Tech students Abby Chowns, Julianne Tippen, Caroline Daughdrill, Molly McCann, Anna Blake & Meagan Lee
Last Sunday evening, long-time friend and devoted Tech alumnus Dr. Guthrie Jarrell invited me to attend a reception at his home in Monroe for the Miss Louisiana 2014 pageant contestants, board members and supporters. Kathy and I really enjoyed the opportunity to be a part of that, particularly interacting with the contestants from Louisiana Tech. There were several other members of the Tech Family present including Miss Louisiana 2012 Lauren Vizza, former Miss Louisiana Linnea Fayard Allen, alumni Jim & Dorothy Hoogland, and several others. We were pleased to have the opportunity to wish all of our Tech students the best of luck in the competition. Special thanks to Dr. Jarrell for his work with the Miss Louisiana pageant for the past 27 years. He makes sure that each person present at these receptions walks through his study to see so much of his Tech memorabilia.
Monday was full of meetings with my administrative team and some of that carried over through Tuesday. We also had a video conference review of our latest draft of the University Master Plan with the planners, Sasaki Architects of Boston. Another member of the planning team, Ken Tipton of Baton Rouge, joined us for the review. We were able to make some key decisions that should enable the planners to finalize the plans over the next two months. I am confident that the plans will help guide us in making future campus improvements with a long-term strategic focus toward enhancing the beauty, quality, efficiency and functionality of the campus.
Chris Rabalais and Katie Tuminello fulfilling a goal of getting a picture with the bulldog
On Tuesday, I also attended the ribbon cutting for the expansion of Mortgage Contracting Services in Ruston. These operations, under the leadership of CEO and Tech alumnae Caroline Reaves have really taken off and provided great job growth in the community. Originally planned for 90 people, the MCS Ruston building can now accommodate up to 180 people, and we expect Caroline to get there before long. We are so grateful to Caroline for making the commitment to grow her company here in Ruston. I am also grateful that Caroline has assumed the Presidency of Tech’s Alumni Association for the second year in a row. I don’t see how she does it all.
Later Tuesday, I spoke to the Ruston/Lincoln Chamber Ambassadors who met at the Ropp Center and invited me to give them updates on Tech’s activities and future directions. Later in the evening, I was pleased to return to the office to meet with civil engineering alumnus Chris Rabalais and Tech marketing student Katie Tuminello, who wanted to take pictures with the bulldog statue in my office. Chris now works for the Corps’ Engineer Research and Development Center in Vicksburg, a place that I worked early in my career.
Jason Zeringue, Stacey Chiasson & Paul Soileau welcome me at Dow’s Plantation House
The Board of Regents and University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors had meetings on Wednesday through Friday, so I spent the last part of the week in Baton Rouge. I took some time in between board meetings to go out and visit with alumni. I particularly enjoyed the trip out to Plaquemine and Dow Chemical to meet with Stacey Chiasson (Public Affairs) and Tech engineering alumni Paul Soileau and Jason Zeringue. Stacey had been on our campus recently where she had presented a $1M check from Dow Chemical in support of our new Integrated Engineering and Science Education building. I was able to express our appreciation for their tremendous support again on Thursday and also able to talk about more internship and job opportunities for our graduates. Paul took me on a windshield tour of the Dow plant site where I gained a much deeper appreciation of the complexity and growth plans for their operations.
Asst. VP Sam Wallace reporting on Board approvals while departing the Claiborne Building
Board meetings were fairly routine with a major focus being on status reports for the WISE (Workforce and Innovation for a Stronger Economy) Act program which is intended to provide all universities with additional funding to support the expanded production of graduates in high-demand fields. We also had a few items up for consideration and approval by the Board of Supervisors. One of our most significant items was a property exchange proposal for land in our Enterprise Campus that will enable us to acquire a crucial piece of property for our new building. Assistant Vice President for Administration and Facilities Sam Wallace did a masterful job in working through this transaction. I am very fortunate to have such a creative, capable and loyal member on my leadership team.