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Office of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

ULM HEARTBEAT AWARD

Every entity has people behind the scenes. People whose work is crucial for that entity to flow smoothly. Often, their work goes unseen unless the work they are responsible for isn’t completed.  

How often do we look at ULM’s well-manicured lawns and wonder what they would look like if the groundskeepers who keep them in pristine condition weren’t here? What would our students eat if the individuals who cook their food weren’t here and were not culinary geniuses? No Fried Chicken Wednesday! What would the dorms, the office buildings, and the stadium look like without the professional diligence of the individuals who work behind the scenes?  

Their expert contributions often go unnoticed. But much like the heart, its function is essential to life. And if the heart stops beating, things start to go downhill immediately. Full stop! 

There are many behind-the-scenes jobs here at ULM. If they were not done by experts who quietly and consistently perform their duties, ULM would most likely come to a full stop- or at least, many things would be delayed.  

In this vein, The Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion created the HeartbeatAward. The HeartbeatAward is given to individuals who work hard to make sure ULM runs smoothly but are often camouflaged by the hustle and bustle of campus. Just as our hearts are hidden behind our chest, its persistent beat keeps us alive. The work of many individuals at ULM is hidden behind the scenes, but that essential work helps keep ULM alive.  


Heartbeat Award

Heartbeat Award; Hiding in Plain Sight

Pictured from left to right on the front row are: Peter Kelly, Joe Day, Darryl Lee, Josh Taylor, Rodrick Rucks, Chucky Glass, Matthew Crosby, Renaldo Moore, and Wilbert Colvin.  On the back row: Ken Thomas, Derrick Minger, Michael Moy, Aubrey Ashton, Ricky Powe, James Gowan, Harold McClinton, Louis Brown, Robert Jackson, Web Stewart,  Donald Tolliver, and Pelton Pratt.  

 

Every day a visitor to ULM’s campus remarks on how beautiful and well-kept the grounds are, often singling out the President’s House. Those who come to ULM’s campus to enjoy the food, walk around, run, ride bicycles, skateboard, or attend one of the many sporting events or activities, can’t help but notice the pristine well-manicured lawns and shrubbery.  

As many have attested, the grounds are never unkempt. This was even true during the pandemic when the vast majority of those who frequent ULM’s grounds were quarantined.  

These accolades are due to the work and artistry of the grounds crew, which is under the direction of Mr. Joshua Taylor who has worked for ULM for 20 years. This Heartbeat Award honors the work this group of dedicated individuals performs for ULM. 

Their dedication to their craft was the most important impetus that kept this campus in tip-top shape during that challenging time. 

Of all the skills required in landscaping and horticultural services, the most important one is having a strong work ethic which helps landscapers complete all the work assigned to them in a timely and efficient manner even when the campus was empty. These heartbeat recipients unquestionably exemplify that.  

Mr. Taylor said, “The ULM Ground’s crew takes pride in their work, and it shows.” Truer words were never spoken.  

 



Heartbeat Award

Heartbeat Award: ULM’S Movers and Shakers


“We like to fly under the radar,” said Troy Drake, a maintenance foreman. Despite his wish to operate incognito, chances are Mr. Drake and his band of movers and shakers have been noticed by many on campus.


This group of four merry movers—Troy Drake, Brock Hemphill, Roderick Hill, and Steven Hollis—is responsible for setting up events on campus and moving people from office to office and building to building. The movers and shakers average about five moves a day across campus—except for events held at Bayou Pointe, the Hangar, and the 7th floor of the library.


If you have attended an on-campus event like “Wine over the Water,” received help moving furniture to and from your office, or witnessed a man carrying a desk down the hallways, you might not be aware of it, but you were observing the movers and shakers. They talk softly, but their strength and determination speak for themselves.


Steven Hollis has been at ULM the longest out of the group for a total of over 31 years. He brings a lot of humor into what can sometimes be a mundane job. Hollis is appreciative of the award because it means he is being supported.


Troy Drake has worked at ULM for 19 years. Unlike Hollis, he is more of the silent type but enjoys getting “the opportunity to interact with everybody” around campus.


Roderick Hill has worked at ULM for 7 years, which he said has been a great experience overall. People are generally very sweet and thankful for his help on campus. Like Hollis, Hill said it is good to be recognized for the work he does in silence.


Brock Hemphill has only worked at ULM for 5 months, so his favorite part of his job is getting to explore campus and meet new people. Hemphill believes the Heartbeat Award is a symbol of the appreciation ULM has for the essential work these gentlemen perform.



Students kayaking on campus

Inaugural Heartbeat Award Recipient Mr. Charlie Ballard

The heart of ULM’s campus is the Warhawk statue. Its picturesque location and stunning 17-foot wingspan make it the perfect symbol of ULM.


Imagine if the heart of campus, the Warhawk, looked dirty and tarnished.


Where would graduating students, visitors to campus, and people looking for a special place for a photo op go? How would that affect the look of campus if the first thing people see when entering campus is an unkept mascot? Would it still hold the same value?


The Inaugural Heartbeat Award is going to Mr. Charlie L. Ballard, the person who won’t let that happen. Mr. Ballard has been employed at ULM for 29 years, and his main job is in the Maintenance Department where he is responsible for refrigeration. Throughout his time at ULM, Mr. Ballard has worked across campus to ensure it looks its best. He has done maintenance for the dorms and the coliseum; he also worked as an electrician. However, he provides a service to ULM that all students, faculty, and staff recognize.


The Warhawk statue was installed in 2008, and there wasn’t anyone responsible for cleaning it for the first year. Because of Mr. Ballard’s varied skills, he was recruited to clean the Warhawk by Mr. Bryan Thorn, the physical plant director at ULM at the time. Mr. Ballard had a detail business and had never cleaned something as big as the Warhawk statue. He told them this, but they insisted he was the right man for the job.


Mr. Ballard tried it out and received many compliments on the Warhawks’ pristine condition. Twelve years later, he has developed a special technique that makes the job more efficient.


Many of us haven’t thought twice about how the Warhawk stays clean and polished, and Mr. Ballard works vigilantly and seamlessly to make sure it’s a worry we never have.


His work is so impressive that ULM Interim President, Dr. Edwin Litolff, now Vice President of Finance at Grambling State University, recognized his expertise and requested he come to Grambling to work on their Tiger statue, which hadn’t been cleaned since 2013.


Mr. Ballard does more than just clean the Warhawk, he is the heartbeat that keeps the Warhawk, the symbol of ULM’s brand, pristine and healthy.

 


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