For Brian Haymon, supporting higher education is part of giving back.
“I left Louisiana after finishing LSU Law School in the mid-1980’s,” said Haymon. “Growing up in Baton Rouge, it took being away to help me realize how much I loved Louisiana and its people. When I moved back home in the early 1990’s, I knew I wanted to help make Louisiana a better place.”
A Tiger fan for as long as he can remember, Brian eventually found himself drawn to LSU. The Honors College, he says, plays an important role not just for the University, but for Louisiana generally.
“The Honors College symbolizes our State’s commitment to higher education,” said Haymon. “It needs to be a place of excellence, one that helps produce the next generation of Louisiana leaders. Our investment in the Honors College is an important part of creating the Louisiana we want, need, and deserve.”
Brian’s interest in supporting higher education began at the age of 26, when he was invited to serve on the Liberal Arts Foundation Advisory Council at University of Texas in Austin, where he graduated in 1982. He says the experience helped him understand the importance of alumni support to higher education, and the value of a great flagship university.
In 1999, after 13 years of service to the University of Texas, Brian decided to turn his support closer to home. He contacted Mark Emmert, who had just been named LSU Chancellor, and asked if he could help out with the Honors Program (later Honors College) at LSU. That conversation led to Brian’s helping revitalize the Advisory Council, and chair the search committee to hire Dean Nancy Clark in 2003.
“Dean Clark has been such an inspiring leader for the College,” said Haymon. “She created the concept of the LSU Honors experience based on academic excellence, leadership, and service. It has been incredibly rewarding to work with Nancy, and so many others, to help the Honors College develop as an indispensible part of LSU’s Flagship Agenda and Tier One status.”
For the past 12 years, Brian has chaired the Honors College Advisory Council. The group’s support includes development for professorships, scholarships, and endowments, recruiting of prospective students, and serving as ambassadors for the College both within the LSU community and externally around the state and country. The Advisory Council also offers guidance to Dean Clark on various matters impacting the College.
Brian says his proudest moment in support of the Honors College came in 2011 when the Louisiana Legislature, after an intense lobbying effort from Advisory Council members, passed a budget that included $6.5 million for renovation of the French House. The renovation project is currently underway.
In addition to his work on the Advisory Council, Brian served as the Honors College representative for the recent Forever LSU campaign that raised over $750 million. As part of the campaign, he and his wife Barbara endowed a professorship for visiting professors to the Honors College.
When he is not helping the Honors College, Brian serves as CEO of SGS Petroleum Service Corporation, a company that provides product handling services to oil refineries, chemical plants, and barge lines. He serves on several local boards, including the Louisiana Flagship Coalition, a group of business leaders devoted to supporting LSU, and New Schools for Baton Rouge, which is devoted to improving K-12 education in the city’s most disadvantaged school districts. At home, he is the father of two teenage children, and enjoys spending time in the outdoors hunting, fishing, hiking, and playing golf.
“Growing up I never had the idea that I would be involved in education,” Brian said. “But I can think of nothing more important to the future of Louisiana. Whenever I meet LSU Honors College students and I see their energy, intelligence, ambition, and talent, I am always inspired.”
Story by Jacqueline DeRobertis, LSU Honors College
For more information, contact the Honors College at 225-578-8831