BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) —  March is “Southern University Founders’ Month” and the school is hosting many events to celebrate the legacy and history of the jaguar nation.

Many faculty, students, and alumni packed the F.G. Clark Activity Center to celebrate 143 years of academic success, culture, and uniqueness at Southern University’s annual founders day event. President-Chancellor Dennis Shields received a high honor at this ceremony.

“The leadership transition is about the institution and working together to make the institution better. It’s a moment for the institution to reflect on where it’s been, where it is, and where it’s going to go. I think those moments are important,” said Shields.

This year’s theme is “Destination Excellence.”

Guest speaker John Silvanus Wilson Jr. said President Dennis Shields is committed to ensuring students at Southern have the necessary resources to be successful.

“That’s why you need a leader who will prioritize the life of the mind like never before,” said Wilson.

Aaliyah Bennett is a junior at Southern University. She described what it means to be a jaguar in three words: excel, perseveres, and authentic.

“It just gives everyone the opportunity and spirits to understand that it’s deeper than just education,” said Bennett. “Here at Southern University, we’re like a family. And everyone looks out for everyone.”

Shields was named president in July 2022. He said his focus was student and faculty retention, graduation rates, and gaining more funding for research.

“You know, I’m excited. I’m excited to have this moment to say what my vision is,” said Shields. “I mean I’ve been here a few months. I’ve had a chance to look around. Get a feel for it. I’m encouraged that what the opportunity presents itself for the institution at this moment.”

Shields emphasized you can’t fix something unless you acknowledge it. You can always learn from somebody and teach them at the same time. 

The school is celebrating throughout the month of March. On Friday, Southern University Law Center will officially launch its Esports Innovation Lab at 9:00 a.m.