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