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January 31, 2013

Camile Currier retires from ULM after 37 years

Every day, when Camile Currier left campus for home, he asked himself one question: “Did I make a difference in a student’s life today?”

After 37 years of service at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, Currier will retire from his position of Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs in March.

He considers the decision to retire one of the most difficult he has ever made.

Currier grew up in Amite and attended Amite High School until his graduation in 1969.

The next fall, he continued his education at then-Northeast Louisiana State College.

By May of 1973, Currier received his bachelor’s degree in health and physical education before pursuing a master’s degree in administration and supervision, which he received from ULM in December of 1974.

When asked why he finds higher education so important, he responded, “At the root of all success—regardless of what degree of success—is education.”

Though busy with his studies, Currier still managed to work as an assistant with the men’s track team. This position allowed him to travel the country, “seeing numerous great Olympic athletes and a few world records set.”

He rode a plane for the first time in 1975 when he traveled to the NCAA Nationals in Provo, Utah, where the track team won ULM’s first NCAA Division I National Championship in the high jump.

Out of every team in the country, only ULM had two high jumpers clear seven feet.

Balance between work and play remains an important part of Currier’s life.

When asked what piece of advice he would give to current students, he shared what he has told his own daughter, saying, “When it is time to study, study. When it is time to enjoy college life, enjoy it to the fullest.”

He considers this piece of advice “the difference in getting a degree and just attending college.”

Currier follows his own example even as a professional – he says most people would be surprised to find out that he rides a motorcycle in his free time.

In 1975, Currier began working as the university’s first full-time intramural coordinator.

His first office was a concession stand in the Fant-Ewing Coliseum, and he furnished it through what he calls “midnight requisitions,” defining this as, “riding around campus, walking through buildings, finding desks, chairs, and filing cabinets, and loading them up in a truck.”

Over the years, Currier has seen many changes to the university.

The significant changes he contributed to the ULM campus count among his favorite professional experiences.

He enjoys memories of contributing to the Activity Center and University Park as well as assisting in the development of the new residence halls.

When asked to name his favorite place on campus, he replied, “In the middle of a student function. I absolutely love watching the students succeed and having fun.”

Of course, all professionals face tough decisions. Currier’s work in Student Affairs requires he judge cases in which students violated the Code of Student Conduct.

He says, “It’s important to teach the student to understand there are consequences for bad decisions, but help the student understand that moving forward, they can still achieve their goals and life ambitions. You have to have compassion to do this work successfully.”

Currier certainly has compassion. If he had a vanity license plate, he says the text would read, “I CARE.”

Many people have influenced Currier over the course of his life.

He names his father as one of the most important influences, saying, “My dad is the one person that taught me, through his actions, how to treat all people with respect.”

He also names Dr. B. H. Brantley, Tom Murphy, Charlie McDonald, Bob Groseclose and current ULM President Dr. Nick J. Bruno as men who have “given me sound advice, pointed me in the right direction, and corrected me when I have messed up.”

In return, Currier’s colleagues view him with the utmost respect.

When asked about him, Dr. Bruno said, “Camile has contributed to the development of the Activity Center, housing, and the student and health centers in a very significant way. He has provided both insight and institution history which allowed the assured success of these projects. He has also contributed to the success of many students over his years of service. Being born and raised six miles apart, Camile has been a friend and has contributed significantly to me and my family's transition to this region.”

Dr. Bruno grew up near Independence, La.

The journey Currier has taken through ULM awarded him with what he calls “a family of friends.”

He says, “Because of ULM I have seen the USA, been to almost every major city, and have friends all across the country. But what I am most proud of is the number of students who have worked with me through the years. Nearly all of them have graduated and have become teachers, doctors, dentists, pharmacists, construction managers, city officials, lawyers, judges, college administrators and entrepreneurs.  Some are sending their kids to ULM now and the cycle continues.”

Currier asked himself every day if he made a difference in a student’s life.

Judging by his long list of accomplishments, his compassion for the ULM community, and the life he has spent in service of education, he clearly impacted more than one student every day.

He has influenced the collegiate experience for every student at ULM since first hunting file cabinets to furnish his office.

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