October 28, 2013

Rev. Jesse Jackson: ‘I’ll be There to Help Grambling’

GSU president invites civil rights activist to help with a period of healing, moving forward

Rev. Jesse Jackson pledges to help GSU and other HBCUs.

Rev. Jesse Jackson pledges to help GSU and other HBCUs.

GRAMBLING, LA. – Grambling State University President Frank G. Pogue invited national civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson to visit campus as a part of a period of healing and moving forward beyond the recent football team controversy and Jackson said yes.

“I want to do whatever I can to help Grambling at this time,” said Jackson, a graduate of North Carolina A&T State University, another historically black university. “It’s important that people everywhere know that what this proud institution faces is much bigger than football and much bigger than any one person because it is indicative of what’s happening at our HBCUs everywhere.”

“I am eternally grateful that the Rev. Jackson has been encouraging, engaged and supportive of our athletics and football programs, and our university generally, and I’m thankful that he has agreed to come and help us,” said Pogue. “The truth is that Rev. Jackson and I have been talking for weeks, well before the recent series of events.” Pogue said he and Jackson started working on a “Grambling State University Day” before the recent controversy erupted.

The GSU football team boycotted practices and training sessions and forfeited a football game at Jackson State University in Mississippi to bring attention to a number of concerns, most of which are connected to the university’s declining state support. In a few short years, the university’s state funding has been reduced by 56.3%. Pogue, who launched a presidential “ask” campaign during the 2012 homecoming, re-launched the campaign a few days ago, asking alumni and others to donate $1,000 – or whatever they can afford, something he discussed on the show.

Jackson and Pogue agreed to discuss a national campaign to help Grambling State University and other historically black colleges and universities. Jackson invited GSU to attend a weekend conference in Atlanta, and Pogue said someone from the university would be attending, though he will be on campus because there are a host of homecoming weekend activities.

Pogue said there is no specific date set for Jackson’s visit but it is expected to happen soon, and definitely before the 40th anniversary of the Bayou Classic football game between Grambling State University Tigers and the Southern University Jaguars in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Nov. 30 in New Orleans.

During the two-hour radio broadcast syndicated on more than 30 radio stations nationwide, Pogue discussed the week’s events with Jackson then with two other guests. Among other points, Pogue detailed several problems caused largely by a deep decline in state funding and rising tuition costs for many families that cannot afford higher costs. He said the university could have admitted at least 30 percent more students this academic year but for ACT score minimums and development education needs.

In addition to Pogue, Jackson’s guests Lezli Baskerville, attorney and president of NAFEO/National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education, and Barbara Arnwine, attorney and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

Jackson launched his weekly radio show in 2004 with Clear Channel Communications. The show, which airs Sundays from 7 a.m.-9 a.m. Central and 8 a.m.-10 a.m. Eastern, airs on more than 30 radio stations. Learn more about the show at www.keephopealiveradio.com and see a state-by-state listing of radio stations carrying the show.

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Media Contact:
Will Sutton



October 25, 2013

Grambling State President: ‘We Need Cash’

University president asks community, others for donations, pledges

GRAMBLING, LA. – Grambling State University President Frank G. Pogue is asking university alumni, faculty, staff, students, friends and supporters to show concern and support of the institution by making a donation.

“I am sure that you are aware of the recent boycott by our football players (which ended recently), that brought national and international attention to Grambling State University,” the president wrote in an Oct. 22 open letter. “I believe good things can come from creative tension. Creative tension can be used to bring attention to the larger needs of society.”

The GSU football team boycotted practices and training sessions and forfeited a Saturday afternoon game at Jackson State University in Mississippi to bring attention to a number of concerns, most of which have something to do with the university’s declining state support. The president notes that he launched an official, presidential “ask” campaign during the 2012 homecoming, asking alumni and others to donate $1,000 between October 2012 and this year’s homecoming on Nov. 2, 2013. “Many of you responded and for that we are grateful,” he writes. “I am re-announcing the appeal and asking for your help to improve the university.”

Pogue goes on to say that all of the national media attention shows that what the university faces is “larger than football.”

“What we are addressing today is symptomatic of something larger that exists on our campus – our financial plight. We have serious needs across the entire university,” he wrote.

In recent days the university has worked to broaden the scope of concern and interest to bring attention to a long list of concerns and needs, including “many other buildings and areas that are in need of upgrading.” Pogue says the university “will use our limited resources to respond to these inadequacies and solicit the support of alumni, corporate sponsors and our university friends to contribute to these urgent needs of the university.”

As he has done consistently on campus in various forums, in faculty, staff and student meetings, the president says in the letter that during the last six years, “the university’s state appropriation has been drastically reduced from $31.6 million to $13.8 million.”

Continuing with more detailed explanation, Pogue goes on to say “the university is operating on an annual budget that is lower than the operational budget six years ago.”

