January 31, 2014

World Famed Tiger Marching Band Makes ESPN Magazine

Grambling State University’s widely known marching band is featured in national magazine with award-winning musician Trombone Shorty and New Orleans Saints players

Grambling State University Media Bureau

Grambling, LA -Grambling State University’s World Famed Tiger Marching Band is no stranger to publicity, so when a recent phone call came from ESPN, Larry Pannell considered it normal.

“We’re no strangers to ESPN,” said Pannell, the director of the bands. “For me, it was just another typical telephone call. They knock on this door so much.”

The week before Grambling State University’s December graduation, Pannell received a phone call from ESPN. They needed 10 band members to travel to New Orleans on Dec. 23 for turnaround photo shoot at a famous and popular club called Tipitina’s. ESPN provided band members and two faculty members with their own tour bus. The bus was equipped with a living room, 12 beds inside, each with its own DVD player, and more. Pannell and band members said they felt like celebrities.

New Orleans musician Trombone Shorty, whose birth name is Troy Andrews, is featured in the photograph with New Orleans Saints wide receiver Kenny Stills and defensive end Cameron Jordan. It’s a part of the magazine’s fantasy halftime show package, providing readers with seven musical choices to see which act they would love to see during a Super Bowl halftime show. (See http://espn.go.com/sportsnation/post/_/id/10332154/espn-magazine-fantasy-acts)

This is not the first time the band has received national attention, and not the first time they’ve been featured by sports media.

ESPN, the world leader in sports and sports entertainment, needed a band that would complete ESPN The Magazine’s music issue, which hits the stands Feb. 3. With the 48th Super Bowl scheduled for Sunday night, ESPN reached out to GSU’s marching band to make the issue complete.

Grambling has played a central role with the Super Bowl’s halftime history and the magazine’s music issue “had to tell that story,” said Rob King, ESPN’s senior vice president for editorial, print and digital media.

“We did research into the history of Super Bowl halftimes,” said King, “It became clear that anything we did had to include the robust presence of the Grambling State Band.”

After receiving the news from Pannell, senior Zachary Turner said he treasured the opportunity before it happened. “It means a lot knowing that this is my last year here with the band to represent the World Famed,” said Turner, who is seen holding his saxophone with his hand pointed in the air in the two-page photo spread feature in the magazine. “It is a lot of good exposure for our university, and HBCUs in general.”

In 1967, GSU’s marching band performed at the first Super Bowl after the American Football League played the National Football League in the championship game before there was a single professional football league. All together, the World Famed has performed at four Super Bowl half time shows. The last Super Bowl half time performance that the band performed in was in 1998 at the Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, Calif.

“When you first walked on the bus, there was a living room,” said Tèsia Thomas. “It made you feel like a celebrity going on a tour because, it was much better than riding a charter bus.”

In the ESPN magazine photograph, Thomas, a sophomore majoring in social work, is standing adjacent to New Orleans Saints wide receiver Kenny Stills, holding her saxophone. “We were able to network with Trombone Shorty, and he also exchanged numbers with us.”

Though this wasn’t anything new for Pannell, he said “for the students, GSU, the State of Louisiana it was indeed a joy and we have an appreciation for being chosen.”

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January 27, 2014

Distinguished MLK Award Recipients Announced by GSU

Grambling State University includes Monroe mayor, state elected officials, an Arcadia couple, an NBA legend and Shreveport Federal Credit Union among those to be honored at Feb. 4 event

Grambling, LA – Grambling State University announces six illustrious recipients will be presented awards at the third annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Leadership Awards Luncheon on February 4.

“We’re pleased to have a particularly strong group of honorees this year,” said GSU President Frank G. Pogue, who started the luncheon tradition. “Having Arcadia and Monroe mayors, a state representative and a state senator, a woman who stands tall in her community and a basketball legend all in one place at the same time as we honor Dr. King and kick off Black History Month is truly remarkable. We invite the community to join us as we celebrate what these incredible citizens have done.”

GSU and NBA basketball legend Willis Reed will receive the Eddie G. Robinson Sports Award and Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo will be one of the Fannie Lou Hamer Community Service and Leadership award recipients. A couple of area elected officials, state Sen. Rick Gallot and state Rep. Patrick Jefferson will also receive Hamer awards, as will Arcadia Mayor and Mrs. Eugene Smith. The Shreveport Federal Credit Union will be recognized with the Madame C.J. Walker Business Award. The luncheon is scheduled for 11 a.m. on GSU campus in the Black and Gold Room of the Favrot Student Union.

Willis Reed

A member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc., Reed played GSU Tiger basketball from 1960-1964 then he went on to be a professional basketball player, coach and general manager. During his career, he showed much determination and perseverance against any and all prejudices as he set records, broke records and became one of professional basketball’s greatest legends.

Jamie Mayo

A strong GSU supporter, Mayo has been Monroe’s mayor since June 2001. A native of Mer Rouge in Morehouse Parish, he graduated from Bastrop High School in Bastrop. A graduate of the University of Louisiana at Monroe, the mayor’s son and daughter graduated from Grambling State.  As mayor of Monroe, Mayo has blazed paths for future African American leaders with his commitment to serve, his determination and his courage.

