Nearly four decades of educating, inspiring and empowering: Dr. Freddie Titus' legacy at LU


 The year was 1976 when an excited Dr. Freddie Titus stepped onto the Lamar University campus for the first time.
“So, think about this –– growing up in the 60’s, one year, I attended an all-White elementary school and I was the only Black in my classroom. In the 70's, I went to a predominately Black high school with very few people of color,” Titus said. When I entered LU, it was a complete culture shock because LU was a big melting pot, but I had received a full-ride scholarship as an industrial engineering-mathematics major and it was so exciting to be a freshman on campus.”
As the second of his siblings to attend college, Titus was determined to make the most of his time at Lamar University.
“I participated in a lot of things: I joined Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.; I was part of the marching band playing alto saxophone and then Dr. Jimmy Simmons moved me to baritone sax; I participated in a lot of student organizations and was a founder of the Psalm 150 Gospel Choir; and I also worked at the Student Union and ended up being the highest paid student worker there,” he said.

‘Here’s where the true story begins.’

As a student in the late 1970s, Titus worked as a math tutor in the on-campus Developmental Math Lab until he graduated with his mathematics degree in 1983. He then went on to work as a teaching assistant for mathematics while he completed his second bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from LU in 1986. His plan was simple: work for one semester as a teaching assistant and then move on to the next opportunity.
“Here’s where the true story begins,” he said jokingly. “This was supposed to be for just one semester. Now, here I am 39 years later and I’m still waiting for that one semester to end.”
After his first semester as a TA, Titus began teaching developmental math classes on campus while he worked toward his Master of Education degree from McNeese State University in 1993. Now with the 18 hours required to teach undergraduate math courses under his belt, he began his new role as an adjunct professor at LU.
Teaching everything from college algebra and math for teachers to statistics and calculus, Titus taught with just one goal in mind: to impact students’ lives and make a difference. After he earned his Ed.D. in curriculum instruction from the University of Houston in 2010, his goal for impacting change culminated into a passion for education.
“Often times, as an educator, you have to view things through the lens of a student,” he said. “One of the things that I hold dear to my heart is understanding the art of teaching, which encompasses knowing content, how to teach the content and how students learn. Somewhere along my journey, I realized that and that’s when I made my shift to the Department of Education in the College of Education and Human Development. ”

‘Diversity is being invited to the party and inclusion is being asked to dance.’

Throughout his tenure at Lamar University, Titus has been a mentor to students and a leader in the local community working to impact change. He has served as associate professor and later interim department chair for the Department of Teacher Education. He is the National Pan-Hellenic Council advisor, providing guidance to the student leaders of four sororities and four fraternities. In 1998-2010, and in 2013, he was tapped as Student Government Association faculty member of the year. In 2015, he was honored as a Living Legend in Recognition of Outstanding Leadership by ExxonMobil Black Employee Success Team and in 2017, he was honored as LU’s Julie & Ben J. Rogers Community Service Award recipient.
Titus has mentored undergraduate students conducting research and has served as a presentation judge for the Office of Undergraduate Research Expo. His most memorable accomplishment, he notes, is being awarded faculty of the year.

“As a student, I would attend the Toast to Leadership Awards ceremony and when you looked at the people who won those awards, they were engaged with students in and outside of the classroom,” he said. “When I won that award, the very first time I was like, ‘Oh, my God, I’m on the same level withmy other colleagues who valued students and their academic experiences.’ That award is voted on by students and, in a sense, it made me feel as if I had accomplished one of my goals to be a mentor to student.”

Now, nearly four decades later, President Jaime Taylor has appointed Titus as the new interim vice president for Diversity, Inclusion and Community Relations, a role formerly held by LU Distinguished Alum Norman Bellard.
“So, some may ask, ‘Why 39 years at Lamar University and why Freddie Titus for this role?’ Well, I’ve spent 39 years at Lamar University because I've seen this university become more evolved,” he said. “I’ve been chosen for this role because of my life experiences –– things I’ve seen and done within my lifetime.”
Titus recalled one memory in particular that was pivotal in his understanding of the importance of diversity and inclusion.
“Taking it back to my freshman year on campus here at LU. It was move-in day and I made my way over to Brooks-Shivers dormitory and when I made it to my dorm room, I noticed something on the dorm roster.”
There, among a list of dormitory residents, a single red dot was placed next to his name.
“I wondered to myself, ‘What is the dot for?’ because no one else had a dot next to their name,” he recalled.

Titus later learned that the dot was to identify that he was an African American student.
“Even today, I can remember seeing that dot and I remember how it made me feel, but I’m proud to take on this role here at Lamar University because it shows the progress of the institution,” he said. “When I was asked to do this, I first thought about a famous quote by Vernon Myers: ‘Diversity is being invited to the party and inclusion is being asked to dance.’ I want to get the entire campus community engaged in this celebratory moment.”
The Division of Diversity, Inclusion and Community Relations aims to bring together people, ideas and resources that affect positive change and promote diversity and inclusion. Titus said his vision for the division is to provide resources, support and educate the campus community on diversity and inclusion, but his first mission it to educate himself.

“The best way to educate yourself is to go around to events, observe and converse with people. Support students,” he said. “As a student, I can remember seeing long-time Student Affairs employee Ann Shaw come to our Psalm 150 Choir events and now we have President Taylor coming to student events. Students love to see an administrator outside of their office and engaging with them.”
Now, as he enters his 40th year at Lamar University, Titus said he’s most excited and honored to have this opportunity to positively impact the university that has poured so much into his life.

Dr. Richard L. “Doc” Price I, former associate professor of mathematics, Dr. Lula Henry, professor emeritus of teacher education, and the late Dr. Jack Hopper, dean emeritus for the LU College of Engineering, are just a few of many individuals that Titus said have served as mentors during his time at LU, and beyond.

“Whether you’re talking about administrators and people in Student Affairs or professors and people in the dining hall, there are so many people here that have made contributions to Freddie Titus,” he said. “For 39 years, I’m proud to have been a part of a team that has continued to evolve and impact students. It’s really a no-brainer why this has been one of the best experiences that I’ve ever had.”