Campus, community react to Guice’s retirement announcement

From his school days as an architecture student stepping on campus for the first time in 1972 to an appointment as Louisiana Tech’s 14th President in 2013, Dr. Les Guice has shown an unwavering commitment to leadership and service to his alma mater. (Photo by Emerald McIntyre/Louisiana Tech University)

by Malcolm Butler

Dr. Les Guice has spent more than five decades of his life on the Louisiana Tech campus, starting as an undergrad student and ending as University President.

On January 1, that run will come to an end.

Guice announced his decision to retire Tuesday in an inconspicuous way, sending an email to faculty and staff that didn’t even lead with his decision. It was unassuming, much like Guice who has always focused on the Tech student body and the advancement of his alma mater.

“Anyone that gives 45 years of their career to an institution should be celebrated, and that’s not even counting what he gave as a student,” said University of Louisiana System President Dr. Jim Henderson. “I don’t know if anybody embodies that catch phrase Ever Loyal Be more so than Les Guice. His contributions to Louisiana Tech and the state Louisiana are going to last for generations to come, and I am deeply appreciative of his service.”

Guice is a man who has always directed the focus onto others.

Since taking over as University President in 2013 following the 25-year reign of Dr. Dan Reneau, Guice has worked passionately to build a personal relationship with the Tech student body — something that has been evident to those around Ruston.

“Every conversation and interaction with Dr. Guice is about putting students’ needs first,” said Donna Thomas, Interim Provost. “If you spend time with him or watch him engage with students, it’s evident that he truly sees the success and well-being of our students as the reason that Louisiana Tech exists.”

“He has been a loyal and dedicated servant to his alma mater for his entire career,” said Steve Davison, member of the Board of Supervisors for the UL System and Tech alum. “I’m very proud of his numerous achievements on behalf of our school. One very noticeable strength is the strong connection and bond that he developed with students.”

There is rarely a day that Guice isn’t seen walking through the quad, engaging with Tech students, faculty and staff on a truly personal level.

“He loves the university and cares deeply about the students who attend this institution and that is what any university hopes to have in a president,” said Dickie Crawford, Vice President for Student Advancement. “He has been a tremendous example of a humble servant leader and his example has driven the culture of this institution over the last decade, and this is why so many parents and high school students look at Louisiana Tech as the preeminent higher education institution in the state.”

Guice’s leadership as president has significantly contributed to the growth and strength of the Tech Family. Groundbreaking faculty and student research, numerous national and global rankings, record-breaking enrollments and graduations, historic philanthropic campaigns, and innovative expansion and enhancement of the campus are some of the many milestones from his presidency.

“President Guice leaves an admirable legacy through his years of service to advance academics and athletics programming, as well as his commitment to developing a vision for the university’s future, including his focus on economic development with projects like Louisiana Tech’s Enterprise Campus,” said William Dearmon, President and CEO of the Ruston-Lincoln Chamber of Commerce. “Though President Guice and his leadership will be missed, we wish him nothing but the best as he embarks on this new chapter.”

“I have worked with a lot of good leaders in my life,” said Sam Wallace, Associate Vice President for Administration and Facilities.  “None come to the same level as Les Guice.  Dr. Guice has a talent for leading a group to set a vision and challenging everyone to work toward that vision.  The Enterprise Campus is a prime example of what Dr. Guice led individuals from all disciplines on and off the campus to develop.  This area was for the lack of better words blighted and was a true barrier between the City of Ruston and the University holding both back.

“From visioning to master planning to development, Dr. Guice led the efforts to create the vision, to dream what could be, to pool resources from multiple sources and plan and design and implement that vision. We developed standards and everything we do in the development of the Enterprise Campus is measured by the standards and master plan.  The small details are important. We would not be as successful with the Enterprise Campus development as we have been without the vision and planning.  This is just one example of how he has led the campus.”

Guice’s journey to the 16th floor began as an undergraduate student at Tech where he earned his Bachelor of Arts in architecture in 1976 and subsequent master’s degree in civil engineering in 1978. He served as an assistant professor of civil engineering, earning promotion to associate professor in 1981. After obtaining his Ph.D. in civil engineering from Texas A&M University, Guice assumed the role of interim department head of civil engineering in 1988, attaining a full professorship and becoming the permanent department head the following year.

He served as academic director, executive associate dean, and dean, all within the College of Engineering and Science (COES). It was his time in these administrative roles that paved the way to his appointment as Tech’s vice president for research and development in 2004. In 2012, he was named executive vice president and in 2013 he was named President.

“You can look around our campus and literally see the progress we’ve made under his leadership,” said Thomas. “Alumni who return to campus are amazed at the transformation. Whether it’s new academic buildings such as the Integrated Engineering and Science Building, student housing, the enterprise campus, parking lots, or athletics facilities, Dr. Guice has served our campus and students by maximizing public funding through the engagement of private donors.”

As the sun sets on his academic career at Louisiana Tech, Guice will be remembered for his dedication and contributions for the past 50-plus years.

“Dr. Guice is the definition of loyalty and being a true Louisiana Tech Bulldog,” said Wallace.  “The campus and all of its family is number one in his thoughts and actions.”

“Dr. Guice has been a servant leader on the Louisiana Tech University campus for over 40 years,” said Dickie Crawford, Vice President for Student Advancement. “We have been blessed to have him as president for the past 10 years.”