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A Bright Future

Donors Matt and Melissa Juneau Share Their Philosophy of Giving
A Bright Future

Matt and Melissa Juneau, pictured center, with their children.

According to Honors College donors Matt and Melissa Juneau, their affinity with LSU runs deeper than most.

Between Matt and Melissa Juneau and their four children, the Juneau family has a collective nine degrees from LSU, including advanced degrees from the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders and the Hebert Law Center.

“When I'm talking about LSU I always make the point that LSU’s kind of in the family,” Matt Juneau said. “It’s in our blood.”

Matt Juneau, a member of the Ogden Honors College Advisory Council, serves as vice president of Corporate Strategy and Investor Relations for Albemarle Corporation. Melissa Juneau serves as executive director of The Emerge Center for Communication, Behavior, and Development and is a licensed speech-language pathologist who has a history of working as a therapist with young children. The Juneaus grew up in small-town Louisiana in Avoyelles parish, met in high school, went to LSU together, and got married.

“The rest is history,” Matt added.

After both attended LSU and found success in their respective careers, the Juneaus decided to give back to the institution that was so instrumental to their personal and professional journeys.

“We believe in the university and the work that it does in education, and the impact on the state,” Melissa explained.

Matt and Melissa recently established the Matt and Melissa Juneau Family Honors Scholarship, which is awarded to high-achieving students in the Ogden Honors College. The award provides $10,000 over four years of academic study as $2500 per year. This first year, four students from first year to senior are recipients of the scholarship.

The Juneaus took some time to share their philosophy of giving and look forward to the future of the Ogden Honors College.

 

What inspired you to give to the Honors College?

Matt: I got involved really when I got asked to be on the council, so that's really how I started to give to the Honors College. We've always been regular donors to LSU, the alumni association, the foundation, various causes, so we've had kind of an ongoing history of giving back. LSU gave a lot to us, and we think it's important to give back. I guess what's attracted me to the Honors College was, one, we have a son who went through it, we have a son who graduated in history with honors and went through the Honors College. But even more importantly than that, the great thing about the Honors College is it gives an opportunity to where more of the best and the brightest stay in the state, go to school here, and hopefully stay here after they're out of school and kind of contribute to Louisiana thereafter. It’s the idea of giving something to people who can hopefully create a better future for the state of Louisiana is important to us. We're both very big believers in higher education, huge believers that it is the key to really long term growth and prosperity for individuals and communities, or cities, or states. Those states that invest heavily in higher education are really going to reap the rewards. We have the wherewithal right now to give back, and so we're giving back some.

Melissa: We recognize that there's a need for philanthropy at the university level. State funding doesn't afford a lot of extras, so with philanthropy, that's the way that a university can get there. And I know that because I work in the nonprofit arena, so I understand the value of philanthropic giving. Mostly we believe that it allows LSU to offer a unique opportunity for high-achieving students that are looking for a smaller community to excel in and hopefully keep the brightest students from Louisiana here at LSU, but also attract people from outside to look at LSU as a great place to get their education and thrive in.

 

What are some highlights you have seen in the College over the past few years?

Matt: There's been two major changes. One, the creation of the "true" Honors College, with Laville, with the remodeling of the French House, has created the right kind of setting to take the Honors College to another level. I think Dean Earle has brought a renewed sense of energy and excitement to the Honors College. Maybe most importantly, what seems to be going on right now, is the greater university seeing the importance and the relevance and the opportunity that the Honors College can bring, not only to the kids who are in the Honors College at any one time, but really to the university as a whole.

Melissa: I think the renovation of the French House is a highlight for me. I know it's a building, but a building speaks to a great high-quality place for students to gather and set that community. I think having a philanthropist, Mr. Ogden, invest in the College was a big step towards branding the College, and shows the importance of philanthropy.  

Matt: It's gotten more dynamic, it's become a more important part and component of the university. I think the integration of the Honors College with the university is improving. It's come a long way, and still has some ways to go, but I think that it's getting better integrated with the university as a whole. I think the goals and aspirations are getting more and more lofty. I've seen the aspirations grow a lot in the time that I've been involved.

Melissa: I feel like in meeting the Dean that his passion for the college and where he wants to take the college is inspiring. A leader sets a culture and a vision with their board, and I feel like that's where I see that aspirational growth: through the leadership of the Dean.  

 

What are your hopes for the Honors College in the future?

Melissa: That it continues to grow and prosper in attracting the brightest students who want to be at LSU, and it has enough support to be able to do that so it can build national notoriety.

Matt: It really goes back to that aspirational goal. We want LSU to be perceived as a great university, period. And we want the Honors College to be perceived as one of the top Honors Colleges in the U.S. — so how do we get there?


Story by Jacqueline DeRobertis, Ogden Honors College. For more information, email jacquelined@lsu.edu or call 225-578-0083.