Grambling State University President Frank G. Pogue and first lady Dorothy Pogue warmly received guests as they entered the Thomas Jefferson Room at the Claiborne Building for an evening reception.
GSU director of bands Larry Pannell and other faculty musicians serenaded guests as they mingled, dining on crab cakes, shrimp and crawfish pasta, bruschetta on toast and finger sandwiches. They also had an assortment of fresh fruits, cheeses, and desserts – and GSU’s signature cookies.
This is the second year different representatives from nine sister universities have gathered but the first time Grambling State University has hosted a reception.
The University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors and ULS staff heard and saw what Grambling State University has to offer, and the reception was the first part of a two-part GSU primer. Part 2 was Friday at the scheduled board meeting.
GSU presented some of the best its students and the university have to offer as a part of promoting awareness and graduates in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) areas.
The reception played host to representatives from Louisiana Tech University, University of Louisiana at Monroe, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Northwestern University, McNeese State University, Southeastern University, University of New Orleans and Nicholls State University as well as the ULS board members and ULS staff.
Glenda Island, the university’s head of the department of family and consumer sciences, decorated the room with tiger pride in mind. “Whenever we need decorations done for the university, I call on Dr. Island,” said Connie Walton, provost and vice president for academic affairs.
Tables covered in black linens were embellished with gold accents, tiger sculptures and flower-filled vases. GSU faculty and staff from social work, service learning, the Earl Lester Cole Honors College, campus beautification, science & technology and the College of Business stood by informative displays announcing changes or things to come at Grambling State. There was a display about the work at the campus library, too.
The faculty band played popular zydeco tunes, the culturally-famous second line and various covers from artists such as Luther Vandross. Pogue said he wanted to be sure the band played so guests would enjoy the entire experience – and they did. So did some who weren’t invited. The mostly upbeat music drew people in who were in the building for other things.
Toward the end Pogue addressed the room, thanking Sandra Woodley, president of the UL system, for providing the opportunity to do events like.
this in an informal setting as board members and university leaders get to know one another. Pogue opened the floor to Woodley who said, “I admire Dr. Pogue because he is committed, hardworking and constantly trying to figure out how to make Grambling better.” She went on to speak about Grambling’s faculty, several of whom were in attendance, saying that their commitment and perseverance does not go unnoticed.
During the ULS board meeting the next morning, Pogue and Walton gave a presentation created to info those who may not have had the chance to visit the campus. Pogue opened with a photo of the student-named Eddie the Fighting Tiger, saying “Nothing has generated more excitement since the opening of the Eddie G. Robinson museum,” a reference to the museum named after the legendary football coach and the 17-foot tiger sculpture erected in early December.
Walton discussed the university’s STEM programs and talked about Grambling State’s efforts to increase the underrepresented groups with graduates from degree programs in biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering technology, mathematics & physics and health-related studies through research and innovation. Understanding the importance of educating youth, Walton said GSU also caters STEM programs to the K-12 grades at the institution’s lab schools to help educate, and motivate, school children to consider careers in math and science.
As a proud president and something like a proud father, Pogue talked about GSU’s championship men’s track team and its Hall of Fame track coach, Bertram Lovell. There were Grambling State student success stories who went on to Ivy League institutions including Harvard and Yale universities as well as a significant increase in alumni giving, by as much as 12 percent since the 2012-2013 academic year as the president emphasized the importance of giving back.