Dr. Lonnie L. Howard, president of Lamar Institute of Technology in Beaumont and a 1976 graduate of Columbus High School, has been named the 2019 Columbus Schools Distinguished Alumni.
Howard will be recognized Thursday, May 15, during ceremonies as part of CHS’s annual academic awards ceremony, beginning at 6 p.m.
Howard is the son of the late Lonnie Howard of Eagle Lake and Mervie Howard of Alleyton.
The son of a South East Texas sharecropper, Howard was born in a 4-room shack with no indoor plumbing.
Placed in remedial classes and not viewed as college material, he had few options after high school. Due to his love of country, he joined the US Army.
After his honorable discharge, his first job was as a janitor. Life continued to be hard. He had no reliable transportation, almost homeless, and only ate a half can of sweet peas in the morning and the other half in the evening.
Overcoming these challenges, Lonnie progressed from janitor to become a certified welder, computer-aided drafter, and then moved into HR/staffing.
Still struggling to earn a degree, he did not graduate with an associates degree until age 36. But less than 12 years later, he had five college degrees: AAS, AGS, BS, MS, and a PhD from the University of Texas. Dr. Howard also completed training in strategic business management at Harvard University and emerging online leadership at Penn State University.
“My mother was right; it doesn’t really matter where you start from. With hard work, integrity, and education, anyone can achieve some measure of the American Dream,” Howard said.
Howard has had rapid career progression serving in key teaching/ leadership positions ranging from Faculty to College President. In fact, this is his second college presidency. He was the first President at Clover Park Technical College in Lakewood, Washington and now is the President of Lamar Technical Institute of Technology, which is a member of the Texas State University System.
As a single parent, Lonnie adopted a toddler that was sold for drugs at 3-weeks old. Now age 26, his son Matthew is completing his fourth degree, a PhD in English Language and Literature.