parker Lipscomb ’04, district 2 Libbi Logan ’99, district 2 Jeff Arnold ’92, district 3 Bradley Smith ’71, district 4 Courtney Davis ‘14, presidential appointee Renee Selby Deweese ’92, presidential appointee Tara Dunn ‘10, presidential appointee Paul Mancini ’00, presidential appointee Kelvin Short ‘92, presidential appointee Tom Janoush ‘90, president of foundation board Larkin Simpson ‘02, non-resident Merritt Dain, DSU faculty or staff Johnny Arnold ‘58, golden circle president Kelly Smith ‘00, black alumni Matthew Mullins ‘07, young alumni Shauna Allen ‘13, nursing constituent group appointee Lindsey Bragg ‘05, education constituent group appointee Howard Brown ‘96, accounting constituent group appointee Steven Hugley ‘12, music constituent group appointee Robert Robinson ‘95, art department constituent group appointee

DELTA STATE FOUNDATION, INC. Tom Janoush ’90, president; Anna Looney Dill ’74, ’88, vice president and trustee committee chair; Nan Sanders ’67, secretary and development committee chair; Hank Drake ’69, treasurer and finance committee chair; Tim Harvey ’80, past president; David Abney ’76, ’15; Miller Arant ’03, ’08; Robert Armour ‘95; Joe Baker ‘75, ‘78; George Bassi ‘87; Dr. William Bell ’82; Dr. Walker Byars ’92; Cheryl Comans ’09; John Cox ’96; Patrick Davis ’96, Alumni Association president; Dr. Doty Farmer ’92; Vicki Fioranelli ‘68; Alan Hargett; Earnest Hart ’77; Brian Henry ‘99; Leslie Jenkins ‘93; Peter Jernberg ’65, ’67, ’71; Arthur Johnston ’89; Edward Kossman III ’94; Andy Lee ‘98; Ned Mitchell ’62; Ken Mullins Jr. ’87; Richard Myers Jr. ‘91; Casey Myrick ‘99; Billy Nowell ’72; Rodney Scaife ’91; Hugh Smith ‘70; Charles Weissinger, Jr.; Margaret White ‘75; Peter Woods ‘89; Dr. Bennie Wright ’74, ’75; Chase Wright ‘93; William N. LaForge ’72, president, ex-officio; Eckward McKnight, faculty representative, ex-officio; Richard Munroe, vice president for university advancement and external relations, ex-officio; Jamie Rutledge ’84, vice president for finance and administration, ex-officio. SPECIAL THANKS TO OUR DELTA STATE NATIONAL ALUMNI ASSOCIATION CORPORATE SPONSORS




Delta State Magazine contact information: DSU Box 3104 | 1003 West Sunflower Road | Cleveland, MS 38733 | | Phone: (662) 846-4660 Send address changes and class notes, in memoriam, future Statesmen and Lady Statesmen, marriages/unions to, to DSU Box 3104, Cleveland , MS 38733, or visit Send letters, questions, comments, and ideas to Copyright @ 2021 by Delta State University. Delta State University is an equal access, equal opportunity, and affirmative action institution. 32 • Delta State Magazine • March 2021

Join Now ALUMNI MEMBERSHIP Becoming a member makes it possible to provide good services such as: publishing the alumni magazine, building and sustaining alumni chapters throughout the state and United States; sponsoring homecoming and reunions, issuing Hugh Ellis Walker alumni scholarships to children of alumni; and MUCH more.




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March 2021 • Delta State Magazine • 33

DSU Box 3104 1003 West Sunflower Road Cleveland, MS 38733

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