Our Views: Louisiana Tech at a crossroads

Congratulations are in order for the new president of Louisiana Tech University, but the appointment of Leslie Guice carries a particular poignancy for him, as he is an alumnus of the Ruston campus and has been teaching and working as an administrator there for more than 30 years.

“To be able to go in and be the leading person is an unbelievably rewarding experience,” Guice said after being named by the University of Louisiana board to take the place of the retiring Dan Reneau.

Reneau has 50 years’ association with Tech as student, professor and president.

Because Guice, lately head of research at the prominent research institution, has been so involved at Tech, he is also acutely aware of the challenges ahead. Reneau became president at a low point in higher education in Louisiana, a quarter-century ago.

During his time, though, two governors who were particularly supportive of higher education — Mike Foster and Kathleen Blanco — helped to bring state support for colleges back from historic lows after the oil and gas economic crash of the 1980s.

Guice now takes the helm at a time when tax cuts and other spending have shouldered higher ed from the priority list. Gov. Bobby Jindal and the state Legislature have reduced higher education funding by more than $425 million since 2008, and institutions are increasingly dependent on increases in tuition to make ends meet.

As the national and state economy recovers, and with the hope of future governors and legislators more focused on long-term growth, we hope that Guice will also receive the support he needs to build on the accomplishments at Louisiana Tech.

Economic development is fundamentally tied to investment in higher education. One day Louisiana will get back on track.