LU’s Freddie Titus tapped for 2017 Julie and Ben Rogers Community Service Award

Freddie Titus

An “ambassador for mankind,” Lamar University’s Freddie Titus took a different path when he discovered the joy of serving others over self. He has brought that approach to his teaching and service beyond the campus.

 Titus, assistant professor of teacher education in the College of Education and Human Development, will be honored as Lamar University’s 2017 Julie & Ben Rogers Community Service Award recipient.

The Rogers family established the award in 1979 to encourage Lamar University faculty and staff to volunteer their service and talents to the community. The Lamar University Foundation maintains the endowment that provides for the award.

While pursuing an undergraduate engineering degree at Lamar University, Titus discovered during an internship that working in isolation was not to his liking.  After graduating with a B.S. in mathematics in 1983, he worked as a teaching assistant and quickly realized teaching was his calling.  He completed a second bachelor’s degree, this one in industrial engineering, in 1986.

 “I really enjoyed working with people,” he said. “I love it when the light goes on with people when they learn something new. I love being a part of that experience.”

He went on to earn a Master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from McNeese State University (1993) and an Ed.D. in curriculum and instruction - math education from the University of Houston in 2010.

Tapped as Student Government Association Faculty member of the Year, 1998-2010 and in 2013, he was also honored as a Living Legend in Recognition of Outstanding Leadership in 2015 by the ExxonMobil Black Employee Success Team.

Titus serves as the National Pan-Hellenic Council advisor providing guidance to the student leaders of four sororities and four fraternities on the LU campus, helping them “develop leadership across campus,” he said. “The impact of developing leaders results in increased academic achievement and involvement across campus.”

“Dr. Titus is notably known as a hard-working, dynamic educator … however, his pursuits as a community service leader are equally acclaimed,” wrote LU alumnus Dr. Justin Henderson in a nomination letter for the award. “He excels in four prominent areas of community service: general community service, service educational groups, community service in conjunction with Lamar University, and contributions to community organizations.”

Titus is the founder and director of the Psalm 150 Gospel Choir and the Psalm 150 Youth and Young Adult Retreat.  More than 30 years ago, Titus and other students joined together to sing for a Black history program. 

“We practiced in the piano room in the lobby of Brook-Shivers Dormitory,” he said. “That’s how it started. Then churches started asking if we could come sing. The nugget was that they fed us after church. It was great to get a real home cooked meal. With college students, food is the key.”

Titus sees the choir as an effective way to help LU students to adjust to the challenges of university life, especially first generation college students. “College is challenging,” Titus said. “Without support it becomes very difficult to find your way in a system that you don’t know.”

Titus “actively uses his choir ministry as a tool to assist college-aged students,” Dr. Henderson wrote “identifying methods for adjusting to college life, learning applicable, spiritual principles needed for successful college experience, leadership development, and as a outlet to maintain a connection with desired religious activities.”

Inspiring African American youth to aspire to college-level education is an underlying goal of Titus’ Psalm 150 Youth and Young Adult Retreat. “Dr. Titus decided to have a summer retreat camp on the campus of Lamar University for minority students,” wrote Rev. Lee H. Blue Jr. in a letter of support for the award nomination. “His vision was to foster the perfection of gospel music while at the same time allowing the kids to experience life on a university campus.” In the 33 years since, more than 3,000 students, ages 8 to 19, have participated in the dynamic three-day summer retreats. 

“We give young African Americans the opportunity to experience college life way before that time comes,” Titus said. “It helps them think about that experience and what it would be like for them when they stay in the residence halls, see the campus and go into the classrooms.”

“On the national front, Dr. Titus has worked in various leadership roles in the National Baptist Student Union Retreat,” Rev. Blue wrote “serving as faculty advisor, mass choir coordinator and seminar leader over the years.” Titus has spoken on “Music Ministry Matters,” “Effective Music Ministry,” and “Remembering the Hymns.”

Titus’ community service in the university is extensive and student-focused. Since 2010, he has served as a board member of the African-American Male Program (AAMP), a professional networking, mentoring and leadership development program for freshmen. He as mentored two students each year in the AAMP program, served as a mathematics tutor each semester and a summer bridge program speaker for three years.

Titus is the director of LU’s National Pan-Hellenic Council College Mentoring Program. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board selected the Council to develop a mentoring program serving African-American freshmen and sophomore students, and Titus has seen improved retention and graduation rates among the students being mentored. 

Titus has mentored undergraduate students conducting research and has served as a student presentation judge for the Office of Undergraduate Research Expo.

“Working with people has always been in my spirit,” Titus said.  His volunteer work includes service to numerous church-related organizations such as the Beaumont ministers association where he served as a guest clinician for its annual citywide revival services. 

Titus has also brought his mathematics skills as he has worked with students in preparing for the Scholastic Aptitude Test, and has worked with teachers in developing ways to teach mathematics using manipulatives to engage students to move concepts from concrete to abstract.

Other recent LU recipients of the Rogers Award have been Brian Sattler, 2016, Kumer Das, 2015, Monica Harn, 2014, Teresa Simpson, 2013, Sara Gubala, 2012, and Antoinette Mays, 2011.

— Lamar University

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