By Sarah Eddington
The Louisiana Tech University community seems to be in agreement on who should become the institution’s 14th president.
The university’s presidential search committee held its first meeting and public on the Ruston campus Tuesday, and nearly everyone who spoke at the forum expressed strong interest in seeing Les Guice, vice president for research and development at Louisiana Tech, become the university’s next president.
The purpose of the public forum was to gather input from the campus community on desired qualifications for the person to replace longtime president Dan Reneau, who will at the end of June after 26 years of service as Louisiana Tech’s president.
One by one, faculty, staff, students, alumni and community members voiced their support in seeing Guice take the reins after Reneau steps down.
Benjamin Denny, a Tech alumnus and president of the Louisiana Tech , said the university has achieved “incredible success in virtually every measurable way” under Reneau’s leadership, which is why the next president should be someone from within the university who can build on that legacy.
“Louisiana Tech University is on top for a reason, and that reason is a culture of excellence that permeates this entire university. We don’t need to change that recipe. We need to perpetuate it with stability and consistent leadership,” he said. “The University Foundation believes that [Guice] is the ideal candidate for this purpose. He has played a key administrative role at Tech for well over a decade and has demonstrated exceptional leadership skills.”
Dr. Phillip Rozeman, a cardiologist from Shreveport-Minden, agreed that change is not what’s needed, and the hire should be someone who knows the university.
He said the committee should appoint someone who understands the culture and vision of the university and can provide sustainable leadership.
George Baldwin, Tech alumnus and member of the university’s Engineering and Science Foundation Board, echoed those sentiments, adding that Guice has worked for the university at various levels for decades, which will give him a better understanding of the institution’s inner workings.
“We know of no one better than [Guice] to take the reins of this university and guide it into the future that we can all be very proud of as Bulldogs,” he said.
Martin Santora, president and CEO of Fenway Group, came from Dallas to also speak on behalf of Guice.
Santora said one of the main reasons he opened an office at Tech Pointe, located on Tech’s Enterprise Campus, is because of Guice’s vision and innovation.
Cathi Cox-Boniol, a Tech alumna, said Guice is a leader on the local and global level, and he will be able to maintain the university’s rich history if he becomes the next president.
“He has been working alongside Dr. Reneau, and that puts him in a unique position to move this university forward seamlessly, and I can’t think of anything more important right now,” she said.
University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors Chairman Wayne Parker, who is also chair of the search committee, said the community voiced “compelling arguments” in support of Guice, which will be taken into consideration during the search process.
Guice, who was not present during the forum, said he intends to apply for the position.
According to the tentative search timeline, the finalists will be chosen and presented to the Board of Supervisors in early December. Then it will be up to the board to make the final decision.
“The ultimate mission of our board is to hire the most qualified person whose background, education and body of work suggests that he or she will be the best person to lead Louisiana Tech into the future,” Parker said.
Voting members of the committee include Parker and UL System board members Edward Crawford of Shreveport, student member and Tech SGA President William Dearmon, Jimmy Faircloth of Alexandria, David Guidry of Harvey, Jimmy Long Sr. of Natchitoches, board vice chairman Russell Mosely of Baton Rouge and Winfred Sibille of Sunset. Also serving as a voting member is Heath Tims, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Louisiana Tech and vice chair of the University Senate.
Serving as advisory, nonvoting members are Ruston Mayor Dan Hollingsworth and Tech Foundation President-elect Jack Byrd.