This item originally appeared in the Fall-2004 Bulldog Survival Guide issue of The Tech Talk.
By MELISSA WALKER
Tall, suit-clad and professional. That is what most people think of when they think of a president.
But, it could be the guy standing next to them wearing the Tech T-shirt and jeans.
That is what Susan Rasbury, executive assistant to President Dr. Dan Reneau, said is the way he would dress at his farm in Bernice.
"He is humorous, persistent and people-oriented.
"Most of all, he is just a regular person," Rasbury said.
Dr. Reneau begins his eighteenth year as the university's president this year.
A Tech graduate of '63 in engineering and honorary Sigma Nu, the Woodville, Miss., native returned to Tech in 1967 as an assistant professor of chemical engineering.
"I never set out to be president," Reneau said.
In 1972, he established a biomedical engineering program, which he was the head of for seven years.
Reneau was vice president of academic affairs until he was voted into his presidency in 1987.
Reneau said he is very fortunate to be surrounded by quality student, faculty and staff, and he credits them for his success.
"The buck does stop here and being the president is a 24/7 job," Reneau said. "It is demanding, but I love it."
He said Tech will soon complete University Park, dedicate Hale Hall and add more parking in addition to the 1,000 parking spaces made available last year.
"Tech has concluded its best year ever," Reneau said. "We plan on continuing with the momentum."
He said Tech will also start on construction of a pedestrian bridge over the railroad near University Park and on the new Biomedical Engineering building.
The new Biomedical Engineering building will be located between the Institute for MircoManufacturing and Davison Hall.
Reneau said the university will also continue to implement the "Good to Great" plan.
"The new strategic plan will shape the university for the next five to 10 years," Reneau said.
Steps are being taken to increase the retention rate and the graduation rate, Reneau said.
Although he said he is already proud of those rates, he said they can always be improved.
"I would rather have high quality students versus mediocre quality in large numbers of students," Reneau said.
Reneau said Tech is larger than it has ever been, referring to the enrollment of approximately 12,000 students.
"Tech is large enough to do whatever [the university] wants, but it is small enough to have that personal touch," Reneau said.
Melanie Baum, a senior English major, said Reneau leads by implementing a personal touch at Tech.
Baum said she has seen him walking on campus, making eye contact and greeting students.
"I am proud to know that such a professional and personal president is representing my school," Baum said.
Reneau said he is here for the students.
"Tech cares and I have never forgotten about the students," Reneau said.
"That is why I am here, for them."