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March 31, 2008

ULM First Lady Deborah Cofer inducted into national honor society

The University of Louisiana at Monroe Senior Board Chapter of Mortar Board initiated First Lady Deborah Cofer as an honorary member during a ceremony Monday, March 31 at ULM's university house. The chapter’s students nominated ULM’s First Lady—a nomination that was reviewed and approved by the Mortar Board National Office—based on her infinite dedication to the university and its students.

Of his wife’s recent honor, ULM President James Cofer said, “I have spent my entire life teaching people to use their minds. Deborah has spent her entire life teaching people to use their hearts.”

ULM Mortar Board member Mallary Soileau, a senior kinesiology major from Pineville, said, "Mrs. Cofer has implemented several programs on campus that keep the university thriving and evolving. Mrs. Cofer is a delight to be around and she truly is a woman of great stature. Mrs. Cofer cares deeply for the ULM family and supports all university functions and relations. Mortar Board is excited about the privilege of inducting such an esteemed and highly accredited ULM family member.”

The Mortar Board selection process is selective, said Megan McGough, Assistant Executive Director, Mortar Board National Office.

“Honorary membership is reserved for individuals who have made a significant impact on the campus and community. Like collegiate Mortar Board members, honorary members embody our three ideals: scholarship, leadership, and service," McGough said. "Chapters select individuals for this honor because they feel strongly about their ability to represent Mortar Board and want them to become a part of the vibrant and esteemed Mortar Board community. We are very excited to welcome Mrs. Cofer to Mortar Board."

During the ceremony, ULM’s first lady thanked the students for the honor. She referenced her husband, President Cofer, who she has worked with on college campuses for over 30 years.

“We came to ULM to provide you with the best of our collective knowledge and to improve every element of your college experience. We walked with you, and we tried to do everything we could to inspire you on your journey ... Four or five years may seem like a long time to you now, but it seems too short to those of us who consider it a blessing to watch each of you grow and develop into leaders. Thank you again for the honor you have bestowed on me, and thank you especially for the ongoing opportunity to be a part of the beautiful tapestry of your evolving story.”

More about First Lady Deborah Cofer

ULM's First Lady, who grew up in Jackson, Miss., began her work at ULM in 2002, when she and President James Cofer arrived and immediately began the "Reclaiming Our Campus" campaign, which involved more than 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 the ULM staff on maintaining the beauty of campus.

After hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated Louisiana in 2005, 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. With Deborah's assistance, ULM hosted trauma-related trainings in 2005 and 2006.

Of Deborah’s dedication, College of Pharmacy Dean Dr. Lamar Pritchard said in an earlier statement, "Many Louisiana students were able to continue their education at ULM due to Deborah's tireless efforts."

Deborah has been a primary organizer of the President's Gala, which benefits ULM's School of Visual and Performing Arts. She has also been instrumental in the Presidential Lyceum Series, which has drawn such diverse speakers as Doris Kearns Goodwin, Steve Forbes and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. 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.

Hailed as a "campus champion" of Your Health Matters, ULM's new employee wellness program, Deborah provided guidance on programming issues, employee incentive ideas, and helped students network with various agencies. "Beyond being a role model who personally tracked her daily physical activity, she was, and continues to be, a strong advocate for engaging the employees in this initiative," says Dr. Mark Doherty, kinesiology associate professor and director of Your Health Matters.

ULM's First Lady was named Business & Professional Person of the Year by the Monroe/West Monroe Business and Professional Women in October 2007. She was named Guest of Honor at the Philippine-American Association of Northeast Louisiana (PAANEL) annual Christmas affair in December 2007.

Whether she's volunteering on a committee or comforting a student sitting alone in the Student Union Building, she’s profoundly impacting the university and greater community.

Assistant Dean Dr. Martha Burns Anderson said, "Deborah has placed ‘first lady’ in a category that stands alone. Her commitment, hard work, vision, collaboration and passion are unparalleled."

More about Mortar Board

Mortar Board, established in 1918, is a national honor society that recognizes college seniors for excellence in the areas of scholarship, leadership and service. Mortar Board members represent the top scholars and leaders on their campuses, according to the organization’s web site:

Mortar Board provides opportunities for continued leadership development, promotes service to colleges and universities and encourages lifelong contributions to the global community. Additionally, Mortar Board offers numerous benefits and opportunities to members, including career networking, fellowships and awards.

2008 Mortar Board Initiates

2007 Outstanding Mortar Board Members

Denotes *2007 Officers

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