Louisiana Tech’s Director of Disaster Recovery and Strategic Initiatives Adam McGuirt will be the first to tell you he never knew what he wanted to be when he grew up.
“Still don’t know,” said McGuirt, who turns 40 this year.
The problem is that he can’t give it much thought right now because, well, he’s too busy working, busy being whatever Tech needs him to be right now.
“I just keep showing up,” he said after a quick grin, familiar if you know him, “and asking what it is they need me to do next.”
Since May 1, 2019, “next” has been serving as the main point of contact between contractors and architects on athletic facilities that were destroyed by the April 25, 2019, tornado. Just a couple of days after the storm, Tech President Dr. Les Guice informed McGuirt, at the time Tech’s associate athletics director for internal operations, of his new position. To the best of his recollection, McGuirt recalls precisely how he answered the president.
“I believe it was, ‘Yessir,’” said McGuirt, who just-like-that switched offices from the Thomas Assembly Center to Wyly Tower, grabbed his hard hat, some pens, and a notebook, and started learning about damage assessment, repair, recovery, and reconstruction.
The move was necessary, Guice said, so the University would have “support available all the time to help restore campus as quickly and as efficiently as possible” through a coordinated effort between McGuirt and athletics, student advancement, and Associate Vice President for Administration and Facilities Sam Wallace.
“Early on, that meant talking to Sam — who’s played a major role in this recovery — along with insurance, FEMA, the state, and others, trying to figure out how to move forward,” McGuirt said. “I was given the opportunity to focus on these things so that we were always trying to push ahead. Lots of people helped with this initiative, but they were also responsible for many other things on campus.”
McGuirt became the main point of contact for architects and general contractors, available to answer questions and provide direction any day, night, or weekend.
“It’s been a total team effort all the time to get where we are today,” McGuirt said.
The progress is evident along Tech Drive with the reality of the nearly completed Origin Bank Soccer and Softball Complex with its adjoining soccer and softball fields to the west and JC Love Field and Pat Patterson Park with the adjoining Origin Bank Baseball Complex, at its familiar location at the southeast corner of West Alabama Avenue.
The everyday eye sees new facilities to rival those on any other mid-major campus. McGuirt sees that too, but he also sees a file cabinet of documentation, assigned numbers, regulations, codes, and a sea of acronyms.
“Everything’s an acronym,” he said. “FEMA. ORM. FPC. GOHSEP. CMAR. Lots and lots of acronyms.
“I get to learn new things every day; I’m working with architects and contractors who are very good at their jobs. I don’t have to design it or build it, but I have to have a general understanding of each part and know how to communicate.”
The underrated ability to communicate effectively is one of the main reasons McGuirt is the point man on Tech’s recovery team. His skill set of logical thinking, focus, common sense, and calm nature, along with his experience of working with several entities both on and off campus was the expertise Tech “needed to support us at a campus-wide level” during recovery, Guice said.
McGuirt didn’t intentionally train for the position or ask for it. The road to his current job was as unrehearsed as the storm that made it necessary.
He came to Tech from Shreveport and C.E. Byrd High, graduated in May 2003 with a degree in business administration — and got married the next week.
“I had to find work,” he said.
More than three years as a claims adjuster convinced him he wanted to pursue a different opportunity, another sort of business career. He applied to become director of athletic advancement at Tech when the Louisiana Tech Athletic Club, or LTAC, was created. That was March 2007.
Corre Stegall, then Tech’s Vice President for University Advancement, knew McGuirt through his wife April, now an office manager for the insurance arm of First National Bank but then an administrative assistant at Tech.
“He was a smart guy who impressed me as someone who was organized, who’d take care of his business, who absolutely had the right work ethic,” said Stegall, now Vice President Emerita. “He’s the kind of guy who sees something that needs doing and does it instead of waiting around until he can get it exactly perfect.”
Being instrumental in getting LTAC started, defining it, growing it, and streamlining it meant everything from contact with donors and athletics administration to marking spots for RVs in the Aillet Stadium parking lot on football game weekends.
“Some days, he was basically refereeing,” Stegall said. “He’s a very good communicator. A rule is a rule and we go by it, but he would know to change it if needed. Adam’s very fair and honest.”
