Archived News | Return to News Center

August 12, 2000

ULM confers 354 summer degrees

Kathryn M. Sullivan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana and a 1978 Accounting graduate of the University of Louisiana at Monroe, told the 2000 ULM Summer graduates that "as long as you learn you grow as a person and as you grow you learn," during Summer Commencement Ceremonies Saturday at Fant-Ewing Coliseum.

Sullivan was the keynote speaker as ULM conferred degrees on 354 new graduates.

Sullivan, CPA, CLU, is the first woman to serve as president and chief executive officer of Louisiana's largest health insurance company in Blue Cross' 66-year history. She passed along her experiences as a student at what was then Northeast Louisiana University, calling them "The Secrets of a Fellow Indian."

Recognize learning doesn't stop when you leave the campus. Don't make the mistake of thinking that a degree gives you the key to everything in life you desire. You have to keep working. Be the best you can be. Being responsible means being responsible to those around you. No matter what course your life takes, be proud of what you do. Learn from the past so you can move forward. Have compassion for those around you. Keep fun and laughter in what you do.

A native of Jennings, Sullivan joined Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana in 1982. She holds executive management experience in nearly every division of the organization, including financial, operations, marketing, managed care and benefits administration. Sullivan was executive vice president and chief financial officer prior to her selection by the Blue Cross Board of Directors in July 1999 as president-elect and chief operating officer.

ULM President Lawson L. Swearingen, Jr., directed his remarks at the importance of extramural funding as state and federal funds are reduced. He said that the ULM faculty have already made huge strides in that area.

"In 1992, ULM's total dollar amount for funded proposals was a very respectable $4.8 million," Swearingen said. "In 1999 however, the total dollar amount for funded proposals at our University was over $10.3 million. We commend our faculty and professional staff for more than doubling this amount of extramural funding during this period."

Swearingen mentioned in particular the recent announcement that ULM is one of only 53 colleges and universities in the United States and Puerto Rico to be awarded a grant for undergraduate biological sciences education from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute this summer. Through the grant, ULM will receive $1.5 million over the next four years.

"One of the most important aspects of this grant is that it represents a cross-disciplinary, cooperative effort," Swearingen said. "Faculty from three different academic areas -- biology, chemistry, and the geosciences -- joined together to develop the proposal."

Swearingen presented degrees to 41 students who finished with top honors. A total of nine graduated summa cum laude (3.8 to 4.0 grade point average); seven magna cum laude (3.5 to 3.79); and 25 cum laude (3.2 to 3.49).

Bryan David Butler of Oak Grove, an English Education major in the College of Education and Human Development, claimed "Top Graduate" with a 3.957 grade point average. He is the son of Barbara and David Ray Butler.

Parnali Chatterjee was awarded the Doctor of Philosophy during Saturday's ceremonies.

PLEASE NOTE: Some links and e-mail addresses in these archived news stories may no longer work, and some content may include events which are no longer relevent, or reference individuals and/or organizations no longer associated with ULM.