Longtime MSU President Louis J. Rodriguez Dies at 81

Longtime MSU President Louis J. Rodriguez Dies at 81

Dr. Louis J. Rodriguez, former president of Midwestern State University, passed away Friday, November 21, in Wichita Falls. Rodriguez served in this post from 1981-2000. During his 19 years at Midwestern State University, Rodriguez brought the university to the forefront in Texas higher education. His drive and determination were exemplary; his dedication and work ethic unmatched.

"Lou Rodriquez will be remembered for his great sense of duty and dedication to the office of the president," said Dr. Jesse W. Rogers, MSU President. "I, along with multitudes of colleagues, friends, and loved ones, will remember him with great respect and fondness." 

Rodriguez earned his bachelor's degree from Rutgers University in economics and history, his master's degree in international trade at Louisiana State University and his Ph.D. in economics and finance at LSU. 

In 1971, Rodriguez and his family moved to Texas, where he was the fourth person hired at the newly opened University of Texas at San Antonio. He started as Dean of the College of Business and later was named Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculties. Two years later he moved to the University of Houston at Clear Lake City, where he was the fifth person employed. He served there for eight years, three as Dean of the School of Professional Studies and five as Vice Chancellor and Provost. 

He assumed the presidency of Midwestern State University in January 1981. Under his leadership, MSU enrollment increased by more than 30 percent in the face of forecast declines; campus construction and renovation projects totaled more than $50 million; and all academic programs with the exception of two were accredited or reaccredited. Under Rodriguez's leadership, MSU programs were cited for excellence by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), the Association of Texas Colleges and Universities (ATCU), the National Council of Accreditation for Teacher Education (NCATE), and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). 

In addition to his work at MSU, Rodriguez was active in the Wichita Falls community. He served as president of the Wichita Falls Downtown Rotary Club, president of the Wichita Falls Board of Commerce and Industry, campaign chairman for the United Way of Greater Wichita Falls, and served on numerous local boards and committees. 

Rodriguez was honored with a number of awards through the years, including MSU's Hardin Professor in 1994, Wichita Falls Salesman of the Year by the local Sales & Marketing Executives in 1987, and Wichitan of the Year by Wichita Falls City Magazine in 1986. He was recognized as one of the distinguished alumni of the decade of the 1950s by Rutgers University at Newark in 1984. He was also one of five Texas educators invited to the Chinese Academy of Science to visit universities in China in 1981. The Boy Scouts of America honored Rodriguez as Distinguished Citizen of the Year in 1998. 

Rodriguez published more than 50 articles in the fields of economics and education. As Professor of Economics at MSU, he taught one economics class annually for a number of years. He authored/edited the following books: The Texas Economy: 21st Century Economics Challenges (co-authored with Dr. Yoshi Fukasawa) in 1996; Midwestern State University in Photographs (co-authored with Professor Gary Goldberg) in 1995; The Economics of Education (co-authored with Dr. Dewey D. Davis) in 1974; Dynamics of Growth: An Economic Profile of Texas in 1978; and I Bleed Red, White, and Blue: The Autobiography of a Lucky Pilgrim in 2011. 

Rodriguez is survived by his wife Ramona, daughter Susan Jones and her husband Mike of White Bluff, Tenn., and their three children; son Michael and his wife Shelly of Houston, and their two children; and son Scott and his wife Branelle of Houston, and their child. 

Rodriguez retired August 31, 2000.