From the desk of President Leslie K. Guice
Red ink and red shoes
The looming state budget shortfall took front and center stage this week and there have been plenty of press articles that outline the challenges ahead. We are working with our Board of Regents and University of Louisiana System office, and other higher education leaders to find solutions. We have also been in communications with our political and business leaders, and there appears to be strong support that we must not cut higher education and impede the progress that has been made to build the workforce that is essential for the future of the State of Louisiana. It is important to understand that we are still early in the process and, as discussions continue, I ask our faculty and staff to remain focused on providing our students with a superb education and college experience, and to continue building our research and innovation enterprise. We will continue to communicate with our campus community as well as our alumni and community leaders to ensure that their input is provided throughout this process. One thing remains certain – we will continue to pursue the goals we have set for our university and to provide our students with the quality of education they’d expect from a Tier One national research university. On Monday, I had a few meetings with my administrative team, staff and students. I was also pleased to have a visit from the new CEO of the University Health System in Shreveport, Rod Huebbers. Mr. Huebbers oversees operations at Shreveport Hospital, EA Conway Medical Center in Monroe, and the health system’s outpatient clinics. We explored various ways that we may collaborate to support their activities and to provide our students with potential experiential learning opportunities. We already have considerable research collaborations with the LSU Health Sciences Center in Shreveport and many of our graduates go there for medical school. LSU HSC and University Health are a vital part of the economy for North Louisiana. On Tuesday, I had a meeting with Dr. Donna Thomas, who is the new Chair of our Athletics Council and also serves as the Faculty Athletics Representative. I deeply appreciate her willingness to assume these important roles in addition to her role as Head of the Department of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences. Other activities on Tuesday included a visit with one of our prospective candidates for the Dean of the College of Business, a meeting with our Administrative and Planning Council, a visit from SGA President Maggie Brakeville, and a trip to the CIC in Bossier City for a reception welcoming the new Commissioner of Higher Education, Dr. Joseph Rallo. On Wednesday morning, Dr. Rallo and Regents staff attended a meeting of community and education leaders organized by the Shreveport Bossier Business Alliance at the Shreveport Chamber of Commerce. Dr. Rallo shared some of his views on the future of higher education and some of his early impressions of Louisiana, after only a few days on the job. Following that meeting, I visited our Shreveport Center to check with the staff and see how activities were going. Later Wednesday, I returned to Ruston to meet with one of our University Foundation Executive Committee members and a local realtor to discuss some land acquisition that would support our campus master planning efforts.I was pleased to have a visit from Senator David Vitter on Thursday which offered a great opportunity for me to highlight Tech’s accomplishments and vital role as a national research university for the State of Louisiana. Following that meeting, I went to the University of Louisiana at Monroe to have a private meeting with Commissioner Rallo where I was able to provide him with a brief overview of Louisiana Tech and respond to some of his questions regarding the status and future of higher education in Louisiana. Dr. Rallo, who came to Louisiana from the Texas Tech University System, was quite familiar with Louisiana Tech through his interactions with Vice President Terry McConathy who has worked closely with him at SACSCOC for several years. Late Thursday, Kathy and I hosted a few friends for dinner at the house before heading over to the TAC to watch the Bulldogs defeat the UAB Blazers in a key Conference USA matchup. I had another interview with a prospective Business Dean candidate on Friday morning. I was also pleased to welcome the COO and other representatives from Benteler Steel in Shreveport to campus. A couple of our alumni who are already working with Benteler, including engineer Justin Dowty and recruiting manager Rebecca Morgan, were there to ensure that our students and graduates are plugged into the opportunities offered by this modern manufacturing company. After several other meetings and conference calls on Friday, Kathy and I went to enjoy a dinner with several alumni representatives of the Letterman’s Club. Alumnus of the Year Bill Cox treated everyone to a fantastic fish fry and we all enjoyed the fellowship with some of Tech’s most loyal alumni spanning seven decades.