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Lawson and Sharon Swearingen establish endowed professorship at ULM

Published June 14, 2017

Dr. Lawson and Mrs. Sharon Swearingen have established an Endowed Professorship in Political Science at the University of Louisiana Monroe, funded by a $60,000 contribution.

The announcement of the Swearingens’ legacy was made Tuesday at the ULM Library, which was constructed under Swearingen’s tenure as university president from 1991 to 2001.

“It’s fitting that we have this event in the library because Dr. Swearingen was instrumental in getting it built,” said President Nick J. Bruno in his welcoming remarks. “It is a legacy we all enjoy.”

“Although he left the university (retired), he remained connected. He and Sharon continued to be supportive of this university,” Bruno said. “On behalf of your university, thank you so much for your gift … gifts to our students and gifts to our faculty that help our students, there is no greater gift.”

Swearingen said their decision to endow the professorship was largely influenced by his own experience as an undergraduate student in political science (ULM Class of 1966) and later as a law student.

“I had a great four years here and it prepared me for what was ahead. I went to Tulane Law School … I was in a class with graduates of Princeton and Stanford and Notre Dame, University of Chicago, Duke and Vanderbilt and all these. I was as well prepared as any of them because of the education I received here,” he said.

After completing law school, Swearingen returned to ULM where he was an assistant professor of business law.

Dean Ron Berry of the College of Business and Social Sciences, thanked the Swearingens for their vision in creating the endowed professorship.

"The generous investment from former President and First Lady Lawson and Sharon Swearingen will create a lasting endowment to support our outstanding faculty who directly impact our students' lives and eventual success,” Berry said. “We sincerely appreciate the Swearingens’ gift.”

Another factor for the Swearingens in creating the endowed professorship, is the couple’s personal connection to the university.

“Sharon and I met here. I may not have met her except I was president of the student government and this beautiful, vivacious brunette came up to qualify for freshmen class treasurer, and the rest is history. We will celebrate our 50th (anniversary),” he said. 

Swearingen practiced law in Monroe for 22 years, and during that time served for 11 years in the Louisiana State Senate.

Swearingen noted the need for studying politics, especially in today’s political climate.

“Everyone in this room recognizes the importance of politics. Politics affects every area of our lives in this community and this state and this nation. Whether its economical, social, physical, social, mental state or even religion. It impacts everything.”

Dr. Josh Stockley, Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of the ULM Honors Program, thanked the Swearingens for the endowed chair saying, “It’s going to benefit faculty, but ultimately, I think it is going to benefit our students, and ultimately our community.”


Holding the check for $60,000 to establish the Lawson and Sharon Swearingen Endowed Professorship in Political Science at ULM are, from left, Dr. Josh Stockley, Dean Ron Berry, Lawson and Sharon Swearingen and President Nick Bruno. Jeanette Slayter/ULM Photo Services