GSU STUDENT FAVORITE BECOMES PERMANENT VP

Known affectionately as “Coach P,” students are thrilled with the selection

By WILL SUTTON/GSU Media Bureau

Grambling State University President Rick Gallot knew he wanted a student affairs vice president for student affairs focused on students, someone with experience, someone with a passion for young people. ponton, david rusty copy2

In the end, the search committee chose David “Rusty” Ponton, 53, who has been interim vice president since 2015 and who has been a GSU fixture since he arrived on campus in 1988. Ponton fills the job on a permanent basis effective July 1.

Ponton and his office are responsible for students’ non-academic activities, needs and opportunities to ensure that they receive a quality education and have a quality campus experience during their matriculation. Among other areas, student affairs includes responsibilities for the Student Government Association, Favrot Student Union, the Foster Johnson Health Center, the Orchesis Dance Company, the cheer squad, the intramural center and intramural activities, Office of Student Conduct, a variety of campus ministries, student clubs and organizations, a comprehensive counseling center, campus police and student housing.

“We have a good man in Rusty Ponton, but he had to go through the (University of Louisiana System) board search process just like every other candidate and compete for the job he’s held,” said Gallot. “We had a strong group of candidates and, in the end, the committee chose the guy who is already here. That’s a good thing when that can happen, but we needed to be certain, to be sure, we were doing the best thing for our students and our university.”

When the president provided the search committee with a summary of what he wanted in the next permanent student affairs leader, he asked for someone who is “visionary, transformative, inclusive,” someone with a “record of commitment to student achievement” and someone with “a demonstrated record of being a decisive leader with the ability to act as a catalyst for creativity, innovation, collaboration, and progress.”

Ponton, a native of Melville, Louisiana, said he is pleased he fits the description and he is happy to continue working with GSU students. “It was great on-the-job training to this point,” he said. “Having worked in this capacity for almost three years has been extremely beneficial. The staff and team members have been tremendous …”

Ponton said he wants to have a student-focused, friendly environment, empowering students to excel with student affairs services. “They can expect more of the same. I have been here over 28 years and I love my students, the university and this community,” he added. “We will be looking to enhance the area with support staff, administration and upgrade our technologies to further enhance the overall student experience. As I often say the future is so bright, I think I need shades!”

Ponton, who graduated from Southern University with a mechanical engineering technology degree, earned a doctorate at Grambling State. He worked as a process engineer for Owens Corning Fiberglas in Kansas City, Kansas and in retail marketing for Shell Oil in Houston and Dallas before starting at GSU as an assistant men’s basketball coach in 1988 and went on to become the head women’s basketball coach at GSU before working his way up in student affairs, from director of the Favrot Student Union, dean of student activities, dean of students, associate vice president of student affairs and interim vice president of student affairs.

“Dr. Ponton is committed to spending countless hours serving the students, ensuring that we receive a quality education as well as a pleasant experience here at Grambling State University,” said GSU Student Government Association President Adarian Williams. “There is no other position that directly shapes the world of tomorrow’s leaders such as the VP of student affairs.”

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