LaForge visits with supervisors
by Rory Doyle
May 07, 2013 | 1416 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
New Delta State University President Bill LaForge continued his efforts to network with the community when he attended the Bolivar County Board of Supervisors meeting Monday in Cleveland.

LaForge, who took over as DSU's eighth president on April 15, has been busy his first few weeks connecting with local citizens, municipalities, businesses and organizations.

LaForge has drawn a lot of local excitement as he promises to expand DSU's presence at the state and national level.

"It's not like coming home — it is home," said LaForge, who previously served as principal of LaForge Government Relations in Washington, D.C.

LaForge spoke with the board about DSU visions and major focus areas in his new role.

"We're thinking bigger but not too big for our britches," said LaForge. "We want to provide the best quality education that we can."

LaForge said one of the keys to amplifying the DSU experience is adding to its list of available programs.

Supervisor Preston Billings asked the president what could be done to reach out to top-notch Bolivar County students who might shy away from DSU due to lack of funding.

"We want and need these students," said LaForge, admitting that 75 percent of DSU students rely on financial aid.

Plans are underway to create internship/work cooperative programs with local businesses to boost the workforce and to help students receive a little extra financial support each semester.

LaForge said the meaningful platform would allow businesses to "buy in" and the concept would also be a valuable tool to increase the school's enrollment.

He added that educating the first generation of college graduates could make all the difference in helping a family fight its way out of poverty.

LaForge went on to mention some bullet-point goals he had previously discussed at faculty and student forums, including a race reconciliation seminar, an on-campus Blues music conference and an enhanced international exchange program.

Supervisor Donny Whitten said he was "tickled to death" to have a homegrown leader show a commitment to communal success.

"I couldn't think of a finer person to take over as the new president," said Whitten.

LaForge, who began his political career 40 years ago as the Bolivar County deputy chancery clerk, said he understood the importance of county government and would continue to work with local leaders outside campus.

"You have a partner in me and Delta State," LaForge told the supervisors.