A family’s focus on education helps first-generation students pursue a degree
LSU Shreveport alumnus Mike Woods is helping open doors to an education for students who overcome barriers to better themselves.
Mike has stayed involved in higher education in numerous ways since his graduation from LSUS in 1975. He looked to his family’s example when he endowed two scholarships for first-generation college students at LSUS. One in every three incoming freshmen at LSUS is a first-generation college student.
“My father was a first-generation scholar, and my mother, because she was one of four girls, her family could not afford to send her to college,” he says. “I was fortunate to receive a great education from LSUS, and so did my son. I believe in giving back to an institution that gave me so much.”
In 2019, he led an effort to restore state matching funds for the First Generation Endowed Scholarship program operated by the Louisiana Board of Regents, which sets policy for public colleges and universities in Louisiana. The board agreed to let individual universities decide whether to use state matching funds for professorships or first-generation scholarships instead of automatically applying the money to endowed professorships.
“I have nine first generation scholarships around the state. It is important to me and my family to support students this way,” Mike says. “I would like to see LSUS become more of a traditional institution and grow our undergraduate enrollment both on campus and online.”
Mike’s dad, Dalton, built and oil and gas business, while his mom, Sugar, was mom to entire neighborhood. Dalton and Sugar were active in community organizations and politics and hosted U.S. presidents at political events in Shreveport. Mike took over the family business and still sits at his dad’s desk every day.
Mike also continues the family tradition of community service. He was chairman of the University of Louisiana System Board for several years. He’s served as chairman of the LSU Alumni Association and the LSUS Foundation Board of Directors. He’s been an adjunct professor at LSUS, teaching classes on environmental law, oil and gas law and nonprofit management.
“My favorite memories are establishing lifelong relationships with professors, such as Dr. Kemp, Dr. Jimes and Dr. Ruben, and teaching some outstanding students who now lead nonprofit organizations in the Shreveport area,” Mike says.