“This is the highest honor that the university can bestow upon an individual,” said Dr. Philip C. Williams, McNeese president. “Rick Richard is deserving of this honor for his outstanding contributions to both McNeese State University and the community.”
Richard, who is chair of CleanFUEL USA and president of Empire of the Seed, chaired the McNeese Foundation's 75th Anniversary Capital Campaign, during which the foundation raised over $16 million in private support funds. In addition to the campaign, Richard and his wife, Donna - who is a McNeese alumna - made contributions of their own, including the establishment of several endowed scholarships and professorships in the colleges of business and engineering and the sponsorship of several stately oak trees on campus through the foundation’s Endow an Oak campaign.
“Throughout the 75th Anniversary Capital Campaign, Rick generously donated the use of his facilities - including the Historic Calcasieu Marine National Bank and the Cash and Carry Building – for events sponsored by the McNeese Foundation in connection with major fundraising events,” said Williams. “The association of his name with the campaign caused a number of major donors to come forward with sizable gifts.”
Richard earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism and a Juris Doctorate of Law degree from Louisiana State University. He also received a Master of Laws degree in taxation from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
He worked in the U.S Senate as legislative assistant for energy issues for Louisiana’s Sen. J. Bennett Johnston in Washington, D.C., from 1978-1981. He then returned to Louisiana and practiced tax law in Lafayette with the firm of Hayes, Durio and Richard.
Richard was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in 1982 and received the FERC Chairman's Medal and the Distinguished Service Medal from the U.S. Secretary of Energy for his role in unbundling interstate pipeline markets to create economic opportunities in natural gas markets.
He has served as chair, CEO and president of New Jersey Resources, as president and CEO of Northern Natural Gas Pipeline, as vice president and general counsel of Tenngasco and as chair, president and CEO of the Fortune 500 Columbia Energy Group.
Richard has served as an outstanding leader in civic and professional organizations through his service on a multitude of boards and organizations at the local, state and national levels. Currently, he is treasurer of the Coastal Plains Conservancy, a board member of both the Chamber SWLA/Alliance Foundation and the Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau, past president and board member of the Nature Conservancy of Louisiana and past member of the North Lake Charles Redevelopment Board. He also is past chairman of the Lake Charles Downtown/Lake Front Development Board and he serves on the executive committee of the Calcasieu Boy Scout Council, which awarded him the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award in 2014.
He is past chairman and current member of the Board of Trustees of the LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center and serves on the Board of Visitors of the LSU Manship School of Mass Communications, where he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007. He was also inducted into the LSU Alumni Hall of Distinction in 2009 and received the Paul M. Hebert Law Center 's Distinguished Alumni award in 2011.
Richard is also a member of the Board of Advisers of Haddington Ventures and board member of Buckeye Partners MLP and Cheniere Energy Partners in Houston, Texas, and American Electric Power in Columbus, Ohio. He has served three times as a member of the National Petroleum Council, an advisory body to the U.S. Secretary of Energy, chairman of the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America and on the boards of directors of the American Gas Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.