From the desk of President Leslie K. Guice
An uncertain summer journey on life’s road
The past two weeks have been quite a journey for me professionally and personally. I have put a lot of miles on my vehicle as I have traveled across the region dealing with university-related activities in Baton Rouge, Dallas, Bossier City and Monroe. My journey also included several personal trips to Bastrop.
The journey began in Dallas at our annual Conference USA Board meeting where we discussed a number of issues ranging from academic success to scheduling to media agreements and more. I am excited about where our conference is headed and appreciate the innovative approaches being pursued by our presidents and conference leadership.
I drove back from Dallas while listening to the final hours of the 2nd special legislative session. In its final hour of the session at midnight on Monday, the legislature passed the budget but failed to pass the revenue bills that would fully fund the budget. That left higher education and our TOPS students with major uncertainties in funding for a year that officially begins on July 1. Governor Edwards has called for a 3rd special session that begins next week and we remain hopeful that higher ed will wind up with our second consecutive year of stable funding and that our students will see the promise of TOPS funding fulfilled. But the uncertainty creates huge challenges for all of us in higher education as we prepare for the beginning of the new year.
After a day in the office, I continued my journey to Bossier City to meet with key executives of our partner General Dynamics Information Technology. GDIT recently acquired CSRA and I was pleased to confirm that the new owners see the tremendous value of the partnership with Louisiana Tech. I look forward to working with them to ensure that we meet their workforce and R&D needs as they strengthen their presence in Louisiana.
The next day, I was able to participate in the Big Tech Welcome for our Honors Orientation students. This is shaping up as another outstanding freshman class, and I thoroughly enjoyed visiting with many of the students and their parents. The feedback from the session was great as both students and parents said they loved the orientation experience. Our faculty, staff and student leaders are commended for their tremendous efforts.
Afterwards, Kathy and I headed to Monroe to visit with my Mom in the hospital and to attend a retirement ceremony honoring Tech alumnus and CenturyLink CEO Glen Post. I thanked Glen for the huge impact that he has had in building a powerhouse company for Louisiana. So many of our graduates have had opportunities to build a great career in North Louisiana thanks to his leadership of CenturyLink.
I continued my journey the next day to Baton Rouge to chair a couple of state-wide research committee meetings. As I began my journey back home, I received a message that Mom’s condition was worsening and I decided to head directly back to Bastrop to check on her. Kathy and I spent much of the week-end with her, joining with my brother and his family during that time.
Mom’s life journey came to a close early Sunday afternoon with almost all of our family by her side. I am glad that we had some very special moments with her and with each other. Mom even gave us a final concert in her final hours as she joined us in singing two hymns. Her family and her church were her life, and she filled her life with the love of many.
My sons and their families journeyed from Houston and Jacksonville to join us for much of this week. We were so glad to have special time together, something that has been less frequent as they have moved to different parts of the country. Mom’s journey came full circle on Wednesday with her funeral at the church that my father pastored in 1963 and where my brother currently serves as the minister of music.
I was blessed to have wonderful parents who had little but gave much. And I am thankful for the many friends who have offered condolences and encouragement to me and my family.