Reneau, Dooley cite Tech success at Happening

Jul 31, 2009 | General News

Louisiana Tech fans have a lot to boast about.

Pride was the reoccurring theme at the annual Tech event, the Happening XXVIII, which took place Thursday, July 30 at the Monroe Civic Center.

Both Tech President Dan Reneau and Derek Dooley, athletics director and head football coach, said that even though hard economic times had befallen the country, Tech was still going strong.

“Louisiana Tech is alive and well,” Reneau said. “We’re looking forward and progressing.”

Reneau stated that the university had received notice in December to cut Tech’s budget by $2.6 million and had braced for much higher cuts when the Legislature met in 2009. However, while the cuts were steep at about 7.5 percent, they were not as high as they could have been.

“Our people have remained firm,” Reneau said. “We planned for all eventualities. It was a direct hit, and it was hard. The classroom was our first priority. The students who come to us must have quality instruction.”

Reneau said classes may be larger and fewer classes may be offered, but the classroom, many research projects, and public services had been kept afloat.

“We are able to sustain the cut we’ve been given without layoffs or furloughs,” Reneau said. “I think the morale on the campus is good, and the way we got through this is that we all worked together. The entire campus pulled through.”

Reneau mentioned the Postsecondary Education Review Commission, which has been formed to possibly revamp and regroup higher education, possibly resulting in the elimination of weaker institutions, a conscious decision to educate fewer people at four-level institutions or performance-based formula funding.

“The governor (Bobby Jindal) is very supportive of distributing the formula, based on the formula funding we have in place now, on a performance basis. I don’t hope anyone would be hurt very much, but it’s real, and it’s there.”

Reneau also touted Tech’s achievements during the hard economic times, including 10, 915 students enrolled at Tech, new programs with distance learning, and the freshman class having the highest ACT score – 23.3 – in the history of the university. Tech is also finishing up more than $100 million in upgraded renovations, has acquired the 15 acres needed for Research Park, and is constructing a seven acre pond to provide all the campus’s surface water needs.

Dooley also addressed the crowd to excite fans about the upcoming season.

“We’re moving at such a fast pace,” Dooley said. “Our overall competitiveness of all our sports is probably the best it’s been in the past decade.”

Dooley mentioned several achievements received, including the Lady Techsters basketball team going on a seven-game winning streak under new head coach Teresa Weatherspoon and head soccer coach Kevin Sherry bringing the team to its first winning season in the history of Tech soccer.

“We also have the highest graduation rate of student athletes in the state,” Dooley said. “That includes Tulane, and that includes LSU.”

Dooley added that Tech had reached record season ticket sales for the second year in a row, and LTAC, Louisiana Tech Athletic Club, membership had increased.

“Our Tech people are rallying,” Dooley said.

New additions to the athletics department include new box seats, a new ticketing system and a new video board.

“That video board has generated more buzz than anything else I’ve been involved in,” Dooley said. “It’s a symbol of progress. It’s your board, it’s our board, it’s the student’s board – it’s everyone’s board, and we’re going to have fun with it.”

About 1,200 tickets were sold for the event, a little less than last year, said Corre Stegaall, vice president for university advancement. She attributes the fewer numbers to the struggling economy, though she said the amount of money coming in through donations is up. While donations to charities and foundations are down around 7 percent nationally, Stegall said Tech had seen a donation increase of 16 percent.

“That says so much about how people think about Tech’s vision and Tech’s future,” she said. “We have a high level of performance at Tech, and (donators) are truly investing. They have ultimate faith and know the track record of Dan Reneau. Tech is in an ideal position.”

Written by Judith Roberts