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May 17, 2001

ULM graduates 620 at spring commencement; Tim McGraw receives honorary doctorate

Dr. William L. Jenkins, President of the Louisiana State University System challenged the 620 spring graduates of the University of Louisiana at Monroe, to "be good people, do good work and do things that make a difference," during Spring Commencement ceremonies Saturday at Fant-Ewing Coliseum.

An almost capacity crowd of near 8,000 were on hand and they also got an opportunity to see the University confer an Honorary Doctorate of Humanities on country music star Tim McGraw, a former ULM student.

Jenkins, who served as the Chancellor for Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College also told the graduates to "be courageous in your career. Take chances, challenge the status quo."

The keynote speaker pointed out that though there would be challenging times for the new graduates, they could overcome failures.

"There are rainbows out there for you because you have the skills to handle problems," Jenkins said. "You'll go through some showers, some thunderstorms and maybe even a hurricane, but you can overcome your failures."

ULM President Lawson l. Swearingen, Jr., lauded the ULM faculty during his address to the new graduates.

"Because of the foundation laid by many of the professors here today as well as so many who have gone before them, ULM has been approved to move to Selective Admissions this fall," Swearingen said. "The second area of excellence that I would like to point out concerns academic accreditation. I am pleased to share with you that ULM now ranks first in the state among colleges and universities in the percentage of eligible academic programs to receive national accreditation. In fact over 98 percent of our eligible programs are accredited. This is a singular accomplishment and the faculty is to be commended."

McGraw, who has sold over 25 million records since 1994 talked about his northeast Louisiana roots after receiving the Honorary Doctorate in front of family and friends, including wife Faith Hill, also a country music star, and daughters Gracie Katherine and Maggie Elizabeth.

"Be proud of where you come from," McGraw told the graduates, "I have been all over the world and there are no better people than in Northeast Louisiana. Congratulations to all the graduates here, I am proud to share in this. Thank you for this honor, it means so much to me."

Swearingen said the Honorary Doctorate was for far more than the records that McGraw has sold.

"Mr. McGraw, his wife, and their friends have worked tirelessly to give young people from the rural south an opportunity to succeed through a variety of venues" Swearingen said. "Little ague baseball, scholarships to open the doors to higher education, and benefit concerts for regional cultural entities such as Friends of the Jackson Zoo as well as benefits for families torn by tragedy, such as those who lost loved ones during the U.S.S. Cole incident."

Joseph Vincent Giannoble of Monroe and Shanna Jameson Glaeser of Olla were recognized as the top graduates. Each finished with a perfect 4.0 grade point average, becoming just the 68th and 69th of ULM's more than 50,000 graduates all-time to graduate with a perfect GPA. Giannobile, the son of Sal and Karen Giannoble, received his degree in Biology, while Glaeser, the daughter of Ronnie and Theresa Jameson and the wife of Stuart Glaeser, earned her English degree.

ULM recognized 52 students who graduated Cum Laude (3.5 to 3.749 GPA), 25 Magna Cum Laude (3.750 to 3.899) and 15 Summa Cum Laude (3.9 to 4.0).

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