March 25, 2013

Universal Studios Executive Campus Visit a Success

Grambling State University Media Bureau

Grambling, LA - The president and chief operating office of Universal Studios encouraged Grambling State University students to sacrifice and do what it takes to succeed as they pursue their dreams. His message was simple: You can go further in life if you believe.

“You have to find a way to follow your dreams,” Ron Meyer told the audience from the Floyd L. Sandle Theatre stage in the Conrad Hutchinson Performing Arts Center. “Can’t assume someone is always going to help you. You have to want it badly, can’t be derailed.”

Meyer said he dropped out of high school, didn’t earn a high school diploma or a college degree and was determined to succeed, doing whatever it took to do what he loves to do – working in the entertainment industry. He took a job as a messenger for six years before he got a real break. “It’s about finding a job that gets you there,” he said. “The real trick is where do you take that job.”

In a free-wheeling conversation about his career, the state of entertainment and film industries and how to make it, Meyer bluntly said those who really want it are those who stick with it through difficult times.

Meyer was in Lincoln Parish for a few hours to visit the University of Louisiana System’s only HBCU after hearing about the institution’s mass communication and film work from Paula Madison, a former NBCUniversal executive vice president who retired about two years ago. Madison is the CEO of the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks and her family business includes the Africa Channel, a cable network in the top 20 U.S. markets and the Caribbean. Madison visited Grambling State for the first time in 2012 as a part of a Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism visiting professionals grant.

After the event, Meyer noted that Universal has a good relationship with Louisiana. “We shot Tom Cruise’s new movie Oblivion last year, as well as other films,” said Meyer, who was visiting Grambling State University for a special event. “Louisiana is great for production for Universal.”

Cruise’s sci-fi adventure film was filmed for several months in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, and it is scheduled for an April release.

At the theatre event, Meyer was interviewed by Madison, his former colleague and friend, then he took questions. Meyer and Madison flew in to the Ruston Regional Airport from New York Thursday morning and left for Los Angeles Thursday afternoon. Cindy Gardner, senior vice president for corporate affairs at Universal Studios, said his visit was all about the students.

“This guy is a big deal. I deeply appreciate his honesty,” said Frank G. Pogue, president of Grambling State University. “I really hope that the students here today really listened. He did a splendid job.”

Meyer said one of the key ingredients for making a good movie is matching the right creative people with the right material. “Sometimes a great director will do a bad job and an OK director will do a great job,” said Meyer. “You never know.”

Meyer wasn’t always at the top of the film industry. For a couple of decades, he was president of Creative Artists Agency, Inc., which he founded in 1975 with four colleagues from the William Morris Agency, making it a premiere talent agency representing some of the entertainment industry’s most influential and talented people.

Reginald Owens, a Grambling native who is Louisiana Tech’s journalism department head, attended the session with several of his students. “I think what we had today was a very good eye-opener for students,” he said. “He gave us some good life advice. Almost every answer was answered perfectly. With his story being so detailed, any student should be inspired to be anything they want to be.”

"I learned the importance of taking chance on my dream, especially in Hollywood,” said Tierra Smith, a sophomore mass communication major from Milwaukee now living in Houston. “You can’t give up after a couple months; you have to be dedicated to your craft."

Nyomi Lyttle, a mass communication major scheduled to graduate in May, was inspired by what she called Meyer’s “rags to riches success story.” “I left the theater encouraged and feeling like all of the work I’ve done and will do is not in vain,” added Lyttle, 25, of Cincinnati.

“It was like a ‘must-hear, must-see’ experience,” said Peter Dorsey, 23, a senior public relations major from St. Louis. “He gave the GSU audience a real inside (view) of Hollywood.”

Meyer told students they must sacrifice for anything they really want, and they must have the determination to pursue their dreams. Those who succeed “make it happen for themselves,” he said, and “they can do good for those who can’t make it happen.”

“I’m a believer that miracles can happen,” said Meyer. “For students who can believe in themselves, I think there are great opportunities …”

Diana Sepulveda contributed to this story.

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Will Sutton



March 19, 2013

Northern Louisiana’s Premier HBCU Seeks Votes

Grambling State University’s first lady encourages Gramblinites and northern Louisiana residents to vote as the university competes for up to $50,000 in campus beautification grants in national Home Depot campus improvement grant program for HBCUs

GRAMBLING, LA – Grambling State University is one of 75 Historically Black College and University (HBCU) institutions competing as a finalist in The Home Depot’s 2013 RETOOL YOUR SCHOOL campus improvement grant program. First Lady Dorothy Pogue, a huge campus beautification advocate, is rallying all Grambling State supporters, asking everyone to vote daily as she does.

“Grambling State University continues to work to have its campus beauty match the pride of all Gramblinites,” said Dorothy Pogue, wife of President Frank G. Pogue. “I strongly encourage all Grambling State University alumni, faculty, staff, students and friends to vote online and to vote daily, as I do.”

Mrs. Pogue said though she’s not active on Facebook and Twitter, she knows that posting on those social media sites, and others, every day will help the Black and Gold school win. She reminds all to include “#GramFam” and “#gramblingRYS2013” whenever posting or tweeting.

