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April 28, 2003

ULM President Calls for New Initiatives During State of the University Address

University of Louisiana at Monroe President James E. Cofer laid out a bold agenda in his State of the University Address today before the community at the Monroe Civic Center. The Monroe Chamber of Commerce and the West Monroe Chamber of Commerce hosted a luncheon for Cofer beginning at 11:30 a.m. at the Monroe Civic Center Convention Center in the Fort Miro Room.

In his address, Cofer discussed the major accomplishments of the university community over the past year as well as the future at ULM. He also touched on the high morale at the University. He said, "I come here today to tell you that the state of the University of Louisiana at Monroe is strong. This community, faculty, staff, alumni, and students have all worked together and righted the ship."

Cofer also put out a call for three groups to increase their relationships with ULM.

He called for the creation of an alumni mentoring initiative. Cofer says students interested in particular fields of work or study should be assigned at their request to alumni who have knowledge from experience. Cofer said sharing knowledge between alumni and students would benefit both students and the university.

The President then called for an economic development summit of Northeast Louisiana saying ULM would host the economic development summit this fall on campus. He also said there would be follow-up meetings to serve as checkpoints for the summits.

Finally, Cofer said it was important to establish links between the ULM curriculum and commerce. He mentioned one way to create a link would be in a residential learning community.

"We will give this old concept new life with a unique Louisiana feel. I call upon the university community and the greater Delta business community to work together to create residence halls that house students with a faculty or staff advisor and have a community sponsor," said Cofer.

He also spoke about several of the positive changes that have occurred at the University during his fist year at ULM.

Cofer said, "We moved from seven colleges to four. Having fewer colleges means more money for teachers, better resources in the classroom, and a better education for our students. The faculty took the lead and moved resources from administrative offices to classrooms."

This spring's Academic Planning Committee is another example of progress at the campus. Cofer said the APC, under ULM Provost Stephen Richters' leadership, has set the standard for assessment and accountability for all universities in Louisiana. It was during this process that academic departments at ULM were subject to review in an open forum.

Other accomplishments including the University Core Curriculum Committee, the Emerging Scholars program, and "Reclaiming Our Campus" were mentioned by Cofer as turning points of the past year.

On a personal note, the President recalled the time when he and his wife first came to Monroe to serve at the University.

"Just over a year ago, Deborah and I came to the twin cities, the place of my mother's birth, full of hope for a university full of promise. We have faced many challenges together this year, but of all the unexpected things that have happened, the most surprising is how attached we have become to the students at ULM and all of you in the Northeast Louisiana Community."

Cofer will make a second address this afternoon at ULM. It will be held at 3:30 p.m. in Brown Auditorium and is open to the entire ULM and Monroe community. Text of the President's speech will be available on the ULM web site.

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