From the desk of President Leslie K. Guice
The Blues, Budgets and Buildings
Following last week’s wrap-up of the legislative session, my focus this week has been on shaping up our university budget. I have held meetings with several of my vice presidents and deans as we go through to identify any faculty and staff positions that remain to be filled. This is one of my major challenges as President as state budgets are decided so late in the calendar year and as we have important positions that need to be filled to meet our class demands. I appreciate the patience and support of my administrative team in working with me during these uncertain times to make the best decisions on staffing with the goal of sustaining superb experiences for our students. On Monday, I met with Ruston Mayor Ronny Walker to give him some updates on our facilities and projects that have impacts on the community. We have just begun a 20,000 sf expansion of our College of Business building, have a new campus water project underway, are nearing completion of the South End Zone Complex and are in the midst of design of our new Integrated Engineering and Science Education building. That building, being built just east of Tech Pointe, will begin to move the center of gravity of campus activities closer to downtown Ruston opening up more synergistic opportunities for both the city and our campus. We are also looking at housing and parking projects that will enhance the core of our campus and help us meet the needs of our students. We are also pleased to see the community respond to increasing housing demands caused by the growth of our student body. And projects like the recent Monster Moto heaquarters and manufacturing operations relocation to Ruston serve as a great example of what can be achieved through collaborations between the city and university.Late Monday afternoon, Kathy and I headed over to Lake Providence to attend Brister’s Spring Jam, a community festival organized by Tech alumnus Andy Brister and his wife Laurie. Louisiana Tech was the featured guest and there was an excellent turnout of students, alumni and prospective students who were there to enjoy some of the food and festivities with people from the community. There was some great blues and jazz music played by several legendary musicians from the area and a number of state-wide political figures came by for the celebration. Thanks much to Andy and Laurie for making us feel so welcomed and giving us the chance to showcase more about Louisiana Tech. After more budget and planning meetings on Tuesday, I headed to Baton Rouge early Wednesday for Board of Regents meetings. There were a number of important items on the agenda including updates on legislation that passed impacting higher education. The Regents also approved preliminary budget allocations to the four higher education systems. I also assisted in a presentation related to technology transfer in my role as the Chair of the Master Plan Research Advisory Committee. After the Regents meeting, I stopped by to visit one of our students who is in a Baton Rouge hospital and then headed north to Ruston. Thursday morning, we kicked off the first regular student orientation session of the summer and it was a great one – the largest that we can recall. We spoke to a lot of excellent students and their parents who were having a good time while getting emersed in the Tech culture. Our staff and student leaders do a fantastic job with these orientation sessions and is a key to the successes we have had in recruiting students. On Friday morning, VP Stan Napper and I and a few of our faculty welcomed IBM representatives to campus to discuss our partnership with them. They will soon be breaking ground on their 400-employee innovation center in Monroe and are already ramping up their hiring. We look forward to the partnership with IBM and the tremendous opportunities that it will provide our students and faculty.