Author Archives: Will Sutton


Grambling State president says cybersecurity presents great opportunity for students, fulfills future employment needs

By GSU Media Bureau

The Louisiana Board of Regents on Monday gave Grambling State University the green light to proceed with plans to establish the first undergraduate cybersecurity degree program in the state.  GSUcybersecurityGallotTalksHenderson_1171

The Regents unanimously approved GSU’s Letter of Intent to develop the new academic program.

“Now we have to develop curriculum and the program in concert with faculty, corporate partners and industry leaders in cybersecurity,” GSU President Rick Gallot said.

Once those components are in place, the university will return to the Regents for final approval of the new degree program.

The Regents’ approval of GSU’s Letter of Intent follows that of the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System in August. The approved letter of intent touted the unique program and outlines the diverse 120-credit curriculum designed to prepare students for the rapidly evolving 21st Century economy.

Gallot said cybersecurity is an important part of the university’s effort to strengthen its academic offerings and provide cutting-edge, relevant professional opportunities for students. An estimated 2 million cybersecurity workers will be needed by 2019, and there’s been a 3500 percent growth in cybersecurity spending since 2004, he said. Grambling is well positioned with its current computer and information sciences degrees to add this new degree.GSUcybersecurityGallotHendersonLookingOn_1170

“We have everything we need to launch this as a full degree program, including significant student interest, four tenure track professors already teaching computer science, nine related courses already a part of the curriculum and 12 courses moving through our university academics committee process,” said Gallot. “Two more faculty members are scheduled to be hired.”

During a presentation before the Regents, Gallot quoted Gov. John Bel Edwards when the governor commented about his executive order establishing a cybersecurity commission on Dec. 7. “’We must continue our commitment to establishing cybersecurity capabilities and resources…,’” the GSU president quoted Edwards as saying.

“Grambling’s bachelor degree program in Cybersecurity will be a major contributor to the burgeoning I-20 Technology Corridor,” UL System President and CEO Jim Henderson said. “With rapidly advancing technology, the global job market is ripe for an army to combat cyber crimes.” 




Students from California and Texas win first place contest with a creative, student-focused look at Grambling State

By Stephanie Lindsey/GSU Media Bureau

This year’s Grambling State University Student Recruitment Video Contest urged students to address the theme “Why I Chose GSU.” Several student teams submitted videos showcasing love for GSU. IMG_8366

Coming out on top and earning the first place $2,000 scholarship aware were mass communication majors Nia Pressley, Rannie McCaston and Brian Nichols.

Pressley, 25, a junior from Los Angeles, California, and McCaston, 25, a junior from Houston, Texas, creatively listed the benefits of attending Grambling, including how being a Grambling State student has a positive impact on lives and why GSU is a great place to go to college. They produced, directed and edited the video, and Nichols shot some of the video.

GSU President Rick Gallot started the contest in the first few weeks of his first year in office, early in the 2016-2017 academic year, as a way for students to promote GSU. The student videos are used to bring a more student-centered focus to some of the university’s recruiting efforts. Representatives from the university admissions, GSU TV Center and university communications judged the entries.

“Initially I was entering the contest alone,” said Pressley, explaining how she ended up teaming with McCaston. “Rannie approached me about the video and I agreed that working together would be beneficial. I was skeptical at first because I wasn’t sure if the ideas I had for the video would work well with whatever he had in mind, but we worked well together.”

“In my mind I’m all about forward, innovative thinking and breaking the norm. I went into the contest with people I felt would fit that vision,” added McCaston. “I reached out to Nia Pressley to assist with whatever she saw fit for the production creatively.”

Pressley and McCaston were overjoyed when they were informed that they had won the grand prize, a $2,000 scholarship.

“When I learned we won, I screamed; literally. I just screamed and screamed. I was so happy that our hard work paid off and that we did it!” said Pressley. “Winning first place for the contest validated the progress of everything I’ve done since I bought my camera,” added McCaston.

Second place winner Se’Dashia Thornton has been awarded a $1,000 scholarship.  The third-place winners, Mionne Destiny Featherstone and Ashirah Simpson, will share a $500 scholarship.

President Gallot remarked, “The creativity of these winners highlights how talented our students are here at Grambling State University. I congratulate these winners for delivering  fresh ideas we can use to promote our institution,” he said. “I congratulate the team on a great creative effort, and the other student winners as well. Their perspectives will resonate with future Gramblinites and show them a few  of the many reasons why GSU is an excellent choice for college.”


