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Delta State University President Is Abruptly Removed

June 23, 2022

Delta State University president William LaForge is being removed from his position at the end of this month, according to a press release from the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning, which oversees Mississippi’s public higher education institutions.

The announcement did not give a reason for LaForge’s abrupt departure after nine years as president. But in a statement, the president of the Delta State Board of Trustees acknowledged “challenging times for higher education” and expressed confidence that the newly appointed interim president, Butch Caston, would be able to “address many of the issues facing Delta State at this time, including declining enrollment, fiscal challenges, and infrastructure.”

Though the trustees made the decision at a board meeting last week, LaForge did not find out his fate until right before the board issued its statement Monday night, Mississippi Today reported.

“I am very disappointed in the decision, but I accept the outcome and am fully prepared to move on,” LaForge wrote in a campuswide email.

“The very basic explanation I was provided was that the IHL Board thinks a leadership change is warranted because the comparative state of the university from the time when I began my service in 2013 until now is not favorable—especially with respect to enrollment metrics and financial sustainability,” he wrote.

LaForge, a Delta State alumnus, became president in 2013 despite having no experience in higher education.

Future candidates for the job will undergo a more secretive search process than the one that selected him; in April the board voted to keep search committee members anonymous—even to each other—and to minimize the influence of advisory groups in choosing the president, Mississippi Today reported.

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Susan H. Greenberg

Susan H. Greenberg is a senior editor at Inside Higher Ed. A career journalist and educator, she joined the publication in August 2021 after eight years in Vermont, where she freelanced and taught writing at Middlebury College and Champlain College. Prior to that, she spent 22 years writing and editing for Newsweek magazine, where she covered everything from international affairs to arts and culture. Her work has also appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Atlantic, and River Teeth, among others. She has taught English and journalism at Phillips Academy, where she served as an advisor to the student newspaper. She holds a B.A. in English from Brown University and an M.S. in journalism from Columbia. The mother of three nearly adult children, she is very much enjoying her newly empty nest.

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