Found their man: Koubek announced as next Tech president, has plans to shape future

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Richard Koubek, president-elect of Michigan Technological University, addresses the university community shortly after the board unanimously voted him Tech's next president Friday. Koubek, most recently the executive vice president and provost at Lousiana State University, will take office on July 1.

HOUGHTON — Being at a college that will help lead the country in the future of technology was the motivation for Michigan Technological University’s newest president.

“We have outstanding faculty members who are doing cutting-edge research and a commitment from the community to help drive that forward,” Richard Koubek, who the Tech Board unanimously chose as president at a special meeting Friday, said during an interview with the Gazette. “And the students here are really exceptional.”

Koubek has been at Louisiana State University for the past nine years, including the past three as executive vice president and provost.

Koubek said the ubiquity of technology is ushering in a Fourth Industrial Revolution. Michigan Tech, with its combination of a tech base and strong social sciences and humanities departments, will help develop an understanding of how to ensure it will impact society positively.

“The next step is going to be to work with the community to understand how we can actualize the vision statement that is already set forth in the institution in a pragmatic way and help identify what the next key initiatives are going to be for Michigan Tech to move that forward,” he said.

The first six months of Koubek’s time at Tech will include “a lot of time listening,” he said. Even before he officially starts, he plans to talk to students, staff and alumni to understand their vision for Tech. He will then combine those ideas into key themes to push forward for the university.

In a speech after his selection, he praised the “remarkable” energy and contemplation shown by the university community in developing a presidential profile.

“The amount of engagement by this community gave comfort to candidates — at least this candidate — that this process was duly informed and intensely thoughtful,” he said.

He also praised President Glenn Mroz, “whose indelible imprint on this exceptional university will be evident far into the future.”

Even dating back to this years as a faculty member, Koubek had kept up with goings-on at Tech because of its prestige within technologically-oriented universities. He credited a “constant and unwavering commitment to excellence” for Tech’s consistency as a leader.

“Michigan Tech is global,” he said. “Michigan Tech is a technological university in its finest sense — where it’s a leader in technology, for sure, but also in the implications of that technology for our environment, for our society, for our humanity.”