Mississippi Valley State University

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"MVSU" redirects here. It is not to be confused with Mount Saint Vincent University (MSVU).
Mississippi Valley State University
Mississippi Valley State Univ. seal.png
Former names
Mississippi Vocational College
Mississippi Valley State College
Established 1950
Type Public, HBCU
President William B. Bynum, Jr.
Students 2,500
Location Itta Bena, Mississippi, United States
Campus Rural
Colors Forest Green and White
Athletics NCAA Division I (FCS)
Sports football
cross country
Nickname Delta Devils & Devilettes
Mascot Devil
Affiliations Southwestern Athletic Conference
Website www.mvsu.edu
Mississippi Valley State Athletics logo.png

Mississippi Valley State University (commonly referred to as MVSU) is a historically black university located in Mississippi Valley State Leflore County, Mississippi, in the Mississippi Delta, near Itta Bena.[1][2] MVSU is a member- school of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.


The institution, which opened in 1950, was created by the Mississippi Legislature as Mississippi Vocational College. The legislation to form the institution was signed into law by Governor Thomas L. Bailey on April 5, 1946. The legislature anticipated that legal segregation of public education was in danger (and would in four years be declared unconstitutional in the United States Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education the institution, hoping that its existence would draw African-American applicants who might have otherwise applied to attend Mississippi's premier whites-only institutions—the University of Mississippi, Mississippi State University, and the University of Southern Mississippi. Creating separate institutions of higher learning for Mississippi's black population, the state's political leaders hoped, would help ease the pressure to integrate the state's premier universities. To attract the support of those who opposed any government action to provide higher education to blacks, those proposing creation of M.V.C. used the term "vocational" to imply that the institution's main purpose would be to train blacks to take on blue-collar jobs.

The site selection committee appointed by the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning had originally selected the former Greenwood Army Air Base, which had many facilities ready for use and thus would have been a very cost-effective choice. The Greenwood Commonwealth celebrated the choice. However, residents of Carroll County, Mississippi objected to having the institution located near their property.[3] Thus after further study, the proposed site was moved to Itta Bena. Even that town, however, objected to too close a proximity of a black institution, so the final site was chosen to place the college away from the downtown area, on cheap, uncultivatable land.[4]

In 1964, Mississippi Vocational College was renamed Mississippi Valley State College.

In February 1969, a nonviolent student boycott which included eight hundred students, male and female was organized to protest President White's administration of the institution. The students were demanding required courses in black history, more library purchases of works by black writers, remedial courses in English and Math, scheduling of prominent black speakers and fewer curfew restrictions.[5]

In the early 1970s, civil rights leaders continued to protest the inequalities in higher education opportunities offered to whites and blacks in Mississippi. In an effort to defuse some of the criticism, Gov. William Waller proposed changing the names of three black institutions from "colleges" to "universities." Thus, in 1974, the institution was renamed again, as Mississippi Valley State University'.

Following President White, Dr. Earnest A. Boykins took office in July 1971. Dr. Joe L. Boyer became MVSU's third president in January 1982 and was followed by Dr. William W. Sutton in July 1988. Dr. Lester C. Newman became the fifth president of MVSU on July 1, 1998. Dr. Donna H. Oliver became MVSU's sixth president and first female president on January 1, 2009. On November 6, 2013, Dr. William Bynum took office as MVSU's seventh president.

In a 1997 article in Innovative Higher Education, the journalist Dale Thorn describes MVSU's successful attempt to avoid a merger with another institution and to remain a separate entity.[6]

In 1998, the university renamed many of the buildings on campus, except for those named for Sillers, Wright, and J. H. White.



The campus is on a 450-acre (180 ha) tract of land adjacent to U.S. Highway 82 in unincorporated Leflore County, in the Mississippi Delta region, 1 mile (1.6 km) northwest of Itta Bena. The university is about 5 miles (8.0 km) from Greenwood, about 50 miles (80 km) from Greenville, about 100-mile (160 km) north of Jackson, and about 120-mile (190 km) south of Memphis, Tennessee.[2]

Student Activities[edit]

Activities include theater, orchestra, and band. Students may work on the Delvian (yearbook) or the Delta Devil Gazette (student-run newspaper). Leadership opportunities are found in the Student Government Association (SGA) or other organizations such as English Club, Future Teachers of America, and Trades and Industries Club.

