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Special Chancellor's Notes

5/02/2014

 

 

 

 

 

To the Southern University Community:

 

It has been an honor and privilege to serve Southern University and A&M College as its Chancellor these past three years.  As I approach the end of my tenure I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to all of the Jaguar Nation, but more specifically, the students, faculty and staff of this campus. 

 

My relationship with this great University started more than 50 years ago when I visited as a young high school student to participate in a science fair.  Seven years later I returned to see my wife receive her bachelor's degree, earned as a non-traditional student while I served a tour of duty in Viet Nam. 

 

Twenty-five years after that first visit I returned again as an adjunct instructor and realized that the classroom and the students provided a measure of satisfaction and value that I had not experienced in any other environment.  I stayed for 19 years, left for a short period, and was afforded the opportunity to return as Chancellor in 2011.

 

These have been difficult times, not only for Southern but for all of higher education in Louisiana and, to some extent, the rest of the country.  As we entered this Centennial year and began a celebration of our history and our future, I have reflected on the challenges faced by our founders and the leaders of this great University who have served us these past one hundred years. 

 

We have overcome poor funding, discrimination, civil rights struggles, the murder of students engaged in peaceful demonstrations, and attacks on the need for our very existence.  Yet, here we are, celebrating success.  Our success can be stated very succinctly:  Southern University has produced thousands of graduates who have contributed significantly to the success of this country in every field imaginable- the Jaguar Nation.  We will continue to do so.

 

During these past few years with you, we have endured our challenges.  The staff endured multiple years of furloughs; faculty endured a year of furloughs; students faced yearly tuition increases, reduced course offerings, and larger class sizes; many of our colleagues lost their jobs or opted for early retirement; remaining staff and faculty assumed increased workloads and responsibilities; building maintenance was deferred for lack of funds.

 

As Chancellor, the decisions necessary during these past years have been difficult.  To the faculty, staff, and students, I say thank you for enduring and remaining committed to Southern.

 

Southern University will continue to face challenges.  We still face significant budget issues.  We are challenged in having to meet GRAD Act targets established prior to exigency and the continuing impact of exigency on academic offerings and staff support. 

 

Yet, as we faced and still face those challenges, we have also had some accomplishments. 

 

I am most pleased with our increase in Fall 2013 incoming class by over 40 percent.  We have reorganized our academic units, through a shared governance model, and I believe that the rewards of that reorganization will be realized in the next few years with more innovative degree and certificate offerings, streamlined curricula within colleges, and more interdisciplinary collaborations. 

 

We have demolished eyesores and opened new facilities designed to enhance the student experience.  We have increased our international experience and opened new opportunities for our students.  Our athletic teams have experienced success that will return us to the position of athletic supremacy in our conference. 

 

During this centennial year we have raised over $350,000 to date for additional financial support for our students through the Chancellor's Scholarship Fund.  I have stated my belief that Southern University is uniquely positioned to set the standard for Alumni support among HBCUs.  It is my hope that this Centennial year is the catalyst for a sustained culture of giving among our alumni.

 

In closing, I, and the First Lady, want to express our sincere thanks for all the support and encouragement during these three years.  God bless all of you and God bless the Jaguar Nation.