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December 15, 1999

University of Louisiana System President to Address ULM Graduates

Bobby Jindal, President of the University of Louisiana System, and one of Louisiana's most dynamic young leaders, will be the featured speaker at the University of Louisiana at Monroe's Fall Commencement Ceremonies this Saturday at 2 p.m. in Ewing Coliseum.

The University of Louisiana System, of which ULM is a member, is one of the largest in the U.S., managing eight of Louisiana's four-year universities. The System currently awards more than half of the public higher education degrees in Louisiana, enrolls about 80,000 students, employes more than 4,000 faculty and support staff, and administers operating budgets of more than $450 million.

This will mark Jindal's third visit to the ULM campus in only seven months as the System President. His first visit came in July as part of the "Leading the University of Louisiana System Into the Next Century" tour. Jindal returned in September and worked directly with more than 200 ULM students for an interactive session titled the "Excellence After Graduation" tour.

In his first year as System President, Jindal, a Rhodes Scholar, has been highly visible and a key voice in the state on higher education issues. Shortly after Jindal's appointment in May he proposed a nine-point strategic plan to promote academic excellence throughout the System. Jindal began working with the universities to implement three programs:

1) streamlining bureaucracy,

2) promoting consistency among the campuses;

3) promoting academic excellence through the strategic which includes "unique areas of excellence."

Working with Jindal, ULM President Lawson L. Swearingen, Jr., and ULM administrators established ULM's "unique areas of excellence," an inclusive process designed to focus on the University's strengths that are specific by their work. ULM's unique areas of excellence are:

-- Health Sciences

-- Gerontology

-- Marriage and Family Therapy

-- Insurance Studies Center

-- Regional Technology Center for Enhancement of Teacher Education

-- Atmospheric Sciences

Jindal's experience with multi-billion-dollar issues and complex organizations is impressive. He recently completed a year-long appointment as the Executive Director of the National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare in Washington, D.C. In that capacity, Jindal directed the staff of the 17-member Commission which was appointed by the Congress and the President. The Commission was charged with examining the $210 billion Medicare program and making recommendations to strengthen and improve Medicare in time for the retirement of 77 million Baby Boomers. In March, the Commission completed its work, and a Medicare reform plan is now being drafted into legislation for the Congress to consider.

Upon returning to Louisiana, Jindal volunteered his time and provided comprehensive, broad-based research about how Louisiana can get the most return from its $4.4 billion share of a national tobacco settlement. Jindal was asked by top state legislative and administration officials to study the various ideas and experiences of 46 other states that entered into a legal settlement with the nation's four biggest tobacco companies.

At age 24 Jindal was tabbed by Governor Mike Foster to head the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, the state's largest department with 12,000 employees, a $4 billion budget and hundreds of facilities. During his tenure as Secretary of the DHH, Jindal revitalized Louisiana's Medicaid program by:

-- rescuing it from a $400 million deficit;

-- posting three consecutive budget surpluses exceeding $22- million;

-- lowering Medicaid spending three years in a row; and

-- establishing nationally recognized programs.

Now 28, Jindal has been widely recognized for his work. His writings were cited as one reason he was one of 20 named to the All-USA First Academic Team by USA Today, and he was named Louisiana's Most Outstanding Young Man by the Junior Chamber of Commerce.

In recent years, Jindal has been heralded as one of the rising young stars in the United States:

-- Swing Magazine named him one of America's "Most Powerful People in their 20s,"

-- Modern Healthcare Magazine named him one of 13 "1997 Up & Comers;" and

-- Scholastic Update declared him one of "America's Top 10 Extraordinary Young People for the Next Millennium."

Jindal has been profiled by the nation's top media, including The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, the Associated Press, USA Today, and others.

A native of Baton Rouge, Jindal attended Brown University where he graduated in both biology and public policy with a perfect 4.0 average. He then attended Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship, obtaining a graduate degree in politics.

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