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Rene Abadie retires after 18 years

By Rachel Taylor
On January 16, 2018

Rene Abadie

Former director of the university’s Communications and Creative Services Rene Abadie has retired after working at the university for 18 years.

Abadie described the path that led him to the position, which was originally titled director of public information.

“When I was first out of UNO, my first job was at the Hammond Daily Star,” said Abadie. “So, I moved up to Hammond from New Orleans and took that job, and six months later, I was drafted and lost that job to the service.”

Abadie went on to pursue jobs in public relations, primarily in the medical field. He has worked at the Tulane Medical Center as a media relations supervisor, Touro Infirmary as the assistant director of public relations and the Louisiana State Medical Society.

“When the opportunity came up for this position, I jumped at it,” said Abadie.

As director of public information, Abadie attended staff meetings, conducted interviews, wrote stories, accompanied photographers on shoots, and navigated the unpredictable nature of news.

He discussed some of the difficulties that unpredictability caused.

“Right after I started, we were getting ready to open the Columbia Theatre,” said Abadie. And that was on Sept. 11, 2001. So, we were planning on having a grand opening that evening, and we ended up having to shift things around.”

At times, the news struck close to home.

“We were planning on announcing the return of football a couple of years after that,” said Abadie. “And we were going to have a big press conference at Strawberry Stadium, and there was an explosion at the teacher education center. There was an industrial accident, an explosion, and one man was killed. So we had to immediately turn around and cancel one press conference while handling the news media who were covering the explosion.”

Abadie saw more than tragedy during his time at the university. He was also able to witness the university grow.

“In my 18 years at SLU, working under three different presidents, I witnessed and participated in what I saw as a renaissance of sorts at the university,” said Abadie. 

Every expansion added new life to the university and the surrounding area, but Abadie bore witness to lean times as well.

“The challenges of the budget cuts over the last several years were significant, and I was truly sorry to see good, hard working people and friends lose their jobs due to those cuts,” said Abadie. “We were told by Baton Rouge that we all had to do more with less, and somehow we did.”

After more than a decade of work at the university, Abadie talked about his retirement.

“I’ve worked all my life, and I kept thinking about retirement,” said Abadie. “And I kept saying, ‘No, I don’t know what I’m going to do if I retire.’ I didn’t want to just sit around and watch reruns of ‘Gunsmoke’ and things like that. I hit 70 this year, and I decided, it’s time to retire. I’ve still got fairly good health, and I want the opportunity for my wife and I to do a little bit of traveling and see my grandkids a little more.”

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