By Rick Hohlt, Ruston Leader
When he was named as Grambling State University’s new interim president in November, Frank Pogue said his first goal was “calming the waters and righting the ship” for the beleaguered school.
Pogue took over the helm at GSU after former president Horace Judson suddenly resigned Oct. 31 following five years of service. Judson’s tenure was plagued by disputes with alumni, student and faculty groups.
Two months later, those GSU waters appear to have calmed, and Pogue is now working to begin steering the university toward stability and success.
Part of that process has been working to reestablish the relationship between the university and the Grambling community.
Hundreds attended a community meeting Thursday at the GSU Assembly Center, in which Pogue spoke of his goals and long-term vision for the university’s future while also asking for an end to what he termed as an environment of disrespect and mistrust at the school.
Pogue seemed to be aware of rumblings that some GSU employees have reportedly expressed concerned about the appointments of new Interim Vice-President for Academic Affairs and Provost, Connie R. Walton, and new Interim Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Evelyn G. Wynn.
“I want you to stop talking about each other … let’s stop the gossiping,” he said.
“Let’s build people – the university – up and empower people here to be successful.”
Pogue said repairing the relationship between university leaders and GSU alumni is one of his primary goals. He said tension between alumni and the university has hurt GSU’s fundraising efforts, which have taken on increasing importance after deep budget cuts for the state’s higher education system.
“No institution can claim to be serving students when its No. 1 support group – its alumni base – is in disarray.
“When there is disharmony between an university and alumni, that university is in trouble.”
Pogue appears to be saying the right things, as University of Louisiana Sytem vice chair R. Wayne Parker said “I thought it was an outstanding speech, it shows he’s used the time that he’s been here very wisely.”
Let’s hope that approach continues and means better times for the school in the future. Information not available.