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December 13, 2008

Moffett encourages ULM graduates to pursue lifelong service

The holiday season served as the perfect backdrop to the spirit of giving, which was the keynote message delivered to 404 University of Louisiana at Monroe graduates on Saturday.

Randy Moffett, president of the University of Louisiana System, spoke during Fall Commencement exercises on Dec. 13, in Fant-Ewing Coliseum.

Moffett encouraged the graduates to utilize their education at ULM for the betterment of others.

“I urge you to remember that success means more than dollars and cents,” he said. “It means dedicating your life to something bigger than yourself. There are endless challenges in your backyard, and I hope you will dedicate yourself to using your gifts and education you received to better the lives of your neighbors.”

Moffett referenced a philanthropy report that stated charitable giving has been recession-proof, with contributions to American charities increasing during 39 of the past 40 years. It said between 69 and 72 percent of people give routinely.

He said despite warning signs in the economy, “service is a valued commodity in the Monroe area, and it’s a focal point at ULM as well.”

“This university’s first lady, Deborah Cofer, was featured in a recent national article about presidential spouses – the unpaid, unsung heroes of college campuses – who volunteer around the clock to better the community, the university and its students,” he said.

Moffett is a strong advocate of student service learning, where students combine academic pursuits with service to their communities.

He praised the work being done at ULM, among them:

Speaking of education, Moffett heralded a recent New York Times editorial titled, “What Louisiana Can Teach,” singling out ULM for positively impacting student achievement through course improvements and other reforms.

“Louisiana should be especially commended for pressing ahead with these reforms despite the trauma and destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina. Students throughout the country deserve a chance to learn from teachers who are truly prepared,” the editorial stated.

Moffett emphasized that it is the responsibility of universities to help shape character in addition to developing the mind. “Dr. Cofer, his faculty and staff have put service at the center of academic programs throughout the campus,” Moffett said.

“In closing, remember these four points. Be committed to positive change. Don’t be afraid to dream big for yourself and for others. Put others before yourself. And do the right things for the right reasons. If you follow these points, then you will be a success. And you will inspire others to follow your lead. The result will be a better world for all of us. This is your moment. I wish you every happiness and success.”

Moffett was appointed the seventh president of the UL System in July 2008. As UL System President, he oversees eight universities, including ULM, which combined serves approximately 80,000 students through a total operating budget of over $740 million.

Melissa Keaster of Farmerville, is the top 2008 fall graduate. Keaster, who is a vocal music education major, is married to Brandon Keaster. She is the daughter of Arden and Melanie Chapman. She graduated summa cum laude with a 3.98 cumulative grade point average.

Several honor graduates were recognized during the ceremonies. They are designated as summa cum laude (3.900-4.000), magna cum laude (3.750-3.899) and cum laude (3.500-3.749).

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