Construction Management celebrates 50 year success

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Construction Management celebrates 50 year success

Olivia Barfield

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After years in the business, Thurman Potts sold his successful architecture company that serviced South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa and decided it was time for change.

“I asked my wife, ‘what do you think about us changing careers?’ She looked at me. She thought I was crazy,” Potts said.

When Potts said this to his wife he had just returned home from serving as a delegate at the Pan-American Architects convention. According to Potts, there were “educators galore there.”

He asked the educators about their educations and careers, and, as Potts puts it, he found hope.

So, he and his wife moved to Nebraska so that he could get his Master’s. While at the University of Nebraska, Potts developed a personal constructor curriculum as part of his thesis.

Down in Louisiana, the Louisiana Associated General Contractors wanted to develop a curriculum that would prepare people that were going into their business. They approached Daniel Dupre, the dean of the school of social sciences in the 60’s, about starting such a program at what was then the Northeast Louisiana State College.

“We agreed to do it and then we looked into other programs across the country and put together our own program here,” Dupre said.

Potts’ thesis became a talking topic. Could it serve as the basis of the new school of construction?

Potts visited Monroe to have his thesis reviewed. He recalls telling his wife that if another educator were to interview him, he wasn’t sure if he would join the team or not.

Luckily, the school made a good move.

Local contractors were there to review Potts’ thesis and interview him for a job at ULM’s new School of Construction Management.

“Right then I took it!” Potts said.

Potts served as the first director of the construction management program. That was fifty years ago. Within ten years of it’s opening, the school become the first institution in the country to be accredited by the American Council for Construction Education (ACCEE). Now, the School of Construction Management at ULM is the state’s premier institution of construction.

Potts saw it coming. He said that he had big plans for the program, and that its growth and success isn’t surprising to him.

To Dupre, the program’s swelling success has been an honor to watch over the years.

“I still take a great deal of pride in this program. These students have been exceptional over the years. They’re good citizens of the campus. They’ve all done a really good job in representing the university wherever they have gone for employment. So I’m still very proud of this group of people,” Dupre said.

To celebrate the fifty years of a successful program, generations of exemplary construction management majors and their spouses filled the Library Conference Center for a reunion Friday night.

The seventh floor of the library bustled with old classmates meeting again. Though many of those in attendance have had a long past with the program, some were new.

Ed Brayton, the school of construction management’s director, has only been on the job for about a year and a half. However, he is proud to be part of a program that has almost a 100 percent job placement rate upon graduation.

“Most of the students have the practical skills that they can work on the job the first day. That’s the tradition we’re continuing here,” Brayton said.

The tradition has indeed continued. The SCM has kept it’s ACCE accreditation over the years while earning new accreditations and recognitions along the way.

At the event, the SCM honored Potts for his leadership that has led to much success over the years