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August 24, 2001

ULM president announces resignation

University of Louisiana at Monroe President Lawson L. Swearingen, Jr. announced his intention to resign during the regular monthly meeting of the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors held Friday, August 24, in Baton Rouge. Swearingen will remain at his post until December 31 and will then use earned leave through Aug. 15, 2002.

In a letter to Mr. Andre Coudrain, Chairman of the ULS Board of Supervisors, Swearingen expressed appreciation for the opportunity to serve his alma mater over the last 10 years. Calling his decade of service to the University ". . . among the most exciting and challenging ones of my career," Swearingen spoke of the opportunities that have come during his presidency that have allowed ULM to make significant advancements as an academic institution. "I have been extremely honored to serve as part of a team of dedicated professionals who understood the University's potential and worked tirelessly to set and then meet goals that would help reach that higher level of excellence," Swearingen said.

Swearingen expressed confidence in UL System President Dr. Sally Clausen and her leadership, saying that he ". . . looks forward to seeing future goals achieved by our System as [Clausen] unites her vision for the future with the Board's actions."

Swearingen noted that a number of the goals that were set at the beginning of his presidency have been achieved, and singled out ULM's beginning the fall term as a selective admissions institution as being one of the most important. He called it a "true milestone" for the University. In his letter to the Board, Swearingen said that it would be an "understatement" to say that all of the challenges faced during his tenure had been expected. "I am gratified by the courage and unwavering devotion to the larger good that has been exhibited by those working with us to move the University forward even when the path was not an easy one," Swearingen observed.

Swearingen cited last year's "no opinion" audit as the single largest challenge to ULM during his presidency. He thanked ULM's Business Affairs professionals for their tireless efforts to correct that situation and went on to recognize the "unprecedented cooperation among community business leaders, the Legislative Auditor's office, and the ULS Board and its excellent staff" who worked together to address the audit issue.

Swearingen is the fourth president to serve the University. Under his leadership, the University developed its first comprehensive strategic plan and developed goals and objectives to advance the institution. One result of that review process occurred in August 1999 when then Northeast Louisiana University became the University of Louisiana at Monroe signaling ULM's development as a premier academic institution reaching beyond its immediate service area. Today ULM is ranked first in Louisiana for percentage of eligible programs achieving accreditations (98+%) and counts three national teachers of the year for 2000-2001 among its faculty. It has increased its doctoral program offerings from one in 1991 to five today as the institution moves toward a Carnegie Doctoral II designation.

Capital construction and building a strong donor base were hallmarks of the Swearingen era. Construction of the signature multi-million-dollar library ranks at the top of a distinguished list of construction projects that include the nearly completed airway and computer science building and the renovation of Biedenharn Hall, an historic building that houses ULM's School of Music. During the 10-year span, over $42 million dollars in capital funds were spent for construction projects on the ULM campus.

During Swearingen's presidency, the University Foundation doubled its total assets ($16.9 million in 1991; $34.2 million today) and tripled its cash assets ($8 million in 1991; $27.7 million today). Total ULM Foundation assets have grown by $10 million in the past four years, and the Foundation has distributed $1.477 million to enhance academic programs at the University during this past year.

Swearingen pledged to work cooperatively with the Board and his successor ". . . in every way possible so that the important business of this University - educating our students - will continue uninterrupted even as the presidency changes hands."

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