February 28, 2014

GSU Pursues Votes, Money to Upgrade Robinson Football Field

Grambling State seeking alumni, faculty, staff, students and northern Louisiana community support community to win $50,000, $25,000 and $10,000 awards for campus projects

Grambling State University Media Bureau

GRAMBLING, La. — Grambling State University students, faculty, alumni and supporters are being asked to vote daily to help the university win a national online college competition. If successful, GSU will win $50,000 to upgrade the football field at Eddie G. Robinson Memorial Stadium.

The Home Depot Retool Your School contest provides grants to historically black colleges and universities for specific campus and facility improvements. According to the company, the RYS Campus Improvement Grant Program will award more than $250,000 to 17 HBCUs.

For the top prize money, the Tier I grant, GSU opted to pursue for the resodding and professional upgrading of the football field. The field, used primarily by the G-Men football team, is regularly used by the Orchesis Dance Company, the GSU cheer squad and the World Famed Tiger Marching Band – and it is one of several major focal points for campus visitors and photographs. According to Tremell Turner, the university’s interim director of facilities, a lot of work goes into preparing the football field for weekend games because the field needs a different type of grass and much better grading and sodding.

Turner said the field needs a major overhaul to bring it up to conference expectations and standards, it is an unfunded project that will not get done without a win in this contest. “We just don’t have the money,” he said. “There’s far too much dirt, not enough grass, the wrong kind of grass and the drainage isn’t good. We can fix all of that, but it cost money, money we don’t have.”

GSU is one of 64 HBCUs competing, and there are multiple levels to win. Grambling State planned to use $10,000 for a Tier II grant to repair of campus potholes and a $25,000 “Campus Pride” award for the beautification of Charles P. Adams Park, near the faculties complex not far from the stadium and the Richmond Hall.

“There is a lot of interest in the park but it’s unusable,” said Turner. “We want to make it another gathering space for students. In the ‘60s and ‘70s it was a major hang out spot for students.”

The beautification would include landscaping with tress and scrubs, an upgraded drainage system, picnic tables and BBQ pits.

Each HBCU had to make a proposal for the RYS Improvement Grant, and had to be approved before the competition. Three HBCUs will win Campus Pride grants and 13 will win Tier Tier II grants.

None of this is possible without strong, daily participation and support for GSU. “Our Grambling State family has shown that we can do what it takes to win contests like this one, and it’s time for us to rally and take care of business again,” said Frank G. Pogue, university president. “We did it with vitaminwater. We did it with Allstate-Tom Joyner Foundation. We can do this. We WILL do this.”

In order to win one of these opportunities, GSU needs to vote daily, one time per device by going to http://www.retoolyourschool.com/vote-now/. Supporters can use smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktop computers or other mobile. Supporters are asked to use #GramblingTHDRYS in post and tweets on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to give GSU more credit, or points.

One of last year’s winners was Oakwood University, a four-year institution with fewer than 2,000 students. Clearly size does not make a difference; it is a matter of ongoing, daily support. As of Thursday afternoon, GSU was sitting at #25. Contest voting ends April 14.

“Please vote for good ole GSU each day,” said Pogue. “All of us don’t use all of these sites but this is a good chance to improve our technology skills as we support a good cause. GSU needs your help. Today. Every day.”

Click here for PDF.

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Additional Information:

Media Contact:
Will Sutton




February 27, 2014

Grambling State Lyceum Committee Hosts “Commitment of Faith” Program

An evening of black cultural experiences in music, song and words awaits audience – for free

GRAMBLING, La. — In honor of the 50th anniversary of the 1964 civil rights bill, Grambling State University’s Lyceum Committee hosts a “Commitment of Faith” program Thursday (Feb. 27) in the T.H. Harris Auditorium at 7 p.m. The Black History Month event is free.

“This came about as a community project to embrace and to challenge the community to continue to grow with the dream of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.,” said King David Godwin, interim dean of the College of Science and Technology and a Lyceum committee member. He said the committee, chaired by Stacey Duhon, vice president of student affairs and enrollment, wanted to introduce a program that would be inclusive of the city of Grambling, the broader community and the university.  During a recent meeting, the group discussed having a community choir and selected students relive some of the speeches from the civil rights movement.

