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May 17, 2007

Community comes together for ribbon cutting at new ULM entrance

A progressive president and a campus renaissance motivated local businessman Eddie Hakim to construct a new University of Louisiana at Monroe sign and entrance, complete with landscaping, on Northeast Drive, just east of Highway 165. Hakim and at least 50 university and community members attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the entrance, which spans an entire block, Thursday, May 17 at 10 a.m.

Hakim, who donated all of the labor and most of the materials, approached ULM President James Cofer about 18 months ago, wanting to contribute to ULM. Hakim has lived in Monroe all of his life, and recently for the first time, he felt motivated to give to the university.
“I’m so proud to have Dr. Cofer as our president,” Hakim said. “What he’s done for this university and this area is really incredible. It’s not that I donated or that the family donated—it’s that he made us feel comfortable, like we needed to donate to the university. When somebody is successful or some institution is successful, you want to be a part of that.”

Referencing all of the new construction and other positive changes at ULM in the past few years, Hakim said, “Every day when I go home, I ride right through this campus. I see something new going on all of the time, and that’s what motivated my family and me. Hopefully, this will only be the beginning of what we can give back to our community and to this university.”
“It’s a long way from April, 2002, I can tell you that,” said President James E. Cofer, Sr. “This sign is something that we’ve really worked on for a long time. [Northeast Drive] is the major entrance—it goes right to our signature building. This sign is part of the renaissance of this campus. We wanted people to be sure they were at the University of Louisiana at Monroe.”
“The campus is one of the most attractive ones that I’ve ever been on, because the architecture works, along with the amenities surrounding the campus. We drive by here and feel proud every time we go by this sign. There are not enough thanks I can give to Eddie and Joe [Hakim] and the family, and the people that helped on this.”
Cofer announced that the Northeast Drive welcome sign is the prototype of ones that will be at University Avenue and Stadium Drive—two terminal points for the front of campus.

“I think this beautiful sight, this beautiful display goes hand in hand with what you see when you go inside the campus,” said Don Skelton, vice president for University Advancement. “It is so befitting that we have this type of entrance to this university, and so as we begin to build toward the future, this becomes a showcase to say, ‘You’re coming to something special.’”

Others who donated to the project, which includes an underground drainage system and surrounding sidewalks, are Jackie Rosenberg of Sol’s Pipe and Steel in Monroe and Bob Humble of Century Ready Mix, also located in Monroe. Rosenberg donated the steel, and Humble donated some of the concrete.

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