Rick Gallot & Patrick Jefferson

Gallot, a GSU graduate who also graduated from Southern University’s law school, represents District 29. With his work in the Louisiana Senate, he, along with Rep. Patrick Jefferson, were instrumental in sponsoring a bill which led to legislative approval of the GSU-West Campus acquisition, a tremendous asset to the university.  Jefferson represents state District 11 and is a Homer-based attorney. The Dillard University graduate was elected in 2011.

Eugene Smith and wife Billie

Arcadia Mayor Smith has held his job since 2003. He and his wife, Billie, have been longtime supporters of Grambling.  They are often seen at university events together and contribute to various fundraising efforts.  The university is appreciative of their staunch support of higher education.

Helen Godfrey-Smith

The business award recipient, the Shreveport Federal Credit Union, is being honored for the institution’s commitment to higher education and its sustained financial support of GSU’s academic and athletic programs. Helen Godfrey-Smith, the credit union’s president and CEO, chairs the Grambling University Foundation. The credit union has eight locations in Louisiana and in Mississippi, including an office on Edith Rose Lane in Grambling, just off the GSU campus.

The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Leadership award recognizes persons who, through their service to Grambling State University, the state, region and country, exemplify King’s character, leadership and selflessness. Each honoree must have been personally or corporately involved in making tangible, visible and meaningful contributions to the advancement of race relations and/or human rights causes in one or more of the following areas, including but not limited to: the arts, business, education, justice, community service and leadership, religion, science and technology and athletics.

A limited number of tickets are available for $10 per person. Tickets can be purchased by contacting Rose Wright in the Office of Institutional Advancement, 100 Robinson Street, on the university campus, across from the Army ROTC building. Or, call or email Wright at 318-274-2217 or wrightr@gram.edu.  Tickets will be available until 11 a.m. on Jan. 31. No tickets will be sold at the door. 


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January 24, 2014

GSU President: ‘It’s a Good Day for Higher Education in LA’

Grambling State University’s Frank Pogue, Tech’s Guice applaud Gov. Jindal’s higher education initiatives, say they will help GSU, Tech, other higher ed institutions

Grambling State University Media Bureau

Baton Rouge, LA – Four-year higher education institution budgets at Grambling State University, Louisiana Tech University and other institutions have been cut twice each year in the last several years, so Gov. Bobby Jindal make a lot of people happy with his big announcement Tuesday.

During an afternoon news conference at the LSU Business Education Complex in Baton Rouge, the governor said he proposes giving higher education a $141.5 million increase using general funds, a 6.6 percent increase from the current level of funding. This was the first time in several years that higher education institutions were not asked to help the state with a midyear budget cut in December 2013. Grambling State’s budget has been cut by 56 percent in the last six years.

In addition, Jindal announced the creation of a $40 million workforce incentive initiation fund that will match higher education research institutions with additional financial help for those producing students with high-demand certifications and degrees. Higher education institutions will compete for some of those funds.

The governor’s plans include allowing higher education institutions to keep tuition revenues for reinvestment in the schools.

The Workforce and Innovation for a Stronger Economy (WISE) plan calls for a stable funding for higher education and the creation of $40 million performance-based fund tied to workforce needs and innovation. The project is to better prepare Louisiana college students to better compete in the global economy.

Some state legislators and higher education presidents and system representatives joined Jindal at the news conference, including GSU’s Frank G. Pogue. He said the funding proposals will provide GSU with much-need relief since the university has had  multiple layoffs, reduced the number of vice presidents, reduced the number of deans and reduced the number of degree programs from a high of 67 to the current 47 to deal with twice yearly budget cuts.

“This commitment from the governor is wonderful news for students and higher education in the state,” said Pogue. “The $40 million for all of higher education provides a good opportunity for Grambling State University and others to consider ways we can connect university needs to specific state priorities and better meet student needs.”

“Louisiana Tech is excited about contributing to the WISE plan and the opportunities it will create for both our graduates and our State,” added Louisiana Tech University President Leslie K. Guice. “I believe WISE will ultimately result in opportunities for our best and brightest graduates to remain in‐state and to use their skills and talents to build a stronger Louisiana for all of us.”

The governor’s proposals have to be approved by the state legislature during the upcoming spring session.

“Having spent several consecutive years with multiple budget cuts—at least two each year—the thought of being able to plan for the next academic year and beyond is nothing more than absolutely exciting,” Pogue said.

Grambling State, La. Tech and other higher education institutions would be  required to provides business plans that will demonstrate how the funds would be used to help Louisiana needs fill key workforce jobs now and in the next few years.  Every year, the other universities would be held accountable for meeting goals and producing graduates.

“A state commitment to stabilized tuition and to allow campuses to retain the revenue generated from student tuition is an important development,” Pogue said.

“While $40 million for all of higher education is not going to be enough to help all community colleges and four year institution,” added Pogue, “it’s a good stat and a good opportunity for Grambling State University and others to consider ways we can connect university needs to these specific state requirement so we can better meet student needs.“

“Overall, this is a good day for higher education in Louisiana, and very good evidence that Louisiana can turn things around for its deserving students and employees.”

