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September 28, 1999

ULM'S Swearingen Delivers Last "State of the University" for Millennium

University of Louisiana at Monroe President Lawson L. Swearingen, Jr., spoke of progress and the "tremendous pride" he feels for ULM and its faculty and staff Tuesday in his annual "State of the University" address at Brown Auditorium.

The upbeat speech marked the first "State of the University" address since the University changed its name from Northeast Louisiana University in August, and was also the final one of the millennium.

"I have never been prouder of this institution, nor more grateful to this faculty and staff for the work that you and your predecessors have done to bring us to this day," Swearingen said. "Our influence reaches literally around the state, the nation, and beyond. Today, we are The University of Louisiana at Monroe."

Swearingen focused his remarks on five areas: University progress over the last decade, reaffirmation of accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), certification by the NCAA, improved facilities and the University name change.

* Swearingen traced the process involved for positioning ULM for the Doctoral II designation. He cited five doctoral degrees, a Foundation with nearly $31.5 million in assets, and growth in the number of Endowed Chairs and Endowed Professorshiups to nine and 35, respectively.

"Extramural funding awarded to faculty in 1991 was just under $4 million. Today, that figure is almost $6.8 million, a 70 percent increase. The total amount funded to ULM over the decade of the 90s was $52,117,805," Swearingen said.

* Swearingen said that at the beginning of the decade, the University designated strategic planning as a priority, surveyed representative groups of all constituencies concerning changes, identified areas of strength and weakness and determined that the SACS Self-Study process would be the best mechanism for finalizing the vision document and affirming the strategic plan.

As a result of that plan, the University developed Vision 2000: Excellence into the Next Century, ULM's blueprint for the new millennium.

* ULM academics and athletics were each put under the microscope in the last year with SACS and NCAA Site Visits. Swearingen said that both groups affirmed "that our goals are realistic and our implementation plans are commendable."

"The SACS visit, which was an exhaustive review of all University operations, resulted in five commendations," Swearingen said. "Our University will be presented at the upcoming SACS Annual Meeting in December as a 'spotlighted' institution for excellence in executing the self-study process."

In athletics, Swearingen said ULM expects to be certified by the NCAA "without conditions" and said the NCAA praised the University for its proactiveness in staffing, gender equity, academics, fiscal integrity and compliance issues.

* The new University Library led to an 88 percent increase in library usage this August as compared to August of 1998. The actual construction cost for the library was approximately $100 per square foot, Swearingen said, and will come in under budget. Already, the University Conference Center has hosted conferences of the National Assessment Officers Conference, the Louisiana Education Consortium, and seminars in Nursing, Marketing, Gerontology and Integrated Business Practices, among others, and next month will host a field fearing of the U.S. Senate Committee on Aging in conjunction with United States Senator John Breaux. The hearing will focus on issues relating to problems of aging.

* Swearingen closed by announcing the Celebration 2000: Capturing our Heritage while looking toward our Future Task Force. The Task Force Steering Committee, which will be chaired by Vice Provost Tom Rakes, will direct subcommittees for Internal Constituencies, External Constituencies and for Name Change Implementation Coordination.

"We have cause for hope and optimism as we leave this century and enter the next," Swearingen said. "Yesterday and today, we have accomplished much together. Tomorrow lies before us -- a promise and a challenge. Let us progress together."

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