“We have several really exciting projects that we will use the grant for if we win,” said Ante’ Britten, associate vice president of finance & administration at Grambling State University. “Areas such as Charles P. Adams Park, Eddie G. Robinson Football Stadium and Jacob T. Stewart will be revitalized with the help of Home Depot and the Grambling family.”

President Pogue praised Britten and the facilities team for well-prepared beautification project proposals. “The university’s facilities team does an amazing job with limited resource,” he said. “They never stopping working to figure out how to improve the look and feel of our campuses, and these proposals are a great example of the kind of work they continue to do.”

Designed to reinvigorate HBCUs, finalists are competing for $225,000 in grants for on-campus improvements and Grambling State is asking alumni and all northern Louisiana communities to help the university win. Through 11:59 p.m. on April 15, Grambling State University supporters can visit to vote for Grambling State to win:

(a) a $50,000 Tier 1 major grant, OR
(b) one of twelve Tier 2 $10,000 minor grants, OR
(c) the one $25,000 Campus Pride grant, awarded for the most online votes and social media activity, as determined by The Home Depot.

The Home Depot® will announce the winners on May 3, and Grambling State University wants to be one of the big winners.

The university’s Tier I project pitch for the $50,000 grant is an exterior painting and waterproofing of Jacob T. Stewart Building. The 78,159-square-foot classroom and office building in on the most traveled
street on campus. After several beautification efforts in recent years, Stewart is the only building with an unattractive appearance on this main street. If chosen, the university will pressure wash the building, replace caulk, fill rust holes, repair or replace broken cast stone, replace rotted wood and apply waterproofing consistent with federal guidelines in about 120 days.

The Tier II project proposed is a $10,000 upgrade of the Charles P. Adams Park on the western Quad. Dedicated in honor of the university’s founder, this is the only park on campus but cost cutting has caused disrepair and a lack of use. If Home Depot selects Grambling State for this project, the university will take about 90 days to upgrade bathroom facilities, convert the existing metal structure, plant some cypress trees, install new screening, renovate the foundation and install outdoor area lighting so students can use the park after dusk.

To apply for the Retool Your School grants, Grambling State University and the other HBCUs were required to submit letters of intent that included brief descriptions of their potential projects via the “Retool Your School” website in February. Applicants that provided their Phase 1 proposals by the deadline were able to continue and submit full proposals for Tier I, Tier II and Campus Pride campus improvement grants. Grambling State University has submitted proposals for Tier I and Tier II.

During the online voting period, now underway, consumers can view descriptions of project proposals and can cast one vote per day for Grambling State University. Following the online vote, a panel of distinguished judges will evaluate each proposal.

Tier I and Tier II projects will be judged based on the number of votes posted to the website, as well as the judges’ evaluation of the relevance to the proposal requirements as listed on the website and application. Entrants must highlight how each project will make a lasting, positive impact on their campus. Special attention will be given to schools that pitch eco-friendly plans. The winning schools will be determined based on a combination of online votes and the judges’ evaluations. The awarding of the Campus Pride grant will be based on the number of votes and social media activity the winning school receives.

Grambling State University faces stiff competition from finalist schools in Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. To support Grambling State University win one of these beautification grants, alumni, friends and family are asked to log on and vote at to ensure that the Fighting Tigers bring home the grand prize. Though the institution has been mostly in the middle of the voting online and on social media, Mrs. Pogue and Britten said they are certain that Gramblinites, #GramFam friends and supporters can overcome the odds by voting online daily and by using the Grambling-speciific hashtag — #gramblingRYS2013 – whenever they post on social media, especially when Tweeting on Twitter.

Some of the potential improvement projects entered by the HBCU finalists include projects that will affect the campus and community as a whole, such as installing eco-friendly bathrooms, adding wheelchair ramps and automatic access doors, creating sustainable landscaping projects, replacing windows with Energy Star rated fixtures, installing solar energy systems and motion sensors to reduce electric consumption in classrooms, starting community gardens and campus greenhouses to encourage healthy eating, and creating nature trails accessible to the surrounding community as a fit living initiative. Each of the proposed improvement projects will enhance campus life for current students and generations to come.

For more information and updates on The Home Depot “Retool Your School” grant program or to vote online visit Online voting continues through April 15, 2013, at 10:59 pm CDT, 11:59 p.m. EDT.

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Will Sutton



March 18, 2013

GSU Students Recognized for a Good Deed

Grambling State University Media Bureau

GRAMBLING, LA – On his way home to Texas, engineer David Brown was changing his clothes when he unknowingly left his wallet on the side of Highway 90, near Houma, La.

Thanks to two Grambling State University students, Alexandria Smalls and Duvar Retherford, Brown’s wallet, which held $378, personal identification and credit cards, was returned to him.

He was surprised to get a call saying that the students had his wallet, which he didn’t even realize was missing. When the students returned it at Mel’s Diner in Lafayette, La., a few days later, he expressed gratitude. “Once his identity was found, we had a moral obligation to locate him,” said Rutherford, a senior sociology major scheduled to graduate in May.  

