From the desk of President Leslie K. Guice
Catching up in an extended quarter break
I was able to be in the office much of this quarter break week, so I took advantage of the time to meet with some of my administrative team on campus. I also took some time to catch up on note-writing to prospective students, alumni and others. The week began with a conference call with Dr. Sandra Woodley and some of the University of Louisiana System presidents to discuss recent announcements about the state budget shortfalls. We are still awaiting final word on that, but are hopeful that higher education will be minimally impacted. This year has been more positive than previous years. In addition to retaining a stable base operating budget from last year, we saw increased enrollment growth that has enabled us to fill some critical needs. We also received an initial allocation from the WISE bill and are expected to receive another $1.6 million WISE allocation based upon our proposal to the WISE Council to meet workforce requirements in high-demand fields like computer science, computer information systems, engineering and business. Our enrollment growth has also enabled us to provide raises for our faculty and staff for the first time in several years. We expect our Board of Supervisors to officially approve our raise recommendations in their December meeting. The enrollment growth does put other pressures on us to build our faculty and staff, but that aligns with our overall goal to create a larger and more robust research university.On Tuesday evening, Dan and Linda Reneau hosted a get-together to recognize Ruston Mayor Dan Hollingsworth and his wife Faye for their service to the community and university. Mayor Hollingsworth has been extremely supportive of the university and has done so much to build linkages between the campus and community. I was pleased to present him with a Distinguished Service Award and Medal, which is something that has been rarely awarded. Among his many activities in support of the university, Mayor Hollingsworth has helped with the planning and infrastructure development in our Enterprise Campus which is serving as a focal point for growth of some high-tech companies in the community. Dan and Faye can also be found regularly attending athletics and performing arts events on campus, and have been ardent supporters of so many other campus activities. On Thursday, I took a trip over to CenturyLink to meet with leadership there to discuss how we can continue to build our partnership and further support their needs. CenturyLink is a crucial economic catalyst for the state and region and it is offering tremendous job opportunities for our graduates. We already offer graduate programs to CenturyLink employees and provide other support in recruitment, education, training, internships and research for the company. They are nearing completion of their new Technology Center which will support even more growth for their company. On Thursday, I also had a meeting with Dr. Donna Thomas, head of our Psychology Department, who has agreed to serve as Chair of the Athletics Council, replacing Dr. James Liberatos who is retiring later this year. Donna has served on the Athletics Council for several years and I am confident that she will do an outstanding job in this leadership position. She will also assume the role of Faculty Athletics Representative. Kathy and I are getting ready to head out with the football team to Norfolk, VA, as we take on Old Dominion University for what could be the clinching game for first place in the western division of Conference USA.