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Grambling State students will gain valuable professional experiences as they help the community flood recovery

By GSU Media Bureau

Grambling State University and clergy from Monroe, Louisiana, have formed a joint partnership to help train GSU students become strong career professionals as they assist with the long term flood recovery in Ouachita Parish. DSC_6382 copy

During a Thursday (Dec. 7) morning program in the Doris Robinson Room at the Eddie G. Robinson Museum on the GSU campus, Grambling State President Rick Gallot, Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo and a host of university and Monroe clery joined to be a part of a big effort to help a neighboring parish recover from a devastating March 2016 flood. During a storm that month, flooding damaged 5,357 homes, 5,230 rental units and 640 commercial structures in Ouachita Parish. A number of drainage structures, pumping stations, levees and roadways were also flooded.

“Since the founding of this institution in 1901, we have placed a high priority on making our communities a better place, and providing opportunities that will allow our students to have real life, relevant, hands-on experiences,” said GSU President Rick Gallot. DSC_6422 copy

The partnership, between the university and Concerned Clergy of Monroe, GSU faculty, staff and students will assist by providing the Monroe clergy with resources to help with the identification, design and implementation of recovery projects. Those areas include economic recovery, national and cultural resources recovery, infrastructure systems recovery, housing recovery, health and social services recovery and public safety. Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo discussed the project with area clergy and others, pulling together the people necessary to make this happen. “There’s no question that any of us can do anything without collaborating with our friends around the region,” he said. “When we put those resources together we can do great things.”

Minister Earl Davis, a co-founder of the clergy group, said one of the most important things about the partnership is the connection to GSU’s “intellectual capital” and a community-based footprint that connects the institution directly to citizens.  

Earl Randall III, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development housing field coordinator and field office director, and Crystal Jones-Taylor, HUD’s housing team lead and faith based and neighborhood partnership liaison joined the event, as did Harold Lathon, the DSC_6265 copyrecovery coordination task force lead with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Grambling State’s School of Social Work will work with Concerned Clergy of Monroe to identify money to support a qualitative study looking at the impact of spirituality on disaster recover. Among other things, the school will work with GSU’s Department of Criminal Justice to develop a comprehensive analysis of data reported for Monroe to extract/exclude data that is a part of the Monroe Crime Statistics Reports that is data for neighboring cities with the goal of supporting the needs of parish youth. In particular, a Youth Empowerment Coalition will be created to help parish youth be more actively engaged. Grambling State students will serve as mentors and assist with the program. Master’s degree students may assist with specific educational training may work with the clergy to identify job incentive opportunities.

The university’s Engineering Technology Department will identify housing needs for low-income citizens and identify federal and state funding options to support home renovations for those affected by the flood. The department will also look at infrastructure issues.

The Concerned Clergy of Monroe will work with Grambling State to coordinate and implement program elements, including making the community aware of the efforts, assisting with identifying participants, providing meeting spaces, assisting with identifying housing needs and helping to identify financial support opportunities.

“We’re excited to be a part of this partnership,” said Ellen D. Smiley, GSU’s provost and academic affairs vice president. “It expands our service-learning program, increases grant writing opportunities, and expands research endeavors.  The partnership supports plans for our faculty, staff, and students to have an even greater impact on society.”

“Our departments will be behind the scenes, deep in the seams and all over this project to ensure its effectiveness, and to ensure that our undergraduate and graduate students get the most from helping others,” added Stacey Duhon, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and whose departments will be most involved with the project. “This is the type of academic experience that can only make them stronger and better citizen scholars.”


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It’s the latest in a series of recognitions for the Grambling State baseball legend


Legendary Grambling State University baseball coach Wilbert Ellis was honored on Friday (Dec. 1) at the Power Center with the Southwestern Athletic Conference Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award. EllisSWACAlumniLifttimeGROUPDec012017.IMG_0907

Ellis coached the baseball team for 43 years, 17 years as an assistant and 26 as a head coach, ending an active career with a 745-462 record as a head coach. He won eight SWAC divisional championships and three SWAC championships, and nearly 50 of his ball players signed major league contracts.  

