NATCHITOCHES – Friends, family and former colleagues of Jimmy D. Long Sr. recalled his distinguished life and career at the dedication of the Jimmy D. Long Student Services Center at Northwestern State University Thursday.

NATCHITOCHES – Friends, family and former colleagues of Jimmy D. Long Sr. recalled his distinguished life and career at the dedication of the Jimmy D. Long Student Services Center at Northwestern State University Thursday.

Long served eight consecutive terms in the Louisiana House of Representatives from 1968 to 2000. He was appointed to Board of Supervisors of the University of Louisiana System in 2001. Long passed away in August.

Former legislators, NSU students and university leaders told a large crowd at the dedication about Long’s nearly half-century of work on behalf of education.

Mr. Long had a great impact on the state, community and Northwestern State that was enormous and will be everlasting,” said Northwestern State Acting President Dr. Chris Maggio. “This is one of the highest honors we can bestow upon an individual. This is not just a monument or landmark, but is a building our students and prospective students use every day.”

The Jimmy D. Long Student Services Center was completed in 2012. The 34,451 square foot facility is on the former site of West Caspari Hall. The $8.5 million Student Services Center was the first state-funded new building constructed on the Northwestern State campus in more than 30 years.

“Mr. Long stood for students and this is a way to honor him,” said University of Louisiana System President Dr. Jim Henderson. “It is a dedication to his spirit and legacy.”

The Student Services Center is home to the Offices of University Recruiting, First Year Experience and Leadership Development, Financial Aid, Student Employment Scholarships, Admissions, Veteran’s Affairs and the Vice President for the Student Experience as well as the Registrar’s Office, One Card Office and Cashier’s Office.

“Look past the brick, concrete and glass and look at what happened to make this building a reality,” said NSU Student Government Association President John Pearce. “The foundation was being laid because of Mr. Long’s dedication to students. He had a passion for education and fought for students.”

Board of Supervisors member Lola Dunahoe of Natchitoches served with Long on the Presidential Search Committee that selected Dr. Jim Henderson as Northwestern State’s president in 2014. She was able to see Long’s concern for Northwestern and its students first-hand.

“He brought to the search a level of calm and caring. His underlying thought that nothing was too good for Northwestern,” said Dunahoe. “All of us looked to him for guidance. To his family, I want to say thank you for sharing him with us.”

Former Louisiana Speaker of the House Joe Salter recalled that Long was “a mentor and a friend” when they served together in the legislature.

“He had a great influence on Northwestern and higher education,” said Salter, who represented Sabine and Red River parishes in the House of Representatives. “He made this institution stronger and the state stronger.”

Louisiana Senate President Pro Tempore Sen. Gerald Long followed his brother into public service and is his third term in the Senate. Gerald Long recalled their mutual love of Northwestern along with his brother’s unique way of giving advice.

“Over the years, he and I spent hours taking about this university,” said State Senate President-Pro Tempore Gerald Long, Jimmy Long Sr.’s brother. “I would go to him for counsel and he never told me what to do, but always gave good suggestions. He was a valuable mentor.”

Jimmy D. Long Sr. dealt with a variety of issues as a legislator, but none were more important to him than education.

“The Longs have always been champions of education,” said Gerald Long. “He saw that one way for people to grow and prosper was through public education.”

Sen. Long said his brother never sought the spotlight and was quick to credit others for accomplishments he had a role in.

“He never saw himself as more important than the next person,” said Gerald Long. “He was a member of a team and wanted what was best for Louisiana. His footprints on this university will last through eternity.”

Jimmy D. Long Sr. served two terms as chairman of the Board of Supervisors, which is the governing board for Northwestern State University and eight other universities across the state.  It is the largest higher education system in Louisiana with more than 90,000 students.

Long’s 32-year tenure in the legislature was one of the longest in the state’s history, and colleagues recognized him with a resolution during his last term designating him as “Dean of the Legislature.”

hairman of the House Education Committee for 16 years and a long-time member of the Southern Regional Education Board, Long was recognized as a leading authority in Louisiana and throughout the South on education-related legislation.

He introduced legislation to establish the Louisiana Scholars’ College at Northwestern and was also an author of the bill to create the Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts in Natchitoches.

Cited by The Times of Shreveport as one of the “100 Most Influential People of the Century in Northwest Louisiana, Long is a member of the Louisiana Political Hall of Fame and the Northwestern Alumni Hall of Distinction, the Long Purple Line.