Delta State University, also known as DSU, is a regional public university located in Cleveland, Mississippi, in the heart of the Mississippi Delta. DSU is one of eight publicly funded universities in the state.
Delta State Teachers College was established in 1924 by an act of the Mississippi Legislature
, through Senate Bill 236, introduced by Senator William Beauregard Roberts and Senator Arthur Marshall, and signed by Governor Henry L. Whitfield
. It first opened its doors to students on June 7
, for a summer session, then began its first fall session on September 15
. James Broom was appointed the president of the college, but died only fourteen months after the appointment, being succeeded by William Marion Kethley on July 15
. Soon after, the college built an elementary education laboratory school called the Hill Demonstration School, in which student teachers taught children between the first and sixth grade. The Hill Dem. School functioned until 1957. In 1930, Delta State was granted full membership in the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
. Over the next few years, the school continued to grow, creating the Delta Singers in 1934, graduating about 50 students per year, and building several facilities with assistance from the Works Progress Administration
. In 1935, the Delta Chamber of Commerce (now the Delta Council
) was organized, naming Kethley as its president. The college eventually received permission to offer the Bachelor's of Arts and the Bachelor's of Science degrees in 1943.
World War II greatly affected the college. Anticipating the war in 1941, the college created a civilian pilot training program, which evolved into the current Commercial Aviation Department. When the war began, 254 Delta State students joined the armed forces. When the war ended, student enrollment at Delta State increased from 185 to 483.
During the 1947 session of the Delta Council, Dean Acheson (Under-Secretary of State in Truman's administration) delivered a speech on campus that unveiled the Marshall Plan, detailing postwar relief for Europe.
In 1955, the name Delta State Teachers College was changed to Delta State College. Delta State earned full accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in 1963, which eventually led to the opening of the graduate program in 1965. In 1974 the college changed its name to the current Delta State University.
Delta State University is located on at 1003 W Sunflower Rd (Highway 8 West), Cleveland, MS, 38733.
Approximately 4,000 students enroll annually in Delta State's undergraduate degree programs, with an additional 600 enrolled in post-graduate or professional-level courses. About 30 percent of students reside in on-campus housing. Delta State provides both men's dormitories and women's dormitories, as well as apartments for married students.
Most of the buildings on campus use a particular brick pattern of yellow, orange, and white bricks. Particularly famous facilities at Delta State University are the large natatorium for holding swimming competitions, the Bologna Performing Arts Center (pictured left) with two theaters (one that seats 1,178, and another that seats 135), and the very recently constructed sound recording studios of the Delta Music Institute.
Delta State has two mascots (one official, one unofficial). Since its inception, Delta State's mascot had been officially known as the "Statesman" because of the role State Senator Walter Sillers played in the location of the school in Cleveland. The female version of the mascot is the "Lady Statesmen".
However, since the late 1980s, the student body has embraced a mascot that depicts a piece of okra (a Southern vegetable) wearing boxing gloves brandishing a mean expression. It was thought to be "tougher" and "more Delta-esque" than the Statesman mascot. The popularity of "The Fighting Okra" grew so much that there were many myths started on how the mascot came to be, the most popular of these stating there was a stubborn okra plant on the first base of the baseball field that grew back every time it was cut. In the mid-1990s, a student vote was taken, resulting in the university taking on "The Fighting Okra" as an unofficial mascot. The "Fighting Okra" was featured in the "Okraphobia" episode of the Food Network show Good Eats.
Delta State provides a strict, rigorous undergraduate curriculum, offering 12 baccalaureate degrees in 42 majors. The university also advances student training through certain fields by providing graduate programs of study for eight master's degrees, the Education Specialist
degree and the Doctor of Education
degree. Delta State has a fairly large flight school and is also the only university in the state to offer a degree in Commercial Aviation.
The Delta State University Department of Athletics sponsors thirteen intercollegiate sports, competing at the NCAA Division II
level. DSU is affiliated with the Gulf South Conference
and New South Intercollegiate Swim Conference. The institution competes intercollegiately in men's American football
, and golf
. The women's intercollegiate program consists of basketball
, fast-pitch softball
, and diving
. Samantha St. Hilaire AMAZING!!
One of Delta State's most notable sports coaches was (Lily) Margaret Wade (1912-1995). She coached the women's basketball team to three consecutive AIWA national championships and a 93-4 record, including a 51 game winning streak. Wade was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1985. Today, the Division I women's basketball player of the year receives the Margaret Wade Trophy.
Lloyd Clark, a native of Drew, took over the women's basketball program in 1983. Over the next 19 years he compiled a staggering 494-98 record. In addition, Clark's teams won three NCAA Women's Division II Basketball Championships. During those years, DSU played in the NCAA tournament 16 times, with 11 appearances in the Elite Eight. Clark's 1988-89 team became the first NCAA team to win a National Championship on its home floor. During his career, Clark compiled a record of 206-38 (.845) in Gulf South Conference Games. Lloyd Clark is a member of the Mississippi sports Hall of Fame along with other DSU heroes Margaret Wade, Luisa Harris-Stewart, and Dave "Boo" Ferriss among others.
Another very important figure was former Boston Red Sox pitcher Dave "Boo" Ferriss who coached the baseball program for nearly thirty years and led them to three appearances in the NCAA Division II College World Series before retiring in 1988. Boo was born in Shaw, Mississippi.
Baltimore Orioles catcher Eli Whiteside played baseball for the University. Matt Miller of the Cleveland Indians also played for the Statesmen.
One notable would-be baseball player and student who was cut during tryouts was writer John Grisham. In 2008, Grisham returned to the campus to join Ferris in an evening of baseball tales, raising more than $100,000 for the athletic program.
Delta State alumnus Jeremy Richardson is an NBA player for the Atlanta Hawks.
Delta State won the 2004 NCAA Division II national baseball championship.
Delta State won the 2000 NCAA Division II national football championship. Delta State's football team won the Gulf South Conference Championship in 2007.
Even though Delta State University has very few fraternities and sororities on campus, many students are members of them. Originally, Delta State had only local organizations, such as organizations called Delta Alpha Omega or the Cavaliers, which existed until the mid-sixties, when their members joined Kappa Alpha
and Pi Kappa Alpha
respectively. However, the first national social fraternity to charter at Delta State was Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia
, in 1960, a chapter that still exists today. Within the decade, several other chapters of national Greek-letter organizations chartered at Delta State. They are governed by three independent councils—the Interfraternity Council, the Pan-Hellenic Council, and the Panhellenic Council.
The Interfraternity Council is a university-specific governing body that governs four active fraternity chapters, two of which are nationally members of the North-American Interfraternity Conference
. The fraternities within the council are as follows:
- Kappa Alpha Order, Delta Beta Chapter, 1964
- Kappa Sigma, Lambda Pi Chapter, 1975
- Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, Theta Upsilon Chapter, 1960
- Pi Kappa Alpha, Zeta Beta Chapter, 1963
- Phi Kappa Tau, Gamma Chi Chapter, 1968 (inactive)
The Delta State Pan-Hellenic Council governs the chapters represented in the National Pan-Hellenic Council.
The Delta State Panhellenic Council is a governing body that governs three sorority chapters.
List of Presidents of Delta State
- James Wesley Broom - 1925-1926
- Dr. William Marion Kethley - 1926-1956
- Dr. James Milton Ewing - 1956-1971
- Dr. Aubrey Lucas - 1971-1975
- Dr. Kent Wyatt - 1975-1999
- Dr. David Potter - 1999-2002
- Dr. John Thornell - 2002 - 2003 (interim)
- Dr. John Hilpert - 2003-present