“Grambling, when compared to other University of Louisiana System (ULS) schools, is closest to declaring financial exigency,” an official form of recognizing an urgent demand or need.

“These budget cuts come at a time when the State of Louisiana has mandated annual increases in college admission standards for high school graduates; annual increases in tuition since FY 2008 have resulted in a 61% increase in tuition and fees; 60% of our parents do not qualify for education loans; the state has mandated performance measures focused on student retention and graduation rates; and, the nation-wide economy has led to excessive unemployment,” his letter continues. “These developments and others negatively impact the university’s ability to fulfill its historic mission of providing exceptional opportunities for underserved citizens, many of whom are African Americans.”

Still, Pogue says, the university will continue its commitment “to educate our students and provide them with state of the art technology and resources” while focusing on “maintaining and increasing academic excellence through quality classroom and online instruction.”

The president asks interested individuals and organizations to make donations and pledges to the Grambling University Foundation, Inc. “to ensure that the university receives your personal contribution.”

Pogue assures donors that “the university will acknowledge your contribution and ensure that it is used for the purpose you have identified.”

Donors may contact Brenda Williams in the Office of Institutional Advancement at 318-274-6032 or williamsbr@gram.edu, or by mail at P. O. Box 587, Grambling, LA 71245. All donors will be listed on the university’s website at www.gram.edu (specifically, http://www.gram.edu/offices/administration/president/donors.php).

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Media Contact:
Will Sutton



October 18, 2013

Winston Named Interim Head Football Coach

GRAMBLING, LA — Grambling State University defensive coach Dennis “Dirt” Winston has been named interim head coach of the G-Men, effective today.

Winston joined the GSU family in 2012 after working at Arkansas-Pine Bluff as the school’s defensive line coach since 2010. He immediately implemented a closed practice so he and his coaches could work with the football team after a frustrating two days filled with concerns and emotions.

“We are blessed to have a coach with the type of background and experience like Dirt on staff already and ready to go,” said GSU President Frank G. Pogue. “There’s no question we’re having a difficult season, but I’m certain that Winston will get our young men focused on what they need to do to beat Jackson State University this weekend and to bring some other wins the balance of the season.”

“I’ve known Dirt a long time, and I can’t think of a better choice,” added Aaron James, the university’s athletic director.  “He can tone things down and get the program up and running smoothly while empowering our football players to be successful.”

Winston coached at Grambling State from 1992-1994 and from 1995-1997. He was an assistant coach at Arkansas (1997-98), Norfolk State (1994-95) and Arkansas State (1989-91).  Winston was an assistant for the Toledo Rockets (MAC) for four seasons, coaching linebackers from 2001-02 and the defensive line two seasons. Winston left Toldeo to join the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League coaching staff in 2005, coaching the defensive line.

During his playing days Winston played linebacker at the University of Arkansas from 1973-76, and was selected to the Razorbacks’ All-Century Team in 1994. He was drafted by the Steelers in the fifth round of the NFL draft in 1977.

He played eight seasons with the Steelers (1977-81, 1985-87), including Super Bowl victories in 1978 and 1979. He also played three seasons with the New Orleans Saints from 1982-84.

Interim head coach and running backs coach George Ragsdale has been reassigned in the athletic department. “Rags is an amazing person and we’re happy to have him on our team,” said Pogue. “We thank him for helping us these last few weeks, and we know he’ll help us in other ways.”

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Media Contact:
Will Sutton



October 2, 2013

Grambling State Pursues Head Football Coach

Seeking strong administrator, president announces search committee to work with AD

GSU President Frank G. Pogue and Athletic Director Aaron James work with search committee to identify next head football coach.
GSU President Frank G. Pogue and Athletic Director Aaron James
work with search committee to identify next head football coach.

GRAMBLING, LA – Grambling State University President Frank G. Pogue has appointed a nine-member search committee to consider and identify the university’s next head football coach.

“We have a lot of work to do, there are a lot of needs and we need a good administrator, a good manager who also has coaching experience,” said Pogue, who said the university has officially posted the coaching vacancy. “We need someone who is a positive, upbeat leader, someone with strong organizational skills and someone who will put our student-athletes first while doing what’s necessary to develop strong relationships across athletics, the university, the community and among alumni.”

Athletics Director Aaron James said he will work closely with the search committee to ensure a thorough and exhaustive search, and one that will yield a strong field of candidates.

James said while there is no definite timetable, he hopes for a swift conclusion, it is more important to identify and hire the best candidate. “We need a team player, someone who will work with the other coaches and me,” added James, who took on permanent AD duties just recently.

Pogue appointed Leon Sanders, vice president for finance and administration, to chair the search committee. The president said the search committee includes a diverse representation of university employees, alumni and a student-athlete representative.