Seven students will read monologues from influential African-Americans, including Melanie Williams, who will be reading pieces from Sojourner Truth and Coretta Scott King. Orlando Lewellen will read a piece from Fredrick Douglas, Dawn Clemment will read the words of Rosa Parks and Fannie Lou Hamer.   Justin Owens will read about Malcolm X, Ragje’ Iglehart will read a piece from the book “Angry Black Man,” Brandon McKnight will read a monologue from the powerful Martin Luther King Jr. and Andrea Beasley will read a story about spirituals and speak as Betty Shabazz.

In between each monologue a playlist of Negro Spirituals will be played based on research by Grambling State alumnus Derrick Slaton, who has provided a ministry of music for more than 40 years as a musician, director, music administrator, consultant/instructor in congregations, conventional bodies and training events in Louisiana, Arkansas, and Wisconsin. He is a member of the Zion Traveler Baptist Church of Ruston, where he serves as minister of music, and director of the mass and children’s choirs as well as the praise team.

Click here for PDF.

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Media Contact:
Will Sutton




GSU Student Gets Multiple Journalism Opportunities

Grambling State University president of national black journalism organization succeeds with determination, grit and never taking no for an answer

Tierra Smith takes notes while interviewing GSU President Pogue.
Tierra Smith takes notes while
interviewing GSU President Pogue.

Grambling State University Media Bureau

GRAMBLING, La. — Tierra Smith doesn’t live an ordinary college student life. The energetic junior from Houston has determination, dedication and discipline and it doesn’t stop. Her average days include classes, time in the campus newsroom, time with the university’s public relations office and time with the Student Government Association.

This self-described busybody has recently learned that she’ll be quite busy this spring and summer, landing multiple journalism opportunities in a few months that some students don’t get in an entire college career.

Smith is heading to Greensboro, N.C., for a National Association of Black Journalists multimedia short course in March, The New York Times Student Journalism Institute at Dillard University in New Orleans in May then the Sports Journalism Institute in Columbia, Mo., in late May. After that, she heads west to Salt Lake City where she’ll work for the Salt Lake Tribune as a sports reporter intern for most of the summer. Just before school in August she will attend the NABJ convention in Boston, as a reporter covering the event.

“I feel so blessed, it couldn’t be anything but the grace and favor over my life to be able to receive so many great opportunities this spring and summer,” said Smith, 21, a native of Milwaukee. “The craziest thing is that the opportunities really don’t conflict with each other, which was my main concern when I was applying for the internships. It is all coming together and the timing is perfect.”

NABJ is the largest association of journalists of color in the nation, and the group has helped develop young journalists with a variety of programs. Smith has been a student member for two years, but just being a member isn’t enough. She recently became president of the new Grambling State University chapter of NABJ and has worked hard to develop her knowledge and skills.

“Smith … received the opportunity because I reviewed packages of stories that demonstrated what I was looking for in a passionate sports journalist, and some of the stories that were read were very compelling,” said Gregory Lee Jr., executive sports editor at the South Florida Sun Sentinel and a self-described “NABJ Baby” who grew up with similar opportunities.

Smith has been on a roll this semester. Earlier this month (Feb.), she was one of two reporters recognized with the best spot news story first place award for reporting about GSU head football coach Doug Williams leaving the university in the recent Black College Communication Association national HBCU college newspaper contest. She also won a mass communication department scholarship based on her academic performance and an essay, “The Challenges of Social Networking Facing Today’s Journalists.”
It’s opportunities like these that keep Smith focused. This wasn’t the first year she applied for the SJI program.

“Since the moment I was not accepted last year into the internship program at the Sports Journalism Institute I was determined to be selected the following year,” said Smith, a senior editor at The Gramblinite. “I was constantly thinking, ‘What can I do to be more competitive? What am I missing?’ “Smith did not give up; she didn’t take no for an answer, and it paid off,” said Lee, a New Orleans native who served as NABJ president from 2011-2013.

The New York Times was impressed with the work Smith had done, according to Don Hecker, director of The New York Times institute and manager for newsroom training and education at The Times. “Smith showed commitment and she had experience,” he said. “I can’t emphasize the importance of getting internships with news organizations. Smith has worked at the (Gannett) Monroe Content Production Center and a Houston Fox 26 TV station. Every student interested in a career in newsgathering should start getting summer internships as soon as they can, even if it is at a smaller organization.”

