Monthly Archives: December 2015

Grambling: A Time to be Thankful


Willie D. Larkin, Ph.D.

The holiday season is a great time of the year, but let us not forget the real purpose of this magnificent holiday season and Christmas time. Of the 12 months of the year, October, November, and December are my favorites.

I love the month of October, because it is the month of my birthday, a celebration that I have enjoyed for 66 wonderful years. On each birthday, I stop to thank God for another year of life. Like the faithful rising sun of each new day, I always take a moment to reflect on my accomplishments throughout the year. I think that everyone should take the opportunity, at least once a year, to assess how much they are contributing to the world becoming a better place. If you have read previous articles, you know that I am fond of the saying, “We should do no harm.” That phrase resonates for me every day when it comes to being a good citizen in the community.

November is the month that we, as a nation, a community and a family, celebrate the season of Thanksgiving. The month of November is special, because it allows us to think more about others than we do about ourselves. It is the time of year when we are thankful for our blessings, and we take pride and solace in helping those who are less fortunate than ourselves. For those that read the scripture, it says, “To whom much is given, much is required.”

To me, the month of December is the most sacred and important month of all. Many people think of December as a time to give and receive gifts. Yet, that is not the true meaning of this month. For those who choose to follow the Christian faith, December is the pinnacle month, as we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. As Christians, the birth of Christ is the foundation for everything that we do. Each time I stop and reflect on Grambling’s existence and my journey to becoming the ninth president of this venerable institution, I know that there was a spiritual calling that steered me in the direction of this hallowed ground of learning. Now that I am here, my goal is to give everything I can to make sure that we all succeed, regardless of one’s faith, belief system, gender, sexual orientation or race.

In closing, while attending church this past Sunday, I got drenched in the falling rain. Uncharacteristically and through a bit of levity, I complained about all of the rain in Grambling since my arrival. Well, an individual who graduated from Grambling some 50 years ago heard me complaining and had an interesting response to my observation.

To paraphrase her, she said, “The raindrops are tears coming down from heaven, from the late Charles P. Adams, president, Coach Rob, Collie J. Nicholson, and other legendary and iconic figures who are sad that Grambling State University has not continued to fight for her purpose with excellence, pride and dignity. The university was founded on these principles.”

In listening and looking upon this humble but vocal alumnus, I promised her that I would work feverishly to rekindle and to revive the ideals that our forefathers and foremothers put into this hallowed place called Grambling State University. Please join me in honoring their memory and legacy.

May God Bless America, Louisiana, and especially Grambling State University and all of her people! Believe and hope that good things can happen. Remember that dreams do come true when you help them to help you!

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas
Grambling State University
President Willie D. and Dr. Vivian Larkin

The Bayou Classic: A Sight for Sore Eyes!


Wow, what a week at the Bayou Classic in New Orleans! This was my first Bayou Classic, and I must admit that I have never seen such tradition and pageantry. From the time I arrived to my return on Monday, my schedule was non-stop, but well worth the effort. The contacts, connections, and the commitments made by so many people to support Grambling show me that there is great promise for our university.

There are so many adventurous encounters that I could describe. However, I don’t have enough space in this article to account for all of the wonderful experiences. I knew that the colors of Black and Gold stood out, but there is nothing like seeing thousands upon thousands of people wearing the Grambling Black and Gold on the streets and hotels in the Big Easy.

During the many events and activities, I was able to meet with many legislators, corporate executives, Grambling alumni and students. All in all, it was a great chance for us to connect with lots of people who may be able to help us acquire resources in support of the institution. I collected lots of business cards and gave all of mine out as well. I was able to spark an interest with administrators at Southern University about some collaborative academic programs that may prove to be mutually beneficial. I’ve already begun working with our provost to determine the feasibility of such programs.

With the election of Governor-Elect John Bel Edwards, I believe Grambling and Southern University have a new friend as we advance higher education in Louisiana. The key is to work diligently with him and make the best run we can to position our HBCUs to become great again. Even members of the Black Caucus have expressed a renewed sense of hope for Grambling’s future. All in all, we are poised for great things in the very near future.

I want to take a quick second to mention our stellar faculty at Grambling. We had a meeting earlier this week, and we had a frank conversation about our future together. We both agreed that we would be open and honest with each other, tackle the challenges ahead of us, and look for opportunities of advancement together. After the meeting, I felt very good about the chance for us to work together in a concerted effort to grow Grambling State University and make it the best that it can be. One faculty member spoke about respect for one another, and I agree that, above everything else, we would be respectful of the importance of each of our jobs. I believe that the faculty and the university administration are all on the same page.

Now to close, I want to give my congratulations to Grambling’s fabulous football team. Our coaching staff and student athletes are wonderful. They have accomplished an amazing feat—what a season this year! Not only have they proven to be excellent athletes, they are growing into good people. During one of the press conferences, I said that Grambling was all about winning: winning on the field/court, winning in the classroom and winning in life. The game of football teaches some valuable life lessons.

I’m happy that Coach Broderick Fobbs is a coach, teacher, mentor, father figure, role model and good example of leadership and character. The success of our football team has spilled over to the entire campus with high-octane energy and expectation. The administration is excited, the faculty and staff are elated, and our students are just beside themselves. This level of excitement is permeating throughout the university and the city of Grambling.

We’re just overjoyed with the excitement that has invaded our university during my first five months as the ninth president of Grambling. I have received major support, encouragement, and prayers from many corners of the university. Most of all, there is a shared vision coming into focus as we embrace my official theme: “ONE GRAMBLING: Remembering History, Honoring Promises and Fulfilling Dreams.”

We will survive and win!

With great enthusiasm,

Willie D. Larkin President,
Grambling State University