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September 19, 2007

ULM accepts funds for Endowed Professorships

The University of Louisiana at Monroe was praised as a trailblazer at an Endowed Professorship Awards presentation Wednesday, Sept. 19 at 2 p.m. in the ULM Library.

Joseph Savoie, commissioner of Higher Education for the Louisiana Board of Regents, presented ULM President James Cofer with $80,000 to benefit two new ULM Endowed Professorships: the Louisiana Real Estate Commission Endowed Professorship in Finance and the Capital One Endowed Professorship in Mathematics.

“This is a great occasion to celebrate the generous contributions that the university has received, reflecting the tremendous progress that the university is making,” said Savoie. “Driving around the campus…it’s a new place…a great place. That shows enthusiasm, that shows progress, that shows pride—that shows all the things we’ve been trying to get to happen statewide, and you all are doing a great job here. The support of the community is another indication that ULM is really leading the way.

“Another success story is what we’re here for today—the Louisiana Educational Quality Support Fund, which since 1985 has spun off nearly $700 million to support education in our state. A fund that started off at $540 million now has a value of nearly $1 billion and spun off $700 million—that’s a Louisiana success story.

“One of the primary ways we use this money is to match the generous contributions of donors to support our institutions…targeted specifically at faculty, as faculty are the core of the university. Without high-quality faculty, you cannot have a high-quality institution. Not only are research efforts and economic development potential brought to the community, but the improved teaching goes to the benefit of our students. Everyone benefits from that.”

ULM President James Cofer expressed his appreciation for the program.

“The [Endowed Professorship] program matches the gifts of private individuals and organizations to help institutions of higher learning across the state,” said ULM President James Cofer. “It’s been extremely helpful in Louisiana to attract and retain quality faculty, and to recognize the faculty that we have. We’re very thankful to our legislature, and the governor, and especially to Savoie for continuing to promote this program.”

In 1979, the Louisiana Real Estate Commission established a $25,000 endowment through the university's foundation to provide scholarships for students pursuing a major in real estate.

With recent curriculum changes, students now have coursework in real estate, but obtain their Bachelor degree in finance.

Along with this change and the knowledge that their investment, which had grown to $60,000, could be leveraged with the Board of Regents $40,000 match, the Commission unanimously voted to create the Louisiana Real Estate Commission Endowed Professorship in Finance.

Gretchen Ezernack, realtor with Faulk & Foster, Vice Chairperson of the Louisiana Real Estate Commission and District IV Commissioner, supported the investment in the College of Business Administration faculty, knowing that it will impact generations of future students as beneficiaries of a faculty with enhanced instructional capabilities.

“On behalf of over 21,000 licensees for real estate in Louisiana, we really feel that it’s a privilege to continue this relationship that started in 1979, and we look forward to many years of success for the university,” Ezernack said.

Malcolm Maddox, Capital One’s regional chairperson, serves on the Executive Committee for the ULM Foundation Board of Trustees and has given much of his time to the university. His leadership influenced the bank’s decision to invest $60,000 to establish the Capital One Endowed Professorship in Mathematics, which will provide additional funds necessary to support evolving instructional tools and materials required for this area.

“We have never faltered in understanding the importance of this university to this [regional] community,” Maddox said. “We think this is a great program, and we commend the state and the Board of Regents for continuing to match. We hope to do it again—we don’t intend to stop. Dr. Cofer and his staff have done a magnificent job out here these past few years. The campus speaks for itself. We’re proud to be able to make this donation, and we look forward to a long, continuing association.’

This past year in higher education:

Savoie praised this latest legislative session for its focus to institutions of higher learning. “For the first time in over a quarter of a century, the legislature appropriated funds sufficient enough to bring our colleges and universities to a competitive level with their peers across the South.” Besides faculty/staff pay raises, funds were found for additional operation expenses, allowing the universities to invest in those things that they know are priority items.

Other efforts included preparing for the future by investing in its “human capital” so that the workforce can be competitive, and attract more businesses to Louisiana, ultimately providing for a sought-after tax base and quality of life. The state funded a need-based grant program, allowing those who qualify for Pell Grant to make up the financial difference necessary to attend school.

The legislature greatly expanded the dual enrollment program, where high school students can take college courses and receive high school credit simultaneously, thus encouraging more to go to universities while helping to reduce their costs and drop-out rates.

ULM has joined one of the other initiatives mentioned by Savoie—the Continuum for all Louisiana Learners, or CALL program.

CALL, a joint initiative among the Louisiana Board of Regents, the Southern Regional Education Board, and the Consortium for Education, Research and Technology of North Louisiana, supports Louisiana adults without a college degree to enroll at a Louisiana public college or university and earn a degree or other college credential. CALL is supported by grants from the three sponsoring organizations.

CALL expands adult participation in postsecondary education by better understanding the needs of adult learners in Louisiana; establishing innovative programming to respond to those needs; aggressively promoting adult learning services and programming; and creating convenient pathways to postsecondary certificates and degrees.

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