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ULM Foundation presents 6 Awards of Excellence

Published August 29, 2017

Four University of Louisiana Monroe faculty members and two staff employees were the 2017 winners of the ULM Foundation Awards of Excellence. The awards were presented Thursday as part of ULM President Dr. Nick Bruno’s State of the University address at Brown Auditorium. This was the annual presentation of the awards, with each winner chosen based on a set of standards determined by a selection committee.  

The Awards were presented by Dr. Nick J. Bruno, ULM President, and Susan Hoffman, President of the ULM Foundation.

Six faculty and staff at the University of Louisiana Monroe were recognized Thursday with the prestigious ULM Foundation Award. Presenting the awards were President of the ULM Foundation Susan Hoffman, left, and ULM President Nick J. Bruno, right. Winners were, from left, front, Andria Price, Kelli Cole and Dr. Matthew E. Talbert and in back, Chappell, Karen Witek accepting for her husband, Dr. Aaron J. Witek, Dr. Pamela Higgins Saulsberry, Dr. James Boldin and Dr. Bruno. Emerald McIntyre/ULM Photo Services
Dr. Matthew E. Talbert
Assistant Professor of Biology, School of Sciences
College of Arts, Education, Sciences
Emerald McIntyre/ULM Photo Services

Dr. Matthew E. Talbert, assistant professor of biology in the School of Sciences, was presented the Award for Excellence in Research. Talbert and a team of student researchers are studying the effects of altered diets on fruit flies in hopes of unlocking the secret to human obesity.

“Being obese is not a health concern on its own,” Talbert says. “Not all obese people become ill. But many do.” Certain illnesses recur in unhealthy obese people, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Talbert is searching for the trigger, that moment. “I want to know what causes a person to go from obese and healthy to obese and sick.”

Among the findings so far: The lifespan for flies with altered diets are cut in half. These same flies demonstrate cardiac difficulties, insulin resistance and sluggishness.

Talbert’s first manuscript as senior author has been prepared and submitted to Cell and molecular Life Sciences for publication in 2017. At the Endocrine Society’s Endo 2016, Talbert’s graduate student presented a poster at an invited symposium for students from minority backgrounds. If an educator’s success can be found in his or her students, consider this: Of his past and present research students, four undergraduates have been accepted to medical school while four are pursing enrollment in biomedical PHD programs.

Although Talbert teaches 12 contact hours of some combination of lecture and laboratory work each semester, including upper level and graduate courses in genetics human physiology and biomedical ethics, he believes the most important work comes in the research lab. “In the lab, what I feel to be the ultimate classroom, my students and I generate and share ideas in a setting in which they chart our mutual successes or failures, elevate one another with mutual expectation, acquire practical skills in our discipline and push at the boundaries of fact in the field.”


Dr. James Boldin
Associate Professor, School of Visual & Performing Arts
College of Arts, Education, Sciences 
Emerald McIntyre/ULM Photo Services

Dr. James Boldin, an associate professor of music at ULM, won the 2017 ULM Foundation Award for Excellence in Creative and Artistic Activity.

Boldin has been on the music faculty teaching French horn since 2012. He has had the distinction of hold the Dr. William R. Hammond Endowed Professorship in Liberal Arts and the L.M. McNeely Endowed Professorship in Humanities.

During his career at ULM, Boldin has traveled nationally and internationally as a clinician, soloist, author, arranger, performer and educator. His performances and presentations have taken him to San Diego; Chicago; Memphis; Highland Heights, Kentucky, for the International Women’s Brass Conference; Los Angeles, where he performed the world premiere of Gary Schocker’s In Arkadia for horn and harp; and Ithaca, New York.

He also participated in a series of performances and master classes in Thailand at Mahidol University, Silpakorn University and the Royal Thai Navy Music School. The trip was funded in part by a Career Advancement Grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts. Boldin authored the grant request.

Boldin plays with three different regional orchestras. He is the fourth horn for the Shreveport Symphony Orchestra, third horn for the Rapides Symphony Orchestra and is the principal horn for the Monroe Symphony Orchestra.

“Performing with these ensembles is important not only for my own artistic development, but also because it allows me to share what I have learned from these experiences with my students,” he says.

In addition, Boldin’s achievements include that of recording artist. His solo recording “Jan Koetsier: Music for Horn” was released on the MSR Classics label in 2013. Fanfare Magazine praised Boldin in a review for his “superb playing … on an extraordinarily high level of both technique and communicative abilities.” Two more recordings on the MSR Classics label are in the pipeline.


Dr. Aaron Witek
Assistant Professor, School of Visual & Performing Arts
College of Arts, Education, Sciences
Emerald McIntyre/ULM Photo Services

Dr. Aaron J. Witek, assistant professor of trumpet, is the winner of the ULM Foundation Award winner for Excellence in Faculty Teaching.

Unable to attend, his award was accepted by his wife, Karen Witek.

Witek, the Emy-Lou Biedenharn Endowed Chair, Instructor of Trumpet from 2013 to spring 2016, has been on the ULM faculty since 2013 and served as assistant director of athletic bands from 2014 to 2016.

