From the desk of President Leslie K. Guice
Dr. Dave Guerin: A City Slicker's Guide to Life in a Small Town
Periodically, I have invited colleagues to write a ‘Guest Feature’ for my blog. This week, I invited Dr. Dave Guerin, Executive Director for University Communications, to share some special thoughts about his experiences at Louisiana Tech. Dave has been a great asset to this institution and can be found working all across campus as he connects, collaborates and communicates with others to help them publicize their activities to broader audiences. Dave is exceptional at what he does and he has provided tremendous leadership in shaping the face of the university. Here are some of his thoughts about his life at Louisiana Tech – in Dave’s own words: A couple of weeks ago, I celebrated my eight-year anniversary at Louisiana Tech. I say “celebrated” because since arriving in Ruston in 2006, I have been blessed with some amazing friends and colleagues, and have found a wonderful home, both personally and professionally. Southern hospitality is not a myth…I’ve seen it! – This was something my family and I experienced from the moment we pulled into our driveway in Ruston and were greeted with a chocolate bundt cake and a hearty, “Welcome!” from our new next door neighbors. On the Tech campus during my first week, VP Jim King and Counseling Center Director Ron Cathey spotted me sitting alone in the Student Center eating lunch and took time out of their lunch hour to welcome me and to see how I was doing. I’ve never forgotten these simple gestures and the impressions they left on me. It’s the kindness and hospitality that I had hoped for and was grateful to find. 2. Live like a tourist – Some of the best advice I received shortly after I came to Louisiana Tech was to “live like a tourist” and seek out all the activities, events and attractions that are unique to this area of the country. It’s easy to sit around and say there’s nothing to do, but with a little research and an adventurous spirit, you can find some of the most interesting places and insightful people in the world, right here in this region. 3. Embrace the culture – In my eight short years in Ruston and at Louisiana Tech, the people who seem to have the hardest time adjusting to life here are the ones that come in and try to “fix” what’s not broken. I’ve learned that the culture of Ruston and Louisiana Tech is all about relationships, traditions and understanding that the community’s customs and way of life are synonymous with its identity. Embrace the culture we have and enjoy being a part of it. 4. You’re no longer anonymous – Living and working in an urban environment offers a certain degree of anonymity. More often than not, you can visit the grocery store, eat at a restaurant, or stop for gas without running into a neighbor or someone for work. In Ruston, it’s not if you’ll see a friend or colleague around town, it’s how many. From my perspective, it’s a nice thing to have to get used to…seeing friends and their families about town and being reminded of what a true community is really all about. 5. Welcome each opportunity to get involved and contribute – As mentioned earlier, the traditions and culture in Ruston and at Louisiana Tech are rich and varied, and have been established over the course of many years. That being said, I have found plenty of opportunities to share my own experiences and perspectives and to contribute to community enrichment activities and organizations. I had a colleague tell me once that the thing he liked best about working at Louisiana Tech was that he felt he had an opportunity to make an impact on and a contribution to the university. I absolutely believe that to be true and the same goes for our community. Again, these observations are based solely on my own experiences of having lived in Ruston and worked at Louisiana Tech for the past eight years. Everyone’s experiences will be different. I truly believe that keeping an open mind and recognizing that the rhythms and textures of a small town like Ruston are precisely what make it special, is the key. In addition to finding a great place to work, my wife Amy and I have found a wonderful place to call home and to raise our kids Ben, Jake and Maddie (who we were blessed with after moving to Ruston.) My hope is that many others will find their way to Louisiana Tech and Ruston, and will encounter some of the same people and enjoy some of the same experiences that I have.However, I must admit that the decision to leave the conveniences and familiarity of a city setting and re-establish life in a small town where I had no roots or relationships was not without trepidation. Most of what I knew of Louisiana was what I had seen on television and in movies, or learned about in a high school social studies class. The perceptions and portrayals were not always conventional and, to be honest, not always flattering. But I took a leap of faith and moved my wife, Amy, and our kids from the bright lights of Las Vegas to the piney hills of north Louisiana. Culture shock? You have no idea…and to my good fortune and that of my family, neither did I. I grew up in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area of Florida and lived for a time in Las Vegas where my two sons were born. I was accustomed to the pace and people that come with living in an urban setting and, for the most part, knew what to expect. Sad as it is to say, it took a little while for someone not used to the smiles and manner of a small town community to get used to things such as a friendly wave from another car’s driver or a quiet “hello” from someone passed on the sidewalk. So for those who are headed to Louisiana Tech and/or Ruston from the big city, and are not familiar with life in a small town, here just are a few things I’ve learned from my own experiences over the past eight years that have helped me to adjust and have endeared me to this campus and community. 1.