From the desk of President Leslie K. Guice
The Prez goes to School
I had a very busy Monday before flying out late afternoon to go to school (I’ll explain that a bit later.) Monday began with a meeting of two of our professors, Jamie Newman and Mary Caldorera-Moore, who came by to give me a report on this year’s New Frontiers in Biomedical Research Seminar Series and plans for the future. I then had a meeting with our consultant who is helping us develop plans for our fund-raising campaign with the University Foundation. This campaign will be very important to Louisiana Tech as we look to the future and prepare for new growth and opportunities. There were also four meetings with current students I have enjoyed getting to know throughout their time at Tech. One of those students brought her sister by to see me, and we hope that she will also become a student at Tech next year. Another of the students brought her grandmother with her, a 1957 graduate who had not been to campus in quite a while!Monday morning also saw the launch of the UTeachTech program led by Dean of Education Don Schillinger and chemistry professor Bill Deese. This $1.45M grant was funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the National Math and Science Initiative. It will establish a model for STEM teacher preparation at Tech whereby STEM majors can jointly pursue rigorous pedagogical education to prepare them for teaching careers. This should greatly enhance the quantity and quality of STEM teachers for our region and state, something that is a critical need at this time. There were many people who contributed to this grant proposal and we appreciate all of the public and private partners who have indicated strong support for the efforts. After the UTeachTech announcement, I enjoyed visiting with everyone at the Faculty and Staff Club luncheon where I was able to provide a ‘State of the University’ address. The title of my presentation was ‘A Year of Hope and Uncertainty,’ reflecting the state of the budget at the beginning of the year and looking forward to the coming year. A stable higher education budget for 2014-15 enabled us to fill some big gaps that have resulted from several years of declining funding, but the current legislative session leaves us with big questions about future funding. I am confident that our representatives understand the imperative for avoiding further cuts to higher education this year, and hope that strong leadership will prevail in the session. In spite of the budget challenges, our faculty, staff and students have continued to do some amazing things that have kept this institution as a shining star for Louisiana and a leader for the future economic prosperity of our region. For most of the week, I went to school and became a student again – attending the National Security Forum at the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama. The Air War College is a SACSCOC-accredited college for educating future leaders about national policies related to global issues. The National Security Forum attendees are invited by the Secretary of the Air Force to participate in three days of seminars and discussions with faculty and students from the AWC and other invited guests. The attendees included a diverse population of bankers, accountants, journalists, academics, local and national political leaders, community leaders and others from all walks of life. Also included in the discussions were international representatives from some of our nation’s allies. Speakers provided excellent overviews of current political, economic, social, military and environmental issues, policies, strategies and challenges across the globe. I attended sessions on Syria, China, Russia and Pakistan as well as one on cyber warfare that were all led by highly knowledgeable experts in these domains. We followed each session with small break-out groups where we could probe and challenge the assumptions related to policies and strategies. I made a lot of connections and learned a lot over these three days that will help me as a leader and a citizen. I enjoyed getting a deeper understanding of the historical, social, geographical and political perspectives that form the basis of our national policies. And I am particularly thankful that we were not given a final exam!