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February 17, 2005

ULM Summer Reading Program

During the summer of 2005, incoming freshmen for the fall semester will receive educational enrichment and an early welcome to the University of Louisiana at Monroe courtesy of the ULM Summer Reading Program.

New to the university lineup, the Summer Reading Program consists of an occurrence of events surrounding a predetermined common theme that introduces students to the ULM learning experience. The selection committee chose Bayou Farewell: the Rich Life and Tragic Death of Louisiana's Cajun Coast by Mike Tidwell as the inaugural publication. Incoming students receive the book at no cost during PREP (Preview Registration Environment Program).

"It is the university's expectation that students read this book and be ready to use it in class and for assignments," Barbara Michaelides, Director of University Retention, said. "It is our expectation that students come to Convocation and listen to the author."

Students will have the ability to access the university web site for biographical author information, discussion questions and related resources. Discussion of the text will occur in freshman English, Freshman Year Seminar (FRYS) and other campus classes.

The program intends to help students make the academic transition from high school to college level classes and to heighten the sense of unity among students, faculty, staff and the community.

"Faculty may use all or part of the book for specific classes," Michaelides said. "Faculty members are also invited to make presentations related to the book at Chautauqua Nexus and other speaker series events on campus. The book lends itself to a wide variety of topics such as multiculturalism, the oil and gas industry in Louisiana, the shrimping industry, economics, politics, Cajun music, the biological aspects of the wetlands, the geographic aspects of the wetlands, journalism, languages of South Louisiana, marginalized communities, art and nature. These are just some of the areas that come to mind. We want to generate discussion and have a community building experience around an academic topic." Michaelides said.

According to Michaelides, the administration supports this student-centered program and provides the means to make it happen. "While other universities make books available to students at a reduced rate, President Cofer and his administration are providing the book to all freshman students. By inviting students to participate in what we value academically, we set the tone for their experience at ULM."

In the spirit of teamwork, other members of the university are contributing in their own specialized ways. For example, staff at the ULM Library are researching and providing resources that will be linked to the related Summer Reading Program page. The English Department will generate the discussion questions as a guide in addition to sponsoring an essay contest. Continuing Education will provide bookmarks, and the ULM Bookstore will provide posters.

In efforts to raise awareness of the environmental issues inherently linked to this year's chosen literary work, community groups may also become involved.

"For community outreach, this is one program where they can participate, not just see what we're doing," Michaelides said.

On a state level, the disappearing wetlands is a topic of considerable interest to the Governor's Office. On a corporate level, Coca-Cola will provide prizes for the essay contest.

Convocation, complete with Tidwell's speech, will occur on August 22, 2005. Tidwell will also appear on August 23rd for a book signing at the ULM Bookstore.

For this and other ULM news online visit While there, check out ULM's on-line calendar for all of ULM's upcoming events.

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