September 25, 2013

GSU’S Only Female President: Long Live Grambling State University

Neari Warner returns, delivers Founder’s Day convocation speech

Grambling State University Media Bureau

Grambling, LA – Long-Jones Hall has portraits of presidents that laid foundations to keep Grambling State University going. Among the nine, eight are men and there is one woman, Neari Warner.

She returned the Grambling State’s campus after four years to give the Founder’s Day Convocation address on Tuesday (Sept. 23).

During her 2001-2004 presidency, Warner successfully led the university through a probation period by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the accrediting agency for schools in the South. With hard work from students, faculty and staff, Grambling State was cleared in 2003.

“We worked not only to secure SACS accreditation, but to also ensure that all degree programs were accredited by their respective agencies,” she said. “We had to make sure that our academic programs were validated and that our school was a university of excellence.”
Founder’s Day celebrates tradition, service and excellence at Grambling State University, founded by Charles P. Adams, the university’s first president, when the school opened in August 1901.

“Adams worked, toiled and fought to ensure the reality and longevity of this school,” Warner told an audience of Grambling elementary, middle and school students as well as university faculty, staff and students. “Now you have to remember this was in the early 1900s. I am sure none of us can imagine the trials and tribulations he encountered to keep the school growing and prospering.”

Grambling State University, which started as Colored Industrial and Agricultural School, has had many presidents continue Adams’ leadership legacy. Along the way, among the leaders was Warner.

“Then something happen,” said Warner. “I vowed openly to all constituents of the university, I would do my best to ensure the tradition, service and excellence established by our founder, and all my male predecessors, that I would continue and not be compromised.” 

The Grambling State alumna had a long career tailored in Grambling’s administration. Before becoming acting president, she was provost and vice president for academic affairs, acting vice president of academic affairs, special assistant to the president, vice president for development and university relations and interim vice president for student affairs from 1994 until she became acting president.

During her founder’s day address, Warner took time to acknowledge nearly every department and degree program that was accredited during her presidency. She believes it was time for them to receive recognition for their hard work and dedication.

“When the College of Business received it’s accreditation, we wanted to announce it on the New York Stock Exchange,” said Warner. “But, we didn’t because we still had work to do.”

In addition, she was honored to be notified that seven GSU students were awarded $2,000 each from the Dr. Neari F. Warner Endowed Scholarship fund, money the students can use to cover tuition, books or related school expenses.

The World Famed Tiger Marching Band, dressed in black coats and slacks and white shirts, performed “Marched of the Heralds” as President Frank G. Pogue and some faculty and staff marched into the T.H. Harris Auditorium robed in academic regalia.

“I am honored to attend such a prestigious program,” said Michael Wells, 18, a freshman marketing major from Tallulah, La. “If it wasn’t for people like Charles P. Adams, Grambling would not still be standing today.”

Many freshmen were in attendance, in part because the First Year Experience class requires attendance at general assemblies.  Still, some freshmen see the benefit.

“First Year Experience is a great class which teaches us about the legacy of Grambling,” said Jermey Klie, 19, a sophomore computer information system from Tallulah. Among other things, the F.Y.E. class teaches students about the university’s rich tradition, the alma mater and the fight song.  

Among the convocation attendees were a couple of special guests, descendants of Adams, a great grandchild, Edward Adams, and a great-great grandchild, Christian Adams, both of New Orleans.

“As a child, I would always spend time with my grandparents when they lived in Grambling,” said Christian Adams. “I never realized the magnitude of being a descendant of Charles P. Adams until today.”  This was his first founder’s convocation and he said he appreciated the experience and the respect for his great-great grandfather.

“This is a great recognition of the Adams family,” added Edward “Terry” Adams. 

One of the most sentimental moments of the convocation was the placing of the flowers. Three kindergarten students from Alma J. Brown Elementary School placed bright yellow flowers on stage near Adam’s pictures while the crowd watched, smiled and awed. 

There were also students from Grambling Laboratory Middle and High Schools in attendance. Adarian Williams, 17, a senior who is the student government association president at Grambling Lab High School, shared an inspiring poem about Adams dedication to the university. Williams said Grambling State University is one of his top picks for college next year.

During the assembly, the university choir sang several selections, including “Life Ev’Ry Voice and Sing,” “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and “Daniel, Daniel Servant of the Lord,” arranged and directed by Undine Moore and Natorshau Davis.  

This week, students will tour the campus, including historical highlights including landmarks including the Adam’s home and his burial site. Founder’s Week Tours for the general public are scheduled for Thursday (September 26) at 9 a.m., 10 a.m. and 11 a.m., leaving from the front of Brown Hall on the campus.

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Media Contact:
Will Sutton



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