After a 50 relationship with Louisiana Tech University - both as a student and an educator - and 26 years as Louisiana Tech's president, Dr. Daniel D. Reneau announced today that he will retire from the university, effective June 30, 2013.
The announcement was made during Louisiana Tech's fall faculty and staff meeting in Howard Auditorium. Joined by family, friends and colleagues, Reneau reflected on how far Louisiana Tech has come during his tenure as president, recapped the past year's achievements, and talked about what the future holds for him and the university.
"For the past 46 years, I have had the honor of serving my alma mater and the privilege of working with some of the finest academicians and administrators in the nation," Reneau said.
"But after long and thoughtful contemplation and discussion with my family, this just seemed like the right decision and the right time.
"Louisiana Tech has been at the center of my life's work and I have always measured my professional success by that of the university's. I am extremely proud of what we have accomplished together and feel blessed to have made so many good friends along the way. I just feel it's time for me to step out of the spotlight and into the sunlight."
Reneau's announcement was followed by a lengthy and impassioned ovation from the over 1,000 faculty and staff in attendance. First Lady Linda Reneau joined her husband in expressing her affection and appreciation for Louisiana Tech and the Tech Family.
"Louisiana Tech is such an important part of our lives and we've had so many wonderful experiences over the past 50 years," said Mrs. Reneau. "We raised our family with Bulldog pride and passion, and with the cherished traditions of our beloved university. The Tech Family is our family and we will always be faithful in our support and affection for Louisiana Tech."
Although Reneau said he is stepping down as president, he was quick to inform the faculty and staff that his "retirement" will not be a passive one and that he plans to continue to serve and support Louisiana Tech in a number of new ways.
"I'm not going away," Reneau said. "I have a deep passion for and commitment to Louisiana Tech, and will continue to work on its behalf. We have accomplished so many great things and taken Tech to such amazing heights that I want to do all I can to support the next president and help him or her continue the momentum we've created."
One of the ways Reneau said he'll continue to provide support to Louisiana Tech is through the establishment of an independent "think tank" within the Louisiana Tech University Foundation that will act as an advisory and advocacy group to the university's administration and Foundation, and will help to support and advance Louisiana Tech.
"The think tank will exist as a fully-independent enterprise working on behalf of Louisiana Tech and its vision and interests," said Reneau. "The people I wish to work with have over 400 years of combined experience and association with Louisiana Tech, are well respected within the state's business and higher education communities, and are passionate about contributing to the university's future growth and opulence."
Reneau's history and relationship with Louisiana Tech is almost as lengthy and impressive as his list of achievements. It began with earning a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering in 1963 and a master's degree in chemical engineering in 1964.
"I was a kid from Woodville, Mississippi who was so proud to come to Tech and be a part of its outstanding student body," Reneau recalls. "I wanted to be a chemical engineer and knew that I would receive an excellent education at Louisiana Tech...and I did. I remember having professors that really cared about my scholarship and success."
After earning his bachelor's and master's degrees, Reneau's passion for learning grew into a desire to pursue a doctorate in chemical engineering at Clemson University. He graduated with a Ph.D. in 1966, having worked with some of the nation's most accomplished engineering faculty and researchers.
"Looking back, that was a unique experience and the furthest Linda and I, with a baby girl, had ever been from home."
Drawn back to Ruston and his alma mater, Reneau returned to Louisiana Tech in 1967 to take a position as an assistant professor of chemical engineering and quickly distinguished himself as an academician and researcher.
"Although I enjoyed working in the chemical engineering industry, I longed for academia and the satisfaction I got from working in that environment," said Reneau. "The work I had been doing with researchers at Clemson and the University of South Carolina's medical school in Charleston, in this relatively new area called biomedical engineering, absolutely set me on fire. It was then I knew I wanted a career in academics."
One of Reneau's cornerstone achievements came in 1972 when he established Louisiana Tech's Department of Biomedical Engineering Department - one of the first of its kind in the United States and only the fifth undergraduate program to become accredited in the nation.
"I wrote complete curricula for undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral biomedical engineering programs," Reneau said. "I felt strongly that these were programs that could be established and successful at Louisiana Tech, and should be independent of other engineering disciplines. I also thought it was possible to establish and grow these programs independent of a medical school.
"Needless to say, there were many who did not agree with me and looked upon biomedical engineering as a 'rogue' area of study that needed to be under the umbrella of one of engineering's more 'traditional' disciplines. Today, Louisiana Tech has one of the most respected and successful biomedical engineering programs in the country."
Throughout the 1970s, Reneau continued to demonstrate his outstanding vision and leadership abilities, resulting in his appointment as Louisiana Tech's Vice President of Academic Affairs in 1980. In this capacity, he served as chief academic officer to some 400 faculty housed in six colleges and three professional schools, offering 160 different degree programs. Under his direction, every major program at Louisiana Tech with an accrediting agency was awarded accreditation.
As a result of his exemplary leadership and vision, the Board of Trustees for State Colleges and Universities selected Reneau as the 13th President of Louisiana Tech University on February 20, 1987.
"There are so many achievements throughout my 26 years of being president that I am truly proud of," said Reneau. "But I believe that going to selective admissions in 1992, creating first-rate, world-class research facilities to attract the best and brightest students and faculty, establishing and growing our doctoral programs, and constructing facilities such as the Institute for Micromanufacturing and our Enterprise Campus Research Park are the foundation for where Louisiana Tech can go and what it will be able to achieve in the future."
Reneau will end his career as Louisiana Tech's longest tenured president and one of its most revered and respected leaders. He has led Tech to a Tier One status among National Universities, unprecedented academic and research success, and even an invitation to join Conference USA in athletics.
But there's one thing Reneau truly values that is hard to quantify.
"You can leave a job or call an end to a career, but it's family that is always there for you," said Reneau. "I take a great deal of pride in knowing that Linda and I will forever be a part of the Tech Family...and the Tech Family will forever be a part of us."