Interim President is DSU Through and Through
By Jack Criss • Photography by Campbell Saia
Dr. E. E. “Butch” Caston began serving as the interim President of Delta State University on July 1, 2022. It was a natural progression for a man who has dedicated his career and life to education and to the University he obviously loves very much.
“Even though this is an ‘interim’ position, I certainly don’t see my role as a stop gap, or simply a figurehead,” Caston says of his presidency. “And that was spelled out to me when I met with, and was appointed by, the Institute Of Higher Learning board. I was expected to function as a active leader and president and that’s what I’m doing to the best of my ability. This job is all about looking to the future and improving the school as best as we all can, starting with this office. I’ve come out of retirement several times to serve in various capacities,” he continues, “but my serving now as Interim President is my proudest accomplishment.”
A native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Caston first came to Delta State in the Fall of 1962 where he played running back for the Statesmen under legendary Coach Horace L. McCool who had recruited him (“one of the funniest, most charismatic guys I’ve ever been around!” laughs Caston). He says the first person he met when he arrived on campus was the legendary “Boo” Ferris, “and I didn’t even know who the man was at our initial meeting. He was the most unassuming, normal person in the world. When I later found out what an actual legend he was, I could hardly speak around him,” he says.
Caston graduated from Delta State with a Bachelor of Science degree in English, with a minor in education, in 1966 and a Master of Education degree in Guidance and Counseling in 1968, coaching high school football and English at Cleveland High School while obtaining his degrees. Caston completed his Doctorate of Education degree in Guidance and Counseling from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1974.
Having enjoyed a lifelong career in education, beginning at the K‐12 level, Caston has also served the Cleveland and Hattiesburg, MS school districts in a variety of roles including teacher, coach, counselor, and lastly, Assistant Superintendent for Hattiesburg. He began his career in higher education as an adjunct faculty member at William Carey University and as an Assistant Professor of Counseling Psychology and Counselor Education at the University of Southern Mississippi.
In 1983, Caston returned to Delta State to serve as the Director of Field Experiences, Coordinator of Teacher Education, and Professor of Education, having been offered the position by Dr. Kent Wyatt. He served as Chair of the Division of Curriculum and Instruction from 1986 to 1988, prior to being named Dean of the College of Education in 1989. After fifteen years in that position, Caston officially “retired” but continued to serve the university as an adjunct faculty member. From 2004 to 2011, he served as President of Delta Educational Services Group and as Grant Director of the Early Learning Mentoring Program and the Healthy Campus/Community Initiative.
In 2011, Caston returned to higher education to serve as an Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at the Mississippi University for Women. In 2013 and 2015, Caston served as Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs and Interim Vice President for Student Affairs, respectively, for Delta State. As is apparent, Caston could not stay away from his alma mater for long.
“This community and the faculty here have always been receptive to me and to this office,” says Caston, returning to discuss his current role. “We are a student-centered, regional university with a clearly established mission of service, scholarship and teaching. When I think of Delta State, a special atmosphere comes to mind which I’ve had the privilege of experiencing both as a student and as an employee,” he says.
“I see the brightest of the bright here on the campus now with our young people,” says Caston. “I always keep an open door policy here at my office and have been so very impressed with our students. They’re mature, poised and articulate and it’s reassuring to me as a longtime educator. I have high faith in our youth,” he says.
During his notable career, Caston has been recognized for his many contributions to education by being awarded as a Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities; the Freddie Black Memorial Award; an Outstanding Young Men of America award; and, an Outstanding Young Educator award. Caston also has affiliations with several professional organizations including the Mississippi Association of School Administrators, the American Association of School Administrators, the Mississippi Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, the Association of Mississippi Teacher Educators, and theMississippi Association of Colleges of Teacher Education.
As a devoted alumnus of Delta State University, Caston was selected as the 2012 Distinguished Statesman Award winner and the 2017 Dr. Henry Outlaw Faculty and Staff Service Award winner. He is a committed citizen of Cleveland and Bolivar County, having served on the Bolivar County Chapter of the American Cancer Society, the Delta Arts Alliance, as a member of the Cleveland Rotary Club and also as a member of the Cleveland Magnet School Advisory Committee.
“I see the brightest of the bright here on the campus now with our young people,” says Caston. “I always keeps an open door policy here at my office and have been so very impressed with our students. They’re mature, poised and articulate and it’s reassuring to me as a longtime educator. I have high faith in our youth,” he says. “Working with and for them now? I’m having a ball, honestly.”
Caston and his wife Marlene have five children and fifteen grandchildren. His “extracurricular activities” include outdoor activities, sports, traveling with his wife and often meeting up with his sons to hunt at various locations.
“Marlene and I have a place in Idaho and often drive our horses up there, stopping along the way overnight to ranch-op, which we love to do,” he says. And, while his term as Interim President will officially end on June 30, 2023, expect to see Caston still very active in his community and with Delta State. “Even though the position I hold now is my proverbial ‘last rodeo,’ I’ll still contribute when called upon in any capacity that I can.”
One would expect no less from Dr. Butch Caston.