“Coach Ellis is a Grambling legend we all admire. He represents the depth of what one can achieve with discipline and hard work. He’s one of the greatest examples of our champion spirit and it’s an honor to celebrate this award with him,” said GSU President Rick Gallot. 

Noting that the honor was on the eve of the Saturday (Dec. 2) SWAC championship game at NRG Stadium here, Ellis gave the recognition some historical context.

“In 2011, I went into the SWAC Hall of Fame,” he said in an interview before the evening program. “Now here it is 2017 and I am being honored again, and the Grambling football team is at the championship again, getting ready to win as we did in 2011.”

As Ellis predicted, the G-Men did win, beating Alcorn State University 40-32. He expected that. He didn’t expect this latest honor.

Three weeks ago, sports journalist Rosco Nance called Ellis to tell him about his selection and Ellis couldn’t believe it, asking Nance, “Are you sure you have the right person?”

Ellis appreciates the latest SWAC honor, though it isn’t the first time he’s been recognized for his achievements. He was inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame in 2007, the SWAC Hall of Fame in 2011, the Grambling Legends Hall of Fame in 2012 and was chosen as the SWAC baseball coach of the year seven times. In addition, Ellis received the 2015 Robert E. Russell Award, the highest honor presented to a citizen in Lincoln Parish.

He inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame in 2007, the SWAC Hall of Fame in 2011, he was inducted into the Grambling Legends Hall of Fame in 2012 and he was chosen as the SWAC baseball coach of the year seven times. In addition, Ellis received the 2015 Robert E. Russell Award highest award that given to a citizen in Ruston-Lincoln Parish.

Ellis joined former Alcorn State Olympian Mildred Netter White, former men’s basketball coach Ben Jobe and Emanuel Barnes as honorees recognized during the Legends reception. Netter White, a 1972 Alcorn State graduate, competed on the 1968 and 1972 U.S. Olympic teams. After graduating from Fisk University, Jobe embarked on a highly successful collegiate basketball coaching career, serving as head coach of Talladega, Alabama State, South Carolina State College, Denver, Alabama A&M, Southern University (two stints) and Tuskegee. Barnes, who received the Charles “Chuck” Prophet Wagon Master Award, has served in various student- related capacities at Alcorn State since 1975 and he has been Alcorn State’s public-address announcer for its home men’s and women’s basketball games and football games for more than 30 years.  He is affectionately known as the “Voice of the Braves.”

Ellis said this latest SWAC honor is significant to him because it’s special when honored by your own. He said he is humble, thankful and appreciative and, most of all, he gives all the praise to his lord and savior Jesus Christ and his deceased parents.

GSU baseball coach James Cooper has known Ellis since 2000 when he was a freshman at the Grambling, Louisiana, school. Ellis, for whom the GSU baseball field is named, retired from GSU as Cooper was going into his senior year of baseball as a player. Ellis is a father figure for the baseball coach commonly called Coop. When he takes his baseball team on the road, he asks Ellis whether he’d like to go along.

“After being drafted he was one of the guys I would call and lean on for any type of motivation,” recalled Cooper, who was drafted to play professional baseball. “He helped me out spiritually, financially, emotionally. He was somebody I could call on or talk to.”

Cooper looks to Ellis for a lot of support. “He is the biggest cheerleader that I have…,” he added. “When you think about what he’s accomplished over the years of his life, and also throughout his career at Grambling and once he retired, he’s still working for Grambling.”





Recognized by Southwestern Athletic Conference for his performance as a student-athlete at Southern in Baton Rouge, Ponton is pleased with GramFam love


HOUSTON — David “Rusty” Ponton can be found running from one side of Grambling State University’s campus to another, always on a mission for students. On Saturdays in the fall, he is on the sideline at home and away games, rooting for the G-Men. photo nov 30, 6 13 43 pm

He was running from one place to another back in the 1980s, only it was on the campus of Southern University A&M State University as a jaguar attending GSU’s primary in-state rival on the Baton Rouge bluff.

Ponton was inducted to the 2017 Southwestern Athletic Conference Hall of Fame for his time playing as the Jaguars’ point guard, including a 1985 SWAC championship. He was one of nine league contributors honored Thursday (Nov. 30) at a Hall of Fame Induction ceremony at The Westin Galleria in Houston. When he got the initial call, Ponton was surprised.

“I got a call from Southern saying that I was being nominated for the award and I was like, ‘Wow, you all still remember me?” said Ponton, vice president of student affairs at Grambling State, “and they were like, yes, of course we remember you Rusty.”

