Colleagues and collaborators describe Dr. Guiyou Huang as a man of integrity – an inclusive and transparent leader who does not sugarcoat. A strategic thinker, he looks to data to drive planning and decision making.
Well-liked by faculty and staff, his team at Louisiana State University at Alexandria (LSUA) – where he served as chancellor from 2017 until his appointment as Edinboro University's president – said he could often be found in the dining hall, engaging with students.
Donna Torres, associate vice president for accounting services for LSU’s flagship campus at Baton Rouge and LSUA’s interim chief financial officer, credits Dr. Huang with implementing new ideas and energizing employees during his two and a half years as leader of the central Louisiana campus.
“He saw opportunities and capitalized on them,” said Torres. One of his biggest initiatives was shoring up academic programs at the 60-year-old campus, which was founded as a two-year college and is in the midst of establishing itself as an accredited, four-year institution. Surrounded by cotton and sugar cane fields and about 200 miles from New Orleans, the LSUA campus is located in central Louisiana, about 5 miles from downtown Alexandria, a city of 50,000 founded in 1805.
A visionary who is respectful of the expertise of others, Dr. Huang saw mutual benefit in forging better relationships between LSUA, the city and other critical local institutions and has made headway in cultivating them, Torres observed.
Alexandria Mayor Jeff Hall, a former Louisiana state representative and public utility executive, worked with Dr. Huang and his team on efforts to improve infrastructure to reduce flooding on the LSUA campus.
“I have been impressed with him and the quality of the people who surround him,” Hall said. “He’s a considerate person, a good communicator, who listens.”
Hall describes Dr. Huang as very smart and a keen observer who understands the needs of the community. There is a disparity between city residents who are predominantly African-American and the campus community, which is primarily white, said Hall, Alexandria’s first African-American mayor.
“Dr. Huang cares about education and the community. We’re sorry to lose him. He has a real understanding of what it feels like to be a minority in a majority society. I think we have both learned that when it comes to racism, you must find a way to rise above it.
“It’s been a real pleasure working with Dr. Huang, who can reach back to his wealth of experience. Our interactions have always been fruitful.”
Eamon Halpin, LSUA’s associate vice chancellor for academic affairs and former interim provost, echoed Hall and Torres. He describes Dr. Huang as growth-oriented and a big-picture person who has a broad view of education, seeing it as a path for students to find their vocation in life.
“He has a humane perspective and is also practical.” At LSUA, he worked with colleagues to expand the international program, creating an exchange with Qufu Normal University that brought Chinese students and research scholars to campus. “He recognized that having international students and faculty here benefits everyone.”
A very supportive leader who is generous with his praise, Dr. Huang exercised oversight without being a micromanager, according to Dr. Halpin, who worked closely with Dr. Huang on developing new programs. “He gave me latitude and I appreciated that.”
LSUA faculty member Bernard Gallagher also appreciated Dr. Huang’s leadership. “When he interviewed for the position of chancellor, I was impressed by his dignity,” said Dr. Gallagher, professor of English. “When he arrived on campus, he paired up his words with his actions. He arrived with a clear vision and worked to ensure our academic programs were in line as we moved forward with efforts to become a four-year institution.”
A respectful person who has a personal touch, it was not uncommon for Dr. Huang to stop by colleagues’ offices and ask how they are doing. “He trusts the people who work for him and doesn’t allow for end runs. I found him exceptionally strong and I like him personally. I regret that he’s leaving.”
Stephan Moore, Ed.D., LSUA’s vice chancellor for student engagement, was Dr. Huang’s first hire to fill a cabinet spot. He said he was attracted by Dr. Huang’s vision and ambitions for the campus.
“An out-of-the-box thinker, he appreciates different ideas.”
Retention was a major focus during Dr. Huang’s tenure at the Alexandria campus and he ensured adequate resources for those efforts, Dr. Moore said. Significant changes were made to engage and support students and tremendous strides have been realized. First-to-second-year retention increased by 4-5% between fall 2017 and fall 2018 and current data suggests an 8 percent retention rate increase for fall 2019.