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The Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning announced today the unanimous decision to name William N. LaForge as president of Delta State University. A Delta State University alumnus, LaForge has enjoyed a career in both the public and private sectors, spanning the fields of law, government, higher education and public policy. He currently serves as principal of LaForge Government Relations in Washington, D.C.
“I know the Delta State family is excited to welcome Bill LaForge back home,” said Trustee Alan Perry, chair of the Delta State University Board Search Committee. “Delta State needs a leader who understands the university, the region and how to bring people together to move the university forward. Bill’s enthusiasm, knowledge of the Delta, and love for the university made him the right choice for Delta State at this time.”
LaForge served as senior legislative counsel to Republican and Democratic lawmakers in both houses of Congress. He was chief counsel of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture and culminated his government career as Chief Legislative Counsel and Chief of Staff to United States Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi. Previously, he served as Congressional Liaison for the Peace Corps and as a legislative assistant to Mississippi Congressman David Bowen. He has also advised and organized political campaigns for major office holders in both political parties.
As principal with LaForge Government Relations, he specializes in federal government relations and represents businesses and other organizations with public policy interests before the United States Congress and federal executive branch agencies. For more than 35 years, he has been involved with the public policy arena at local, state and federal levels.
“I am humbled and honored that the Board of Trustees has selected me to lead my alma mater,” said LaForge. “I am excited to be coming home and to have the opportunity to help guide Delta State to new levels of success. I look forward to the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. I am very mindful of the responsibilities with which I am entrusted, and I look forward to engaging and empowering all stakeholder groups to position Delta State University as a Mississippi public university of national distinction.”
Growing up in Cleveland, LaForge attended the public schools and graduated with honors from Delta State University. 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. He received fellowships to study government and public policy in the European Union at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He received an honorary doctorate of laws from Stetson University College of Law.
LaForge is a member of the bars of Mississippi and the District of Columbia. He is past national president of the Federal Bar Association and a member of the board of directors of the Federal Bar Building Corporation. He has been a visiting professor of law in Russia, Poland and Bulgaria. He was awarded a Fulbright Specialist teaching fellowship at Perm State University in Russia and is a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of the Journal of Law Sciences of that university.
While a student at Delta State, LaForge was a faculty scholar, president of the student government association and charter president of Omicron Delta Kappa leadership honorary society. He was a co-founder of the Student Body Presidents’ Council of Mississippi. He was one of the first four students inducted into Delta State’s Student Hall of Fame.
As a DSU alumnus, he has served as national president of the Delta State University Alumni Association. He has also served as a trustee of the Delta State University and the Pi Kappa Alpha educational foundations. Selected as Delta State’s Alumnus of the Year in 1992, he was a charter member of the Delta State University Alumni Hall of Fame in 2007.
Earlier today, LaForge met with campus constituency groups on the Delta State University Campus in Cleveland. Students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members were able to pose questions to him and share their thoughts and concerns with him. Attendees were able to provide feedback to the Board of Trustees. This feedback was reviewed during the Board Meeting on campus.
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The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.