Longtime registrar remembers Adams, early Grambling

The woman who would later be highly esteemed left Grambling in the same place she started. 

Ruby Weekly Billups, who is from Vidalia, attended Grambling College in 1947 and graduated with an elementary education degree in 1951.

 Billups was a student worker for the registrar’s office for four years. After graduating in 1951, because of her dedication as a student worker, she was asked to become a member of the Admissions staff as an assistant registrar. 

She was an assistant registrar for 13 years, and then she became full-time registrar for 22 years. She worked with registration at Grambling State University for a total of 35 years.

Billups got the opportunity to meet Charles P. Adams, and is a witness of the impact, difference, and positive change he made in her life and many lives of Grambling students and staff. 

Billups describes Adams as a tall stately man, and although Adams retired in 1936 he never lost interest in Grambling. Whenever there were special programs, like convocations or vespers, Billups saw Adams and his wife right there at the events.  

He visited the campus at least once a year, and he always sat in the registrar’s office, headed at that time by W.L. Garner. The workers in the registrars’ office were always happy to see Adams. They felt fortunate to be able to speak to the determined man who founded Grambling College. They even had a nickname for Adams: Those in the registrar’s office called him Chief.

The first Founder’s Day that Billups was involved in was April 20, 1979, and it was under the administration of GSU president, Dr. Joseph B. Johnson. 

During that time the Founder’s events were just one day, but as time passed the administrators decided to show more recognition, and it became Founder’s Week.  

Billups offers some words of wisdom: “Always remember the struggle and the people who made sacrifices to make life better. Keep on striving for continued progress. Wherever you go, don’t forget those who helped to get you where you are.”

She said she will never forget the hard work and dedication Adams showed. “Without Tuskegee’s Booker T. Washington recommending the 28-year-old Charles P. Adams in 1901 to complete the task of founding Grambling College of Louisiana, there would be no Grambling State University today.” 

Adams was really interested in students learning to work together as a team and spreading the information/knowledge on to others, Billups said. 

When she came to Grambling, the only degrees offered were elementary education, business, home economics, and art. Tailoring and carpentry were also some electives offered to give the young men the opportunity to learn household mechanics and how to build certain items. 

 Adams’ emphasis was on industrial education, Billups said. Where the academic buildings are today, was farmland in the 1930s. The majority of the food served in the cafeteria was grown right on campus.

 Billups expressed what she liked most about Grambling: “The outstanding administrative leadership. The cooperative spirit amongst co-workers, the university was student oriented, with good customer service practices, and determination for success.”

Adams was not only the founder of Grambling, but he was the first president, he nurtured the university and led the way until retirement in 1936. 

Billups served under two presidents, President Ralph Waldo Emerson Jones, the second president of Grambling, and President Joseph B. Johnson, the third president of Grambling

After many years Grambling State University now offers undergraduate, graduate and professional programs to meet the educational needs of the nearly 5,000 plus students enrolled.

Charles P. Adams would be proud to know that after 112 years that Grambling State University still strives to achieve excellence in higher education. Grambling State believes that education is the cornerstone of an enlightened, creative and productive society.

“Congratulations to my alma mater Grambling State University on 112 years of tradition, service, and excellence,” Billups said. “

The retired registrar attends New Rocky Valley Baptist Church, where she has been a member for over 50 years. She is involved in the charter chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and Alpha Kappa Mu Honor Society. Both of her children, Susan Billups Wiley and Rodney Claude Billups, are also graduates of Grambling State University.

This week Grambling State University is celebrating the life and accomplishments of the founder of what is now known as Grambling State University.