​​Now that he has officially retired as a member and chair of the CSU Board of Trustees, we wanted to catch up to Lou Monville, a Cal State San Bernardino graduate, to reflect on his decade-long tenure on the board and find out how his leadership helped shape the university's position as one of the top academic institutions in the country.

During his final report to the board, Lou said, "One of the highlights for me is hearing about the incredible work of our university community and then relaying those stories to others. I'm convinced that it is impossible to relay the totality of how the California State University benefits the people and communities of California. It simply cannot be done.

"No matter how proudly we speak about the university, there is always another layer of incredible work for the public benefit – another student's life forever changed by a faculty member, another successful alumna who was connected to his or her first job by a university staff member, another community shaped by the vision and passion of a CSU president, and another state resident saved by technology that CSU helped pioneer."

Always a team player, Lou added that as a trustee, he has "learned from great people who showed tremendous grace under pressure, people who were humble in their personal interactions, but bold in their dreams."

Today, Lou is returning to his full-time day job as vice president of OPR Communications, one of Southern California's leading firms specializing in providing both tactical and strategic public affairs counsel to business and public agency clientele. We are grateful that he found time to answer a few questions for Voices & Views.

 

How did you get involved with the CSU Board of Trustees?

LM: I had stayed active at CSUSB since my graduation, serving on the Alumni Association board and as the campus' representative to the CSU statewide Alumni Council. In 2004, I was appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to fill an opening on the California Community College Board of Governors. Two years later, I was fortunate to be appointed to the CSU Board of Trustees.

 

What advice would you offer new college graduates?

LM: I tend to give the same advice regardless of career choice. Take advantage of every opportunity given to you, even if it is not exactly what you thought you would be doing in your career.   When you get that opportunity, work hard. You might not be the most knowledgeable or most experienced employee, but never let anyone outwork you.  

 

Do you encourage students and alumni to follow in your footsteps?

LM: I hope all students continue to stay involved in campus life. Someday they could be members of the Alumni Council or the Board of Trustees, serving alongside the next generation of student leaders.

 

Now that you will be back working full-time at OPR, what are you looking forward to most?

LM: It will be great just to be at the office everyday with my great colleagues.

 

What motivated you to choose public relations or communications as a career?

LM: I had two or three majors at CSUSB before finally settling into communications.  I am not sure if I found PR or it found me. I always thought I would be in and around sports/athletics, and since I didn't have the physical gifts to be a professional athlete, PR was a great way to be a part of the sports industry.

 

How did you secure your first job in sports marketing?

LM: My first positions was doing promotions for CSUSB's Coyote Athletics. It was a true learn by doing experience. From there I became a public relations representative for the Riverside Pilots, a single A minor league baseball team.

 

What factors led to your career switch from sports marketing to politics?

LM: The Riverside Pilots were moving to Lancaster (now known as the Lancaster Jet Hawks), and my family is located in San Diego, so I wanted to stay in the Riverside area. I had a close friend and fellow CSUSB alum, Russ Bogh, who was leaving the office of Assemblyman Ted Weggeland to go to work for Governor Pete Wilson. He asked me to interview for his old position with Weggeland and, as they say, the rest is history.

 

Lou's political career includes serving in the Governor's administration, directing the activities of the Governor's Inland Empire office and acting as an advisor on key issues, such as business and economic reform, class-size reduction and infrastructure development. He also has provided strategic counsel on several statewide initiatives and presidential races.

After joining the public relations agency, where he is an expert in land-use entitlement, water and energy project development, public education and community outreach programs, Lou was honored by the Inland Empire Business Journal as one of the region's top 40 business leaders under 40 years of age. His accolades also include being named "Small Business Advocate of the Year" in  2006 by the California Chamber of Commerce.  

He is slightly older and wiser today, and the CSU is grateful that some of that wisdom has rubbed off on everybody who had the pleasure of working with him throughout the 23 campus system.

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