University-wide reception to honor the Pogues is scheduled for Wednesday at 3 p.m.
Dr. and Mrs. Pogue cutting cake at a celebration
in their honor for their contributions to GSU.
By JESSICA WRIGHT
Grambling State University Media Bureau
Grambling, LA – The crowd at the Eddie G. Robinson Museum was there to honor Grambling State University President Frank G. Pogue and first lady Dorothy Pogue but there wasn’t a whisper when the first lady spoke about being ready to leave with a twist.
“We’ve been many places, but it is extremely difficult for me to leave Grambling,” Mrs. Pogue told the audience of about 60 in the Doris Robinson Banquet Hall. She talked about how she’s made life-long friends and GSU has been like no other place they have served. This is her fourth first lady role since President Pogue has served as interim president or president at three universities before arriving in Lincoln Parish in 2009.
At the invite-only reception, the Pogues greeted and welcomed close friends, church members and community leaders to the first of a few farewell receptions. The largest is Wednesday (May 28) at the Favrot Student Union’s Black and Gold Room, and it is open to all faculty, staff, students and the public from 3 p.m.-5 p.m. Pogue retires June 30.
Thursday night’s event included tables dressed in white linens tablecloths, mostly with single-stem red roses and an occasional white rose along with baby’s breath. Though nearly all tables were bare but for the flowers and small plates of food, the special table set aside for President and Mrs. Pogue quickly filled up with gifts, plaques and proclamations.
The Friends of the Eddie G. Robinson Museum said they wanted to honor the Pogues because they have done so much for Grambling State University, and the university relationship with the museum. Friends president Wilbert Ellis, a former GSU baseball coach and retiree, and chairman John Belton decided to honor the first couple by hosting a special event with some special friends – and giving each museum watches to remember the museum and the university.
Incoming GSU Student Government Association president Erik Johnson and incoming Miss Grambling State University, Ginia Smith, told the Pogues and the attendees that the president and his wife meant a lot to students. Marcus Kennedy, incoming Graduate Student Government Association president, said he, too, appreciated the difference seeing the GSU campus and relationships when he arrived as a freshmen to this point as a graduate student.
“Dr. Pogue will truly be missed but he deserves to rest and enjoy his grandsons,” said David Ponton, interim associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students. The University of Louisiana Systems Board is considering who to name as interim president as the system does a national search for Pogue’s successor.
Others in attendance were State Sen. Rick Gallot, State Rep. Patrick Jefferson and Grambling Mayor Edward Jones of Grambling. The Pogues were especially pleased that Grambling State’s first lady of football, Doris Robinson, 95, joined to share the evening, saying it was a beautiful night for a couple of truly nice people.
As guests entered the museum and the hall, the Pogues were greeted with pats on the back, warm handshakes and lots of hugs. As guests enjoyed a light feast of crab cakes with remoulade, grilled veggies, thinly sliced brisket on sesame rolls, fruit and mini dessert bites, the president couldn’t help but visit each table and each guest to say thank you and share memories. Aramark made sure that the president had his favorite dessert, key lime pie, too.
A large, white sheet cake decorated with black and gold icing and with a photo of the Pogues walking hand in hand away from the Eddie the Fighting Tiger sculpture led the president to tell museum director Jon Moss “that cake is too pretty to cut.”
It was cut, however, and devoured – but for the photo.
Not everyone who spoke about the Pogues was listed on the program. Some stood and told the Pogues what they meant to the university and the community, and others talked privately.
“Working under all the presidents that Grambling has had but two, President Pogue has always brought a peacefulness when all else was amuck,” said Janis Bluford, who has worked in the president’s office for many years. “I am also thankful that he has brought God back into our university because after all that is where we began.”
Guest after guest acknowledged the difficult challenges Pogue was faced with upon his arrival at GSU and repeatedly thanked him for sticking with and making the necessary changes to improve the institution. “He came to a town looking for friendship and his is leaving with love,” added Jones as he presented Pogue with a plaque for strengthening the relationship between the town and the university.
As the evening came to a close the President and his wife graciously thanked everyone for coming but not before leaving them with a reminder. “All institutions in Louisiana are important but Grambling is essential,” said Pogue. He stressed the importance of continuing to protect Grambling by talking up the institution rather than putting it down and by working with others rather than pushing them away.
Dr. and Mrs. Pogue, pictured here with Senator Gallot, receive gifts of appreciation from the community and GSU family.