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December 16, 2000

ULM confers degrees upon 591 fall candidates

Dave Norris, Mayor of West Monroe since 1978 and a 1963 ULM graduate, shared with ULM's 591 Fall graduates the things "he knew now that he wished he knew when he sat in their chairs," during Fall Commencement Ceremonies Saturday at Fant-Ewing Coliseum.

A crowd of approximately 6,500 was on hand to see ULM award a record seven doctoral degrees and to hear the long-term mayor point out the value of time, the measure of success and the value of service.

"Time is kind of like a football game in the last two minutes," Norris said. "The quarterback who has to spike the ball to kill the clock thinks about all the time he wasted earlier in the game. That's what older people realize, is how valuable time is. Time is not limitless and you have to place priorities in using it."

Norris said he learned about the definition of success through his own experience.

"When I was elected mayor at 35, I had a progression set for myself in politics," Norris said. "Twenty-two years later, I'm at the same job. But success is not based on a few great moments spread over many years, but on a progression of success and pleasures. There are many successes in life every day, both in your job and in your personal life. Success is not as easily defined as I thought, there are many ways to be successful everyday and that builds up over time."

Finally, Norris urged the graduates to donate their time to service.

"You can't enjoy life to the fullest if you can't be of help to others," Norris said. "You and I probably will never have a great amount of money to put into service, but you have your time and your talents to donate." Norris earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree from ULM in 1963 and later served as an Associate Professor of Economics at ULM from 1966-78. He also served as Director of the Northeast Louisiana Small Business Institute from 1973-75 and continues to be a part-time Associate Professor of Economics at the University.

Re-elected as West Monroe's mayor in 1982, 1986, 1990, 1994 and 1998 without opposition, Norris is directly involved in the daily operation of city government, including responsibility for budget preparation and control, capital budgeting for infrastructure maintenance and expansion, and compliance with all applicable state and federal regulations.

ULM President Lawson L. Swearingen, Jr., told the graduates that many of them had already distinguished themselves in many areas of University life.

"Seated among the Fall Class are individuals who have distinguished themselves in the classroom and laboratory, in speech and debate, in the performing and fine arts, in student government, in athletics, in preparation for military service and in the many other areas of University life," Swearingen said.

Swearingen also talked about ULM's move to Selective Admissions in the Fall 2001.

"Because of the foundation laid by many of the professors here today as well as others who have gone before them, ULM has been approved to move to Selective Admissions in Fall 2001," Swearingen said. "This designation culminates a process that began decades ago when this institution first offered advanced education to the citizens of this region. As our University as evolved from a junior college into a doctoral-granting University, so has the quality of instruction evolved. We salute all of those who have worked tirelessly to see this goal accomplished."

Brashameka Lashawn Charles of Ville Platte received top graduate honors. The social work major in the College of Liberal Arts became the 69th of ULM's more than 50,000 graduates to earn a perfect 4.0 cumulative grade-point average. She is the daughter of Joanna and Vinton Charles.

ULM recognized 72 students who graduated Cum Laude (3.2 to 3.49 grade-point average), 45 Magna Cum Laude graduates (3.5 to 3.79) and 10 Summa Cum Laude graduates (3.8 to 4.0).

Seven students received Doctoral Degrees. They are (name, degree): Sonya LeaTrice Burnett, Doctor of Education; Rochelle Wilhelmina Gilbert, Doctor of Education; Tammye Jordan Turpin, Doctor of Education; Jun Tan, Doctor of Philosophy; Tao Wang, Doctor of Philosophy; Curtis Ray Waycaster, Doctor of Philosophy; George Daniel Williams, Doctor of Philosophy.

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