McNeese State University conferred honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees to two McNeese alumni at commencement – Richard Ieyoub, Louisiana’s Commissioner of Conservation and former Louisiana Attorney General, and Paul Rainwater, a natural disaster management expert and retired U.S. Army Colonel – during the 156thcommencement ceremonies May 14 and May 15 at Burton Coliseum.
“This is the highest honor that the university can bestow upon an individual,” said Dr. Daryl V. Burckel, McNeese president. “Mr. Ieyoub’s and Mr. Rainwater’s substantial achievements, their passion for service, along with their ardent support for McNeese State University, the state of Louisiana and their country, clearly warrant the granting of the honorary doctorates.”
A native of Lake Charles, Ieyoub received his Bachelor of Arts degree in history from McNeese in 1968 and his Juris Doctor degree from Louisiana State University in 1972.
Ieyoub – who is proudly one of 28 Ieyoub family members who have received their degrees from the university – is also a recipient of the McNeese Alumni Association Distinguished Alumnus Award.
He served as a special prosecutor in the criminal division of the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office for three years and then returned to Lake Charles to enter private practice, with an emphasis on civil and criminal litigation, for nine years.
Ieyoub was elected to two terms as Calcasieu Parish District Attorney from 1984-1990.
During his tenure, he served as president of the both the Louisiana District Attorney’s Association and the National District Attorney’s Association.
As leader of the national association, he was instrumental in helping the administration of Pres. George H.W. Bush pass the Crime Bill of 1991. This legislation provided much needed funding for law enforcement agencies throughout the nation and allowed for the hiring of 100,000 additional police officers to assist in the fight against crime. For his work on this bill, Ieyoub was recognized by Pres. Bush publicly as an “All American Hero” and was appointed to the National Commission on Model State Drug Laws.
He was elected to serve three terms as Louisiana Attorney General from 1991-2004, where his top priority was on improving the quality of life for the citizens of Louisiana by fighting crime and standing up for children and familiesthrough highly effective programs that prevented elderly abuse, toughened “career criminals” prosecution, curbed both underage drinking and drunk driving and provided for safer schools.
As state attorney general, Ieyoub successfully settled the state’s lawsuit against Texaco for failure to pay oil royalties for state-leased land that resulted in the payment of $250 million by Texaco.
He also led Louisiana’s lawsuit against the tobacco companies to recover monies expended by the state Medicaid program for the treatment of smoking-related diseases. Louisiana received $4.6 billion in the settlement of this case and the tobacco companies were forced to stop cigarette advertisements specifically geared to appeal to minors.
After leaving office, Ieyoub returned to private practice in Baton Rouge.
In 2016, he was appointed by Gov. John Bel Edwards to serve as Louisiana’s Commissioner of Conservation. In this role, Ieyoub serves as the state’s chief regulator of the oil and gas industry and exercises jurisdiction over all of the natural resources of the state not within the jurisdiction of other state departments or agencies.
Ieyoub 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.
He has received the McNeese Alumni Association Distinguished Alumnus Award, the Diocese of Lake Charles Outstanding Public Servant Award and the New Orleans City Business Leadership in Law Award and served as a member of the board of directors of St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital and the hospital’s Professional Advisory Board
A native of DeQuincy, Rainwater received his Bachelor of Arts degree in government in 1985 from McNeese and his Master of Arts degree in international relations from Salve Regina University in Rhode Island.
He is a recipient of the McNeese Alumni Association Distinguished Alumnus Award and has been generous in his financial support of the University, which includes the funding of student scholarships through the Jerald and Leila Rainwater Scholarship, which he established to honor his parents through the McNeese Foundation.
Rainwater has been involved with both local and state government in Louisiana – working with three governors and a Lake Charles mayor – and a U.S. Senator from Louisiana for over 20 years. His work with the Louisiana Recovery Authority has made him an expert in natural disaster management and he has played a prominent bi-partisan role in every natural disaster recovery in the country since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. He has briefed both U.S. presidents and vice presidents about storm recovery, including current President Joe Biden.
He served as chief of staff, commissioner of administration and executive director of the Louisiana Recovery Authority – the state agency charged with allocating federal recovery funds in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita – under Gov. Bobby Jindal. He also served a couple of years in a senior position in the LRA under the late Gov. Kathleen Blanco and as chief of operations in the Washington, D.C., office for then U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu. He also worked as chief administrative officer for the city of Lake Charles under Mayor Randy Roach.
Rainwater has also had a dual career as an Army officer in the U.S. Army Reserves and the Louisiana Army National Guard, retiring as an Army Colonel. He deployed to Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001 and 2004 for his overseas service, where he served as a detachment commander/operations officer of the 336th finance command, a civil affairs plans officer and a deputy commander of the southwest Asia personnel command. He was awarded a legion of merit, bronze star, meritorious service medal, army commendation medal, joint service achievement medal and combat action badge. Rainwater is the principal owner of Rainwater Consulting in Baton Rouge as well as a senior consultant for Cornerstone Government Affairs and chief strategy officer and vice president with the disaster response/recovery firm Plexos Group.