During the program at Dillard, Smith will work with Hecker and journalists from The Times, one of the most prestigious news organizations in the world. She will meet and be edited by award-winning journalists and some of the newspaper’s top editors.

According to Smith, who is scheduled to graduate in May 2015, all of this recent success can be attributed to two people — her mother, Tanya McNeal, and Will Sutton.“I’ve always had drive and passion for journalism, but Sutton helped me polish my skills to be competitive against some of the best journalists in the world,” Smith said about the university’s director of public relations and communications and a former NABJ president and a longtime senior newspaper editor. “He showed me the influence and importance of being a member of NABJ, and he helped me publish my work in multiple platforms, print and online.”

Smith said GSU has done a lot to prepare her, but she attributes her success to God above and her mother at home. “My mother is very important in my life,” said Smith, who plans to pursue a graduate degree at Columbia University in New York City or Northwestern University in Chicago. When Smith doesn’t talk with her mother “I usually make the wrong decision.” “She is very supportive,” Smith said of her mom. “When I was describing my next couple of months of journalism … work, I knew she would say I was doing too much, but she didn’t, and that meant so much to me.”

Smith is determined to represent her mother, GSU and herself well: “I am going to brand myself as one of the best rising journalists in the nation.”

Tierra Smith reads the Gramblinite Student Newspaper.
Tierra Smith reads the Gramblinite Student Newspaper.

Click here for PDF.

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Media Contact:
Will Sutton




February 18, 2014

Eating Corn Dog, President Gets Student Feedback

Grambling State University’s Pogue, others hear directly from GSU students what they like, dislike, want changed

Dr. Pogue poses with the First Lady and students to celebrate President's Day and connect with students.
Dr. Pogue poses with the First Lady
and students to celebrate President’s Day
and connect with students.

Grambling State University Media Bureau

GRAMBLING, La. — Grambling State University President Frank G. Pogue was chomping on some French fries and a corn dog as he chatted with students.

Celebrating Presidents Day with an interactive lunch in McCall Dining Hall, Pogue, members of the administration, faculty and staff enjoyed lunch eating what students eat as they asked GSU students to open up about what concerns and ideas they have.

“This really works,” said Pogue during a break between bites. “We put a lot of these suggestions into action.”

This was the second year the president hosted a dine and eat feedback session with the Student Government Association president, and he noted that last year’s event was so successful that it was decided to do it again. As students entered the cafeteria they were handed yellow student feedback forms. Members of the administration went table-by-table, sitting with students to record whatever they had to say. Designated categories ranged from university athletics, the application and registration process to campus safety and security.

“I think this is the first step, hearing our concerns,” said Brittany Williams, 21, a junior criminal justice major from Houston. Pogue knows some students feel a disconnect between the administration and students and he said that is why this is another in a series of things being done to improve communication. With the help of the SGA, he has held town hall meetings regularly to get direct feedback from the student body.

“I don’t know another university in the area, that uses this type of event to get firsthand information from the students,” said Pogue. “Here the overall agenda is receiving students’ perspective on the services offered at GSU.”

Some students agree the luncheon is a positive move for the university. “This proves that the university cares about the issues of student body,” said Jonathan Wallace, 18, a freshman sports management major from Rayville, La. “It’s not every day the administration can come and join us. They don’t usually get to see the day-to-day issues we face.”

Students had a variety of opinions, and one said school spirit and campus security are at the top of her list of things that need to be improved. “As a GSU cheerleader, I love to see energized students,” said Naje Watkins, 20, a junior Rockwall, Texas, native. “I also think we should have better protection with the (campus) police.”

Willie Bell, a GSU police department consultant who attended the lunch, said the department knows students are concerned and the department continues to make progress. He said the university is in the process of hiring three more police officers and the department plans to set up a suggestion box. “The students are the eyes and ears of this university,” said Bell. “They hear and see more than the police department.”

Pogue said all of the data collected at the lunch will be evaluated and used in the summer planning sessions. “These suggestions become an important part of the planning of our university,” said Pogue. “It seems the general concern among everyone is enhanced communication.”

Vice President of Student Affairs, Dr. Stacey Duhon, feceives feedback from students at President's Day lunch event.
Vice President of Student Affairs, Dr. Stacey Duhon, receives feedback from students at President’s Day lunch event.

Click here for PDF.

