Dr. Daniel Howard may be new to Louisiana, but he is certainly not new to higher education. Having spent his career on college and university campuses, Howard was selected in January of this year as the newest chancellor at LSU of Alexandria following a nationwide search and began his official duties on March 1st.
Howard comes to LSUA from Arkansas State University, where he served as tenured full professor of Educational Leadership and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, in addition to spending two years as Interim Chancellor. Prior to that position, Howard served for 14 years at the University of North Alabama as a tenured full professor and in an array of administrative positions including: Dean of Research and Executive Assistant to the President, Interim Dean of Enrollment Management, Vice President for University Advancement, Vice President for International Relations, Vice President for Administration, and Provost.
Dr. Howard says he was drawn to the chancellor position at LSUA because of the challenges offered and the fact that he could use the expertise and skills learned throughout his career to help raise the university to a higher level. “This position provides a way for me to give back to many individuals who contributed to my education and calls on all the different facets of my life to be able to help advance LSUA and benefit the students it serves,” said Howard. At LSUA, Howard will not only serve as chancellor, but also as a full tenured professor of Allied Health.
Dr. Howard grew up in a caring and stable family environment in which his mother took him on weekly trips to the library. These trips, along with his prized library card, helped to open up a whole new world to him. As a result, he credits his parents with his continued love of reading. He is a first generation college attendee and graduate who was raised in an economically poor family that was rich in loving support, a commitment to a healthy lifestyle, and a deep belief in the transformative value of education. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Manhattan College and enlisted in the United States Army for two years, where he honed his leadership skills as well as a can do/will do attitude.
Following his honorable discharge from the Army, he returned to the classroom, supported by the G.I. Bill, which he refers to as “one of the best programs ever created in the United States”. Howard earned a Master of Science in Health and Safety “with honors”, Master of Public Health “with honors”, Doctor of Health and Safety (minor in Public Health), and Doctor of Philosophy in Higher Education (minor in Law), at the main campus of Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.
After finishing his degrees, Howard’s decision to go into academia can be traced back to his roots. “The love of learning that my parents instilled in me and the opportunity to experience the intellectual stimulation that you have in an academic environment,” helped lead him on his path. He is an ardent supporter of the academy and a dedicated servant leader.
Chancellor Howard comes to LSUA with several objectives; the first and foremost is to increase enrollment by not only recruiting students, but also by retaining students through graduation. Since arriving on campus, Howard has had no shortage of ideas on how to fulfill this mission. One of his first goals is to import the private model of enrollment management. He also advocated successfully to restore the Academic Honors Program, create a Student Health Service, reconnect the university with its alumni, improve the food service provided on campus and establish a freshman convocation in order to introduce students to the academic community, thereby allowing them thrive on campus.
Howard is also working toward expanding the mission of Continuing Studies to include professional courses and programs. These will provide continuing education units as well as courses and certificate programs for employees of local and regional business in order to support economic development throughout Central Louisiana. Additionally, he is exploring options for high demand/low cost academic programs which can be added to the LSUA curriculum. These include programs in hospitality management with a minor in culinary arts, social work, computer science, and aviation management, all of which are under consideration, as are many more.
Dr. Howard also plans on creating an annual fund campaign beginning on January 1, 2015, to help raise additional philanthropic and corporate support needed to achieve a level of excellence not otherwise possible with funds provided by legislative appropriations and tuition and fees paid by students. Dr. Howard is restoring the time-honored tradition of the chancellor living on campus. He states that “by living on campus, I can connect better with students, faculty, staff, and visitors. It also shows that I subscribe fully to the importance and uniqueness of the educational environment and culture of the University.” Clearly, he believes in leading by example not exception.
Some of his initiatives lie with alumni and the expansion of club sports on campus. According to Howard, “Alumni are the greatest living examples of institutional success and the best possible advocates for LSUA. They can help their alma mater by encouraging others to attend LSUA, facilitating the creation of internships, assisting graduates in finding jobs, and contributing a portion of their philanthropy to LSUA, to help with scholarship support and to meet other pressing and important needs.” With this in mind, Howard is working toward reconnecting the university with the LSUA alumni. One way of accomplishing this is by creating a database to connect with graduates by sending newsletters and other communications that will inform them of special events, initiatives, and other exciting opportunities to engage with their alma mater and with other alumni and friends, such as social networking, class reunions, homecoming weekends, and other events.
While the university is already increasing its stable of NAIA sports next fall by adding men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s tennis, Howard is looking toward the expansion of club sports on campus. Club sports are those athletic activities, operated under the auspices of the university, in which teams compete on campus and travel to compete against other universities. However, they are not regulated by the NCAA or NAIA. Club sports serve as a link between heavily regulated intercollegiate sports for those student-athletes who are gifted and minimally regulated intramural sports for shoes students who are interested in recreational activities.
Howard indicated that LSUA will be adding a rugby team beginning in January 2015, and will be looking at other potential club sports such as English equitation, rodeo, golf, and swimming. Te idea behind these sports is that they will draw students to the university who may not have previously considered LSUA, provide worthy co-curricular activities, and may lead to some becoming intercollegiate sports. Eventually, he hopes to add a pep band in order to cheer on these athletes and have it develop into a full-fledged marching band. The band will go alongside the pomline that will begin this fall semester and the eventual cheerleading squad.
Dr. Howard believes that these initiatives will help lead the university away from the trappings of a two-year college and toward developing all of those attributes that distinguish a traditional four-year university, which it was approved to become 10 years ago.
While Howard has been very busy leading the campus since taking over, he has still had time to explore the Central Louisiana community, which he has enjoyed getting to know. “This is a friendly, engaging, warm, and very loving community in which the vibrant culture is deeply rooted and the food is exceptional,” said Howard. He says that “there is something exciting going on every day, whether on campus or out in the community itself.” Howard is impressed with the desire of students to learn and be prepared for life; the dedication and high quality and faculty; the commitment of the support staff; and the selfless leadership of the administrators.
“There is a wonderful community engagement here which I love and seek to support,” said Howard. As a result, community members are likely to see Chancellor Howard out and about. When you do, be sure to say “Hello,” and welcome him to LSUA and to Central Louisiana.