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May 17, 2003

The Spring 2003 Class Hears Inspirational Words From the Commissioner of Higher Education

Spring 2003 graduates of the University of Louisiana at Monroe received their degrees Saturday, May 17. The ceremony began at 2 p.m. in Fant-Ewing Coliseum on the campus of ULM.

Dr. E. Joseph Savoie, Commissioner of Higher Education in Louisiana, was the keynote speaker during the ceremony in which 640 degrees were awarded.

In his address, Dr. Savoie pointed out a few graduates that had refused to let detractors keep them from reaching their goals. He mentioned two mothers receiving their PharmD degrees all the while taking care of their children at home. He also noted Sean Braud, receiving his Masters Degree in Mass Communications, as a worldly ranked Cliff Diver while earning his graduate degree. There was also mention of one mother, Elizabeth Reed, who today saw her 5th daughter graduate from ULM. Savoie said there were also several others to talk about but that time would not allow him to do so.

Savoie also noted that today's graduates would, in all likelihood, either qualify for employment or increase their earning potential.

"That's a good thing for you. Buts it's also good for the future of Louisiana. In fact, I'd like to encourage you to stay in Louisiana and help us build on a very solid economic and social foundation that has been laid in recent years. A foundation that rests on the bedrock of educational excellence ­ at all levels - because our legislature and the current administration have remained committed to the proposition that true and sustainable social and economic progress are inextricably tied to the availability of quality education at all levels to all citizens. Our future is looking bright indeed. And if we can keep our bright and talented college graduates working in Louisiana and for Louisiana, that future stands to be even better," said Savoie.

He went on to say, "With your education comes a commodity that is even more valuable than improved wages. That commodity is knowledge. Frank Rhodes, president emeritus of Cornell University describes knowledge this way.

Knowledge is not only the basis of economic vitality; it is also the foundation of security.... health.... a safe environment... hope... prosperity... personal understanding... and fulfillment. And the amazing thing about knowledge is that it is inexhaustible.

Oil and gas, coal, timber, copper and aluminum ­ once they are extracted from the earth, they are used up, but not knowledge. Knowledge is inexhaustible. When it is applied, it is multiplied; When it is shared, it is enlarged; When it is questioned and challenged, it is refined and improved; Knowledge leaps over boundaries and helps you exceed others' expectations; Knowledge is a very important commodity, indeed.

Because with this knowledge comes responsibility. You have a responsibility to lead and not to be led. To try to understand others and not be told what to think about them. And you have a responsibility to assure others the opportunities that have been made available to you," said Savoie.

In closing, Savoie urged the graduates, "To do your part to build and improve your communities and state. Louisiana has vast untapped resources of human and economic potential. But we need you to help us truly tap that potential. We need your knowledge, we need your creative potential, and we need your personal drive and ambition. And we need your hearts. "

Dr. Savoie has been the Commissioner of Higher Education in Louisiana since 1996. He has served higher education in Louisiana for over two decades. Prior to becoming Commissioner, he held various positions as a campus administrator and faculty member. Dr. Savoie has played a significant role in the major postsecondary education reform initiatives now taking place in Louisiana, including the restructuring of higher education governance, the creation of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System, teacher education reform initiatives, a new state Master Plan for Public Postsecondary Education, and the promotion of collaboration and cooperation within the entire education community. Under his leadership, financial support for public postsecondary education has increased significantly.

Dr. Savoie holds a Doctor of Education (Educational Leadership/Administration) from Columbia University's Teachers College. He received both his Master of Education (Educational Administration) and a Bachelor of Arts/Education from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

ULM President, Dr. James E. Cofer, Sr., also addressed the graduates today.

He said, "You are the first class that I have been privileged to get to know well. Over the past year, your questions have challenged me and your enthusiasm has inspired me. Many of you gave of your precious free time to help paint and clean this campus, and for that I am grateful. You have helped generate more school spirit on this campus than it has seen in a while and I thank you. You have participated in important and difficult processes, such as the institutional review and academic planning. You have had the courage to criticize and the vision to support change, and ULM will be a better university for it. We thank you for your contribution to the future of this institution."

"From my perspective, commencement is a sad time because you are leaving campus and we will miss you. But that is balanced by the knowledge that in just a few weeks, a new cohort of eager students will replace you just beginning the adventure you are celebrating completion of today. We now consider you, our alumni, partners in the process of making their adventure as good and even better than yours. So, we congratulate you and wish you well, but we also ask that you stay in touch with us and come home often. We want to know how you are doing, and we want to continue to hear your ideas about how we can make your alma mater even better," said Cofer.

A reception was held in honor of the graduates immediately following today's ceremony at the ULM Activity Center.

ULM had two top graduates. Misty McCurry of Haynesville had a 4.0 grade point average and received a bachelor of arts in Biology. She is the daughter of Tim and Renee McCurry. Melissa Moss of Oak Grove also had a 4.0 grade point average. She received her bachelor of arts in Communicative Disorders. She is the daughter of Donald and Janice Pennington.

The ULM Honors Program graduated its largest class with 10 students receiving their degrees. A class of 80 graduated with their PharmD.

ULM also awarded the largest number of doctoral degrees today. Students earning advanced graduate degrees are: Vishal Vaiday, receiving the Ph.D. in Pharmacy; Kartik Shankar, receiving the Ph.D. in Pharmacy; Cary Moorman, receiving the Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy; Adi Moorman, receiving the Ph.D. in Marriage and Family therapy; Tamica May, receiving the Ph.D. in Pharmacy; Thomas Davis, receiving the Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy; Scott Baggarly, receiving the Ph.D. in Pharmacy; Udayan Apte, receiving the Ph.D. in Pharmacy, Phyllis Sanders, receiving the Ed.D. (Doctor of Education) in Curriculum and Instruction; and Susan Cole, receiving the Ed.D. (Doctor of Education in Instructional Leadership). Receiving the SSP (specialist in school psychology) are Terry Whitton, Michael Everett, Jane Roshto, and Catherine Hill.

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