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Additional Information

Media Contact:
Will Sutton




Surprise Visit to Campus Newspaper Yields Congrats, Pizza

Grambling State University president pops in on weekly meeting of The Gramblinite to congratulate the staff on a national win, offers encouragement

Dr. Pogue poses with directors of The Gramblinite student newspaper, Wanda Peters(R) and Joice Dunn(L), to celebrate the recent win of Best HBCU Newspaper.
Dr. Pogue poses with directors of
The Gramblinite student newspaper,
Wanda Peters(R) and Joice Dunn(L),
to celebrate the recent win
of Best HBCU Newspaper.

Grambling State University Media Bureau

GRAMBLING, La. — The Gramblinite’s weekly staff meeting was preempted when the president showed up.  Grambling  State University President Frank G. Pogue made a surprise visit to the Washington-Johnson Complex to wish the campus newspaper staff congratulations for winning the Best HBCU Newspaper in the nation recognition from the Black College Communication Association.

“I personally express my appreciation to the Gramblinite staff,” Pogue told a packed newspaper office. “I thank you all for what you do. I’ve never seen so many best this and best that before. Continue to do the excellent job that you are doing.”

The BCCA named the school newspaper the best among HBCU college newspapers in 2013 during the annual HBCU Excellence in Journalism conference at Prairie View A&M University in Prairie View, Texas. Student newspapers were judged  in 16 categories by professional journalists from across the nation, including reporting, photography, sports, and online reporting.

 The Gramblinite won seven other BCCA awards and recognitions, including first place in the best editorial cartoon and best spot news story categories.

Pogue encouraged the students to continue to present the university in a positive, accurate way, saying as long as they do that The Gramblinite will have “1000 percent support from the university.”

Gramblinite editors and staffers were surprised when the president showed up with several of his executive cabinet members and a student staple – pizza. Five different types of pizza were served with sodas, making Monday afternoon’s newspaper staff meeting even more memorable.

“I felt like it was an honor to finally be recognized and appreciated for what we do,” Kevin Keise, a Gramblinite editor. “There have been a lot of people in the community who doubted us, so to come back with the best overall student newspaper really proved them wrong.”

“I was absolutely surprised. It really shows that the staff is paying attention to the work that we do as students, and that we are appreciated,” ” added Tierra Smith, 21, a Gramblinite editor from Houston. “Many times I felt like people did not read the newspaper like they should. We spend a lot of long hours constructing the paper, and to see so many people come and support us today was very encouraging.”

Smith said that show of support  “encourages us to keep trying and to keep pushing forward and to continue to make improvements.”

In addition to winning the best newspaper award, The Gramblinite received seven other awards, including first place in the best editorial cartoon and best spot news categories. Staff also won second place in the best headline writer category and third place for best individual page design as well as second place for best design.  The newspaper picked up some honorable mentions, too.

Since 2009, when The Gramblinite won Best HBCU newspaper for work done in 2008, the newspaper has not received so much recognition, according to publications director Wanda L. Peters. “This is a proud moment for The Gramblinite students who work extremely hard to produce the weekly newspaper, and to Grambling State University,” Peters said.

Gramblinite Editors, Writers, and Staff Celebrate the Recent Win of 'Best HBCU Newspaper' With Dr. Pogue and Pizza!
Gramblinite Editors, Writers, and Staff Celebrate the Recent Win of “Best HBCU Newspaper” With Dr. Pogue and Pizza!

Click here for PDF.

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Black College Communication Association
2013 Excellence in Journalism Contest

Category 1: Best Spot News Story
First Place: “Grambling loses Legend,” The Gramblinite, Grambling State University

Category 4: Best Sports News or Game Story
Third Place: Diana Sepulveda, “GSU legend retires after 44 years in NFL,”
The Gramblinite, Grambling State University

Category 6: Best Overall Sports Coverage
Honorable Mentions:
The Gramblinite, Grambling State University. April 11, 18, and Oct. 3

First Place: Nobel Michael, Obamacare (Oct 3, 2013), The Gramblinite, Grambling State University

Second Place: Evan Peters, The Gramblinite, Grambling State University

Category 10: Best Individual Page Design
Third Place: The Gramblinite, Grambling State University

Category 12:  Best Design—Broadsheet or Tabloid
Second Place: The Gramblinite, Grambling University

Category 16a: Best Student Newspaper (non-regular production)
First Place: The Gramblinite, Grambling University

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Media Contact:
Will Sutton




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