Ponton’s name is etched in Jaguars basketball lore as one of the top point guards in the SWAC during the mid-1980s. Ponton led the Jaguars in steals and assists in 1983 and 1985-86, and he led the Jaguars to the program’s second NCAA tournament berth in 1985.

A longtime friend, Keith Benton, was elated when he heard about Ponton’s induction. He described Ponton as an energized guy, a hustler, a go-getter and a crowd pleaser.

Ponton was one of Southern’s greats, but the same could be said about his time at Grambling, said Benton.

Ponton was handed the coaching baton when he took leadership of the Lady Tigers leading them to consecutive success. Under his tutelage, the Lady Tigers had near unprecedented success on the hardwood, claiming three straight conference crowns from 1997-99. He was selected as coach of the year three times during his tenure.

However, he was more than a coach. He served as a mentor, guiding students’ academic success and contributing to good life choices.

“Something that people would not realize is that my favorite moment is when I see my student athletes cross that stage and get that degree,” said Ponton. “The promise that I always made to them was that if you come here, work hard, we are going to win championships; but, you are going to graduate.”

Ponton was an assistant coach for the G-Man basketball team in 1988, the year Grambling took home the SWAC tournament championship. After his coaching days, Ponton transitioned into administrative roles at Grambling State University, serving for nearly 30 years.

Grambling State President Rick Gallot was thrilled to have one of his top leaders being recognized for his time at Southern. He said Ponton is an exceptional individual whose done so many things in higher education at Grambling — and at Southern.

“We at Grambling State are grateful to Dr. Ponton for all he contributes to our campus,” said Gallot. “It’s a joy to se him recognized for the contributions he’s made throughout his academic, athletic and professional career.”

The president said Ponton’s Hall of Fame honor is “an inspiration to all of our current and former student athletics” and his accomplishments are evidence “that when we do the work and follow our God-given passion, success and recognition are achievable.”



   Transfer student awarded third place for essay        

Jasmine Mitchell, a junior biology major from Chicago, Illinois., recently was presented a $500 Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus Scholarship. BayouClassic3dPlaceScholarshipJasmineMitchellFall2017.FullSizeRender-1

The 21-year-old transfer student from Spelman College, is in her first year at Grambling State University and she won the third place scholarship award for an essay she wrote. Mitchell said she’s “trying to take advantage of every scholarship opportunity” she can. Her motto is “Be the change.”

The award was presented during an annual Bayou Classic jazz brunch hosted by the caucus in New Orleans.



By Reagan Higgins/GSU Media Bureau

Grambling State University students will receive free carryout snacks courtesy of Aramark today (Nov. 29) between 2 p.m.-4:30 p.m. at McCall Hall, or “the Cafe” as students call it, where a lot of on-campus students eat. STUDY BREAK POSTER NEW

It’s the GSU reading period today and Friday, just before final exams next week. Students are already crowding the academic buildings, studying, writing final project papers and otherwise finishing the semester. Some students don’t have access to snacks and beverages during this time, and Aramark wants to encourage students by providing a snack option to encourage them to do well, according to Karen Ashford, Aramark’s interim food service director.

Ashford said the café will provide popcorn, snack mix, muffins, cereal bars, chips and soft drinks during this special snack break event.

She said Aramark is consistently improving for the students and offering their services so students can succeed, offering a comfortable environment and snacks so students can leave motivated and rejuvenated to end the semester strong.


Three honors college students win national awards as more than 25 GSU students visit Georgia


GSU Students group shot outside at the King memorial ATLANTA, Ga. – Three Grambling State University students recently won awards at the National Association of African American Honors Programs conference held at Morehouse College.

The three were part of a contingent of 27 Earl Lester Cole Honors College members who were able to attend the Nov. 9-12 conference.

Student Government Association President Adarian Willams, a junior majoring in music and visual performing arts, placed first in the musicians talent competition. “It’s not just a musicians competition; it was a talent competition,” said Williams, 21, a Ruston, Louisiana, native who sang “Glory” by John Legend and Common.

Faron Rush, a Chicago native and a senior majoring in computer information systems and business management, won the 2017 Dr. Freddye T. Davy Humanitarian and Service Scholarship. Rush, 21, of Iowa City, iowa, said the $500 scholarship “was the best part of the trip.”