Interested candidates can find the job description and posting in the unclassified section at https://careers.gram.edu

In addition to Sanders, the search committee includes Wilbert Ellis, president of the Friends of Eddie G. Robinson Museum; Stacey Duhon, vice president for student affairs and enrollment; Ezzard Burton, Monroe-Ouachita Alumni Chapter; Jackie Slack, Monroe-Ouachita Alumni Chapter; Bertram Lovell, GSU track coach; Phillippe Carter, GSU assistant athletic director of compliance; Janet Guyden, associate vice president and dean of graduate studies and research and professional studies and Tyree Hollis, a student-athlete and member of the football team.

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Media Contact:
Will Sutton



September 24, 2013

GSU Faculty Honored For Helping Students Provide Service

Motivational speaker inspires audience to continue helping students give back as “heroes”

Grambling State University Media Bureau

Service learning appreciation luncheon featured guest Harvey Alston with students.
Service learning appreciation luncheon featured
guest Harvey Alston with students.

Grambling, LA – The invigorating energy of motivational speaker Harvey Alston fired up an audience of faculty members at Grambling State University’s service learning lunch appreciation ceremony on Thursday.

He focused on stressing the importance of service, and community heroes. He reminisced about a visit to an elementary school classroom and talking to students who defined heroes as Superman, Spiderman and Chad Ochocinco, an NFL football player.

“Does anyone know what a hero is?” asked Alston. He said the older generation is to blame for the younger generation’s hero worship.

The luncheon in the university’s Black and Gold Room in the Favrot Student Union was hosted to show appreciation for and to honor the faculty, staff and community members who have helped GSU students get academic enhancement by providing service learning opportunities. All university undergraduates are required to perform academic and community service learning hours to graduate, and the service learning office relies on the generosity of faculty and staff to get it done.

The Office of Service Learning was created at Grambling State by director Rory L. Bedford, allowing students to work with faculty members to complete approved community service projects as a part of their curriculum. Bedford said it’s important to recognize those who help the university and its students give back, and Alston was a great choice to encourage and support that work.

Alston engaged the audience with a series of exercises to help them gain greater confidence, including one with the audience divided into “good,” “better” and “best” groups and each challenged to shout their given word with great confidence. Alston’s point was that he boxed them in with his comments and they chose not to break out and do even better, and one group learned by listening to and watching the other two.

He also asked a group of five students to help him, each holding different letters, including P, Y, H, A, P. He didn’t give them instructions at first, allowing them to figure it out. Once they spelled the word “happy” he walked the students, and the audience, through how everyone can be happy and successful by being inclusive and respectful of others.

We are such a selfish and greedy society that we’ve gotten away from helping other people,” said Alston. “We must understand that our destinies are tied together.”

After Alston spoke, about 124 faculty members were recognized with certificates and 11 were recognized with special plaques for going above and beyond with special service learning projects in the past year.

Loretta Walton-Jaggers, an education professor, was honored for three service learning projects in the reading and literacy graduate level courses in which students were given the opportunity to showcase what they learned and created books for K-12 level students.

“This is such an outstanding honor,” she said. “I am so very proud, not only for the recognition of myself, but also for my candidates. It’s such a pleasure to see them highlighted and showcased because they work very hard and feel a heighten sense of pride as well.”

“I thought it was creative. I thought it was excellent and I thought they did a good job with honoring everyone,” said King David Godwin, interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and one of the recognized faculty members.

Larry Pannell, the music department head and band director, was recognized for a number of service learning contributions, including things the World Famed Tiger Marching Band did at two presidential inaugurations and providing post-hurricane Katrina aid. Pannell’s support includedworking with members of the band to donate sheet music, instruments and other items to three high schools in New Orleans. He also directed concerts to raise money to help New Orleanians.

“If it’s recognition for any services rendered by the music department, I would like to take that award and tear it up and give it to everybody in the music department,” said Pannell. “I just worked as a mediator to pull all the elements together.”

Alston was the featured speaker, but he enjoyed hearing about the contributions and enjoying the event.

 “Coming to Grambling was like putting a star up on my wall,” said Alston, who has spoken to business, corporate and university events across the nation. “The event was fantastic.”

During a special “Lunch, Learn and Appreciate” luncheon in the Black and Gold room, 11 individuals were honored Sept. 19 for their exemplary projects and service. The awards were bestowed through the Office of Service-Learning under Dr. Rory L. Bedford (first row, far left) and Academic Affairs directed by Dr. Connie Walton. The honorees included (first row, L-R) Grambling Mayor Ed Jones, Johnny McCarty, Rev. Kenneth Sapp, Mrs. Mary Bryant, Dr. Frances Staten, Dr. Gaylon Murray and  Eugene Taylor. Second Row: Dr. Gernerique T. Stewart, Dr. Larry Pannell, Dr. Carl  Roberts and Dr. Aaron Witherspoon.  Motivational speaker Harvey Alston addressed the gathering prior to the presentation of awards. The activity celebrated the faculty who incorporated service-learning into the curriculum.

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Media Contact:
Will Sutton



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