September 23, 2011
From: Laura J. Woodard, Director of Media Relations
State Higher Education Commissioner
Louisiana Commissioner of Higher Education Jim Purcell met with representatives of the University of Louisiana at Monroe and the greater business community on Monday, Sept. 19, as part of his statewide listening tour.
Louisiana Commissioner of Higher Education Jim Purcell speaks with faculty and administrators of the University of Louisiana at Monroe.
After he delivered a presentation focused on trends and issues in higher education, he asked the audience members who had packed into the ULM Conference Center what they thought about the future of northeast Louisiana.
"What is our collective vision … and how to you think this impacts Monroe and northeast Louisiana?" Purcell asked.
Several responded to Purcell by affirming ULM's contribution, both in terms of the cultural opportunities it offers through such schools as Visual and Performing Arts, and in producing students who are prepared to enter the workforce, especially in key areas such as healthcare and education.
Dr. Benny Blaylock, dean of the College of Pharmacy, touted ULM as offering Louisiana's only public college of pharmacy.
"We provide a statewide workforce," Blaylock said. "We also offer the only undergraduate degree in toxicology in the entire southeast United States."
An industry breakdown for the northeast region distributed on Monday indicates that those in the "healthcare and social assistance" categories comprise the region's largest workforce group.
Linda Holyfield, CEO of P&S Surgery Center in Monroe; Ron Elder, CEO of Glenwood Regional Medical Center; and Louis Bremer, president and CEO of St. Francis Medical Center, expressed their gratitude to ULM for producing qualified graduates.
Dorothy Schween, department head for Curriculum and Instruction at ULM, said she was proud that ULM provides 77 percent of the teachers in the region and has been featured in national media outlets.
"That tells you something about the quality of teachers we are turning out," she said.
"We need to continue to support our teachers and our programs here at ULM because we think we're doing a really good job of giving children the best start they can possibly have toward success in life."
Louisiana Board of Regents Chairman Robert Levy, who had travelled with Purcell to Monroe from Baton Rouge, closed out the discussion by acknowledging the quality and quantity of Monday's participation.
"At the end of the day, what it's all about is raising our quality of life. All of us agree … that the way you raise the quality of life is you raise the educational attainment of its citizens," Levy said.