June 20, 2011
From: Laura J. Woodard, Director of Media Relations
Remembering Dr. George T. Walker:
Update: Memorials may be made to the ULM Foundation referencing the Mary Ellen and George Thomas Walker Scholarship Endowment.
As president of the University of Louisiana at Monroe (formerly Northeast Louisiana State College and Northeast Louisiana University) from 1958 to 1976, President Emeritus Dr. George T. Walker left a lasting legacy, one whose tenure was marked by great accomplishments.
Walker, 98, died on Sunday, June 19, 2011.
Well into his retirement, Dr. Walker remained among ULM’s greatest cheerleaders and was a familiar face at many Warhawk football games and other important university events.
A founding pillar of the university, Walker accomplished much, inspired many and directly enriched higher education for generations.
His achievements improved campus life for every ULM faculty, staff and student. Those achievements were marked with both class and a great sense of humor – a testament to his trademark solid character and the sterling reputation that followed him.
“Dr. Walker set a precedent at ULM for excellence, one not easily matched, but one we still strive to follow,” said ULM President Nick J. Bruno.
“His legacy lives on in our classrooms; his influence is incalculable. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him and were inspired by him. Our condolences go out to his family.”
ULM's George T. Walker Lifetime Achievement Award is given 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.
In addition, the George T. Walker Heritage Society honors those generous donors who have included the university as a beneficiary in their wills or have made other planned estate gifts such as charitable gift annuities, life insurance policies and charitable trusts.
Walker’s tenure included the following highlights:
- Enrollment experienced a period of rapid growth in the 1960s and 1970s. Walker saw it increase from 2,000 to more than 9,000 students.
- Walker was responsible for an equally dramatic growth in campus infrastructure. The following list includes the major projects Walker initiated during his administration, several which he saw through to completion: Garrett, Hanna, Sugar, and Strauss Halls, Schulze Dining Hall, the Business Administration Building, the Band Building, Sandel Library, Fant-Ewing Coliseum, Heard Tennis Stadium, Brown Stadium and Malone Stadium (completed in 1979), the Anna Gray Noe Alumni Center, Lake C. Oxford Natatorium (completed in 1978) and several residence halls.
- Walker also sought out qualified faculty, while working hard to offer excellent salaries to match. A large number of academic programs became nationally accredited under his tenure, including: pharmacy, business, nursing, occupational therapy, dental hygiene, chemistry, home economics, education, music, and social work.
- In 1961, ULM offered its first graduate degree, the masters of education, under Walker’s leadership. ULM’s first doctoral degrees, the Ph.D. in pharmacy and the doctorate in education, followed in 1967.
- Walker worked with local business leaders who organized the Northeast Louisiana Land Corp. in 1965 with the aim to obtain land for university expansion.
- On Nov. 3, 1961, the non-profit organization Northeast Louisiana University Foundation incorporated. ULM supporters have contributed millions since the formation of these two organizations.
Walker earned a bachelor’s degree in commerce in 1935 from Northwestern State University, followed by a master’s degree in accounting from LSU in 1936.
He began teaching commerce at ULM in 1934, then known as the LSU Junior College. He later served as a faculty member at Southeastern, Southwestern and LSU, providing Walker with well-rounded experiences from which to draw.
He was state supervisor of business education in the Louisiana State Department of Education in 1940. Until 1945, he was director of employee relations at the Port of Embarkation in New Orleans.
He earned his Ph.D. in accounting and administration from LSU in 1948, simultaneously serving as the assistant to the dean of the junior division there from 1945-1948.
Next, he became dean of Applied Arts and Sciences at Northwestern State University, then dean of Administration in 1954, and finally became the president at Northeast Louisiana State College in 1958. He was later named President Emeritus at ULM.
He cultivated a special interest in research, eventually publishing five copyrighted books, and 26 articles in 19 separate journals. One of those books, “The Building of a University,” is today highly valued for its accurate account of ULM’s early years.
The Louisiana Board of Regents awarded Walker with its prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997 for his ongoing dedication to higher education.
He and his wife Mary Ellen enjoyed 64 years of marriage and took every opportunity to encourage and praise the members of the ULM family.
This warmth extended to community members, including Emy-Lou Biedenharn. Walker served as vice-president of the Emy-Lou Biedenharn Foundation from 1967 – 1984. The family has since awarded ULM a number of endowments. His children include George T. Walker Jr. and Ellen Walker Stephenson.
George T. Walker was a matchless educator and tireless supporter of the University of Louisiana at Monroe—and his influence will forever positively impact everyone who crosses ULM’s campus.
Thanks to his experience and dedication, his university has grown ever stronger and more innovative, able to pass on the love of education he always inspired.