From the desk of President Leslie K. Guice
A view from 16th floor
After spending a lot of time on the road last week, I was glad to have the opportunity to be in the office this week where a lot of my time has remained focused on the legislature and their efforts to resolve the current year budget crisis. While there have been ups and downs, and still some significant work to do, it appears that the legislature is getting somewhat closer to finding a budget solution for this year. This has required some significant cuts across government as well as some significant revenue raising efforts. Our message to all has been that higher education is crucial for the future economic prosperity of the state and that further cuts will be highly detrimental to our ability to provide the high quality education that our current and future students deserve. Thanks to all who have been so helpful in communicating the importance of higher education with our legislative delegation across the state. Monday morning, I met with AVP for Facilities and Administration Sam Wallace, to discuss a couple of emergency roofing projects. These types of deferred maintenance issues are substantial on campuses across the state and we almost always have to find internal funds to deal with them, especially when emergency situations arise. I also met with VP Jim King to discuss some of our housing and parking projects that are necessary to support our student body growth. AD Tommy McClelland and I met later to discuss athletics and upcoming events. We have been pleased to see our basketball, baseball and softball teams play at such a high level and we are looking forward to more successes throughout the spring. After lunch, I visited with Dr. Donna Thomas, chair of our athletics council, to catch up on the council’s activities. I also met with Chief Innovation Officer Davy Norris and AVP Sam Wallace to discuss some new opportunities that are emerging for our Enterprise Campus and partner companies. We are excited to see the growth of several companies right here on our campus and are optimistic about future opportunities. Tuesday morning, I met with CFO Lisa Cole and Budget Officer Jerry Drewett, to review our current year budget and discuss plans to handle any budget reductions that we may face this year. We also began to look at next year’s budget, something that is quite a challenge given the uncertainties of the state budget situation. Later, I met with Director of Communications Dave Guerin to discuss communications plans and updates. I was also able to welcome many of the United Way of Northeast Louisiana’s Board members, partner agencies, supporters and staff for a lunch meeting at the DAC to celebrate the success of the 2015-16 United Way campaign. After lunch, I had a few other meetings including one with Dean Don Schillinger and AE Phillips Director Joanne Hood to discuss activities of AE Phillips Laboratory School. I am excited to hear more about their vision for advancing AEP as one of the premier elementary schools in the state. Wednesday morning, I met with VP Terry McConathy to catch up on a variety of academic activities including discussion of faculty hiring needs. I also met with University Senate President Patrick O’Neal and several Senate committee chairs to hear some of their proposals. The Senate has done an excellent job of bringing forth well-thought out proposals for policy and procedure improvements that can enhance the work environment for our faculty and staff. I was pleased to join Dr. Gary Stokely and several other faculty and retired faculty at the DAC for lunch where we thanked them for their support of a community program to halt domestic violence. Wednesday afternoon, I drove over to the Cyber Innovation Center in Bossier City to meet with senior leadership for our industry partner CSRA. They wanted to discuss their plans for growth in North Louisiana and our efforts to support them through increasing our graduates in high demand areas. CSRA continues to place a high priority on North Louisiana and Louisiana Tech, and we are excited to see the opportunities that are coming as a result of the partnership. Thursday was full of several more meetings and conference calls. A significant part of the day was focused on the budget and the upgrading of our legacy information systems. One of my most enjoyable meetings of the day was with Speech professor Shane Puckett and a couple of his debate students who are doing an outstanding job of competing in national and international debate competitions. These students are impressive and their records demonstrate that our students can compete with anyone in the world. I am looking forward to winter quarter commencement this weekend and will try to get out to JC Love Field to watch the Bulldogs play their exciting brand of baseball. And, of course, I will be continuing to follow things closely in Baton Rouge.