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A large crowd of Delta State supporters braved the weather and gathered in the Hugh Ellis Walker Alumni/Foundation House at noon on Monday to hear Delta State President Dr. John M. Hilpert officially announce the Delta State University Scholarship Initiative, the largest concentrated effort to raise support for scholarships in the history of the university.
Hilpert began the presentation by reading the day’s headlines from the online publication University Business, all of which related to funding, university budget cuts, financial aid, and paying for higher education. He elaborated on the expenses facing today’s students. “Many of today’s students leave college with huge financial burdens,” said Hilpert. “Studies show that debt burdens can actually skew career choices. Students with large financial burdens, sometimes cannot afford careers in the “helping” positions such as teachers and social workers; positions we desperately need in the Delta.”
“For the sake of our students, our community, the Delta, we are going to focus our attention on raising scholarship dollars,” Hilpert continued. “We ask all of our constituents to take time to reevaluate their intent to give to Delta State University, and direct that giving toward scholarship dollars.”
Hilpert then announced the new scholarship initiative goal of $15 million. “$15 million is an amount that will allow us to do almost twice what we currently do for private sector scholarships for students,” he said.
Foundation Board Member and Scholarship Initiative Co-Chair Ned Mitchell, Foundation Board Member Nan Sanders, and Foundation Executive Director Keith Fulcher then unveiled the progress board indicating that approximately $7.8 million has already been raised.
“I would love for that thermometer to be boiling over when I present it to the incoming president,” said Hilpert, who is set to retire in December. “But, regardless of how quickly we get there, getting there is absolutely critical for us.”
Mitchell, Sanders, and Delta State Alumni Director Jeffrey Farris offered comments and perspectives on the campaign.
I am pleased to report to you that the Foundation Board of Directors at its August meeting unanimously approved supporting the $15 million scholarship Initiative,” said Sanders. “Since 2004 donors have contributed in cash a total of $3 million to scholarships for our students. That’s an average of approximately $350,000 per year distributed to hundreds of deserving students.”
Hallye Skillion, a junior English Education major from Marks and the recipient of the Graeber Foundation Scholarship, shared how critical scholarships have been in helping her pursue her degree and career goals.
“Considering the expense of a four-year college, coming to Delta State was a frightening concept for me, but never have I been more welcomed or made to feel more at home,” said Skillion. “Never before had a school contacted me to alert me to a scholarship opportunity and then helped me to achieve that scholarship. The scholarships I received represent my future and security. They offer a way to improve my life and, hopefully, the lives of others as a future educator.
For more information about the Delta State University Scholarship Initiative, contact the Delta State Foundation at 662.846.4704, http://www.deltastategiving.org/.