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November 10, 2006

Community celebrates Envision ULM 2006

Those who attended Ouachita Parish Junior College in 1931, and those who attended Envision ULM 2006 in the Monroe Civic Center Nov. 9, share a common attribute: perseverance, said Rob Carroll, 2006 president of the ULM Student Government Association.

“We are scholars, athletes, musicians, artists, partners in the community. We are dedicated to the ideals of this university and to its continued excellence. We are just the same as that abundance of excited students in 1931. We continue to be a rising force of nature. We are the Bayou’s Gem.”

The event, which marked the culmination of ULM’s 75th year, featured remarks by Carroll, ULM Alumni Association Golden Arrow Award Recipient Joe Farr and a performance by Miss ULM Katherine Joy Putnam. Don Skelton, vice president for university advancement and external affairs, honored Nelson D. and Bennie Hughes Abell with the 2006 Hall of Distinction Award, an honor given to an alum, friend or supporter of ULM who has admirably served the university.

President James Cofer praised the Abells for their tireless support of the university and for recognizing the vital role ULM plays in the educational, economic and cultural vitality of this region.

It’s that kind of support that helps ULM prosper. ULM faced many challenges last year, but in the end, the university’s resilience emerged, said Cofer.

Last year brought storms, budget cuts, program closure and enrollment challenges. “As a result, we emerged this year a stronger institution, better prepared for the challenges of the future, more efficient, and more focused than ever before,” he said. “We are now working collectively to develop an even better institution with widespread input into the decisions that shape our present and our future.

Our students are better prepared…Young people recognize the value and excellence at ULM and we are quickly becoming the institution of choice in Northeast Louisiana.”

Cofer thanked ULM’s faculty and staff for believing in where the university was going and for remaining committed to “academic excellence and intellectual inquiry” by bringing valuable knowledge and prestige to the university for the benefit of the students.

He listed numerous faculty and staff awards and honors. Cofer also stated that the faculty received a record $21.8 million dollars in extramural funding last year and noted several of the individual projects and their effect on the region. He also listed and praised the many significant scholarly contributions made over the year by ULM faculty and students.

“And last year was a difficult year. Envision what a good year will be like. ULM is at a crossroads. Change has been constant and we are now better positioned financially, physically, academically, and organizationally to address the future.”

Cofer encouraged everyone to build on ULM’s strong foundation so that the impact on today’s students – and the children of today’s students – is positive. “We must now shine the facets of the bayou’s gem.”

Future goals include attracting and retaining a diverse and engaged faculty, prioritizing academic programs, attracting and retaining the best and brightest of Louisiana’s students, insuring that ULM is fiscally and physically sound and lastly, engaging friends and alumni support of the institution.

Cofer closed by paraphrasing Winston Churchill’s "Never Give In" speech in 1941, as it fits his vision of where ULM is and where it can go.

“These are not dark days; these are great days--the greatest days our institution has ever experienced; and we must all thank God that we have been allowed, each of us according to our stations, to play a part in making these days memorable in the history of ULM.

Very different is the mood today. Many had drawn a sponge across our slate. But instead we stood strong. There was no flinching and no thought of giving in; and by what seemed almost a miracle to those outside this campus, though we ourselves never doubted it, we now find ourselves in a position where we can be sure that we have only to persevere to conquer.”

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