Alan Blakeney, director of the university’s TV Center and the students were in Houma filming a rodeo the first weekend in March. A Blakeney friend called to ask for help at the event because he had vehicle problems and couldn’t make it.

On their return trip from Houma, just south of Lafayette, La., Rutherford spotted what appeared to be money blowing around on the highway. Blakeney exited Highway 90, looping back on a service road where they saw bills flying around. They found a wallet, no owner and a driver’s license. They found it hard to believe, but they knew the right thing to do.

Blakeney called Brown and agreed to meet him. Blakeney, Smalls and Retherford met him at Mel’s Dinner in Lafayette about 30 miles north of where they had been traveling, a bit of a detour on the way back to the Grambling area. Brown could not be reached for comment.

In an interview, Blakeney said Brown offered the students a reward, but they refused, saying it was the correct thing to do and never considered any another course of action.

“With so many negative stories in the public realm these days, this incident is a positive statement about our student’ values and a great reflection on this institution,” he said.

Smalls stated that she only did what because she would hope someone would do for her in a similar situation.

“In a world full of people looking out for themselves, I wanted to prove that there were are actually people who care enough to do the right thing,” said Smalls, a senior mass communication major from Lewisville, TX.

Duvar  Retherford Alexandria Smalls
Duvar Retherford                                             Alexandria Smalls


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Will Sutton



GSU Football Heads to Circle City Classic

For the first time since 2000, the Fighting Tigers return to Indianapolis for one of the nation’s best and biggest HBCU football classics

GRAMBLING, LA – Grambling State University Tiger football fans, friends and supporters will head to the Hoosier state for a clash between the G-Men and the Alcorn State University Braves on October 12th in the Circle City Classic at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

“We are thrilled to return to this awesome venue for such a historic occasion,” said Percy Caldwell, athletic director at Grambling State University. “Grambling is excited about being the book-end football team, playing in the first and the 30th Circle City Classic® games.” The fall appearance will make Grambling State University the only HBCU to play in this special classic in four decades, 1984, 1990, 2000 and 2013. “That’s really special,” added Caldwell.

The Tigers participated in the first Circle City Classic in 1984, when then-head coach Eddie G. Robinson took his Grambling Tigers into battle against conference foe Mississippi Valley State University.

Tigers head football coach Doug Williams, was the first, and only, black quarterback to take an NFL team to a Super Bowl victory when he led the Washington Redskins to victory 25 years ago this year. “As a longtime HBCU football fan and certainly as a Grambling State University football player and alum, I know what it means to participate in a game such as the Circle City Classic,” said Williams. “Since we haven’t been to Indy in more than a decade, some of our fans may not realize how big a deal this is. It is huge.”

“We are happy that our university will be returning to the place where Grambling State University was an important part of such an influential and important football game,” said Frank G. Pogue, president of Grambling State University. “We know how far and wide our university’s reputation stretches, and we’re looking forward to paying respect to our strong football heritage as we tell everyone how we’re enhancing academics on campus.” He said the institution sees several great opportunities to tell the Grambling State University story at some of the Classic’s traditional week of events, including a Miss Circle City Classic coronation; a midweek prayer and praise worship service; a fan fest with celebrities, food and music and the 34th Annual Indianapolis Black Alumni Council HBCU College Fair.

Tickets will officially go on sale on April 1. However, pre-sale tickets are available for the 30th Anniversary of Circle City Classic® by calling the Indiana Black Expo (IBE) box office at 317-925-2702 or by completing the pre-sale ticket order form and faxing it to the IBE box office at 317-925-4734. An official press conference to include university representatives will take place in Indianapolis at a later date. For more information, go to

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Will Sutton



Nationally Recognized Educator Talks with Honors Students

Steve Perry, a national education educator and principal of a highly successful Hartford school, will address Grambling State University’s honors students during Honors Day Convocation

GRAMBLING, LA – More than 1,200 undergraduate and graduate students will be honored for their academic achievements during Grambling State University’s annual Honors Day Convocation, Tuesday (March 19), and they’ll hear from Steve Perry, a distinguished author and educator who has gained national recognition for leading a Hartford magnet school.

The convocation starts at 11 a.m. at the Frederick C. Hobdy Assembly Center, and the public is invited. Perry, who has been a columnist for Essence magazine and who has been featured in CNN’s “Blacks in America” series, is the founder and principal of Capital Preparatory Magnet School, which U.S. News and World Report named one of the top schools in the country.

Since 2006, Perry has led the Connecticut school, sending, 100% of its graduates to four-year colleges as first-generation college students. A Middletown, CT, native, he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in social work, ran a homeless shelter and published his first of six books – all before he was 26 years old.

The honors students will enjoy a reception with President Frank G. Pogue, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Connie Walton, faculty and staff immediately following the program in the lobby of the assembly center. The next day, March 20, the president will host a picnic for the honors students at the president’s home, “Johnson Place,” on campus.

The university recognizes students who have earned at least a 3.00 grade point average. Special recognition is given to students who have earned a 4.00 cumulative grade point average and students who are being inducted into Who’s Who Among Students in Universities & Colleges.


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