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August 22, 2011

ULM Alum and Bank President "cashes in" on importance of four-year degree

ULM Alum and IberiaBank Market President Paul Hutcheson defined a key term for business students on their first day of classes at ULM, not so much by telling them, but by showing them.

"Opportunity costs are what you give up if you choose one thing over something else," he said.

"For example, by choosing between four years and five years (to graduation), this is what you are giving up."

Hutcheson followed that observation with an enticing visual demonstration – bundle after bundle of crisp one dollar bills totaling $50,000 and spilling out of an enormous duffle bag onto a single table top.

The money represented loss of income based on the average starting annual salary of business graduates, and the whistles and whispers of the students served as auditory reinforcement the concept was not lost on them.

Dr. Ronald Berry, the ULM College of Business Administration Dean, stood before a backdrop that welcomed the Class of 2015 as he reminded the students about a "Finish in Four" initiative the College began earlier this year.

ULM President Nick Bruno, ULM Vice President of Academic Affairs Stephen Richters and College of Business faculty joined him as a visual show of support for the students' efforts.

"Dr. Bruno challenged us to be better and think bolder," said Berry. "This program is very bold."

Before the cash was spilled, Berry spilled statistics about ULM that assured the students they were sitting in one of the best colleges of business in the world.

Among the notable achievements he highlighted included the 100 percent job placement rate within three months of graduation, well above the national average of 80 percent.

"We're about having great careers, and having great lives," Berry said.

"It is important for you to see what it will cost you to defer graduation any longer than necessary. What you visualize, you can attain ... you can finish in four years – we hope you do that."

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