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January 28, 2011

Dr. Nick J. BrunoA message to ULM faculty and staff from ULM President Nick J. Bruno

Dear Colleagues,

I wanted to welcome you back to campus and wish you all a very enjoyable and productive semester. Over the last twelve weeks as your new president, I have met with many members of our campus and surrounding communities.

This has allowed me to become reacquainted with the various constituents who contribute to the success of this university. In addition, I have met and spoken to many individuals throughout the state, including the leaders of higher education institutions in North Louisiana. I have assured them that the University of Louisiana at Monroe is prepared to collaborate with them to build upon our joint ability to educate the citizens of North Louisiana and work towards improving their standard of living and building a better prepared workforce.

While there is uncertainty as to the upcoming fiscal year's budget, I remain positive that this university will be a stronger institution by addressing our challenges in a strategic manner. Every decision that will be made in the coming months and years will be driven by one overriding question, "What is best for ULM?" The tradition is strong and my many discussions have reaffirmed what I knew about the students, faculty, staff, alumni and community; they are all proud of their affiliation with this university.

I have also heard one recurring theme from our various constituents, "What can I do?" To that I respond, "Hold your head up, not down; look forward, not back." We are moving forward, we will overcome the challenges we will face, and we will continue to be a great university. This will be accomplished by our continued collaboration, collective thoughts, and efforts.

During the search process I committed to being open and accessible and to work with "all who love this institution." I remain committed to that and urge all of you to be open and accessible to your colleagues, our external constituents, and most importantly our students who have chosen ULM. We must reconfirm daily that they made the right choice. Our courtesy and respect toward each other and to them must not waiver. I also pledged that the flow of communication will be open and direct.

Following are the Top Ten Initiatives that will guide and direct our actions over the remainder of this year:

1. I have asked Dr. Richters and Lisa Miller to prepare and submit to me a new recruitment plan. I have also requested for input from every academic college regarding recruitment and how the faculty, staff, and students can contribute to our recruitment efforts. Within that charge, I have asked that the plan include how we will address recruiting students from other regions of our state, primarily South Louisiana; out of state, primarily Texas, Mississippi and Arkansas; and how we will increase our international student population. This plan will identify and recruit academically prepared students who can succeed and meet our achievement expectations.

2. The provost, vice presidents and academic deans have been asked to consider a process for strategic reductions so that we might act on any reduction we are called upon to make. I am not a proponent of "across the board" reductions so an alternative process is necessary. This too will be an open process.

3. A new facilities plan is being developed to provide more identity for each of our colleges and identify those facilities that are in need of renovations. The first building on our priority list will be Sandel Hall. It is a critical facility in our intermediate and long term student recruitment and retention goals. Others are being identified in order to best guide our planning process.

4. Mr. Bobby Staub is also developing a facilities master plan for our athletic facilities. Since these facilities must be renovated with non-state dollars, a funding plan is also being developed.

5. Dr. Wayne Brumfield continues to address the student development component of our university. The engagement of our students in various activities will assist us in improving our retention, and grow our graduation rates. I have met with the student leadership, and they are eager to participate.

6. I have asked the Faculty Senate to proceed with a faculty survey so I might gain insights into those areas where my attention should be directed. In addition, I have asked that not only the results of that survey be provided, but also suggestions for improvement.

7. I have been in discussions with several individuals related to solutions which would expedite and simplify the grant writing and administration process. Once the feasibility of this concept is confirmed, I will invite faculty and staff to provide feedback and assist in facilitating change.

8. Mr. Keith Brown and Mr. Tommy Walpole have been charged with developing a plan to increase our alumni membership over the next several years. It is critical that we increase the participation of our alumni in promoting our university. We must provide opportunities for our alums to "re-connect" to their alma mater.

9. University Relations and Marketing will now report directly to me. I will be forming a committee composed of internal and external members to develop a plan which will be utilized to develop expanded name recognition for our university in areas where recruitment will be targeted. This will then be followed by a marketing plan for the university which will provide greater awareness of our outstanding and unique academic programs.

10. We are beginning the process of examining internal structures to make sure that appropriate policies and procedures are in place throughout all phases of our university operations.

Thank you again for your dedication and commitment to ULM. I will continue to keep you informed of our progress and remain open to any suggestions you may have. I know we can, and I am sure we will.

Nick J. Bruno, Ph.D.
President