Guice: State’s future depends on secure funding for higher education

For more than a decade, Louisiana Tech University has been intensely focused on the impact the institution has on the economic prosperity of north Louisiana and the entire State of Louisiana.

Our campus is a home for new and growing enterprises, and we offer space and resources for entrepreneurs to perfect business plans. This connection to innovative opportunities impacts our academic programs and provides job opportunities for our students.

Louisiana Tech supplies the expertise, support, and encouragement necessary to face the challenges of growing new enterprises. We partner with the private and public sectors to attract and retain high-tech and knowledge-based industries across the cyber security and telecommunications, national defense, manufacturing, energy, finance, and health sectors. Companies such as CenturyLink, IBM, CSRA/GDIT, Fenway Group, Radiance Technologies, and others have added hundreds of jobs across the I-20 corridor because of the success and commitment of Louisiana Tech in providing the highly skilled workforce that these companies need to be successful.

Companies that have the capacity for high growth hold the key for our state’s long-term competitiveness in the global economy. We are poised for a much brighter future as more companies are exploring opportunities to relocate in Louisiana. The reasons to locate in our state are myriad, but chief among them is the ready access that companies have to well-educated graduates who are ready to make an impact for their employers.

Our state’s economic future depends on stability of funding for higher education. Our students deserve to have the best and brightest faculty members who are excellent teachers and researchers and who are focused on making a difference through service to their communities and professions. Any loss of funding would have negative consequences on Louisiana Tech’s ability to recruit and retain the faculty who are essential for preparing the workforce and for supporting the research and innovation needs of these companies.

Reductions in the TOPS program would have a dramatic impact on the ability to retain Louisiana’s brightest students. If our students choose to attend college or university in another state, it is unlikely they will return home to work. Keeping the next generation of leaders in our great state is imperative if Louisiana is to continue to grow.

Despite the difficult economic environment, Louisiana Tech has built an economic engine that is having significant impacts for our State. Without higher education stability, we believe that our region could lose the economic competitiveness we have worked for decades to build. With stability, we are confident that we can sustain the momentum we have demonstrated in recruiting and retaining high-growth industries that serve as the basis for a knowledge economy that will benefit the State of Louisiana for decades to come.

TOPS deserves to be fully funded, and our universities deserve stability in funding for the near future. There’s no time to lose if the State of Louisiana wants to win the competition for high-growth industry, corporate investment, and economic growth. Now is the time for our state to secure a brighter future by investing in education.

Dr. Leslie K. Guice is President of Louisiana Tech University