LaForge named DSU preferred candidate
by Rory Doyle
Feb 25, 2013 | 3187 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning held a press conference Friday to reveal William LaForge as the preferred candidate for president of Delta State University.

The live announcement came from Jackson at 2 p.m. and was viewable online through an IHL webcast.

LaForge, a Cleveland native and 1972 DSU graduate, will visit campus Thursday to meet with faculty and staff, students, alumni and community members.

The announcement is not an official appointment, but rather, recognition that LaForge is the leading contender to replace Dr. John Hilpert, DSU's seventh president, who announced he would retire on Dec. 31, 2012.

LaForge will take part in a series of group interviews that will provide participants the opportunity to express feedback to the board search committee.

Afterwards, the board will either name LaForge president or continue the search in the circumstance he is not seen as the best fit.

Over the last few weeks, the Delta State University Board Search Committee has met at the IHL Board Office in Jackson to interview prospective candidates to lead Delta State.

"This is a great day for Cleveland and Delta State University," said Cleveland Mayor Billy Nowell, also on the Interview Search Advisory Committee. "He is homegrown and I think he will do an outstanding job.

"He will make his mark at Delta State University and across the region."

LaForge has fashioned a lengthy resume as an attorney in Washington, D.C. and principal of LaForge Government Relations. He has also been a registered lobbyist specializing in government relations and public policy advocacy.

He majored in history while studying at Delta State. He earned his law degree from the University of Mississippi School of Law, received an LL.M. in international law from Georgetown University and studied international law at Cambridge University.

As a DSU alumnus, Mr. LaForge has served as national president of the DSU Alumni Association and a trustee of the Delta State University Foundation.

He was selected Delta State's Alumnus of the Year in 1992 and a charter member of the Delta State University Alumni Hall of Fame in 2007.

While at Delta State, LaForge was a faculty scholar, president of the student government association and charter president of Omicron Delta Kappa national leadership honorary.

He was a co-founder of the Student Body Presidents Council of Mississippi, a first-place medalist in national intercollegiate debate and a Mississippi Youth Congress award winner.

In a previous Bolivar Commercial article, LaForge expressed his appreciation of Cleveland and the university.

“I was raised in Cleveland,” he said. “I lived there from second grade to college. I played little league and graduated from Cleveland High School.

“The Delta played a huge role in who I became from several perspectives,” he added. “I grew up on campus (DSU) and was influenced by my parents' friends who worked on campus."

“The best friends I have in life were met at DSU.”

Dr. Leslie Griffin, dean of education at DSU and one of the search's leaders, also had high praise for LaForge at Friday's press conference.

"One candidate clearly did rise above the others," said Griffin. "He is a talented leader with an impressive background.

"I'm delighted that he has been selected and look forward to working with him to advance Delta State University."

The search has been a long process and Hilpert has stuck to his word by agreeing to serve until the IHL makes an official announcement of his successor.

Members of the search committee include Karen L. Cummins, Shane Hooper, Hal Parker, Alan Perry, Dr. Douglas Rouse and C.D. Smith.

Members of the Interview Search Advisory Committee include Griffin, Nowell, Reagan Dilmore, administrative coordinator for University Facilities at Delta State University; Alanna Ferguson, student body president at Delta State University; Tanya McKinney, associate professor of biology at Delta State University; April Mondy, graduate student at Delta State University; Greg Redlin, vice president of finance at Delta State University; and Clint Wood, chair, Division of Accountancy, Computer Information System, and Finance at Delta State University.