JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Delta State University in Mississippi is getting a South Carolina educator as its ninth president, and officials said he will face challenges in recruitment, retention and fundraising.
Daniel J. Ennis is scheduled to assume the new post in Cleveland, Mississippi, on June 1, the state’s Board of Trustees for higher education said in a news release Tuesday.
Ennis is currently provost and executive vice president of Coastal Carolina University. He is a tenured professor of English and has served in several administrative roles the past 20 years, including vice president for academic outreach and chairman of the English Department.
William LaForge held the top post at Delta State for nine years, but was fired last summer amid declining enrollment and other fiscal challenges. Enrollment has dropped 29% since 2014, with just 2,556 students in 2023.
E.E. Butch Caston has been acting president since LaForge left.
Ennis’ efforts as provost at Coastal Carolina helped increase its retention rate, moving the first-year rate from 67% to 73%. Enrollment there also increased, the Mississippi board said.
“The positions Dr. Ennis has held at Coastal Carolina have prepared him extremely well to serve as president of Delta State University,” said trustee Teresa Hubbard, who led the board’s search committee.
“His long tenure there demonstrates how beloved he is by the campus community,” Hubbard said, calling him a “great fit” for Delta State.
Ennis plans to meet with campus constituency groups and a schedule of events will be announced soon.
“I have been inspired by the history, culture, and resilience of the people with whom I will soon work and live,” Ennis said in the news release. “I am committed to helping Delta State University continue to thrive, and my wife and I look forward to becoming members of the community.”