The new group allows retired GSU faculty, staff to continue to contribute to university success; first meeting Wednesday
Grambling, LA – As the employer of most African Americans in much of northeastern Louisiana, Grambling State University produces not just undergraduate and graduate students but also a large group of retirees.
Grambling State University President Frank G. Pogue identified this ready-made pool of highly-qualified and skilled professionals and workers and recently established the Grambling State University Association for Retired Faculty and Staff.
“We held our annual President’s Retiree Dinner last month and we didn’t want to convey the message that this was a farewell,” said Pogue. “We decided to say ‘welcome’ to a core group helping us launch a new, exciting and continued relationship with the institution.” The president said the new association will provide former employees who have served the university an organized way to continue to help in a variety of ways.
Pogue, who has a Ph.D. degree in sociology, said there are lots of reasons that the city of Grambling is nearly all black and that there are several black communities easily identifiable in nearby cities and towns. He said those reasons include the remnants of slavery, segregation, Jim Crowism, racism and the fear of white-dominated violence. Grambling’s city population is 99% African American and there are several African American neighborhoods in Ruston, West Monroe, Monroe, Shreveport and other municipalities.
“In one way or the other, the vast majority of African American residents and property owners were somehow associated with the region’s largest employer of African Americans, Grambling State University,” said Pogue. “The overwhelming number of black retirees in the Grambling/Lincoln Parish area are former GSU employees or the spouse of a former GSU employee, and others in northern Louisiana may have worked at Grambling State or are otherwise affiliated with the university.“
“The institution is the sole professional and emotional identifier for black employees, and when they retire, it is often more important than ever to have ways to continue to be associated throughout the retirement years,” said Pogue. “This may explain the reason that retirees often, are so eager to receive and accept invitations to virtually every event on campus.
“The university remains ‘the watering hole’ for black education and cultural identity. Retirees remain an untapped resource for the university, and this group will bind these individuals together and continue to keep them associated with the university.”
"Educating the vast majority of black college attendees in the region, GSU has and continues to be, the mecca for black social, cultural and athletic activities and events," added Connie Walton, provost and vice president of academic affairs and a 1983 university graduate who returned to work at her alma mater in 1991. "Buttressed by traditional black churches, fraternities and sororities, and traditional black community organizations, Grambling is the frame of reference for surrounding communities, particularly for Grambling retirees."
During a May 23 special dinner honoring recent retirees, Pogue launched the new, freestanding association, asking for a small group of retired volunteers to become charter members who will work with other area university retirees to select officers and to develop some foundational structures. He said the university would provide some meeting space and clerical assistance as the group forms, working closely with the university’s Office of Institutional Advancement and Debra Johnson, the director of alumni affairs.
Many university retirees are also university graduates. Just last month, about 30 university faculty and staff members were recognized at a festive evening dinner, and the new association was enthusiastically received. Several recent retirees volunteered to help jump-start the effort. Pauline Lee, who worked at the university for 43 years, retiring officially in 2001 as dean of library services, agreed to serve as the convener of the first association-organizing luncheon meeting on Wednesday (June 19).
Interested Grambling State University retired faculty and staff can contact Janis Bluford in the President’s Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 318-274-6124.
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