McNeese honors past presidents

By By Kara Carrier / American Press

McNeese State University, as part of

its 75th anniversary celebration, honored former university presidents

Monday at the

SEED Center. A program and reception recognized the

accomplishments of Lether E. Frazar, Wayne N. Cusic, Dr. Thomas S.

Leary,

Dr. Jack V. Doland and Dr. Robert D. Hebert.

Joyce Patterson, McNeese director of

alumni affairs, said the event was to celebrate the past and look

forward to the university’s

future. “We wanted to recognize our presidential leadership

McNeese has had since 1939,” Patterson said. “Our history is what

has brought us here today, and it’s a very proud history that we

have. One of overcoming adversity, of always looking to the

future, but never letting go of our past and recognizing the

importance it has.”

Many family members and friends of the

past presidents attended, including Lily Frazar Clark, daughter of

McNeese’s first

president, Lether Frazar. Clark said through tears that she was

honored to be present at the event. “My dad would have been

extremely proud of how much McNeese has accomplished,” she said.

“He enjoyed this place so much.”

According to current McNeese president, Dr. Phillip C. Williams, in 1944 Frazar began serving as dean, which at the time was

the highest-ranking university official. “By 1949, Frazar fought for McNeese to become a four-year-college, and he became

the first president in 1950,” Williams said. Frazar retired in 1955.

During the program, Williams announced

that former presidents Cusic and Leary were being honored by having

areas on campus

named after them. Cusic, who served as McNeese’s second president

from 1955-1970, had the drive in front of Kaufman Hall named

Wanye N. Cusic Circle.

Leary, McNeese’s third president who

served from 1970-80, had the drive in front of Chozen Hall named in his

honor. “Dr. Thomas

S. Leary Circle will serve as the gateway for all students as

Chozen Hall becomes a comprehensive area encompassing all transactions

for entering students,” Williams said.

Leary’s granddaughter, Karen

Chamberlin, attended the program along with more than 20 other family

members and friends. Chamberlin

said the family was proud beyond words of her grandfather’s legacy

and the drive being named after him. “We are very grateful

that they are going to memorialize him with a street name,” she

said. “He will live on forever here.”

Williams also honored Doland, the university’s fourth president, by stating during his tenure from 1980-87 enrollment increased

more than 30 percent. Doland also established the masters of fine arts in creative writing degree, he said.

Hebert, McNeese’s fifth and longest serving president (1987-2010), is the only past university president still living. Hebert

attended the program along with his wife and said he also was honored to be part of the university’s history.

Williams said that one of Hebert’s most

notable contributions to the university occurred in 2005 after

Hurricane Rita caused

$30 million worth of damage to nearly every building at McNeese.

According to Williams, Hebert led the entire McNeese community

in working to bring the students back to their classes, hold

graduation and complete the semester in its entirety.

“I am proud to serve this great

university and continue the legacy of excellence created by those who

served before me,” Williams

said in closing. “McNeese has evolved into one of the best

nationally recognized universities in the south.”