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July 1, 2010

University family gathers to bid fond farewell to the Cofers

The University of Louisiana at Monroe campus family gathered to bid farewell to ULM President James E. and First Lady Deborah Cofer on Monday, June 28, in the seventh floor conference room of the library.

As hundreds of well wishers formed a long line to extend their heartfelt good-byes, others sampled a variety of fresh dishes and watched a slide show displaying images of the campus transformation that occurred during Cofer’s eight-year tenure.

Cofer is leaving ULM to become president of Missouri State University in Springfield, Mo., on Aug. 1.

ULM Student Government Association President Brook Sebren told those gathered that he experienced first-hand the generosity and hard work of the Cofer presidency, which began in 2002.

“Whether it is the physical appearance, or the quality of education in the classroom, our university has achieved excellence across the board,” said Sebren.

Sebren called First Lady Deborah Cofer “one of the most lovely ladies” he had ever met, and added that he was touched by the Cofers’ ability to “put students first.” He said this attitude was made evident by his first ever visit with Dr. Cofer, which took place at the new Student Success Center during the Winter Session of Sebren’s freshman year.

“One day, Dr. Cofer walked in and sat down next to me,” said Sebren. “Unbeknownst to me, I was in the middle of a 15-minute conversation with the president of the university!”

Sebren closed his remarks with a quote from the Greek philosopher Pericles: “What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone, but what is woven into the lives of others.”

Dr. Cofer also took to the podium to express his gratitude for the hard work of the campus family throughout the years.

“We appreciate all that you have done,” he said. “Presidents get very paternal about an institution, just like you do your children, and that’s how we feel. We are very proud to have served each of you. You should all feel just as proud as we do.”

Anne Lockhart, director of development at ULM, represented the university family with a parting gift to the Cofers – a framed collage of photographs depicting their years at ULM. In addition, a live oak tree was planted in honor and recognition of the Cofers in the front yard of Bon Aire, the university residence.

Dr. Richard Hood, executive assistant to the president, said ULM’s first lady "possessed the most beautiful personality" and concluded, "most importantly, they made us proud to wear maroon and gold."

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