The summit was a meeting LaForge held to speak with the mayors of the 38 towns in the Mississippi Delta.
Caitlyn Thompson, coordinator for communications and marketing at Delta State, said approximately 20 of the mayors were present.
Members of Delta State’s administration also attended the summit.
“The goal of the summit was to discuss and develop these relations, and to discover new and meaningful ways that Delta State can partner with regional municipalities,” said Thompson. “Of the 15 towns in Bolivar County, I think 12 were represented.”
LaForge and Cleveland Mayor Billy Nowell delivered the welcoming statements.
Lucy Janoush, president of the Cleveland Music Foundation, gave a brief update of the progress of the GRAMMY Museum coming to Cleveland at the start of the summit.
Janoush said the museum plans to be open in August or early September of 2015.
Next, LaForge gave an update on Delta State and its initiatives.
LaForge said the renovations for the math and science department are nearly completed, and the next renovations will be for Ziegel Hall and the dining hall.
LaForge also addressed intercollegiate athletics at Delta State.
“We are a university of champions,” said LaForge. “We have more national championships than any other university in Mississippi.”
He went on to discuss the success Delta State’s various athletic programs achieved this past season, such as the golf team’s competing in the NCAA National Championship.
“Our athletic programs here are top notch,” said LaForge.
LaForge talked about the emphasis on diversity at Delta State. “We champion that every day.”
Delta State’s Winning the Race Conference took place on the Delta State campus in March 2014 and featured several keynote speakers including former Mississippi Governor William Winter, Congressman Bennie Thompson, and Civil Rights Expert John Dittmer.
“We just received a national award for that (conference),” said LaForge, mentioning the 2014 Civil Rights and Social Justice award.
The award is given to individuals or community-based organizations who promote human dignity, civil rights and social justice through actions characterized by great personal initiative, selflessness, fearlessness, compassion, imagination, and achievement or compelling personal stories that encourage and inspire creative and effective action in support of human dignity, civil rights and social justice.
LaForge said Delta State would host an academic conference on the blues Oct. 6-7.
LaForge also talked about Delta State’s Colloquia series, which is a program that brings distinguished speakers to the Delta State campus.
LaForge established the Delta State Colloquia Distinguished Speakers Lecture Series last year.
“Primarily, it’s an opportunity for our students to rub elbows with the pros,” he said.
The next Colloquia speaker will be on Sept. 23.
After LaForge finished speaking, an open dialogue/ forum took place for mayors to address with LaForge and the administration the role of Delta State and the community and ways to expand partnerships.
“I appreciate your (the mayors’) service, and Delta State appreciates your service,” said LaForge. “Our doors are always open to you.”