Time does fly, doesn’t it Sam Monroe?
The president of Lamar State College-Port Arthur is leaving the post he has held for 40 years. That’s four decades as head of an institution of higher learning. Let me repeat that: Four … decades!
I got to know Monroe when I worked in Beaumont, just up the road from Port Arthur. I knew him as an earnest and upstanding fellow, which one would hope held in good stead at a college that went through some tremendous change over many years. Most of it was good; some of it was not.
It was the good stuff — Lamar-Port Arthur’s growth and academic progress — that helped keep Monroe on the job he’s held longer than any other higher education administrator in Texas history.
I cannot let it pass, though, that Monroe almost got caught up in some bad times at Lamar.
The two-year campus used to be part of a free-standing university system — the Lamar University System. Back in the 1980s, the Lamar system got entangled in some serious personnel issues. Regents fired the Lamar chancellor, C. Robert Kemble, and replaced him with George McLaughlin. I recall at the time I didn’t believe McLaughlin was qualified for the job, but Kemble got crossways with key regents, so he was out.
The firing sent shockwaves throughout the system, of which LU-Port Arthur was a part. The Lamar system has since been rolled into the Texas University System.
Monroe survived all that tumult and has carried on.
As the Texas Tribune article notes, Monroe was a boyhood friend of arguably Port Arthur’s most famous resident, the late Janis Joplin. Monroe used that friendship to promote the region’s unique and interesting musical history, which might have been as key to his keeping his job this long as anything he did administratively.
Higher education can become a sausage grinder for administrators, as University of Texas-Austin President Bill Powers might attest.
I am totally amazed that Sam Monroe stayed the course through the good times and the bad.
Nice going, Sam. Enjoy your retirement.