Robert Alost

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Robert Allen "Bobby" Alost


16th President of Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana
In office
1986 – July 1, 1996
Preceded by Joseph J. Orze
Succeeded by Randall Webb

Born February 20, 1935
New Orleans, Louisiana

Resident of Natchitoches, Louisiana

Died April 10, 2020 (aged 85)
Place of death not mentioned in obituary, presumably Natchitoches
Resting place Memory Lawn Cemetery in Natchitoches
Spouse(s) (1) Alma Alost (divorced)

(2) Yvonne Alost (surviving widow)

Children Michael A. Alost

Stanley L. Alost
Wesley S. Alost
Eight grandchildren
Parents:
John Ernest, Sr., and Estelle Moore Alost

Alma mater Northwestern State University

Louisiana State University

Religion Not mentioned in obituary

Robert Allen Alost, known as Bobby Alost (February 20, 1935 – April 10, 2020),[1] was the 16th president of Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana, with service for the decade from 1986 until his retirement in 1996.

Background

Born in New Orleans, Alost was one of four children of John Ernest Alost, Sr. (1905-1980), and the former Estelle Moore (1904-1980). His mother died six months before his father.[2]

He obtained his bachelor's and master's degrees from NSU in 1957 and 1958, respectively, and his doctorate in education in 1963 from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. He then joined the NSU faculty. In 1975, he was named dean of the College of Education, a post he filled until 1982.[3]

Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts

After attending an education conference in South Carolina, Alost became burdened with opening a boarding school for talented high school students. To make this happened, he worked closely with three Democratic state legislators, Representative Jimmy Dale Long, Sr. (1931-2016), of Natchitoches and then state Senators Francis C. Thompson of Delhi in Richland Parish and Donald Gene Kelly of Natchitoches, along with Republican Governor David C. Treen, to open on the NSU campus the Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts, which enrolled two hundred of the most talented high school students from throughout the state. Alost was the founding director of LSMSA from its inception in 1982 until he was named president of the university four years later.[4]

Conservative author Rod Dreher, a native of Baton Rouge, entered LSMSA in 1983 at the age of sixteen at the inception of the institution. In his blog, The American Conservative, Dreher describes how Alost impacted Dreher's life:

Bobby Alost’s school was not the kind of thing you expect in a poor Southern state: a public boarding school for gifted and talented kids. But there it was, and there a couple hundred of us were, excited, maybe even a little frightened, out at his house in the pine woods, on a lake, on a warm autumn weekend, trying to get used to our new family. ...

The LSMSA academics were superlative. This was a high school that taught college-style, and featured classes on William Faulkner, Walker Percy, Russian history, and and so on. They figured students could handle it, and mostly they were right ... Imagine a school where the teachers didn’t have to spend half their time trying to get students to settle down and listen. Where you were encouraged to ask questions, because nobody was going to make fun of you for being smart. And imagine being in a high school with a pretty diverse set of kids from all around the state, not all of whom would be your friends, but none of whom would be your enemy.

The autumn that I arrived at Bobby Alost’s school was the first time in my life that I felt that I truly belonged somewhere. That I had found my tribe. Dr. Alost, as we all called him, was a big, husky, papa bear figure who was the embodiment of our new home. He was our Big Chief. It’s funny, because he didn’t make a habit of getting too involved in the lives of his students, but then, he didn’t really have to in order to make an impression on us. We all knew that LSMSA existed because he had a dream, and he fought for it, and inspired good people ... to fight alongside him, and to nurture alongside him.

He showed me mercy once. There was quite a drinking culture among high school students in Louisiana back then. Liquor was strictly forbidden at LSMSA ... [After a romantic breakup, I was] depressed ... I went out and bought some booze. The head RA of my dorm caught me with it before I could drink a drop. That was my second offense. I could have been expelled for good, with only a few months till graduation. Had that happened, I would have done it to myself. But Dr. Alost decided to let me stay, when he did not have to. Like I said, I owed him a lot.[5]

NSU president

Under president Alost, NSU enrollments increased from 5,272 to more than 9,000 after a period of decline and fiscal uncertainty."[3]He developed the Louisiana Scholars’ College and was involved in the establishment of the Department of Creative and Performing Arts. Under Alost, NSU became the first university in the nation to participate in the Joint Venture (JOVE) Program with NASA. He played an instrumental role in bringing the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training to the campus and oversaw the development of a doctoral program in educational technology.[3]

After retiring from NSU, Alost became a financial advisor for AXA Equitable Insurance. He is an inductee of the NSU Hall of Distinguished Educators.[4] He died of a lengthy illness at the age of eighty-five.[6]

On Alost's passing, current NSU President Chris Maggio said that all NSU alumni "owe Dr. Alost a debt of gratitude for guiding and advocating for our university. He was a mentor to me personally and professionally and a strong leader through uncertain times at NSU.”[3]

James Henderson, briefly a former NSU president who now heads the University of Louisiana System, said that Alost guided NSU "through a difficult era, and established a standard of not just surviving adversity, but thriving in its midst. He was simultaneously imposing and infinitely approachable. Personally, I am forever grateful for his mentorship and friendship.”[3]

References

  1. Robert Alost. Mylife.com. Retrieved on April 26, 2020.
  2. John Ernest Alost, Sr.. Findagrave.com. Retrieved on April 26, 2020.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Leah Jackson (April 18, 2020). Former NSU president Dr. Robert Alost dies. The Natchitoches Times. Retrieved on April 26, 2020.
  4. 4.0 4.1 The Hall of Distinguished Educators. Traditions.nsula.edu. Retrieved on February 20, 2018; material may no longer be accesible.
  5. Rod Dreher (April 21, 2020). Robert Alost, 1935-2020. The American Conservative. Retrieved on April 26, 2020.
  6. Robert Alost obituary. The Shreveport Times (April 25, 2020). Retrieved on April 26, 2020.