GSU and Tech are a part of the nine institutions in the University of Louisiana System, and ULS President Sandra K. Woodley also praised the news. “In the University of Louisiana System, there is a deep sense of responsibility and urgency to increase the pace at our nine universities to meet growing workforce demands and to achieve national competiveness,” said Woodley.


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Attorney Encourages GSU Students During MLK Event

Alana Belton urges students to incorporate faith, good choices in their lives

Grambling State University Media Bureau

Grambling, LA – Alana Belton brought a message of hope to the students of Grambling State University as she spoke at a Martin Luther King Jr. celebration on Monday. “It’s not enough for us to keep dreaming, we have to start living,” Belton told more than 200 in the audience.

Joining the students were prominent leaders in the Ruston and Grambling communities. GSU students included representatives from the university’s Favrot Student Union Board, Greek organizations and the GSU Royal Court. Shortly after 5 p.m., dozens marched from the fighting tiger sculpture to the Black and Gold Room in the Favrot Student Union as they sang “We Shall Overcome” and carried candles. The Favrot Student Union Board and Campus Ministries hosted the event.

“This event is important because Martin Luther King Jr. was a very prominent man in history with all of the contributions he made to the black movements for civil rights, including the image of the black community,” said Tiara Thomas, Grambling State University’s Miss Cover Girl. “He is one of the most remembered men in African American history.  It’s amazing to learn what he has done, and to see his impact on the African American community.”

Belton said students should develop good relationships and partnerships, making God first; have a vision, write it down, and believe with a plan and a purpose. She challenged the students to go 300 days without violence.

Belton, a prominent local attorney and businesswoman, is co-owner and vice president of The Belton Company, which she operates with her husband, John Belton, the company’s president. The company businesses include restaurants, a law firm and a sports training facility.

As Belton gave students her “Seven Keys to Success” she included faith as a core and suggested forgiving, forgetting and be blessed. She said students should not give up, and should always “be a giver.”

State Sen. Rick Gallot said “the reason Dr. King lived and died was to make things better, not just for his generation but for the generations to come.”

For more than 20 years, GSU has celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a federal holiday on the third Monday in January, which is close to his birthday is January 15. The holiday was signed into law in 1983 by President Ronald Reagan.

Students listened carefully as Belton discussed the importance of attending class, taking notes and having the right friends. She also said by following the rules “you get freedom, and you get blessed.”

Belton described her passion to help young people, saying she employs more than 100 students a year at their Wing Stop restaurants. She encouraged students to look for and read “Black Enterprise” magazine because it provides information about young African-Americans entrepreneurs who have figured out ways to be successful. Belton also spoke to students about focusing on a dream that’s real and accomplishable, and being engaging in the community. She suggested that students make class attendance, taking notes and studying seriously.

Raven LeDay, GSU’s FSUB president, said it is important that the university celebrate King “because the new generation is starting to forget their purpose in life, and why we fight” for better lives. “We should all be more educated in or history about African Americans,” added LeDay.


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Grambling High Lab Students Shine at Science Fair

Science teacher says event returns for first time in years

Grambling State University Media Bureau

Ashley Outley views Grambling High School Science Fair Projects.

Grambling, LA – Summer Banuelos is already looking forward to Grambling Laboratory High School’s next science fair.

“I just want to do another human behavior project because I find it very interesting,” said the 14-year-old native of Hope, Ark.

She decided to find out if childproof containers are really childproof, and the results she acquired through several tests were surprising. “I found out that childproof containers are only child proof until a child reaches a certain age of comprehension,” said Banuelos, a freshman. “At some point in time they mimic the actions of those around them.”

About 20 students showcased science projects Wednesday, projects they worked on for two weeks. The students developed research topics using scientific methods to test hypotheses and theories they formulated in an academic context.

“The purpose of the science fair is to get the students engaged in scientific discovery,” said Candace Westbrook, 34, a Little Rock, Ark., native,  Grambling State University graduate and a science teacher who has been working at the high school for the past year. “This is the first time the science fair has been reinstated after several years of the fair not being active.” a native of

The fair was held in the school library, where brightly colored poster boards were placed on wooden tables for all to see. Grambling lab middle and high school students gazed at boards, finding scientific findings of colleagues and friends as teachers graded the exhibits. The projects included the use of cellphones, hair dye, candy, popcorn and magnets.

One student chose diapers for her science experiment exhibit.

“I enjoyed finding out what diaper worked best at absorbing liquids, and also the different types of rashes and how long diapers should be kept on,” said Kierra Griggs,14,  a freshman from New Orleans who spent two weeks conducting her experiment.

Tiaron Ford, 14, took only five days to complete her project, with a little help from her grandmother and brother. Her science exhibit focused on whether preferences bias choices. “My favorite part of my research was finally charting my finding,” said the Grambling native. “I learned that people chose their favorite colors or flavors over other choices.”

Student view GSU High School science projecrs
Photos by AZANIA BRIGGS/Grambling State University Media Bureau


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