Monthly Archives: November 2015

Let’s Get Fit, Grambling!


Willie D. Larkin, Ph.D.
President Grambling State University

During one of my recent trips, a Grambling alumnus engaged me in a long and deep conversation, where he suggested that Grambling should get fit. When I inquired further about the meaning of his comment, he proceeded to tell me that I needed to launch several fitness campaigns. He suggested that being fit in body, mind and soul will help us to perform better in our daily and professional lives. On that note, I am going to extend a challenge to all of our constituency groups to retool and become physically fit. To that end, I will lead the way and begin a personal fitness program that will allow me to perform at my very best each and every day that I serve as your president. In the same vein, I hope all of you will join me on this new journey to become physically fit, and give us the best chance to live long, happy, healthy and prosperous lives.

As we continued to talk, our Grambling friend also suggested that we all spend some time on mental conditioning. He indicated that he was an avid reader who loved to do word puzzles and a host of other activities to keep him mentally sharp. At over 75 years old, he prides himself on how alert and aware he is at this late stage in his life. He credits remaining active and involved in the community for his excellent energy and vitality. I must say that I was impressed with his positive attitude and the deep nature of our conversation. He is the kind of alumnus that I greatly enjoy meeting, a person who is wise, positive and very supportive of the university.

This wise person also indicated that we should focus more on our emotional and psychological health. He framed it quite well by saying that our thoughts are the engines behind our actions. As he talked, I was reminded of an old quote by poet James Allen: “You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.” In other words, you are the sum total of your thoughts. My suggestion is that we should all get in the habit of thinking positively and doing positive things for the common good of our beloved university. In fact, let’s envision the glory days ahead of us. Why can’t we all take personal ownership of our thoughts to the point that they are helpful and not harmful to either the university or other people? We should all make it a point to do no harm. We can do this if we put out minds to it. After all, we are the Tigers of Grambling State University, where we do not follow where others have gone, but blaze a trail and pave the way for others to follow.

My sage advisor offered me one final piece of advice. He warned me, that of all the types of fitness he and I had discussed, the financial fitness of the institution would be the most critical and challenging of my presidency. He encouraged me to follow the money and never spend more than Grambling takes in. I began to think about what approach I would use to get our budget woes under control and position Grambling to thrive financially again. Well, here are some of my initial strategies:

  1. We cannot continue to spend what we do not have, so tightening our belt will become a strategy.
  2. We will look for serious efficiency measures to save money.
  3. We will make increasing student enrollment a major focus over the next six months, so that we can attract close to 5,500 students in the fall of 2016.
  4. We will take giant steps to increase our fundraising and resource-acquisition approaches.
  5. We will spend more time and effort training our staff on customer service and professionalism.
  6. We will soon begin a comprehensive academic program review to make sure we have the right combination of courses on the books, including the addition of more HIGH-DEMAND academic programs to our menu.
  7. We are just now beginning a brand new five-year strategic planning process, and I invite everyone to take part in the process. I encourage you to become a part of the discussion before the final document is produced. After the plan has been developed, everything that we do will be aligned to some aspect of our strategic priorities.

The above list is just a snippet of what is on the horizon for Grambling as we move closer to a strong set of strategic priorities and core values. We are getting close, and I will need the support of every member of the Grambling family to get us there even faster.

Veteran’s Day Recognition


To Grambling State University Students, Faculty, Staff, Alumni and Friends:

Today, November 11, is a day set aside to honor those who have bravely served and fought for our country. It is a day for us to honor all veterans, both living and deceased, for their dedicated and loyal service to this country. It is a day we remember those who have made the greatest sacrifice possible in giving their lives for the promise of freedom for those of us left behind.

On this day, we pause to ensure veterans know that we deeply respect and appreciate the service and sacrifices they have made to keep our country free.

Grambling State University (GSU) would like to pay tribute to the brave men and women of the armed forces who put their lives on the line to ensure that the rest of us can enjoy the freedoms we often take for granted. GSU has sent many brave men and women to fight for this country, the country we love, and for that we say thank you.

Veteran’s Day can trace its roots back to World War I, when it was known as Armistice Day. November 11 was chosen to mark the official end of World War I with the hope that peaceful relations with other nations will never again be severed, and that “the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and understanding between nations.”

I want to thank each and every veteran, especially those who are members of our Grambling family, for their service to this country. I invite you to celebrate Veteran’s Day by thanking all the brave men and women who have proudly served our country in the fight for freedom, keeping those who are serving now in your thoughts and prayers, and remembering those who have given their lives in pursuit of freedom and the loved ones they left behind.

In the middle of many battles, both on and off American soil, our students and graduates have fought side by side and have served this nation proudly while giving everything for our American values and way of life.

We take this day to honor our veterans, to acknowledge their service to this honorable nation, and to thank them for their sacrifices. Grambling State University salutes our nation’s veterans. God bless America and all the veterans who have served us so diligently.

With Great Enthusiasm,

Willie D. Larkin, Ph.D.


Veterans Day 2015