The Next Grambling “Push”

by Rick Gallot, President of Grambling State University
Article reposted from “The College Town” insert of the Ruston Daily Leader

DSC_2662 copyLegacy is an incredible thing to have in your back pocket; and when you’re from Grambling, there’s no shortage of it. When your reputation includes legends like Eddie G. Robinson creating the “Black Notre Dame” of football and Prez turning 17 instruments from the Sears catalog into a world-famed band, anytime you enter a room you’ve got something working for you.

And, that something is powerful. It’s so powerful that it opens doors all the way from Apple’s headquarters to the SuperBowl. It can also activate supporters from across the country to Bring it Home and send more than $1 million back to the Piney Hills. Grambling State University is an example of what a great, hard-earned legacy can do.

Legacy, however, can also create its own challenges. One of those challenges presents itself in having to run two races: the heavy charge to uphold our legacy and the journey to capture the very real opportunities that are just ahead. 

When I was appointed President, Dr. Dan Reneau offered me these very important words. He said, “It is now your generation’s time to be the leadership this University needs.” 

I believe those words weren’t just for me. 

At Grambling State, these words are helping shape our leadership efforts. We are committed to running both of our “races” with excellence. To help us, we’re leaning on the work of W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne and their book Blue Ocean Strategy.

The Blue Ocean Strategy concept is a powerful one for us, because we realize that we were founded on a similar philosophy. Simply, a Blue Ocean Strategy focuses on reaching your full potential through intentionally setting yourself apart from your competition.

President RWE Jones was intentional when he sought out Eddie G. Robinson. Dr. Joseph B. Johnson was intentional when he pursued the history-making consent decree. For generations, we Gramblinites have been growing a legacy by looking beyond what someone thought we “should be” or “should do;” and pushing forward to our full potential and success.

And, what does that “push” look like today? Well, take a second to imagine with me. Let’s think about the world beyond Grambling where many of our graduates will live and work. When we get to the year 2030, what kind of jobs do you think we will see? What employers will be making the world-changing solutions that grow our economy? And, what tools do we think that workforce will need?

In the UL System, we are already strategizing around these questions. At Grambling State, we are already hard at work on the answers. From the progress toward Louisiana’s first bachelor’s degree in Cybersecurity to partnering with the New Louisiana Angel Fund to empower entrepreneurs, we are working on the next installment of our legacy. 

Many of you have known me for years; and you know, I’ve always been proud to be from Grambling. And, at this stage of my life, things are getting even better because I get to share a new part of helping our legacy grow. I’m seeing our students intern and help build robots that make the workplace safer. I’m watching them win the chances of a lifetime to be acknowledged by stars like Beyoncé. As I enter this third year as president, I can truly say it’s a privilege to serve Grambling State. I am fortunate to be a part of a team of students, faculty, and staff who are committed to making sure our legacy powers us to realize a new level of success. To all of my “GramFam” and everyone who supports us, thank you for the privilege and opportunity.