From the desk of President Leslie K. Guice
A week with students, alumni and cyber discovery
I had several visits from prospective students this week. This is a part of my job that I particularly enjoy. It gives me the opportunity to make a connection with students before they enroll and I always encourage them to stay in touch with me throughout their studies at Tech. I have found this to be a great way for me to get a good sense about the questions, issues, and challenges that students have. I also believe that I am able to share some perspectives with the students that may benefit them during and after their time at Tech. When I have time, I also like to give the students a tour of campus. This week, I had visits from students from Baton Rouge, Lake Charles, Stonewall and West Monroe and I met quite a few other prospective students as I was walking around campus. It was great to get back on the road this week. Ryan Richard was able to line up several meetings for me in Houston. During our travels, we also stopped in to visit a 1960 School of Music alumnus who owns a major electric supplies business in Nacogdoches. It was great to hear about his amazing career and to learn about how he has grown his business into one of the biggest and best in the nation.Tuesday evening, Ryan and I met with a group of ExxonMobil alumni down in Baytown, Texas. We had some very recent graduates and some who had been with the company for several years join us for an informal dinner. These alumni came from different backgrounds in engineering, computer science and business, and work in different divisions of ExxonMobil throughout Houston and Beaumont (however, most were from the refinery in Baytown.) They were able to get campus activity updates from me, Ryan and Dean Hisham Hegab, and we were able to learn a lot more about their experiences with the company. They gave us some valuable insights that should help us in preparing graduates to work in this field. Special thanks to alumnus Troy O’Laughlin for helping us organize the event. Troy had visited campus in May to present us with a check for $168,000 from ExxonMobil Foundation as the match for contributions made by ExxonMobil employees to Tech. Ryan and I spent all day on Wednesday visiting with some long-time benefactors and supporters in Houston. It is always great to see these friends, to hear about their experiences at Tech, and to learn more about their careers. It is so gratifying to see the successes that our alumni have had, many of them in major leadership positions with some of the nation’s top companies and organizations. It is also great to hear how much they appreciate the opportunities they had at Louisiana Tech and to learn more about those professors and staff whom made a difference for them while they were here. I got a special surprise for lunch when my friend, Jerry Allen, showed up with two other Tech alumni, Chris Richardson and Ed Walker. We had a great lunch and shared more stories about Tech athletics and activities in the 1960s. Ryan and I also had a special visit with Mrs. Opal Rhodes. Mrs. Rhodes is the 103-year old widow of Mr. Dusty Rhodes, a 1934 Tech electrical engineering graduate. Dusty went to work for Humble Oil (forerunner of Exxon) when he graduated from Tech, and innovated the use of microwave radio in pipeline transmissions and had a fascinating career. He and Mrs. Rhodes made a generous donation to Tech a few years ago that led to the establishment of a $2M eminent scholar chair position in Biomedical Engineering, a position now held by distinguished faculty member Dr. Leon Iasemidis. On Thursday, Kathy and I had a visit from the Shreveport Times staff who were doing interviews and a photo-shoot of the President’s house. I also stopped by to visit architecture professors Karl Puljak and Liane Hancock who were hosting their inaugural architecture summer camp. The camp provides students with hands-on experiences and gives them a window into what they can expect in the profession and how design is taught in college. I was most pleased to see Karl and the faculty organize this camp and know that it will continue to attract more and more students to our programs. On Thursday evening, I stopped by University Hall to hear the student teams in the Cyber Discovery 2.0 camp present their cyber attack findings to a panel of Tech professors, in a mock Department of Homeland Security investigation. This was an amazing experience, one that clearly challenged the students to probe deeply into all potential clues and apply critical thinking and teamwork to draw conclusions about the cause of the cyber incident. I was most pleased to see the involvement of professors from several disciplines working together to make this an extraordinary program. The professors were from math, engineering, computer science, political science, history, and English. Kathy and I are headed out to Dallas for a long week-end with our family.