Former university president remembered

Former Southeastern President Larry Crain, of no relation to current president John L. Crain, died of a massive stroke on Sunday, Feb. 2, leaving behind his wife of 57 years, Jean Lott Crain, and his three children Rick Crain, Randall Crain and Rita Crain McIntyre. Many friends, family and colleagues came together to honor Crain at his memorial service, which was held at the First Presbyterian Church in Hammond, La.
Crain served as Southeastern’s president from 1980-1986. Though many knew him as an excellent biologist, historian and educator, Crain is especially known as the president who eliminated the Lions football team for a period of time.
“Dr. Crain was an individual of the highest integrity,” said Patrick Settoon, who was the Dean of Science and Technology while Crain was president. “He was a superb academician who influenced thousands of Southeastern students during his years as a classroom instructor.  Not only was he an excellent biologist, but he was an astute historian of the Florida Parishes area.”  
During his later years as Southeastern’s president, state funding for higher education dwindled, and he was forced to make a critical decision relative to the support of the university’s academic and athletic programs, particularly the football program.
“Dr. Crain agonized over the decision and chose the route he considered to be in the university’s best interest,” said Settoon. “He terminated the football program which had fallen on hard times, especially in student, alumni and community support.  It was not a popular decision, and he would suffer undeserved criticism for many years, but it did provide substantial additional support for the academic arena over the ensuing years.  Dr. Crain’s legacy is not the canceling of the football program which would be resurrected and become stronger than ever, as attested to by the success of the season just concluded, but rather his commitment to faculty professionalism, particularly in the area of research and publication and higher academic standards.  The Turtle Cove Research Station would not exist today if it had not been for his vision and tenacity.”  
After he left Southeastern he would continue to impact higher education as president of the current Louisiana System and later as president of the Board of Regents.
“Dr. Crain was one of the most personable presidents that Southeastern has enjoyed and was an excellent promoter of Southeastern throughout the state,” said Settoon.
Though removal of the football team was an unpopular decision at the time, Roy Blackwood, director of the Columbia Theatre, notes the positive outcomes that came as a result of Crain’s decision. Because the football team no longer brought fans and alumni to Southeastern during Homecoming, the Fanfare celebration of the arts was created and has become a part of Southeastern tradition. Additionally, Crain’s administration raised the academic bar at Southeastern, paving the way for the academic excellence the university provides now.
“One of the things that I’ll always be grateful to Dr. Crain was raising the academic bar,” said Blackwood. “I’d come from a research institution, and I was used to that sort of thing. That’s what I intended to do with my life, so that’s why I was appreciative that that was being celebrated. The other thing that he did that ended up being a really good thing– and I have to be careful where I say this– is the canceling of the football program because it not only put money back into the academic side of the house, but it is really the reason that three of us developed Fanfare. We knew that there was a reason to bring people to Homecoming even if there wasn’t going to be a football game, and we wanted that reason to be the arts… It’s been a huge success over the years. It was because [Crain] had done that, because otherwise we may not have done that because we may not have seen that as a need.”
Current President Dr. John L. Crain attended the funeral to pay his respects. Not only was Dr. Larry Crain known for his influence on the course of the university, but he was known for presenting himself as a likeable and respectable gentleman.
“First of all, he was an extremely nice person,” said Crain. “Very professional, very polite, sort of in that classic Southern gentleman vein. He was very interested in high academic standards. He worked hard to raise the academic standards of the university. He really was the president at a very pivotal time at Southeastern when it was transitioning from a small college that not many people knew about to eventually becoming a major regional university in the state. [He] really guided the university through that transition.”
Though Larry Crain is no longer with us, his memory lives on through the foundation he set for the university and the lives he touched throughout his journey.