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October 5, 2009

Award recipients honored at 2009 Annual ULM Alumni Association Brunch

University of Louisiana at Monroe President James E. Cofer Sr. presented the Golden Arrow Award, the institution’s highest honor, to Betty Cummins of Richland Parish at the annual ULM Alumni Association Awards Brunch on Saturday.

“In a week like homecoming, where we celebrate the university and remind ourselves that education and learning are good things, Betty Cummins is one of those alumni who doesn’t just talk about her belief in education – she acts upon it,” Cofer said to the packed audience who had gathered at the ULM Conference Center for the occasion.

The alumni association established the award in 1981 to recognize alumni who serve the alumni association and the university well, according to Cummins’ friend and ULM Executive Director Keith Brown.

Cummins graduated from ULM in 1960 with a bachelor’s of arts in elementary education, and later served on the ULM Foundation Board of Trustees for 11 years, becoming its president in 2006 and 2007.

During that time, she helmed a university residence project now known as Bon Aire, which serves as the home for the ULM President and family. The residence was one of the highlights of her long affiliation with ULM.

Scott Plaza – the university’s “quad” area central to all campus activities – exists through a capital gift provided by the Thomas H. and Mayme P. Scott Foundation, established by Cummins’ parents in 1961.

The ULM Foundation, of which Cummins is a past president, provides a perpetual fund enabling the family to give back to the communities that played a vital part in their lives. Just one of the capital gifts of the Foundation include Bon Aire’s central reception and entertainment area, named in honor of ULM President Emeritus Dr. George T. Walker.

The Foundation is also the recipient of the 2005 Hall of Distinction Award, the university’s most prestigious award and is a Tower Society member of the Kitty DeGree Bell Tower Society, the highest recognition category for cumulative, lifetime giving to the university.

“I feel like I was destined to do this. My dad set the pace, and my mother, too. It’s a good pace,” said Cummins, upon receiving her award. “If we don’t give of our time, interest and money, then nothing ever happens.”

Jay Cummins, her husband, also graduated from ULM in 1960 with a degree in animal husbandry. In 1970, he began his farming career, raising cotton, corn and cattle on their farm near Mangham. The Cummins have two children, Scott Cummins and Mary Ellen Thompson, and five grandchildren.

George T. Walker Lifetime Achievement Award

Also at the awards brunch, President Cofer honored local business owners Tex and Carole Kilpatrick with the ULM Alumni Association’s George T. Walker Lifetime Achievement Award. Founded three years ago, the award goes to those who distinguish themselves through professional and personal achievement, and who serve the university and the alumni association well during the course of several years.

Among their generous donations is the Carole and Tex Kilpatrick Dining Room, which graces Bon Aire. The couple co-chaired this 2006 capital fundraising project of the ULM Foundation, and Mrs. Kilpatrick also served on the decorating committee and was instrumental in helping procure its historical name.

Mrs. Kilpatrick has had a long and devoted tenure on the Presidential Lyceum Series Committee, a series that brings national speakers to campus to promote intellectual exchange among ULM students, faculty, staff and the community.

From 1998 to 2004, Mr. Kilpatrick served on several committees during his time on the ULM Foundation Board of Trustees, as well as the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors. In the spring, the ULM College of Business Administration awarded Mr. Kilpatrick honorary membership in Beta Gamma Sigma, the International Honor Society that honors the academic achievement of students who study business.

“Their support of the university comes from their deeply held belief in the benefits of higher education, combined with the acknowledgment that ULM is a major economic engine driver in this region,” said Cofer.

Mrs. Kilpatrick responded, “Thank you so much for this very singular honor you have given us today,” said Mrs. Kilpatrick. “Our youngest daughter is the second generation to serve on the ULM Foundation Board and we’re so proud of her.”

Mrs. Kilpatrick added that her most memorable moment came in February 1958, as she was about to enter a music theory class at ULM. She said her future husband, and eventual ULM supporter, had just picked up her engagement ring.

“He said ‘this thing is burning a hole in my pocket!’ And I’ve never looked back,” said Mrs. Kilpatrick. “He also told me ‘stay with me and I’ll make you a star. Well, today, I feel like one.”

“I’ve had a good time and Sally (Clausen) has been a good friend, and she still is,” said Mr. Kilpatrick. “Thank you ULM, you all got a great president, we all do.”

Mr. Kilpatrick was referring to Sally Clausen, Louisiana’s Commissioner of Higher Education, who had driven up from Baton Rouge to celebrate the occasion with the Kilpatricks.

“We’re here in this facility that represents the future,” said Clausen. “And we will be able to reap the benefit of the (Kilpatrick’s) work … you are celebrating the best.”

ULM Service Award

Also on Saturday, University of Louisiana at Monroe Chief of Police Larry Ellerman received the 2009 ULM Service Award. Since 1997, the Association has annually selected a ULM staff member for outstanding service to the university. Service award recipients must have completed at least three consecutive years at ULM and have contributed to the betterment of the campus community.

Cofer said Ellerman was hired as ULM’s Assistant Director of Police in 1979 at a time when the university was significantly smaller and quieter. “Since that time, he has led the way in instituting community-oriented policing, where the same officer is assigned to a specific area on a permanent basis.” This has brought ULMPD recognition statewide by other police chiefs and officers.

Ellerman also provided oversight and sought grant funding for a department-wide communications system upgrade, with improved technology that enables officers to communicate effectively with one another, and with other area and state officers in promoting campus safety. His other accomplishments include the development and maintenance of emergency preparedness plans for the campus, as well as the coordination of on-campus crime prevention programs.

Ellerman earned both his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in criminal justice at the university. He and his wife, Claudine, have been married for 47 years; they have three sons, all of whom are ULM graduates, and are successful in their fields of work.

Ellerman, when not at work, ministers to various churches of all faiths, and at nursing homes, according to ULM Executive Director Keith Brown said. Ellerman also serves as a liaison to the Louisiana State Legislature, leading the campaign against allowing concealed weapon permit holders to carry guns on any college campus.

He is a long-time member of First Baptist Church in West Monroe, where he serves as deacon and is on the Community Restoration Committee.

“Through the years, God’s blessed me in so many ways,” said Ellerman. “One of those ways has been to be here, at this university. Thanks so much for this honor.”

ULM Chapter of the Year Award

The ULM Alumni Association also honored its Greater Baton Rouge Alumni Chapter as the Chapter of the Year at the Awards Brunch on Oct. 3.

Tommy Walpole, associate director of ULM’s Alumni Relations, said the criteria for Chapter of the Year includes the number of alumni in the chapter area who are current on their dues to the ULM Alumni Association, and whose Chapter president attends one of ULM’s Alumni Association quarterly board meetings, and which hosts at least one event in support of ULM in the chapter’s area.

The chapter hosts two alumni events each year, one in conjunction with Northern Exposure and then a family event each summer. There are over 30 alumni chapter across the country full of volunteers who support their alma mater, said Walpole.

“This chapter has risen to the top and really has done a good job, for a very long time,” said Walpole.

“Under the Cofer administration, ULM has excelled in many ways,” said Vikki Day, accepting the award on behalf of the Greater Baton Rouge Chapter. “Again, thank you for this honor.”

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