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April 7, 2011

Retired ULM Graduate Dean Emeritus invites region to a tag transition

University of Louisiana at Monroe alumni driving around with a certain license plate may want to watch their back the next time they park – new ULM President Nick J. Bruno may just ask him or her to make some serious changes.

That's exactly what happened to retired Graduate Dean Emeritus Dr. H.T. Garner of Monroe.

Garner, who retired in 1993 after 26 years from what was then known as Northeast Louisiana University, headed into the Chennault Aviation and Military Museum for a recent board meeting when Bruno approached him.

Bruno recognized Garner from his previous stint at ULM when Bruno had served as vice president for business affairs, and the two struck up friendly conversation.

After exchanging pleasantries and updating one another, Bruno got around to asking Garner about his NLU license plate.

"He saddled up to me and asked if I wouldn't mind changing it," said Garner.

For Garner, the license plate held sentimental value. Not only did it represent his time at NLU, it also had the number 75 on it – a figure representing the combined years he and his late wife, Cindy, had spent in education.

But when Bruno urged him to consider the symbolic significance of switching to a ULM plate and even said he would attach the new plate on Garner's vehicle himself, it was an offer Garner couldn't refuse.

"I took him up on it immediately," Garner said. "Soon after, I went to the Louisiana Department of Motor Vehicles and told them what I wanted to do."

On a recent sunny afternoon, Garner pulled into Warhawk Circle.

In short order, President Bruno was securing a new license plate onto Garner's vehicle.

Retired Graduate Dean Emeritus Dr. H.T. Garner of Monroe makes sure ULM President Nick J. Bruno get his new ULM license plate installed properly.


Garner is "delighted to be part of the effort," and hoped his friends and acquaintances would mimic his gesture. "I'm all in!" he said.

As for the former NLU plate that held such sentimental value?

Garner still has it on a wall in his office, along with two photographs – one of him holding the two plates and one of him with Dr. Bruno as the new plate was installed.

Garner chuckled as he issued this word of warning to all ULM alum.

"Be careful about when the president follows you into a building if you don't have ULM tags," Garner said. "He's going to ask you to change it."

"Who knows?" said Bruno. "I may even be willing to change a few more license plates down the road as part of a 'Transition your Tags' day at ULM!"

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