For more than five years, First Lady Deborah Cofer has empowered those around her, fostering great progress at the University of Louisiana at Monroe and in the greater community. Tuesday night, during an award banquet at The Atrium, she was named Business & Professional Person of the Year by the Monroe/West Monroe Business and Professional Women.
Upon accepting the award, she voiced her philosophy: "Adding value to others and serving others is what we are all about, and we are most appreciative of the fact that we have opportunities like this to serve you. Thank you."
When Deborah and her husband, President James Cofer, arrived at ULM in 2002, they began the “Reclaiming Our Campus,” campaign, which involved over 2,000 students, faculty, staff, community leaders, and area citizens who cleaned up and repainted the campus. Since then, Deborah has continued to work with ULM staff on maintaining the beauty of the campus. She ensured that student opinion influenced the design of the new residence halls and the newly-renovated Student Union Building.
After hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated Louisiana, Deborah opened a Relief Center for more than 1,200 students affected by the hurricanes. As the coordinator, she managed ULM’s hurricane hotline, answered e-mails and ensured each student received the counseling and financial resources necessary during that unprecedented time. She raised more than $500,000 for students affected by the hurricanes.
Of her efforts, College of Pharmacy Dean Lamar Pritchard said, “Many Louisiana students were able to continue their educations at ULM due to Deborah’s tireless efforts.”
Deborah has also been a primary organizer of the President’s Gala, which benefits ULM’s School of Visual and Performing Arts. She has been instrumental in the Emerging Scholars Program, which cultivates the collaboration of talented undergraduate students and faculty. Deborah was primarily responsible for attracting the Louisiana Center for Women and Government conference to ULM, and she has served on the City of Monroe Recreation Board and Arts Council.
Whether Deborah is working in her office in the ULM Library, volunteering on a committee, or comforting a student sitting alone in the Student Union Building, she’s profoundly impacting the university and the greater community.
ULM Associate Dean Martha Burns Anderson said in an earlier statement, “Deborah has placed ‘first lady’ in a category that stands alone. Her commitment, hard work, vision, collaboration and passion are unparalleled.”