Riding the year-end roller coaster
This week felt a little bit like riding the Shock Wave roller coaster at Six Flags. There were a few stretches of anticipation and some wild loops that put me in 180 degree turns throughout the week. The ride was thrilling and invigorating, but I am not ready to hop on again right now….
Monday morning, Ryan Richard got me strapped in for the week’s ride. He is an incredible planner and organizer who always anticipates all of the things that might occur along the path. The start of the week included a flat stretch in the office where I was able to get prepared for a number of speaking engagements over the next couple of weeks.
The highlight of Monday was speaking to the faculty and staff club at their annual end-of-year luncheon. This year, we also invited our 2017-18 retirees to join us so they could be recognized before their peers. This is always a bittersweet time for me as we say thanks to our friends and colleagues who have served our students over the years. We are most fortunate to have so many loyal faculty & staff who have dedicated their careers to serving our students and I am thankful for all who have served.
After lunch, I drove to our LTRI office at the CIC in Bossier City to meet with a retired USAF General who currently serves as a consultant for national media and a strategist/thought leader. After that meeting, I attended a reception for participants in the Strategic Deterrent Coalition meeting in Shreveport. This coalition is supporting the expansive growth of the Air Force Global Strike Command at Barksdale. I was invited to speak on a panel the next morning to discuss what Tech is doing to support education & training needs related to strategic deterrence. Speaking to general officers, national lab leaders, servicemen and defense corporate leaders was a thrilling spin from what my day before and after offered. This area of national security offers an opportunity for Tech that can engage a broader section of our faculty and students from the social sciences and related disciplines to contribute educational offerings.
The roller coaster brought me back to the office on Wednesday morning for a bit of tranquility and a meeting with a couple of Deans who were proposing a joint faculty position that could serve both of their colleges. I doubt that many presidents have this kind of meeting, and it is certainly a strength of Louisiana Tech to see such strong interdisciplinary and cross-college collaborations that enhance learning for our students.
I took one of my favorite side-track walks across campus later in the morning where I was able to chat with numerous students who were starting to wrap up classes, finals and year-end projects. Our freshmen in the Tech Leadership Council had prepared a stress-relief project for the Quad where students could stop and write words of positive encouragement with chalk on the sidewalks. A lot of students participated in the chalk walk throughout the day. Another organization had set up a tent with dogs and puppies for students to hold as a stress reliever. I love being on a college campus.
After circling through the Tonk and Tolliver, I made another pass through the Quad just in time to run into Mrs. Braddock’s 4th grade AE Phillips class. These students were excited to be out and about campus, and I was thrilled to chat with them for a minute.
Later that day, I had a wrap-up meeting with the SGA Prez Ben Rice. Ben has been an incredible leader for our student body. He is one of the most brilliant students and exceptional leaders that I have ever met. After Ben, two engineering students stopped by to discuss their new entrepreneurial venture in developing a financial software app. From there, I headed out to our farm campus to meet Mark Murphy & Gordon Reger to serve as a judge for their meat-cooking class. Then, Kathy and I went to the SGA Banquet at the DAC to acknowledge and thank our students for the leadership they have provided. It was great to visit with several of the former SGA presidents who returned for the event.
Thursday began with some campus projects planning meetings and the year-end meeting of our Administrative and Planning Council. Then, Kathy and I headed to Barksdale Air Force Base for a civic leader social out on the flight line under tents with B2, B52 and B1 bombers facing us on the tarmac. What a sense of power and pride that gave us, and we were honored to join in the event with such committed civic and military leaders.
Kathy and I took another loop on the roller coaster journey after the social and drove down to Baton Rouge so I could attend a couple of Friday morning meetings related to the Governor’s Cyber Security Commission. One of those meetings was at the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.
The last spin on the ride took us to Houston to visit with our two sons. We plan to relax a couple of days with them and go watch the Houston Astros play some ball before hitting the final track back to Ruston for the final week of the Quarter. What a ride! What a week!