Reneau: Tech ready to soar into future

Sep 9, 2011 | General News

After avoiding what was feared could be a cliff year as far as the Louisiana state budget was concerned, Louisiana Tech University is poised to take flight into the future.
That was the message Tech President Daniel Reneau presented to school faculty and staff members this week as he held his annual State of the University address to kick off the start of the 2011-12 academic year.
“Twelve months ago I stood before you and gave an impassioned talk about the upcoming year and challenges, and I ended it by telling you it was a cliff year, but that I’d be going over the cliff with you,” Reneau said. “I also told you that I suspected when we went over the cliff, that I thought we’d find wings of excellence that would carry us over. I’m happy to say that’s what happened, and the cliff wasn’t as bad as expected.
Reneau credited the culture of Louisiana Tech as being a big part of the university continuing to succeed in tough times.
“Universities have cultures,” Reneau said. “This university has a culture of caring and class. So we’re passing out Tech Tenet Medallions to all staff members as a symbol of your commitment to the university.”
Those Tenets of Tech engraved on the medallions are the words confidence, excellence, commitment, knowledge, integrity, respect, leadership, loyalty, enthusiasm, caring, hope and pride.
Reneau said that Tech did go over a cliff in recent years as a result of repeated state budget cuts that cut into university funding.
“Losing $13 million in federal stimulus funding was going over a cliff,” Reneau said. “Having the budget cut multiple times was the same thing. We looked hard and long at ways to overcome those issues. We increased tuition fees and our number of students, but the best thing that happened for us is performance-based funding. “That brought in $1,510,000 extra this year. Tech is the star of the state as far as performance-based funding. We’ve received $3.5 million in performance-based funding over the past three years, and that’s something to be proud of.”
Reneau also touted the agreement made earlier this year announcing a partnership with Murphy Oil Company.
The collaborative venture, called MurphyUSA@LaTech, will provide the infrastructure for developing various educational programs to meet the needs of Murphy USA, dedicated student and academic support services and a web portal for accessing information pertaining specifically to MurphyUSA@LaTech students.
Reneau also spoke of several benchmarks the university set over the past year, including one of its highest enrollment ever, and also about the highest average incoming ACT scores in school history at 23.6.
“We were up enrollment-wise in numbers of freshman students, graduate students, doctoral students and transfer students,” Reneau said. “Our graduation and retention rates are the highest in the University of Louisiana System. That all goes to show the quality students we have at Louisiana Tech.”
And Reneau talked about the proposed study that could look at moving Tech to the Louisiana State University System.
“That’s something that could have great opportunities but could also have great dangers and be disastrous,” Reneau said. “I’m pleased with where we are. Unquestionably, Tech has emerged as the top university in North Louisiana and we are unquestionably the flagship of North Louisiana colleges.
“When the talk (of a possible system shift) came out, I wrote a letter to all of our staff letting you know that for anything to happen, Tech must retain its name, school colors, school mascot and athletic team nicknames. But the most important thing is that any kind of move must be one of valued added for Louisiana Tech. Other states like Georgia and Mississippi have two big schools, why can’t Louisiana? It keeps me awake at night sometimes dreaming, but that’s better than dealing with budget nightmares.”
Reneau said that after years of battling through budget cuts, Tech is now ready to soar full flight into the future.
“You’ve made this university a rising star,” Reneau told his faculty and staff members. “You’ve made sacrifices and helped us get through tough times. If you would have told me four years ago what we would have gone through (budget-wise) and end up intact, I would have told you it was impossible. But we made it through and I believe our best times are ahead. It’s going to be a big year for Louisiana Tech University.”
Story by T. Scott Boatright