CLEVELAND, Miss.--The 20th year of the Elliot-Nowell-White Science Symposium is seeing some world-renowned scientists coming to Cleveland to interact with students at Delta State University. I sat down with the founder, Dr. Robert Elliot, who told me in that regard, it's a lot like years past.
"Dr. Arthur Guyton, who was chairman of physiology at the medical school (Univ. of Miss.) down in Jackson-he was our first keynote speaker and it was packed," said Elliot. "We've had Dr. James Hardy, of the University of Miss., who did the first heart transplant with a chimpanzee heart and did the first human lung transplant. He made tremendous contributions to surgery and to Mississippi."
Elliot has made his own contributions. Besides the Symposium, he runs a successful breast cancer research and treatment facility in Baton Rouge. The Greenville native and Delta State grad provides internships for DSU students interested in science or medical careers.
He told me it was a misspelling of his name on the dedication notice of the Alumni House in 1990 that prompted the beginnings of the symposium. He said someone from the alumni foundation contacted him about donating money, to which he responded, "Is my name spelled right yet?" Laughing, the 76-year-old told me that soon thereafter he was able to establish a scholarship program (Elliot Scholars), the afore-mentioned internship, for which he houses two or more students for ten weeks and provides a $5,000 stipend, and finally the symposium.
"It's been a very complex, three-pronged program," he said.
As for the 20th year of the symposium, Elliot said he wanted diversity.
"I wanted to let the other departments at Delta State know that we support the whole school," he said. Elliot noted that most of the money he donated goes to the sciences.
So, leaders in the field that he's brought in this year include Savannah surgeon and Abraham Lincoln expert Dr. Carl Boyd.
"He's written a book called The Assasination of Abraham Lincoln, What Your School Teacher Didn't Tell You."
Another physicist, whom Elliot said looks like Einstein and is as smart as Einstein, was expected to show astro-photography done in his observatory.
"His hobby is the universe. He trained at Washington University and I found him through an alumni magazine."