He also helped, under the direction of Wallace, with the installation of a new floor in Scotty Robertson Memorial Gymnasium, the Karl Malone Court in the TAC, and baseball’s locker room redo.
“This sounds a little too simple but he knows how to do stuff and does it,” Stegall said. “That’s why he’s so darned good in his position right now.”
“Adam’s got tunnel vision, but in a good way,” said Gary Northen, general manager of LA Tech Sports Properties. “He can focus on what needs to be done right then and shut everything else out. I guess it helps that he’s so smart; I’ve been in game management meetings with him when someone might say something I’ve never heard of or none of us really understands how to make work, but Adam will figure it out.”
He’s reliable, dependable, always there if you need something, and he loves the University.Paul Kabbes
Senior Associate AD for External Operations
After six years, he moved over to athletics, mainly to oversee facilities in another position that was evolving. Since the Davison Athletics Complex and then the press box and suites were being constructed, that experience gave him lots of on-the-job training for his current role. After six years in that position as associate AD/internal, he was considering another move, either on campus or off.
“Then the tornado came through,” McGuirt said, “and it became pretty clear what the next step would be.”
Which is why McGuirt has turned into the equivalent of an administrative Swiss Army Knife. He was the bowl game coordinator when Tech Football traveled to Hawaii in 2018, and in March 2020, Guice appointed him as the campus COVID coordinator, making him the main contact for all things relating to the virus. That involves everything from helping write phasing plans, policies, and procedures to helping coordinate with the state and National Guard for on-campus testing and results tracking.
“I’ll be glad when the reason for this part of the job is behind us,” McGuirt said. “Our whole Incident Response Team does its best everyday to help keep our campus healthy and safe until we see the other side of this pandemic.”
The silver lining continues to be a team attitude to meeting the challenges.
“During a crisis, one of the key ways we find meaning is to discover hidden opportunities,” said University Communications Executive Director Tonya Oaks Smith, who has worked closely with McGuirt on both the disaster recovery and virus challenges. “Adam has consistently helped our University find ways to rise above numerous challenges in the past two years, and his leadership has helped to transform the physical and strategic landscape for Louisiana Tech.”
“He’s reliable, dependable, always there if you need something, and he loves the University,” said Paul Kabbes, who moved from his home state of Illinois in 2017 to take over LTAC when McGuirt left and is now Tech’s Senior Associate AD for External Operations. “To an outsider like myself, he’s always been a wealth of knowledge. And nobody embodies what Louisiana Tech means more than he does.”
Gerald Jordan moved into the athletics facilities job when McGuirt took over disaster recovery and calls him “the ultimate Phone-a-Friend when you’re in a tight spot.”
When the new facilities are complete and the virus is only a bad memory, McGuirt’s attention will turn to Tech Pointe II or Tech’s increasing footprint in Shreveport-Bossier or whatever work needs to be coordinated with Tech’s senior leadership to continue the development of a 21st century campus.
Right now, though, it would be a loss if the magnitude of what’s been accomplished by the Tech Family were overlooked since that April night when the tornado plowed through campus—and what’s been accomplished in less than two years since. The testaments stand along each side of Tech Drive, not only facilities for fun and fans and competition, but also monuments to missions accomplished.
“Not one person can do it alone,” McGuirt said. “It took an all-star team to get us here. Because of our contractor in Lincoln Builders and Tim Brandon Architecture, because of their dedication and commitment to this team project, that’s the reason we are where we are. So many people have done so much behind the scenes that no one will ever know about.”
Private gifts. Self-generated funds. State and federal dollars. The efficient work of Tech’s administrative team and support from local, state, and federal leaders. It took just about every all-star in Tech’s bag to make it work and have things turn out even better than Tech had hoped.
“When we first started this process, I never dreamed we’d have the opportunity to build what we’re building; it’s more than I ever thought we’d be able to do,” McGuirt said. “In doing so, we’ve been very intentional in the flow of these facilities for the benefit of the student-athletes and for the fans. Typically, you renovate or you build one part, then add another later; we had the chance to do it all at the same time.”
It’s taken a little luck, a lot of teamwork, and, in McGuirt, a team captain willing to check his ego at the door and do whatever was needed next.
“Adam’s good at seeing the big picture and solving problems,” said April, his wife and the mother of their three daughters. “He’s just really good at figuring out how to make things better.”