Abyssinia Flores, a sophomore mass communication major, was elected queen 2017-2018 Ms. National Association of African American Honors Programs.

“This trip showed GSU is a great university focused on academic excellence,” said Ellen D. Smiley, the university provost and vice president for academic affairs and the dean of the honors college. “GSU represented very well at the conference.”

During this conference GSU students also were able to visit Spelman College and Clark Atlanta University, Ebenezer Baptist Church and a monument honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  “Trip was very fun. Williams said it was “awesome” visiting these places, but ”seeing my peers win awards was the best part of the trip.”

The Earl Lester Cole Honors College was established in 1990 to provide unique educational experiences and opportunities for academically talented students.



Thurgood Marshall College Fund and The Coca-Cola Foundation provide much needed assistance for first generation college students

 By GSU Media Bureau

Grambling State University has received $50,000 from the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) and The Coca-Cola Foundation to support the Thurgood Marshall College Fund – Coca-Cola First Generation Scholarship Program.  Each year for four years, four students will receive $3,125 in scholarships that may be used for tuition, books, or housing for a total of $12,500. To be eligible for the scholarship award, students must be the first in their immediate family to attend college and maintain a 2.8 GPA on a 4.0 scale.  DSC_4790 copy

During the second annual Eddie G. Robinson Sr. Leadership Lecture Series, Thurgood Marshall College Fund and Coca-Cola representatives presented GSU President Rick Gallot and Institutional Advancement Vice President Marc Newman with a check to provide support to first generation students.

“At Grambling State, we try to ensure every student has the help they need to graduate,” said Gallot. “More than 90 percent of our students are eligible for some form of aid, and we are very grateful for partners like TMCF and Coca-Cola who help our students through scholarships, grants and other assistance.”

During the university’s Tuesday (Nov. 14) event, representatives from the Monroe Coca-Cola Bottling Company, a sales center of UNITED Coca-Cola Bottling Company, shared their support.

“We’ve been strong GSU partners for more than seven decades and we’re extremely happy to see our parent company leaders contribute to this important institution just as we have,” said Keith Biedenham, sales center manager with the Monroe company. “Our company invested $260,000 earlier this year to the Bring It Home campaign, and this is another indication that the Coca-Cola stands with HBCUs, and GSU is the leader in our community.”

“The Thurgood Marshall College Fund values the tremendous impact of our corporate partners like Coca-Cola who help us fund much-needed student scholarships at Grambling State and all of our 47 member-schools,” said Johnny C. Taylor Jr., TMCF’s president and CEO.

Newman said the $50,000 in scholarships will help several GSU students the next few years. “We really appreciate The Coca-Cola Foundation and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and their investments in and partnership with Grambling State University as we build a good future together.”


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Gallot honored by HBCUGrow for leadership and vision during his first year as institution’s 10th president 

By GSU Media Bureau 

RALEIGH, NC (November 9, 2017 ) – Grambling State University President Rick Gallot was recognized today with the HBCUGrow LEAD award for “Best Leadership” at the group’s 2017 annual LEAD Conference. GSU President Rick Gallot

Gallot, who was nominated in his first year as the institution’s 10th president, was recognized for his energetic, student-centered approach to leadership and the university’s growing list of recent accomplishments, including record enrollment and a recent $1.2 million raised from alumni and donors in just four months.

“In your first year, any award is an honor. This acknowledgment from HBCUGrow is significant because it means our peers and others across the nation can see the progress with our students and campus,” said Gallot. “It’s a privilege to lead Grambling because of our students, faculty and administrative community members. They’re the ones who make the vision possible.”

In addition to enrollment progress and fundraising, under Gallot’s leadership, the university has seen a new nursing program approved by the state, new funds secured to start progress on a cutting-edge library project and an additional $2 million in federal grants and contract funding.

The Best Leadership award is given to an active president of a historically black college and university at the HBCUGrow Lead Conference, one of the country’s fastest-growing university leadership training events.

In addition, Grambling State was also recognized as 2017 winner in the Innovation category, recognizing forward-thinking solutions in campus experience, technology and university programming.
Winners were selected in several categories based on peer nominations and input and data reviews by a panel of judges.  This year’s categories included LEAD Innovation, LEAD Marketing, LEAD Website, LEAD Military-Friendly and Best Leadership.