NPHC Greek-letter organizations

Non-NPHC Greek-letter organizations


MVSU's colors are forest green and white. Their nickname is the Delta Devils for men's teams and Devilettes for women's teams. MVSU sports teams participate in NCAA Division I (I-AA for football) in the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC). Famous alumni include NFL wide receiver Jerry Rice of the 1984 football team.

The Mississippi Valley State University Department of Athletics currently sponsors men's intercollegiate baseball, football, basketball, cross country, golf, tennis and track along with Women's Intercollegiate basketball, soccer, volleyball, cross country, golf, softball, bowling and track.

In 1986, the men's basketball team received a 16 seed in the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship. There, they faced #1 ranked Duke in the first round. The Delta Devils almost became the first 16 seed to beat a 1 seed in NCAA Tournament history. They forced 23 turnovers and led 40-37 at the half before falling 85-78.

Notable alumni[edit]

Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
Katie Hall 1960 former U.S. Representative from Indiana from 1982 to 1985, and former city clerk of Gary, Indiana
David Lee Jordan N/A Democratic Mississippi State Senator since 1993 [7]
Ferr Smith 1964 Democratic Mississippi state representative since 1993 [8][9]
Chris Epps 1982? Longest-serving commissioner of the Mississippi Department of Corrections [10]
Jerry Rice 1985 Former NFL wide receiver; member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame
Willie Totten 1985 Former Head coach of the Delta Devils football team
Patricia Hoskins 1991 former player for the women's basketball team, the Devilletes, who once held the record for NCAA Division I women's basketball points scored in a career
Ashley Ambrose 1992 NFL cornerback
Fred Bohannon 1982 Former NFL defensive back [11]
Vincent Brown 1987 Former NFL linebacker and current college football coach
Parnell Dickinson 1975 Former NFL quarterback
Ricky Feacher 1975 Former NFL wide receiver and member
Alphonso Ford 1992 Former NBA and Euroleague basketball player
James Haynes 1984 Former NFL linebacker (1984-1989) for the New Orleans Saints
Corey Holmes 2000 Mayor of Metcalfe, Mississippi; former CFL running back
George Ivory 1988 Current men's head basketball coach at University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Deacon Jones 1960 Former NFL defensive end; member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame
Dave McDaniels 1967 Former NFL wide receiver
Melvin Morgan 1976 Former NFL defensive back
Tyrone Timmons 2006 Arena Football wide receiver
Sam Washington 1981 Former NFL cornerback
Ted Washington, Sr. 1972 Former NFL linebacker
Danta Whitaker 1989 Former NFL tight end


  1. ^ "List of HBCUs—White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities". Retrieved 2009-10-16. 
  2. ^ a b "Location." Mississippi Valley State University. Retrieved on April 5, 2012.
  3. ^ James Herbert White. Up From a Cotton Patch: J.H. White and the Development of Mississippi Valley State University([s.n.] 1979), p. 36.
  4. ^ James W. Loewen. Lies Across America: What our Historic Sites Get Wrong (New York: The New Press, 1999), p. 235.
  5. ^ http://www.gwcommonwealth.com/opinion/columns/article_b86460f5-2e33-5fe4-8ba7-265768e75e75e2.html
  6. ^ "Dale Thorn, When a Trial Threatens to Merge Small Universities: The Role of Litigation Public Relations in a Federal Desegregation Case, Vol 22, No. 2 (February 1997), pp. 101-115". academic.research.microsoft.com. Retrieved May 17, 2014. 
  7. ^ David Jordan. Mississippi Senate. Accessed 2012-09-01.
  8. ^ Ferr Smith
  9. ^ Ferr Smith legal directory
  10. ^ Amy, Jeff. "Ex-Prison Boss and Businessman Admit to Bribery Scheme" (Archive). Associated Press at ABC News. February 25, 2013. Retrieved on February 27, 2015.
  11. ^ "Fred Bohannon bio". databaseFootball. Retrieved 26 February 2010. 

External links[edit]

33°30′45″N 90°20′33″W / 33.51256°N 90.342422°W / 33.51256; -90.342422Coordinates: 33°30′45″N 90°20′33″W / 33.51256°N 90.342422°W / 33.51256; -90.342422