Honoring our origins


In the landscaped island adjacent to Grambling State University’s Lee Hall Financial Aid Building, a bust of the university founder and first president, Charles P. Adams, stands on a marble base.

His statue is molded with him looking off into the distance, as if he is looking into the future. Adams in fact did see the future, and he created it, which speakers emphasized at GSU’s 33rd annual Founder’s Day Convocation on Tuesday. 

The ceremony took on a particular resonance as students, faculty and staff, alumni, community members and other friends of the university celebrated the founding of GSU 111 years ago.

“The rich history of this great institution has enabled thousands of students to realize their goal of a college education and to become global leaders, as well as contributors, in their chosen fields,” GSU president Dr. Frank Pogue told a packed crowd in T.H. Harris Auditorium. “We must continue to make Grambling State University the viable, life-giving, preeminent university that Adams envisioned.”

The ceremonies honored Adams, who came to Grambling on Aug. 4, 1901, following a request from members of an organization known as the North Louisiana Farmers Relief Association to Booker T. Washington, asking for someone capable of setting up a school in the awakening hill country of North Louisiana.

“The Founder’s Week celebrations have truly been an eye-opening experience for me,” said Brittany Baker, a freshman business major from Baton Rouge. “It’s a time to reflect and realize we are living Black history, GSU’s history, that we must upkeep.”

The featured speaker for the convocation was Dr. Birdex Copeland Jr., a 1965 graduate of then Grambling College and a retired dean of the School of Social Work. 

“It took a man like Adams, who stood at 6 feet 10 inches and weighed 300 pounds, to come to Grambling and weather the numerous storms to make the dream of having a school to educate the sons and daughters of freed slaves a reality,” Dr. Copeland said.

“You are at the right place, at the right time, and you just need to do the right thing,” he told the audience. “I have experienced some of GSU’s past, and I’m anxiously awaiting to see the future in you.”

He ended his speech by asking everybody in attendance to recite,”Charles P. Adams and the founders of Grambling did it all just for me.”

Copeland added that he would not have been able to serve Grambling State University for over 30 years, after he received his undergraduate degree, if he had not been properly prepared by the excellent faculty and administrators throughout his matriculation at GSU.

“We must continue celebrating 111 years of tradition, service and excellence,” President Pogue concluded.