LaForge named DSU president
by Rory Doyle
Mar 01, 2013 | 1767 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Delta State University's preferred candidate in its search for a new president, William LaForge, addresses students on campus today. LaForge also met with administration, faculty and staff, community members and the press in his pursuit to replace the retiring Dr. John Hilpert.
Delta State University's preferred candidate in its search for a new president, William LaForge, addresses students on campus today. LaForge also met with administration, faculty and staff, community members and the press in his pursuit to replace the retiring Dr. John Hilpert.
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After months of vigilant searching, the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning and Delta State University has officially announced a replacement for retiring president Dr. John Hilpert.

Preferred candidate William N. LaForge was declared the school's eighth president at a press conference Thursday after a unanimous vote from the IHL board.

His formal starting date will be April 15.

LaForge had spent all morning prior to the announcement meeting with administration, faculty, staff, students and community members to answer questions about his presidential vision.

"It feels wonderful with this incredible reception," said LaForge. "I am humbled and honored to receive the board's endorsement and the wonderful community support.

"For me, this is about coming home."

The former Clevelander and 1972 DSU graduate was sworn in with great support after a wave of excitement took over campus and the community upon his Feb. 22 announcement as the preferred candidate.

"I understand that there are many challenges ahead but I look forward to facing them," added LaForge. "I have a vision for Delta State and we will work to continue to excel as a Mississippi university of national distinction."

Trustee Alan Perry, also the chair of the Delta State University Board Search Committee, said one of LaForge's assets is his "love for the Delta and DSU."

"He lives and breathes it," said Perry.

A number of proud alumni were present at Thursday's declaration, including longtime friend and former classmate Dr. Wayne Blansett, DSU vice president of student affairs.

"I think this is one of the best decisions in the history of Delta State," said Blansett. "He is a great leader and I know he will take this and run with it.

"He has such a strong passion for this area and this university. The bottom line is he loves this university."

Billy Nowell, Cleveland mayor and Interview Search Advisory Committee member, was also LaForge's classmate at both Cleveland High School and DSU.

"Delta State, Cleveland and the Delta hit a home run today," said Nowell. "This should open many doors for the university.

"I envision an improvement in enrollment and I think giving (donations) to DSU will be taken to a whole new level."

Thursday's schedule of meetings with campus constituency groups allowed the IHL to receive feedback as it followed protocol before an official vote on his candidacy was made.

Hilpert was praised by Allen for being instrumental in the search process and helping to identify related challenges.

The search had been a long process and Hilpert stuck to his word by agreeing to serve until the IHL determined his successor.

He first pronounced he would retire on Dec. 31, 2012.

Prior to LaForge's new appointment, he had enjoyed a career in both the public and private sectors, spanning the fields of law, government, higher education and public policy.

He currently serves as principal of LaForge Government Relations in Washington, D.C.

"I am excited to be coming home and to have the opportunity to help guide Delta State to new levels of success," said LaForge. "We will continue to excel in our roots and I look forward to employing and engaging with all of our constituents.

"Our students are our most important product. That is the number one priority."