As assistant director of athletic bands, he designed the drills, arranged music, conducted rehearsals and organized the band travel. Witek’s recruiting efforts increased the size of the band by 29 percent from 2014 to 2015. In 2016, the ULM winter color guard, under his direction, won the Louisiana state championships.

Witek is responsible for teaching applied trumpet to undergraduate and graduate music majors, trumpet studio, directing the trumpet ensemble, coordinating and coaching chamber music ensembles, assisting with administrative duties in the brass area and performing with the faculty ensemble in residence: Black Bayou Brass.

“Among all aspects of my job, the students’ educational success is my primary concern. I have had the pleasure of educating dedicated students who have been successful in competitions, admitted into graduate programs and becoming employed in their field of study,” Witek says.

Accomplishments by Witek’s students include:

  • Winning International Trumpet Guild scholarships;
  • Placing as division finalists in the Music Teachers National Trumpet Competition;
  • Participation by the ULM Trumpet Ensemble for the first time last year in the International Trumpet Guild Conference in Anaheim, California. The ensemble performed at the conference and was the only Louisiana group invited.


Dr. Pamela Higgins Saulsberry
Professor and Director, School of Behaviorial & Social Sciences
College of Business & Social Sciences
Emerald McIntyre/ULM Photo Services

Dr. Pamela Higgins Saulsberry knew early in life that her ambition was to help people. As a social worker, she has committed her life to just that.

“After I began working at the University of Louisiana Monroe there was never a time when I was not involved in service provision either on campus, in the community or in the region,” Saulsberry says.

That commitment to helping others has earned Saulsberry the ULM Foundation Award for Excellence in Service.

Saulsberry joined ULM in 2008 as department head of the social work program. Since 2014, she has been director of the School of Behavioral and Social Sciences, professor of social work and the program coordinator. She is a past recipient of the Northeast Sickle Cell Anemia Foundation Service Award, CAMEO Award for Outstanding Leadership in Education for March of Dimes, Association of Black Social Workers’ Regional Humanitarian of the Year, Delta Sorority Woman of FIRE Award for Community Service and Together We Can “Linda Christmas” Families and Children Award.

She serves on the Masur Museum of Art Board of Directors and has previously served on the GO Care Board of Directors.

She has been instrumental in developing the MLK Day of Service. She has grown the program to include students, staff and faculty from across the campus, and individuals from across the region. She always works with a community partner to help those in need through the Day of Service.

For the past three years, Saulsberry has been a volunteer reader for the United Way of Northeast Louisiana’s Read Learn Succeed program.

Saulsberry, in reflecting on her service, says, “Taking the time to sit and read to and with a young child may not seem like a major contribution to some. However, this seemingly small but important volunteer service exemplifies my service philosophy, which the following quote from Martin Luther King Jr. epitomizes: “Everyone can be great. Because anybody can serve.”


Andria Price Administrative Assistant
College of Arts, Education, Sciences 
Emerald McIntyre/ULM Photo Services

Andria Price, an administrative assistant in the College of Arts, Education and Sciences dean’s office is this year’s ULM Foundation Award for Excellence in Service -- Classified Staff.

Price was selected because of her significant contributions to the college, the university and the community.

Price joined ULM in July 1990 as a secretary in the Department of History and Government and the Department of Foreign Languages. In May 2004, she was promoted to administrative assistant III in the CAES, and she moved to her current position in December 2013 when the College of Arts and Sciences merged with the College of Education and Human Development.

In her role, Price works closely with graduating seniors, auditing their transcripts and degree plans before submitting them to the registrar and prepares checkout materials for the seniors to submit to the registrar. She collects and uploads syllabi of courses into the Flightpath system. She supervises student workers and assists students, faculty, administrators and visitors.

Price also is an active member of Macedonia Baptist Church, where she has been involved in the church’s annual “Back to School New Shoes Give-A-Away.”


Kelli Cole Research Analyst
Office of Assessment and Evaluation
Emerald McIntyre/ULM Photo Services

Kelli Cole is the winner of the ULM Foundation Award for Excellence in Service – Unclassified Staff. She is a research analyst in the Office of Assessment and Evaluation and an instructor in the School of Humanities.

Since joining ULM in 2005, Cole has served as Staff Senate president, the ULM United Way Campaign Coordinator and Committee Commencement chair.

She has been an active member of the Monroe Junior League since 2014.

Cole has volunteered at a local soup kitchen and the Back to School Bash at Lenwil Elementary and served as Volunteer Coordinator for the League’s activities at the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk, the PAWS Pet Parade, the Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo Day, Chennault Aviation Museum, the Center for Children and Families, the Salvation Army and Mercy Multiplied.

Cole also is deeply involved at Grace Episcopal Church and School, which her son attends. At the school, she is serving on the Fall Festival, Gator Greenery and Gala Silent Auction committees. She co-wrote the school’s strategic plan. At the church, Cole has taught Adult Sunday School, Children’s Church and has led a workshop for Working Parents of Young Children.