Edwards in LC for Citgo donation

Citgo Lake Charles officials announced Tuesday a $300,000 donation to McNeese State University’s First Choice Campaign, a fundraising effort with private businesses dedicated to sustaining growth at the campus.

The donation will be spread out over three years, with McNeese getting $100,000 annually.

Daryl Burckel, McNeese president, said the goal is to raise $1 million per year for three years.

Gov. John Bel Edwards called Citgo’s donation “a serious commitment” to offering programs that can help students get jobs upon graduation. He said Louisiana will continue to invest money in higher education.

“I think you’re going to see McNeese flourish like it hasn’t in a very long time,” Edwards said.

Jerry Dunn, vice president and general manager of Citgo’s Lake Charles refinery, said more than 20 percent of its employees, or roughly 240 people, are McNeese graduates.

“Citgo recognizes that McNeese is a vital component that powers our economy (and) enhances the quality of life in Southwest Louisiana,” he said.

Burckel said the First Choice effort is designed to boost enrollment and retain students. Some of the needs include improving chemistry and engineering labs, along with adding faculty and support positions, like an intern coordinator.

“We believe that at the end of three years, we’re going to increase enrollment that it’s going to automatically just fund these programs,” Burckel said.

Nearly $400,000 has been donated so far to First Choice, including Citgo’s contribution, Burckel said.

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