Louisiana Tech Faculty Senate honored James M. Bernhard Jr. today at the university's 2009 commencement exercises with a resolution declaring him a hero to higher education in the state of Louisiana.
The resolution, which was presented by the University Senate faculty president Debra Blackman, honored Bernhard, as chief executive officer of the Shaw Group, Inc., for his generosity in returning $172.5 million in state incentives allocated for the Shaw Modular Solutions manufacturing project in Lake Charles and requesting all the money go to assuage some of the cuts in higher education.
Last week, Tech's Faculty Senate overwhelmingly passed the resolution to honor Bernhard, Blackman said. "In these difficult economic times, we need to recognize the importance of higher education, and he's done so in a dramatic way."
Blackman said higher education in Louisiana is facing cuts this year like it has never seen before and for a company to literally give up state funds to help find a solution requires a hero at its helm.
Bernhard was present to accept the honor and received a standing ovation from an overflow crowd of more than 8,000 at Thomas Assembly Center. With a finger pointed upward, symbolizing Tech No. 1, Bernhard urged graduates to always keep Tech in their hearts and to always keep higher education in Louisiana a priority.